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Reporter is victim of smear campaign launched by government official

(CEPET/IFEX) - Mexico, 5 November 2008 (CEPET). Manuel Appendini Carrera, a correspondent for "Reforma" newspaper, is the victim of a campaign by the spokeswoman for the Aguascalientes state government in northern Mexico. A piece that appeared in five of the state's newspapers labeled Appendini Carrera a liar after he reported on the local soccer team's excessive advertising.

Appendini Carrera told CEPET that on 21 October he received copies of documents such as invoices and deposits that revealed expenses of more than 30.6 million pesos to support the Necaxa team's council, figures that were paid by various departments of the Aguascalientes government.

The Necaxa team is owned by Televisa, the largest TV consortium in Mexico and Latin America. The funds were part of the state budget for sports, education, housing and social communication.

After obtaining said documents, Appendini Carrera asked Carolina Rincón Silva, the state's Social Communication Coordinator, for her version of events, but she said that she did not know anything about the expenses and stated that she would speak with him the following day.

A week passed without Appendini Carrera receiving a response from Rincón Silva and "Reforma" newspaper decided to publish the report on 27 October. On 28 October Rincón Silva sent an explanatory letter to the "Reforma" editorial office saying that their correspondent, Appendini Carrera, had lied.

"It is unfortunate that Manuel Appendini, a 'Reforma' correspondent, has distorted information in such a mischievous way as to confuse public opinion, even though he had been offered an interview to learn the details of the invoices, an interview which he never attended," argued Rincón Silva in her letter.

"Reforma" newspaper rejected the accusations in the same text where extracts of Rincón Silva's letter where published. The paper also reiterated that they had the documents to prove that the state government had authorized 30.6 million pesos in advertising expenses.

The Communications Department of the Aguascalientes government simultaneously published a piece in five of the state's most important newspapers with the title "'Reforma' correspondent lies!", the content of which was similar to Rincón Silva's letter to "Reforma".

"We rely on the support of information and documentation, advertising spots, transmission schedules, guidelines, as well as monitoring and integration witnesses that endorse all advertising investments in all print and electronic media, which legitimizes the use of public resources", the piece points out.

The case was taken up again by the state congress and various legislators condemned the attitude of Rincón Silva.

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