MIAMI, Florida (October 13, 2017)—The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) today expressed concern at million-dollar lawsuits filed against the Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, newspaper El Mañana by municipal authorities who felt offended by the paper's investigations into public corruption.
The newspaper has this year been publishing reports on alleged illicit acts and corruption in the city of Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas state, that could involve the existence of ghost companies that acquired million-dollar contracts for advertising, cases of nepotism and alleged enrichment by Mayor Enrique Rivas and other local officials.
The newspaper's news editor, Daniel Rosas, told the IAPA that this questioning of local officials and suppliers led to a series of lawsuits against the newspaper with the objective of "silencing independent voices and imposing censorship upon media critical of the government."
The chairman of the IAPA's Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, Roberto Rock, declared that "just as we observe in other countries it could happen that the authorities use lawsuits and the requirement of million-dollar indemnities to intimidate and inhibit media and journalists from continuing to publish information that is uncomfortable for them."
Rock, editor of the Mexican news portal La Silla Rota, also referred to what is contemplated in international agreements "in which public officials are subject to greater scrutiny and no media or journalist should be punished for disseminating denunciations of those in power," a reference to wording included in the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and in the Declaration of Chapultepec.
In late June El Mañana informed Mexico's National Human Rights Commission that it had received information from reliable sources in the United States about there being organized a possible attack on the newspaper's staff.
Following the journalistic investigations published in El Mañana its editor, Heriberto Cantú Deándar, submitted a denunciation to several state bodies against the mayor alleging corruption and illicit enrichment.
The IAPA is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the defense and promotion of freedom of the press and of expression in the Americas. It is made up of more than 1,300 publications from throughout the Western Hemisphere and is based in Miami, Florida.