Reporters Without Borders today condemned the severe beating of Radio La Poderosa reporter Agustín Chávez on 3 October in Tlaxiaco (in the southern state of Oaxaca) by brothers of the town’s former mayor, whose allegedly corrupt administration has been the subject of reports by Chávez.
“We are all the more worried about Chávez’s safety as this is not the first time he has been the target of physical attacks or murder attempts because of his work,” the press freedom organisations said, adding: “We call on the office of the Oaxaca special prosecutor tasked with investigating offences against journalists to take all necessary measures to protect Chávez.”
Isaac and Franco Pacheco Pérez, the brothers of former Tlaxiaco mayor Hugo Pacheco Pérez, intercepted Chávez on 3 October, told him, “Son of bitch, we were looking for you,” and then beat him for about 10 minutes until he lost consciousness. They also threatened to kill him because of the harm done to their brother by his reporting on local government corruption between 2002 and 2004.
Chávez was hospitalized for about 20 hours for treatment to head injuries. He told Reporters Without Borders nine days after the attack that he still had not recovered the use of his right leg.
In a previous attack, two cars tried to run him down as he crossed a street on 18 April 2004. One of the cars was driven by municipal official Rigoberto Rodríguez Ramírez. The same day, his cameras, tape-recorders and video-camera were snatched from him by mayor Hugo Pacheco, his brother Isaac and two other municipal officials who, wearing hoods, physically attacked municipal employees as they staged a demonstration that Chávez was covering.
On 3 June of this year, Chávez received a death threat from an anonymous phone caller. He filed a complaint, but the results of the ensuing investigation are strangely unavailable. He was physically attacked on 17 September by a member of the current municipal administration who called for the retraction of statements Chávez had made about him.