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Guanajuato state government accused of discriminating against two newspapers for their critical stance

(IAPA/IFEX) - The following is a 16 June 2008 IAPA press release:

IAPA assails Mexico's Guanajuato state government for discriminating against two critical newspapers

MIAMI, Florida (June 16, 2008) - The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) today charged the state government of Guanajuato in Mexico for discrimination against the newspapers "a.m." and "Correo" in its placement of official advertising, in addition to insulting them and refusing to provide them with information. The state government's actions were seen as revenge for the papers' critical editorial stance.

In a letter to Guanajuato Governor Juan Manuel Oliva Ramírez, IAPA President Earl Maucker and the chairman of the organization's Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, Gonzalo Marroquín, expressed repudiation of the state government's attitude, declaring, "No news medium or journalist should be punished for publishing the truth or criticizing or denouncing the government."

The letter outlines that the newspapers "have been facing harassment since the 2 June 2007 publication of an investigative report in 'a.m.", alleging that a secret extreme right-wing group is linked to, and has influence over, the state government party".

"Since publishing these reports the newspapers have been the target of insults aimed at their executives and subject to an information boycott; announcements by state agencies have been withdrawn from 'a.m.' in a move that has been copied at the municipal level in cities run by members of the state government party", one of the media outlets advised.

The IAPA urged Gov. Oliva Ramírez to call a halt to what it saw as discriminatory actions, in line with Article 7 of the IAPA-sponsored Declaration of Chapultepec, which states: "Tariff and exchange policies, licenses for the importation of paper or news-gathering equipment, the assigning of radio and television frequencies and the granting or withdrawal of government advertising may not be used to reward or punish the media or individual journalists."

It further told the governor that "our organization believes that the use of penalties to sway editorial decisions and political reporting by the news media amounts to an act of corruption" and called on him to "take into account the recommendation of the Guanajuato Human Rights Ombudsperson's Office, which has called upon government agencies to establish 'clear, fair, objective and non-discriminatory criteria' in decisions concerning official advertising."

In addition, the IAPA officers urged Gov. Oliva Ramírez "to ensure that freedom of the press is respected as an inalienable guarantee for solidifying the state of law."

Updates the "a.m." and "Correo" cases:

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