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Mexico20 July 2006

Pressured by government, radio station drops interview with Subcomandante Marcos

Reporters Without Borders today condemned the government pressure that led Radio 620, a Mexico City-based commercial radio station, to drop plans to broadcast an interview on 17 July with Subcomandante Marcos, the leader and spokesman of the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN).

The interview, which should have gone out during the programme ‘Política de banqueta,’ was produced by Radio Insurgente, a Zapatista station that calls itself “the voice of those who have no voice.” Its interviews with Marcos are often re-transmitted by other stations including Radio Universidad in the northern state of Querétaro and Radio UNAM in the capital.

“We deplore this act of censorship,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The producers of ‘Política de banqueta’ point out that this is a first under President Fox. The tension surrounding the outcome of the recent election is no justification for this kind of violation of press freedom and political debate and we call for the programme to be broadcast as planned.”

Marcos, who led a brief guerrilla uprising in the southern state of Chiapas in 1994, raised a number of sensitive issues in a Radio Insurgente interview on 3 July, including the salaries of civil servants and legislators, political prisoners in Toluca (in Mexico state) and above all the possibility that the previous day’s presidential election was rigged.

Ever since then, Radio 620 had been under pressure from the office of the president, other government departments and senators not to re-transmit Marcos’s comments. The station yielded to the pressure in order not to lose lucrative state advertising.

The programme was cancelled despite many calls from listeners and a spontaneous demonstration outside the Mexico City headquarters of Radiodifusoras Asociadas, the network that includes Radio Insurgente. The ‘Política de banqueta’ production team has since announced its resignation in solidarity with Marcos.

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