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"Diario de Yucatán" journalist receives death threat from mayor

(CEPET/IFEX) - Jesús Bacab Chulim, a "Diario de Yucatán" newspaper journalist, reported that he was harassed and threatened with death by Juan José Martín Briceño, a member of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (Partido Revolucionario Institucional, PRI) and the mayor of Oxkutzcab, Yucatán, in southern Mexico, after he published unfavourable information about the official.

According to Bacab Chulim, on 7 August 2009, Martín Briceño arrived at the "Diario de Yucatán" offices, accompanied by the municipal deputy chief of police, Julián Suárez Quijada, and complained about the publication of an article on deficiencies in the local education system.

"They entered and Martín Briceño told the deputy police chief to close the door. He started to yell at and insult me. He showed me a copy of the newspaper and, while shaking his fists at me, said, 'You publish garbage. Why don't you write about the good things I've done?', Bacab Chulim said.

Martín Briceño tried to hit the reporter, but was unable to do so because Bacab Chulim was sitting behind a desk. When the reporter got up from his chair and tried to calm the mayor, Martín Briceño pushed him against a wall and threatened to kill him, saying, "This is just a warning, next time I'll kill you".

A neighbour who heard the yelling came to help Bacab Chulim and find out what was happening. The journalist's assailants left, but only after stealing a USB memory stick that contained some information belonging to Bacab Chulim.

After the incident, Bacab Chulim filed a criminal complaint against Martín Briceño with the Public Ministry for robbery and threats.

This is the second time that the mayor has burst into the reporter's office and the third time that he has harassed and threatened him. On 1 May, Martín Briceño complained about another article that the newspaper had published. On that occasion, he harassed Bacab Chulim for 45 minutes.

In November 2007, the mayor asked the reporter to visit his office, telling him he had some information for him, but when Bacab Chulim arrived Martín Briceño insulted and threatened him in front of other people.

Ángel Noh Estrada, the editorial coordinator for "Diario de Yucatán", condemned the actions against Bacab Chulim and said that the newspaper's directors are discussing what action they should take against the constant harassment by the mayor.

"There have been many reactions; even other PRI members have condemned his actions. The Congress is calling for an in-depth investigation into the incident," Estrada said.

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