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Radio presenter Julio Ricardo Blanchet Cruz stages hunger strike after dismissal for refusing to censor himself

(CEPET/IFEX) - Journalist Julio Ricardo Blanchet Cruz has been staging a hunger strike since 13 April 2009 after the Universidad Veracruzana dismissed him after he refused to omit criticisms of archbishop Hipólito Reyes Larios from his radio programme that is hosted on the university's channel in Veracruz, southern Mexico.

Blanchet Cruz, who for nine years was the presenter of "Opiniones y Comentarios", a programme that is broadcast between 1:30 and 3 p.m. (local time) by Radio Universidad de Veracruz, said that at the end of September 2008, Manuel Cepeda Ramos, director of Cultural Programming, asked him to avoid criticising the archbishop and the Catholic Church, since the Jalapa archdiocesis would be financing a sacred music festival at the university.

The journalist refused to comply with this order, arguing that it violated his right to freedom of expression. The next day he was refused entry to the radio station's facilities. The station's director, Fernando Escalante Sobrino, told him that he had been dismissed on orders from Cepeda Ramos and that another host would be taking his place.

"I asked them why I had not been given a dismissal notice, but I have not been given an answer. I only asked that they pay me severance, I don't want them to rehire me. Airspace that is censored is not dignified," said Blanchet Cruz.

Since he has not received any replies to his inquiries, Blanchet Cruz, who also manages the digital media outlet Radio Libertad, placed himself in the Lerdo de Tejada plaza, next to the Jalapa Cathedral and began a hunger strike.

Blanchet Cruz said that to date no authority from the Universidad Veracruzana had replied to his request for severance. Only Américo Zuñiga Martínez, the university's labour secretary, had approached him and promised to fulfill his request.

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