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Union members attack journalists, threaten one of them

(CEPET/IFEX) - Ignacio Ríos, a journalist with the daily "Presente", was beaten and robbed in retaliation for annoying the head of the local oil workers' union (Sindicato de Trabajadores Petroleros de la República Mexicana) with his interview questions. The incident took place on 22 October 2009 in Paraíso, Tabasco, in southern Mexico.

On that day, the media had congregated to cover the change in leadership for Section 50 of the oil union. Ríos arrived at the union's headquarters at around 4:30 p.m. and while interviewing the union's new leader-elect, Gustavo Guerra Espinosa, he asked him if he considered this win a consolation prize after having been defeated in the recent local council elections.

Ríos said that about ten men pulled him from behind and threw him out of the building. Outside another 20 men joined in, throwing him to the ground and kicking him. Police officers then detained him to put an end to the attack, handcuffing him and taking him to the police station before releasing him.

Ríos's attackers also threatened to kill him and stole his laptop and camera.

A few hours before the incident, members of the union also attacked Cecilia Vargas Simón, a "La Verdad del Sureste" reporter, and stole her photographic equipment.

Ríos reported his injuries, threats and robbery to the Paraíso Public Ministry, which has launched an investigation into the incident. He also plans to submit a complaint to the state prosecutor and the federal attorney general.

Manuel Rosales Hernández, the head of information at "Presente", condemned the attack, saying that the arrogance of political leaders was incredible given that these journalists were only doing their work. He added that both Ríos and Vargas Simón are well-known and respected reporters in the state.

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