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Journalist flees to Texas after receiving death threats

(CEPET/IFEX) - 30 July 2010 - Martín López Castro, a reporter for Canal 44 in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua (northern Mexico) fled to El Paso, Texas, after receiving death threats on 27 July.

The death threats, which López suspects are from drug traffickers, came in the form of graffiti that was spray-painted on the façade of an appliance store in Ciudad Juárez. In the graffiti, unknown assailants threatened to kill López Castro and his brother. The authorities were made aware of the graffiti at 11:00 pm on the night of 27 July.

Several hours earlier, Donaldo Antonio López, the reporter's brother and a transit police officer in Ciudad Juárez, was detained by officials of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in El Paso for being in possession of several cases of nine-millimetre caliber bullets.

On 28 July, the Canal 44 evening news broadcast notified viewers of the threat and the journalist's decision to "take a career break". At the same time, station director Armando Cabada vouched for López Castro's work: "We have known Martin López for many years and as his employers, we can vouch that he is an honest man . . . Unfortunately, these types of messages cannot be taken lightly, and Martin will have to take a break in his career as a journalist in order to avoid being the target of violence."

"Today we reiterate that we will continue to fulfill our duty to keep our viewers informed, regardless of who is watching. We care about who watches our broadcasts, but more important is that we speak the truth, be objective and equitable, and do not involve ourselves in a war that is none of our business but that unfortunately we have the job of reporting on every day. Informing the public is our exclusive and only role and we will continue to fulfill it."

The directors of the television station confirmed that López Castro decided to leave Ciudad Juárez and establish himself in El Paso because he was concerned about his safety. At the same time, they said that there had not been any prior threats. The station also said that in light of the escalating violence in the city, Canal 44 has recently adopted stricter security measures in order to minimise its risk.

(Please note this is an abridged translation.)

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