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State government official assaults journalist, files complaint against cartoonist

(CEPET/IFEX) - Miguel Ángel Carmona, photojournalist and director of the Fotover news agency, was physically and verbally assaulted by the secretary of the Veracruz government, Reynaldo Escobar Pérez, on 20 November 2009. The incident took place during the commemoration of the Mexican Revolution, near the Governmental Palace in Xalapa, Veracuz (on the Gulf of Mexico).

On his way to his offices, Escobar Pérez was followed by various media representatives, including Carmona, who was photographing the official.

According to local media, Escobar Pérez, who is also in charge of the State Commission for the Protection of Journalists (Comisión Estatal para la Defensa de los Periodistas), punched Carmona and hit his camera, while yelling: "What's your problem? Who do you work for? Tell me who paid you to come after me."

Jaime Cisneros, the secretary's advisor, had to intervene to stop his boss, while a group of reporters congregated at his office to get an explanation for his behaviour. Magda Zayas, press chief for the secretary, explained the situation: "My boss confused Carmona with someone else. The attack was not meant for him, but for Óscar Martínez." Martínez is a photojournalist for the AVC Noticias agency.

In an interview with "La Jornada Veracruz", Carmona said that he didn't know why Escobar Pérez had attacked him: "I was doing my work when, without any reason, he rushed towards me and yelled that I wasn't allowed to take photos".

In a separate incident, Escobar Pérez filed a complaint for defamation against Alberto Morales García, a cartoonist for the daily evening paper "Seis en Punto Noticias" and the political weekly "El Grillo Jarocho". In his complaint, Escobar Pérez stated that he thought that a character created by Morales García, called "El Rey-Eno", referred to him. He said that for five years he has been vilified and ridiculed by the caricatures (even though none of them used his name).

"I am not participating in a beauty contest. I know that the way I look lends itself to being caricaturized, but I am not going to allow the press, that does not know the meaning of freedom of expression, to do this," said Escobar Pérez on 17 November when he appeared in front of the local congress. During his appearance a group of journalists displayed a banner with his photo that said "Reynaldo Gaudencio Escobar Pérez, oppressor of journalists".

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