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Mayor of Chavinda, Michoacán, threatens reporter

(CEPET/IFEX) - Miguel García Castañeda, a reporter for the daily "Z de Zamora", has reported that, on 16 December 2009, he was threatened by officials from the municipality of Chavinda, in Michoacán state, western Mexico, for having written about issues relating to the completion of public works projects in the municipality. The municipality is governed by members of the Partido de la Revolución Democrática (PRD) political party.

According to information provided to CEPET by Raymundo Reyes, the daily's editor, the journalist said that at approximately 1:00 p.m., when he was near the Chavinda municipal building, two municipal police officers approached him and told him that Mayor Jesús Gil del Toro wanted to speak to him. They then escorted him to the mayor's offices.

According to García Castañeda, he was brought before Gil del Toro, at which point a group of the mayor's supporters began to bombard him with questions and accusations relating to the article published in "Z de Zamora". In the article, the reporter questioned information provided in a report issued by Gil del Toro with respect to the completion of certain public works projects that had been promised during the mayor's election campaign.

García Castañeda said he was not allowed to speak or leave the mayor's offices for nearly an hour and a half. The mayor's employees presented him with an ultimatum, giving him a period of eight days in which to retract what he had written or face legal action.

"Z de Zamora" subsequently published a front page article in support of García Castañeda. The article was signed by 25 other journalists and media workers and said the mayor and municipal officials would be held responsible for any actions that might take place against García Castañeda and his family.

Reyes said that García Castañeda is highly respected by other journalists and citizens in the municipalities where the daily circulates. He noted that 15 days after the warning issued by the Chavinda municipal authorities, no formal complaint had been filed against either the journalist or the daily.

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