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Broadcaster Patricia Pacheco Guzmán "suspended indefinitely" after criticising local official

(CEPET/IFEX) - Reporter Patricia Pacheco Guzmán reported that she was unjustifiably let go from her position at local radio station XEPX La Voz del Ángel, owned by Radio Solución SA de CV group, because of political pressure exerted by the local mayor of Pochutla, Oaxaca, on the southern coast of Mexico. She also reported being subjected to censorship.

Pacheco Guzmán, who is nine months pregnant, said that for over a year she has been asking Arturo Jalil Vargas, the station's owner, to register her for social security, since she has now been working for the company for three years without this financial assistance.

On 9 March 2009, Pacheco Guzmán went to work at the station and after finishing her news programme, which runs from 1:30 to 3 p.m. (local time), Jalil Vargas told her that she could not be registered for social security and that she was being "indefinitely suspended" without pay.

Pacheco Guzmán said that municipal employees told her that on the same day Jalil Vargas had a meeting with José Manuel Ricárdez López, the local mayor affiliated with the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI), who offered to lower the fees for the station's use of some of his properties in exchange for having Pacheco Guzmán dismissed.

"Ricárdez López is angry about comments I made, in the various media I work for, about the poor management of his administration. He has called me before to tell me 'Stop mentioning me on the radio, in the paper . . . ' He took advantage of my boss's weakness to get back at me," said Pacheco Guzmán.

According to the journalist, during the time she worked for La voz del Ángel, she and her colleagues were constantly subjected to censorship by Jalil Vargas, such as being suspended two days a week without pay after criticising a politician that was a friend of his.

"He put a video camera in the recording booth. He searched the Internet to check the information that we were transmitting", said Pacheco Guzmán.

Another broadcaster from the station, who would not give their name for fear of being dismissed, told CEPET that employees face censorship at La voz del Ángel. They were not allowed to voice the opinions of any politician and if they did they were fined 500 pesos (approx. US$36). "Sometimes while we were working he would enter and say 'cut, cut, cut'. Often we didn't know why," said the broadcaster.

CEPET condemns these practices inflicted on the employees of XEPX La Voz del Ángel and believes that this is a violation of freedom of expression. CEPET repeats that such attacks on journalists who are carrying out their work represent an attack on society because they compromise the public's access to information.

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