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Spokespersons for two government agencies threaten editor

(CEPET/IFEX) - Jesús Hernández García, the editor of the Centro Noticias Tamaulipas news website, reported that he was assaulted and threatened by spokespersons from the Tamaulipas state government's Health Secretariat and its Environmental Agency.

According to Hernández García, on 14 September 2009, state officials and media outlet personnel were called together to be present at a ceremony in the city of Reynosa's Juárez plaza. When Health Secretary Juan Mansur Arbola arrived at the plaza, reporters began to question him about the reliability of figures that had been reported with respect to the numbers of cases of AH1N1 influenza, which had led to the closure of classes in the city's schools.

José de Jesús Velázquez Mata, a reporter for the "La Verdad" newspaper y "Noticiero de Victoria", kept asking questions about the topic, such that the head of the Health Secretariat's press department, José Luis Castillo Gutiérrez, began to discourage him from continuing with his questioning and pushed him, according to Hernández García. "I was right beside him. He was pushed three times, so I intervened, saying, 'Don't push him. Are you a spokesperson or a bodyguard?'" Hernández García said. Castillo Gutiérrez responded by insulting him and threatening to hit him. Armando Castillo Gutiérrez, the spokeperson for the government's Environmental Agency and José Luis Castillo Gutiérrez's brother, then joined in the actions against Hernández García, and threatened to kill him.

"This is not an isolated case. They constantly threaten and assault reporters," Hernández García said.

CEPET spoke to Velázquez Mata, who confirmed that José Luis Castillo Gutiérrez pushed him and that he was upset because the reporter kept questioning the health secretary. "Their figures are not correct, and that upset him," Velázquez Mata said.

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