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OFFICIAL CALLS FREE EXPRESSION ADVOCATE "ENEMY OF THE STATE" DURING MISSION

The international vice-president of the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC) was called an "enemy of the state" by a high-ranking government official while on a free expression mission to Mexico.

Aleida Calleja, a Mexican journalist and AMARC's international vice-president, was verbally accosted by Juan de Dios Castro Lozano, the Deputy Attorney General responsible for human rights and victim support, during a 21 April meeting between Castro and an international free expression mission made up of 11 organisations.

While discussing the recent murder of two community radio journalists in Oaxaca, Castro told Calleja, "You are an enemy of the state because of the things that you say."

Throughout the meeting, Castro maintained a confrontational tone, despite members of the mission repeatedly saying that they were interested in collaborating.

Mexico continues to be the most dangerous country for journalists in the Americas. The 11 organisations, eight of which are IFEX members, visited Mexico City and the states of Oaxaca, Michoacán, Sonora and Guerrero from 20 to 25 April to document attacks on journalists and media outlets. They found that the main obstacles for the work of journalists are organised crime, corruption, lack of political will and the failure of the Mexican authorities to provide protection and security to journalists.

In the past eight years, at least 24 journalists and media workers have been killed, eight have disappeared and dozens have been threatened or attacked in direct reprisal for their work. On 30 April, Jorge Carrasco Taracena, a crime reporter for the television station Televisa, went missing in Mexico City amid an increase in violence related to drug trafficking.

In a separate incident, four reporters from "El Debate" newspaper were assaulted and threatened by federal police officers on 6 May as they tried to cover the setting up of an anti-drug trafficking checkpoint in Culiacán, Sinaloa state.

Visit these links:
- AMARC on incident: http://tinyurl.com/4faykm
- International Mission letter to Calderón: http://legislaciones.amarc.org/MEX_Carta_a_Calderon.pdf
- International Mission preliminary report: http://tinyurl.com/3vten4
- IFEX Mexico page: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/97/
(13 May 2008)

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