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Reporter receives death threats

(CEPET/IFEX) - Mexico, 13 April 2010 - Journalist Jade Ramírez Cuevas Villanueva, a reporter with Radio Universidad de Guadalajara and the winner of last year's King of Spain journalism prize, was threatened on 3 April, as were activists who opposed the construction of the Zapotillo dam in western Mexico. The incident took place in Cañadas de Obregón, Jalisco state.

According to testimony by Ramírez, the incident took place after 10:00 p.m. in a local shop after a committee to defend the town and its inhabitants began what would likely be their last Easter week celebration in the town. A dam is being built in the area and the towns of Temacapulín, Acasico and Palmarejo will be flooded; the authorities have ordered that locals abandon their homes by 15 May.

Three people entered the shop and threatened Juan Agustín Carvajal Jiménez and Manuel de Jesús Carvajal Jiménez, who are brothers and activists with the "Save Temacapulín, Acasico and Palmarejo Committee", as well as the shop owners; Marco von Borstel Nilsson, from the Mexican Institute for Community Development (Instituto Mexicano para el Desarrollo Comunitario, IMDEC), and the journalist. "You are going to die soon, they are preparing the pit," they said.

One of the men motioned for the journalist to come closer but she refused. The men then approached her, announced that they were federal employees, and then began to interrogate her. The leader of the group, who called himself "Ángel", asked if she was working, if she was from Guadalajara, and if she was also part of the group that was against the building of the dam.

Two of the three men engaged the journalist in an acrimonious conversation that lasted the better part of an hour, until Von Borstel intervened. The two men repeated that the villages would be flooded and the locals would be forced to leave, and nothing they did would make a difference. The third man, who allegedly had a weapon hidden under his belt, maintained a distance. Von Borstel was also threatened. An onlooker used a camera to take pictures of the aggressors.

Ramírez told CEPET that the men's objective was to provoke and intimidate them, but they did not get response that they were looking for. The men's attitude led to a tense atmosphere and they were asked to leave. "They were unsatisfied because, without a doubt, they went in looking for a fight. When they left, they got into the pick-up truck that they came in, put it into reverse and rammed it into another van parked behind them. It was a last attempt to intimidate us," she said.

Ramírez said that on 9 April, she filed a report for death threats and harassment with the Jalisco Attorney General's Office. She also filed a complaint with the State Commission for Human Rights in Jalisco, which forwarded the complaint to the National Commission for Human Rights, the Mexican representative for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and Amnesty International.

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