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Bookstore chain blocks sales of book about Catholic Church abuses

(CEPET/IFEX) - Journalist and author Sanjuana Martínez Montemayor has said that the Samborns bookstore chain, which is owned by powerful businessman Carlos Slim and is one of the most popular bookstores in Mexico, has blocked the sale of two books in which she documented cases of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church in Mexico.

Martínez Montemayor has had a long career as a journalist for Mexican media outlets. In 2006, she won Mexico's National Award for Journalism, and she is the author of several books, including "Manto Púrpura" ("Purple Cloak") and "Prueba de Fe" ("Test of Faith").

"Manto Púrpura" was published in November 2006 by the Grijalbo publishing house. Eight thousand copies of the book were printed, recounting the testimonies of individuals who have accused Catholic priests of sexual abuse. In the book, Martínez Montemayor alleges that Cardinal Norberto Rivera, the archbishop of Mexico City, protected priest Nicolás Aguilar, who has been accused of sexually abusing 26 boys in the United States in 1987. Rivera approved Aguilar's transfer to the United States, even though he presumably knew of alleged sexual abuses committed by the priest in Mexico.

The second book, "Prueba de Fe", was published in 2007 by the Planeta publishing house. Twenty thousand copies of the book were printed, of which, according to Martínez Montemayor, half are in storage as they were returned without having been unpacked by the stores they were sent to. In "Prueba de Fe", the author documents allegations of a pederasty network with links to Catholic cardinals and bishops.

"These are not fictitious novels, they are the result of serious journalistic investigations," Martínez Montemayor said. In the past, the author has received threatening e-mail messages and telephone calls connected to the information contained in her books.

Martínez Montemayor told CEPET that, when faced with the possibility of having a complaint filed against the store on freedom of expression grounds, a Samborns representative, Martín Ambriz, said that the store would put the books in its self help and esoteric subjects section. According to Martínez Montemayor, however, the books do not belong in this section. As such, she said, the store only put 200 copies of the books up for sale instead of the 3,000 that the publishing houses had intended. Martínez Montemayor also noted that after Samborns restricted the sale of the books, other bookstores followed suit saying that they were Catholic-based businesses.

A Samborns manager, Maribel Pérez, said that she was not aware of the issue involving the books and suggested that CEPET speak to another person, however that individual has not responded to the organisation's calls.

For further information on the prior targeting of Martínez Montemayor because of her research into Catholic Church abuses, see: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/91743

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