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Magazine editor abducted, beaten and threatened by mayor and municipal employees

(CEPET/IFEX) - Armando Suárez Martínez, editor of the magazine "Puerto Viejo," filed a complaint against the mayor and several municipal employees of the town of Loreto, in the southwestern state of Baja California Sur, for abduction and death threats.

According to the complaint that Suárez Martínez filed on 25 January 2010 with the state representative of the Attorney General's Office, the incidents took place on 21 January in the Loreto town hall. The following people were involved: the mayor, Yuan Yee Cunningham; his personal secretary, René Davis; the Director of Public Security, Flavio Amador Hernández; the General Director of the Ministry of Public Security, and the mayor's driver.

The mayor insulted Suárez Martínez and threatened to hit him because he did not like the information published in "Puerto Viejo." A scuffle broke out and the mayor's secretary punched Suárez Martínez in the face.

The mayor told Suárez Martínez that they were going to take him somewhere where they would make him talk. The municipal finance secretary, Óscar Aguiar Yee, approached the journalist and punched him in the face as they were waiting for a vehicle.

The journalist said that he was forced into a vehicle belonging to the Ministry of Public Safety and Transit and driven to a spot along the road to San Javier, where they waited for nearly an hour until a gold-coloured Suburban arrived. The mayor emerged from the Suburban, as did his personal secretary, his driver, the finance secretary and a number of other people.

The mayor's driver fired a pistol at the journalist's feet. The mayor then proceeded to threaten the journalist and gave his companions permission to beat him. The finance secretary said that he could have Suárez Martínez buried alive. The men forced the journalist to apologise for writing unfavourable articles. Finally, the mayor warned Suárez Martínez that if he went public with the threats then he would order his assassination.

Four and a half hours later, the journalist was dropped off at Hotel Plaza Loreto. The men left with 300 copies of the magazine to prevent its distribution.

In an interview with CEPET, the municipal finance secretary denied harassing Suárez Martínez and claimed that the journalist had invented the story after he had been prevented from distributing his magazine in the town hall. He also accused the journalist of blackmailing public officials for money. "He wants us to pay him off, you know how these journalists are," said Aguiar Yee, who added that he was considering filing a complaint against Suárez Martínez for defamation.

Meanwhile, Suárez Martínez said that he has not been able to proceed with his complaint because the state Attorney General's Office is going to refer it the authorities in Loreto, and the referral could take several days because there is a backlog of cases.

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