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Mexico25 September 2008

Radio host who campaigned against organised crime gunned down in Tabasco

Reporters Without Borders voices its support for EXA FM, a local radio station based in Villahermosa (the capital of the southeastern state of Tabasco), following the fatal shooting of one of its programme hosts, Alejandro Xenón Fonseca Estrada, on 23 September. The organisation is outraged that neither federal nor state investigators had contacted the station nearly 24 hours after the murder.

“The lack of any immediate reaction from the police and judicial authorities is all the more incomprehensible as the Mexican congress is currently debating a bill initiated by President Felipe Calderón that would make it a federal crime to attack the media,” Reporters Without Borders said.

“Even assuming Fonseca was killed above all because of his campaigning against organised crime rather than his journalism, there should have been an immediate demonstration of the political will to defend press freedom and restore the rule of law,” the organisation added. “Without waiting for the bill’s final approval, the federal authorities should demonstrate their support for EXA FM, journalists and the Fonseca family by solving this case.”

Aged 33, Fonseca hosted a morning show on EXA FM called “El Padrino” (The Godfather) and he was widely known by the nickname of “Padrino Fonseca.” He was also an activist who campaigned against organised crime and headed an NGO. On the evening of his murder, he was on the streets with a loudspeaker and, together with several colleagues, was putting up stickers criticising abductions.

He was at the intersection of two avenues at about 9 p.m. when a pickup with a Texan licence plate pulled up alongside him. The passengers in the cabin asked him what he was doing with his stickers. Then they opened fire and then drove off. Hit in the chest, Fonseca died after being rushed to the city’s Los Angeles hospital.

The staff of EXA FM told Reporters Without Borders that, by 6 p.m. yesterday, they still had not been contacted by any officials. They also said they were unaware of any prior threats against Fonseca, who started his programme in 2001 on Radio Tabasco before moving with it to EXA FM. He also participated in a local TV programme. His colleagues said “El Padrino,” which was about social issues and had many listeners, might not survive his death as he was its “soul.”

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