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Journalist stabbed, beaten in Managua

(IAPA/IFEX) - The following is a 13 November 2008 IAPA press release:

Murder of journalist in Mexico, attack in Nicaragua bring IAPA protest

Miami (November 13, 2008) - The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) today expressed outrage at the murder of a Mexican journalist and a violent attack on another in Nicaragua, and, at the same time, urged the authorities in both countries to immediately begin in-depth investigations to bring those responsible to justice.

Armando Rodríguez, a reporter with "El Diario" in Ciudad Juárez in the northern Mexican state of Chihuahua, was killed around 8:20 a.m. this morning as he was leaving home to take his young daughter to school in a car owned by his newspaper. The car was cut off by unidentified assailants who shot at him at least five times.

IAPA President Enrique Santos Calderón expressed sympathy to Rodríguez' family and colleagues and urged "the authorities to conduct a prompt and thorough investigation into the incident so the guilty are brought to justice." He added, "Mexico has become the most dangerous place in the Americas to work as a journalist."

Rodríguez, known as "El Choco" (One-Armed), was a 14-year employee of "El Diario" and covered the police beat. He also wrote for the newspaper "El Norte" and Televisa TV.

Although the motive for his murder was not immediately known, according to a report in "El Universal", "early this year he and seven other newsmen covering the same beat received death threats; that is why Rodríguez had to temporarily leave his job and move to El Paso, Texas," returning two months later.

In another development, Santos Calderón, editor of the Bogotá, Colombia, newspaper "El Tiempo", protested against an armed attack on Nicolás Berríos Santana, a journalist with radio station Tu Nueva Radio Ya in Nicaragua, who was assaulted yesterday (November 12) on a main street in Managua after the vehicle he was traveling in - bearing his radio station's logo - was stopped by two cars.

The chairman of the IAPA's Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, Robert Rivard, editor and executive vice president of the Texas newspaper "San Antonio Express-News", declared that "we are concerned for the physical safety of journalists in Nicaragua because there they have become victims of political polarization."

Berríos Santana, recovering in a Managua hospital, was stabbed seven times in the chest, stomach and arms. He was dragged and beaten and his car set afire while his assailants threatened to cut off his tongue if he continued reporting for the pro-government radio station. They were heard to also say: "We are going to kill everybody at the station because they only talk s. . . t."

Berríos Santana, who covers President Daniel Ortega's events, interpreted the attack on him as a warning to the radio station. "They didn't want to kill me this time, what they wanted to do was scare Tu Nueva Radio Ya journalists," he said.

For further information on the Rodríguez case, see: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/98510

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