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Mexico: Two grenade attacks on media in 48 hours should be seen as “serious warning”

The Mexican government should regard two grenade attacks this week on news media in northern Mexico – one against Televisa in Piedras Negras and one against a local newspaper in Monterrey – as a serious warning and should speed implementation of a federal-level convention on the protection of journalists that was signed in November, Paris-based press freedom group Reporters sans Frontières (RSF) has said.

There were a total of seven direct armed attacks on news media in 2010 alone, compared with 18 over the last five years, according to the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH). Televisa, the national TV network, was repeatedly targeted last year.

In the first of this week’s attacks, two fragmentation grenades were thrown at the Televisa branch in Piedras Negras, in the state of Coahuila, on January 9 but did not explode. This was just a few hours after a criminal organization threatened a “media purge” of journalists whose coverage of the “narco-war” was “biased”. Shortly thereafter, someone hacked into the Multimedios website in order to start a rumour that Nuevo León governor Rodrigo Medina had been murdered.

In the second attack, assailants threw a grenade and fired shots with heavy-calibre firearms at the headquarters of El Norte, a local daily in the south of Monterrey, in the state of Nuevo León, but fortunately no one was injured.

A grey TrailBlazer SUV pulled up outside, a man got out of the front passenger door and hurled a grenade that exploded against the building’s facade. It was the second time the newspaper has been attacked in the same way. Fortunately no one was seriously hurt in the first attack, on September 20, either.

Coahuila and Nuevo León have been among the most dangerous regions of the country since the start of the federal offensive against drug-trafficking in December 2006. Some 50,000 soldiers have been mobilised for this undeclared war which left a toll of 15,723 dead in 2010 alone according to an AFP tally, out of a total of 30,000.

Another hundred or so have been killed since 1 January and the media continue to be one of the main targets. The armed violence and physical attacks on journalists are being accompanied by major pressure on the media.

RSF, which is a seeking a consultative role with the Risk Evaluation Committee that the government has created under the new convention on the protection of journalists, supports the “No more blood” campaign that 10 cartoonists launch this week with a cartoon by Alejandro Magallanes. It has been taken up on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Basta-de-Sangre/192545064093366) and Twitter.

Date posted: January 14, 2011 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 127