Police linked to death threats of Veracruz newspaper

Diario El Mundo de Orizaba_1206053065236At around 10pm on Tuesday night of this week, Auricela Castro García, the publisher of El Mundo de Orizaba, a daily based in Orizaba in the southeastern state of Veracruz, received a phonecall.

Identifying himself as José Sánchez, the caller asked to speak to the publisher “for personal reasons.” The call was transferred to the editor, who said Castro was in a meeting and unavailable. The caller replied: “Tell her she has information, she knows what I am talking about, and if she publishes it, she will be killed.”

A few moments later, the editor took another call from someone identifying himself as Gumercindo Hernández, who said that he had been “nice until now” but “the situation could soon change” if his demands were not heeded.

According to NGOs, the aim of the threats is in fact coming from the authorities themselves. Reporters Without Borders says ‘the aim of the threats appears to have been to deter the newspaper from reporting that a local police inspector helped the town’s former police chief to evade arrest.’

The story behind the threats was revealed in an editorial in the newspaper yesterday: local police inspector Pedro Angel Márquez allegedly helped the town’s former police chief, Alvaro Mendoza Morales, to evade arrest. Mendoza is wanted for the 16 March shooting of a traffic policeman, Héctor Rafael Sorcia Reyes, who tried to take him to the police station when he was caught driving while drunk.

A complaint has been filed with the Veracruz state prosecutor’s office naming Márquez as main suspect in these threats. The newspaper also promised in yesterday’s issue that it would not let itself be intimidated. “We will not be silenced, neither now nor in the future.”

Local media, Governor Fidel Herrera Beltrán and the National Commission for Human Rights have also come out in support of the newspaper, which unlike some of its contemporaries, is as yet refusing to be silenced by the threats.

The development illustrates the role that the Mexican state authorities play in the repression and intimidation of journalists in the country.

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