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Bombs thrown at journalist's home in Tabasco

(CEPET/IFEX) - Unidentified assailants threw three Molotov cocktails at the home of Rafael Martínez de Escobar, editor of the newspaper "Tabasco al Día," on 4 February 2010. According to Martínez de Escobar, the attack came after Pemex Gas y Petroquímica Básica offered him a job in exchange for not criticising Pemex and for removing a billboard that claimed the state-owned gas company was engaging in corrupt practices.

According to a report that Martínez de Escobar filed with the Tabasco Attorney General's Office, the explosion took place at his home at 3:00 am on 4 February, when a bomb thrown by unidentified assailants hit a billboard that was located on the rooftop terrace of the house. The billboard accused the deputy manager of Pemex, Armando Arenas Briones, of using his influence and position at the gas company to conduct business.

Martínez de Escobar recounted that several days prior, several people supposedly sent by Arenas Briones spoke to him about removing the billboard, which had been placed there by a third party. In exchange, they offered him Pemex contracts and 500,000 pesos (approx. US$ 38,000). Martínez de Escobar refused, and was warned that there would be consequences.

In an open letter to Mexican president Felipe Calderón, the journalist wrote, "This isn't an isolated event or a chance happening. These bombs are the response of a group that is interested in slamming the brakes on criticism and infringing on the media's right to free expression, such as the report by 'Tabasco al Día' on a series of irregularities at the state-owned Petróleos Mexicanos."

In an interview with CEPET, the president of Grupo Ramell, the company that edits "Tabasco al Día," said that three people managed to launch three homemade bombs - glass bottles filled with gasoline and ignited by a piece of cloth - at the property, but only one exploded. Another bomb was found tossed on the street after a watch guard frightened off the attackers, who escaped.

The president of Grupo Ramell said that the company holds Arenas Briones responsible for the personal safety of the newspaper's editor and staff.

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