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Journalist threatened, harassed in Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz

(CEPET/IFEX) - In the last two weeks, journalist Mussio Cárdenas Arellano has reportedly been harassed and has been receiving death threats. Cárdenas is director of the online magazine "Contacto" and a contributor for the "Liberal del Sur" and "Presencia del Sureste" newspapers, in Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz (southeastern Mexico).

The first incident occurred on 5 August 2009, while the journalist was heading home at around 11:00 p.m. (local time). An individual wearing a cap approached him on the street and told him to "tone down his criticisms". The person fled before Cárdenas could see their face.

On the morning of 11 August, the journalist saw that graffiti had been spray painted on his van, which was parked near his home, referring to the journalist and to the media outlets for which he works.

Two days later, on 13 August, a pig's head was found in the center of Coatzacoalcos. On it were painted slogans like "Theurel you are going to die", "Die Luna"; "Marcelo", "Rolando Liberal Edel", "Café Nosia" and "Mussio is dead".

The messages apparently refer to Veracruz Communications Secretary Marco César Theurel; the state government's press secretary, Miguel Ángel Luna; Coatzacoalcos Mayor Marcelo Montiel; the vice-president of "Liberal del Sur" and a columnist at the paper, Rolando Quevedo Lara; the director of the state government's Property Registry and the owner of "Liberal del Sur", Edel Álvarez Peña; and to Cárdenas himself.

The journalist writes the columns "Bitácora del poder" (The binnacle of power), which appears in "Liberal del Sur", and "Informe rojo" (Red report), published in "Presencia del Sureste". He also takes part in the programme "La noticia en el café" broadcast on the local cable network Olmeca TV. He is the executive director of "Contacto", where he publishes various reports and articles.

Cárdenas has been criticised for his articles by Iván Hillman Capoy, an Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) member and former mayor of Coatzacoalcos. Hillman was later Veracruz Tourism Secretary and more recently was a candidate in the federal deputy elections, although he was defeated in the 5 July elections.

According to the journalist, he was investigating irregularities in the financing of Hillman's campaign and the role of his campaign organizer, Mariano Moreno Canepa.

Moreover, he has reported on irregularities and incidents of corruption in the offices of the director of Veracruz's state highways, Roberto Chagra Nacif, and that of his sister, Coatzacoalcos Economic Development secretary, Milene Chagra Nacif. Cárdenas also questioned the Robles Barajas family, owners of the "Diario del Istmo" newspaper, and in particular Roselia Barajas, former member of parliament for the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD).

Cárdenas admitted that he has ceased working for some media outlets in the past, after being harassed by Hillman. The journalist filed a complaint with the Public Prosecutor's Office after the latest threats and harassment.

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