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Television news crew attacked by union members

(CEPET/IFEX) - Marco Aurelio Campillo Méndez, a reporter for TV Azteca, denounced that he and other station employees were assaulted by members of the Mexican Electricians' Union (Sindicato Mexicano de Electricistas, SME). The incident occurred on 11 November 2009 while the news crew was covering a demonstration by the workers protesting the closure of the state-run company Luz y Fuerza del Centro (LyFC).

At 8:30 a.m., Campillo was transmitting live for TV Azteca's morning programme, when a group of about 50 demonstrators held up blankets in front of the cameras blocking the transmission. They then went after the journalist and his crew, kicking them and throwing their equipment on the floor. The demonstrators also damaged the station's satellite antenna and painted graffiti on the TV Azteca vehicle.

According to Campillo, the union members were unhappy with how TV Azteca, the second largest network in Mexico, had covered the decision to shut down LyFC.

On 10 October, President Felipe Calderón Hinojosa issued a decree announcing the disolution of LyFC and ordering the federal police to take over the company's premises. As a result, 45,000 electricity workers were left without a job, which prompted a number of protests by the SME.

The decision has generated a lot of controversy and debate in Mexico. The head of the SME, Martín Esparza, has condemned the media for the way they have reported on the issue and for their criticisms of the labour union's actions.

On 22 October, journalist Joaquín López Dóriga, head of the main news programme on Televisa and a show broadcast on the Grupo Radio Fórmula network, interrupted his programme to say that he was unable to continue broadcasting because of an SME sit in held outside the radio station. However, López did note that it was a peaceful protest.

Similarly, on 5 November, members of the SME held a demonstration outside the offices of "Milenio" newspaper, to demand that assistant editor Ciro Gómez Leyva speak out about the conflict. Carlos Marín, the paper's general manager, invited the union members to participate in a dialogue process which was subsequently broadcast on Milenio Televisión.

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