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Reporter fired after receiving threats over article on drug-related violence

(CEPET/IFEX) - 23 June 2010 - Karla Tinoco Santillán, a reporter with "La Opinión Milenio" newspaper in the state of Durango, received several threatening phone calls on 24 May, shortly after she published an article on how drug-related violence was affecting people and businesses in the town of Vicente Guerrero. One week later, the newspaper let her go. She covered the security and police beats for the Laguna Multimedia Group, the newspaper's parent company.

In a conversation with CEPET, Tinoco said she had been at the newspaper's offices researching information about a murder in the town of Santiago Papasquiaro when the newsroom received three phone calls asking for Tinoco by name. The third caller left a threatening message with another journalist, warning Tinoco to stop "putting her nose in where she does not belong."

The director of information for the Laguna Multimedia Group, Ángel Carrillo, was made aware of the threats. To provide Tinoco with more security, he assigned her to cover less high-profile topics. However, on 31 May, when she returned to Durango, her colleagues at "La Opinión Milenio" told her that her presence compromised everyone's security and they demanded that Carrillo make a decision. "It's her or us," they said. That day, the journalist received a phone call from human resources informing her that she had been let go. She was told it was a "temporary layoff".

Tinoco said the article that led to the threats was something that grew out of a personal interest in reporting on the most violent towns in Durango, particularly the municipalities that are mentioned very much in the media. Carrillo knew about the project and the article on Vicente Guerrero was featured on the front page of the newspaper.

"I have gone to a number of media outlets here in Durango but nobody wants to hire me," said Tinoco. She said that the media directors who had previously opened doors for her now told her that her situation made it impossible to hire her.

(Please note this is an abridged translation.)

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