Mexico: Reforma newspaper distribution centre attacked

A Reforma newspaper distribution centre located in the Tlalnepantla municipality in Mexico was attacked by gunfire, seriously injuring one of the franchisees. The events occurred in the early hours of Monday morning in the Viveros del Valle area.

According to Reforma, it was a “drive-by” attack.

“It occurred on the border with Naucalpan, where, on 7 February, a correspondent and a photographer for this newspaper were threatened by the local police while doing a report.”

This is the eighth attack in five years against Reforma’s own facilities and those belonging to the publishing group’s partners. Five of these assaults took place in Nuevo León and one in Jalisco.

“The attack occurred precisely at the time when the newspaper had been reporting on the insecurity that has taken hold of Tlalnepantla, so it is undeniably a reprisal for the news coverage given to it,” said Darío Ramírez, ARTICLE 19’s Director for Mexico and Central America.

Reforma Editor-in-Chief, Lázaro Ríos, said that the franchisee’s condition was serious but stable since, despite going into the back of his neck, the bullet came out through his ear.

In an interview with ARTICLE 19, he stated, “The doctors have said that the way the bullet went in and came out is nothing short of a miracle […] We’re talking about a miraculous situation.”

He mentioned that the attack happened a few days after the photographer Alejandro Velázquez and the correspondent Norma García had been threatened by police officers from Naucalpan, after being arbitrarily detained for reporting on the use of patrol vehicles for undercover operations.

“Lately, we’ve been publishing news items about the kidnapping of councillor Esther Tapia’s son. The whole thing has been documented via recordings, [in which] a tactical patrol vehicle [appears]. In Naulcapan, these patrol vehicles are marked in such a way that you can’t see anything unless there’s a flash […] We published a report on that kidnapping, on the intimidation of the councillor’s son, and after that we asked one of our photographers, Alejandro Velázquez, to do a photo report on those marked vans. On 7 February, both Alejandro Velázquez and Norma García, the correspondent for that area, were detained by the police in order to be taken before a Qualifying Judge and, in the interim, had been threatened and told that they were being watched on the state’s surveillance team’s screens, which had taken photos of them.”

Since 2006, ARTICLE 19 has documented 53 assaults involving explosives and firearms on mass media facilities in Mexico. Three have already taken place in 2015.

ARTICLE 19 calls upon the national and local government authorities in Mexico to comply with their international obligations and to press ahead with the investigations of the attack, without prejudging the motives, and to take the line of investigation relating to exercising freedom of expression to its ultimate conclusion.

ARTICLE 19 demands that specific measures to safeguard the integrity of Reforma’s staff and directors be implemented having regard to the urgency and gravity of the case.