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Magazine issue containing critical report on Sonora state governor purchased en masse to prevent public distribution

(ARTICLE 19/CENCOS/IFEX) - Distribution of the 27 April 2008 edition of the weekly magazine "Proceso" was deliberately impeded through the mass purchasing of copies, between 27 April and 1 May, before they reached the public. The issue bore on its cover a picture of Sonora state governor Eduardo Bours under the headline "Drug power in Sonora", and contained a report on governor's wealth, his abuse of power to benefit his family's businesses, and the possible involvement of these businesses in drug-trafficking and money laundering.

"Proceso" reports that individuals identifying themselves as government employees purchased 3530 copies of the edition directly from the company responsible for its distribution. A few copies that somehow made it to local newsstands were also quickly purchased en masse before ordinary members of the public could buy individual copies.

This de facto act of prior censorship was reinforced through telephone calls made to the magazine's offices, to inform staff about the purchasing of the edition and to inquire as to whether any further copies would become available. It is presumed the calls were made by government employees.

Subsequently, in a press conference the governor referred to the magazine article and asserted that he would be in touch with the Attorney General to ensure the allegations of the report are investigated.

In January 2007, an edition of the magazine "Contralínea" was seized by Sonoran authorities because of an article alleging similar misconduct by the same governor. In October 2007, in Guanajuato state, there was a similar mass purchasing of an edition of "Proceso" that carried a report on the business dealings of former president Fox's in-laws, the Bribiesca family.

These actions, tantamount to prior censorship, violate the right to free expression and the public's right to be informed.

ARTICLE 19 and CENCOS call upon the Mexican government to ensure that Sonoran state authorities respect the right to free expression, as enshrined in various international human rights agreements.

ARTICLE 19 and CENCOS demand that measures be taken to prevent the recurrence of such actions, as the public's right to be informed is a fundamental component of democracy.

For further information on the "Contralínea" case, see: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/80738

For further information on the October 2007 mass obstruction of public distribution of "Proceso", see: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/87644

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