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Journalist briefly kidnapped, receives death threat after investigating illegal natural resource exploitation

(CEPET/IFEX) - David Ávila León, the editor of the local "El Cuadrante" newspaper, has said that he was briefly kidnapped and received a death threat for conducting an investigation into the illegal exploitation of natural resources in the municipality of San Diego de la Unión, in Guanajuato state, central Mexico.

Ávila León said that he was walking on a street at 1:30 p.m. (local time) on 30 July 2009 when a black vehicle with no licence plates and two occupants approached him. An armed man got out and forced him into the vehicle.

"I did not resist. They sat me down between the two of them and made fun of me while they drove around. They said, 'why don't we just kill him now,'" Ávila León said.

Eventually Ávila León's assailants let him out of the vehicle but warned him to refrain from making inquiries about La Montañita, an area from which tezontle (a construction material) has been extracted illegally for years by the local mayor, Luis Gaudencio González, of the National Action Party, along with four other individuals. Ávila León was told that, if he failed to do as instructed, he would die.

"I went directly to the Public Ministry to file a complaint", Ávila León said. The authorities have opened a preliminary investigation into the journalist's case.

On 31 July, one day after the actions against Ávila León, the department responsible for environmental protection in Guanajuato shut down the removal of tezontle from La Montañita and said that the individuals involved in its extraction did not have the necessary permits.

Ávila León had made requests for information and an interview with the mayor to find out what his involvement was in the business, but Gaudencio González had not responded.

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