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Reporter Gerardo Flores Rodríguez assaulted by security guards while reporting on a death at a hospital

(CEPET/IFEX) - On 26 March 2009, Gerardo Flores Rodríguez, a reporter for "Diario del Sur" and the Exa radio station, was detained and assaulted by private security guards while reporting on the death of a patient at a public hospital. The incident occurred in Tapachula, Chiapas, southeastern Mexico.

According to the journalist, he was covering the case of patient Blanca Estela López Gamboa, who was going to have a pacemaker implanted at the Ciudad Salud federal hospital. The operation never took place because the hospital's employees went on strike.

On the night of 26 March, López Gamboa's relatives informed the journalist that she had died because of negligence. Flores Rodríguez went to the hospital to report on the case. When he arrived there, he could not find the hospital's press officer. He proceeded to take some photographs. Some of the employees who were on strike asked him why he was taking photos and demanded that he erase them. Flores Rodríguez showed them his press identification and refused to erase the photos.

The hospital workers then asked a security guard to make sure that the journalist could not leave. The security guard put a chain on the main hospital door. Flores Rodríguez was kept inside the hospital for about an hour when he decided to call his boss and the police.

"I was waiting for the police to arrive, when five security guards approached me and told me I could not stay where I was. I explained that I wanted to leave but could not. One of them shouted at me to get out of there."

"I tried to take a photo and that infuriated the man. They started to hit me with their clubs all over my body. They hurt my neck when they yanked my camera. They took the camera, my glasses and my mobile phone".

The reporter was finally freed when his boss arrived at the scene with police officers and reporters from other media outlets. Flores Rodríguez's belongings were returned to him. However, the assailants erased all the photographs from his camera.

CEPET condemns the incident and recalls that attacks on journalists and media outlets are an attack on citizens and their right to receive information.

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