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Mexico9 November 2005

Benjamín Fernández "out of danger"

Benjamín Fernández of local Radio Loma/Radio Hit, who was shot on 6 November in Loma Bonita, Oaxaca State in southern Mexico, is "out of danger", state judicial authorities said on 8 November. A medical report said that the journalist suffered seven 9mm calibre gunshot wounds to his chest, abdomen and arm. One bullet penetrated his lung.

Judicial officials also recognised a probably link between the attack and the journalist’s work. A representative of the federal justice ministry for Oaxaca State, Javier Dávalos Molina, said an investigation could be opened at federal level.


08.11.05 - Radio journalist critical after shooting

Reporters Without Borders expressed shock after Benjamín Fernández of Radio Loma was shot and left critically wounded in Loma Bonita in southern Mexico’s Oaxaca State, on 6 November 2005.

"Mexico has in 2005 become Latin America’s deadliest country for journalists. The government’s increased awareness of the problem has not produced the hoped-for results. Investigations are rarely successful and impunity remains the rule. It is essential that the special prosecutor’s office promised by the federal government for press cases is put in place and its investigators given real resources. The attack against Benjamín Fernández has made this more urgent than ever", Reporters Without Borders said.

Fernández was walking through a park on the outskirts of Loma Bonita, when a dark coloured truck with tinted windows pulled up alongside him. A man got out of the vehicle and took out a submachine gun that had been hidden in his clothing and shot the journalist. He was hit by ten 9 mm calibre bullets in the head and body. The hit man quickly returned to the truck where an accomplice was waiting and the two men fled. Police roadblocks set up around Loma Bonita failed to catch them.

Fernández was taken to hospital in Tuxtepec where his condition was described as critical. Doctors found several serious wounds, some of which had damaged vital organs.

The journalist had often targeted officials and politicians, in his broadcasts and reporting. Police in Oaxaca State, who are in charge of the investigation, have not ruled out the possibility that he was attacked in reprisal.

Relations between the press and local politicians are particularly strained in the state. Since June, there has been a serious conflict, pitting State Governor Ulíses Ruiz Ortiz and his supporters against the daily Noticias de Oaxaca, which has been suffering constant harassment.

The Fernández shooting has similarities to other still unsolved attacks; against Dolores Guadalupe García Escamilla, of Stereo 91 XHNOE radio in Nuevo Laredo in the north-east on 5 April 2005, who died 11 days later; and against the editor of the daily La Opinión Raúl Gibb Guerrero, on 8 April in Veracruz State in the east of the country. Three other journalists have recently been murdered, but it has not been established whether or not the killings were linked to their jobs.

José Reyes Brambila, of the daily Vallarta Milenio, was found stabbed to death in the boot of his car on 17 September, in Guadalajara, Jalisco State in western Mexico. Julio César Pérez Martínez, of the daily Siglo de México (which ceased publishing in July) was critically wounded in an exchange of fire between armed groups on 24 October in Reynosa in Tamaulipas State in the north-east. Hugo Barragán, of Radio Max and columnist for the magazine La Crónica de la Cuenca, was beaten to death at his home in Tierra Blanca, Veracruz State on 30 October. In this last case, the state, Justice Minister has already ruled out the likelihood of his work being involved, because of his repeated involvement in sexual impropriety.

Another journalist, Alfredo Jiménez Mota, crime reporter on the daily El Imparcial has been missing since 2 April 2005 in Hermosillo, Sonora State in the north-east.



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