CJFE protests threats to Mexican journalist

Wednesday, June 16, 1999

CJFE protests threats to
Mexican journalist

Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de León
President of Mexico
Los Pinos
Mexico City, Mexico
Fax: +52 5 271 4867

16 June 1999

Your Excellency,

On behalf of Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE), a non-profit, non-governmental organization dedicated to promoting the free expression of journalists worldwide, I would like to impress upon you our deep concern for the safety of Jesús Barraza, editor of the weekly magazine "Pulso" in San Luis Río Colorado, Sonora.

After having been threatened for publishing stories on drug traffickers, your office responded by assigning a municipal police officer to provide security to Jesús Barraza. However, on 5 June 1999, Federal Judicial Police (PJF) attacked his bodyguard who subsequently withdrew and refused to provide protection.

As the PJF police left, two "Pulso" reporters followed them. The reporters noted that the PJF's vehicle bore California licence plates, and later determined that the car they were driving had been reported stolen. The attackers drove towards the PJF headquarters and eventually sought refuge within the building. We find these events disturbing in light of the fact that the week before the attack, Barraza published a story alleging links between the PJF and local drug traffickers and called for an investigation.

The CJFE takes this opportunity to remind you of the 1997 murder of Barraza's former editor Benjamín Flores Gonzáles. Given the violence against journalists in Mexico, we feel that our concern is well founded and deserving of immediate attention.

Protecting freedom of expression is an important component of a free society. Under Article 6 of the Mexican Constitution, the responsibility for protecting freedom of expression is entrusted to the federal government. As such, we call upon your office to personally ensure the safety of Barraza and his family, and to conduct a complete investigation in to this latest attack against the journalist and to see that the perpetrators are punished accordingly.

The CJFE asks that you inform us of the measures taken to protect Barraza and other Mexican journalists from the dangers encountered while performing their professional duties.

Yours truly,

Wayne Sharpe
Executive Director

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