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Mexico11 February 2005

Situation worsens in Mexico’s northern border region

Three days after the attempted murder of journalist Jorge Cardona Villegas on 7 February, another journalist in the northern border region, Emilio Gutiérrez, said he received death threats from soldiers over a report in El Diario that several members of a group of soldiers who stormed a hotel were apparently drunk. Gutiérrez is well known for writing about military abuses in the border region. Representatives of the Inter-American Press Association have meanwhile arrived in the border town of Juárez to reopen and review an investigation into the 1991 murder there of journalist Víctor Manuel Oropeza.

09.02.05-Gunmen try to kill journalist in Nuevo León Reporters Without Borders voiced outrage today at a bid to kill TV journalist Jorge Cardona Villegas, of the station Televisa Monterrey, in Monterrey (Nuevo León state), and called for the government to end violence along the border with United States that has killed three journalists over the past year.

"We are glad the authorities have immediately opened an enquiry," the worldwide press freedom organisation said in a letter to Nuevo León state governor José Natividad González Parás. "We urge you to do all you can to arrest those responsible to help stop violence against the media in a region where smuggling of all kinds is rife."

He was asleep in his house on 7 February when gunmen fired more than 50 shots at the building and his car. Investigators and staff at the TV station said the attack may have been linked with a recent programme accusing gangs of kidnapping 30 people in neighbouring Tamaulipas state.

Cardona Villegas declined an offer of protection from the justice minister of Nuevo León state, of which Monterrey is the capital, and took his own precautions, including moving house.

Drug-traffickers are thought to have murdered three journalists who died last year in northern Mexico. The victims were Francisco Javier Ortiz Franco, of the weekly Zeta (killed 22 June), Francisco Arratia Saldierna, a columnist on El Imparcial (31 August) and Gregorio Rodríguez Hernández, of the daily El Debate (28 November).

Zeta was awarded the 2004 Reporters Without Borders - Fondation de France Prize last 21 December for its vigorous defence of the right to be informed.

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in the annual report
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