Press freedom is restricted in various parts of the country where local authorities are reluctant to stop authoritarian actions against independent journalists. They are pressured politically, harassed with alleged legal actions and even attacked physically. Organized crime continues to claim the lives and minds of journalists. Drug traffic is the greatest challenge for the rule of law. So far this year there have been 1,600 murders linked to organized crime with levels of brutality never before seen in this country. Journalism is becoming more and more dangerous, especially in the region bordering the United States. Many journalists are gagged and threatened. Drug traffickers have corrupted local, state and federal police officers: mayors, judges, teachers and priests, even taxi drivers and hotel employees. It would be naïve to say that journalists have not been co-opted as well, sometimes under threat of attacks on them or their families if they do not agree to take bribes. Two journalists have been murdered and one has disappeared. On August 10, the body of Enrique Perea Quintanilla, owner of the magazine Dos Caras, was found with signs of torture in the northern state Chihuahua. Local authorities determined that the murder was committed by drug traffickers, probably members of the Gulf and Juarez cartels, because the journalist had reported on alleged links between organized crime and municipal officials. The case was taken by the federal attorney general’s office. Ramiro Téllez Contreras, a reporter for radio station EXA 95.7 FM of Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, was killed on March 10 as he left his home. He was host of a radio program and director of Command and Control Computer Center C-4, an emergency service of the State Public Safety Council. Rafael Ortiz Martínez, a reporter for the daily Zócalo in the border town Monclova in Coahuila, disappeared as of July 8, apparently kidnapped. He had published several news stories about gangs linked to prostitution and corruption in local jails. The government established a special prosecutor’s office to handle crimes against journalists. The head of the office, David Vega Vera, presented a report in May, saying that since 1982, 53 Mexican reporters and columnists have been murdered for reasons connected to their work. Since 2000, 23 have been killed, including three who have disappeared. Among the offenses against journalists, the report underlined cases of abuse of authority, violations of the Federal Law on Firearms and Explosives, defamation, injuries, property damage, robbery, conspiracy by public servants, intimidation, influence peddling, obstruction of justice, libel, misuse of public office, and illegal detention, as well as violation of constitutional rights. It has received 80 complaints since the office was established in March. In April, more than 100 Mexican newspapers and several Spanish language newspapers in the United States published the first report produced by Project Phoenix which encourages reporters from different organizations to collaborate on investigative reports the journalists were working on at the time of their murders. The first report refers to the case of Alfredo Jiménez Mota, reporter for El Imparcial in Hermosillo. The climate of political tension in various parts of the country, and expecially in Oaxaca state, has caused physical attacks and threats, such as those recently against Ricardo Rocha, a broadcast journalist, who was beaten by activists of the so-called Popular People’s Assembly of Oaxaca. Also, demonstrators have taken over radio stations, pressuring them to transmit specific messages. The following are the most important recent developments. The federal Congress approved a journalists’ shield law and it was decreed by the Executive Branch. The measure states that it does not seek a special privilege for journalists but to preserve citizens’ right to publicize and gather information. Another law, which makes journalistic offenses civil rather than criminal, was approved April 18 in the Chamber of Deputies. A vote is pending in the Senate. On August 9 in Oaxaca, two men fired on workers and vendors of the newspaper Noticias. Vendor Adrián Cervantes was injured in the head and Isabel Reyes Cruz in the chest. Isabel Calvo Jiménez, an employee, and Miguel Ángel Altamirano Zárate, a distributor, were also injured. This was yet another episode in an escalation of attacks since last year against the newspaper and its executives, headed by Ericel Gómez Nucamendi. In all of these cases, Noticias has indicated that state officials are responsible for the attacks, including Governor Ulises Ruiz and the former government secretary Jorge Franco Vargas. He was accused of ordering an attack by plainclothes policemen on June 17, 2004 on the newspaper’s offices, where 31 employees were stranded. They were then evicted violently one day later, allegedly because of a strike against the company. The offices of the company that publishes the newspapers Por Esto! and Que Quintana Roo se entere, were attacked three times, in Cancun, Quintana Roo and Merida, Yucatan. Four people were injured. Hand grenades were thrown at the newspapers’ offices twice on August 23 in Cancun and at the beginning of September in Merida. The authorities said they were investigating organized crime links to the attacks. Miguel Menéndez Cámara, assistant editor of Por Esto!, reported that the attack was the work of “organized crime networks” that are “covered up” by state and federal authorities. On May 17, the State Human Rights Commission (Coddehum) in Guerrero, sent a recommendation to the state prosecutor’s office about irregularities committed by former governor René Juárez Cisneros (1999-2005) and officials of his administration with respect to the disappearance and possible murder of journalist Leodegario Aguilera Lucas, publisher of the regional magazine Mundo Poítico, who was kidnapped on May 22, 2004, while investigating the diversion of funds from the state treasury. On May 31, the IAPA asked President Vicente Fox to intervene to speed up the investigation of the death of journalist Francisco Ortiz Franco, publisher of the weekly Zeta of Tijuana, Baja California. He was shot to death in front of his two children on June 22, 2004, after publishing the identity of 71 member of the drug cartel headed by the Arellano Felix brothers. The main suspect was killed by the cartel. The investigation is not moving forward, although it is now being conducted by the organized crime unit of the federal attorney general’s office. On June 21 in Merida, Yucatan, unidentified people threw Molotov cocktails at the home of Manuel Acuña López, a reporter for the newspaper Por Esto!, setting a fire that destroyed his vehicle and damaged construction materials, but did not cause any injuries. The reported blamed Yucatan Governor Patricio Patrón Laviada for the attack, and said that the state government had warned him earlier against reporting about corruption. In September, El Imparcial newspaper in Hermosillo said it had been sued by the governor of Sonora, Eduardo Bours, for news stories about his administration’s reluctance to report on the use of public funds, which is required under the state freedom of information law. Abuses continue in the case of journalist Lydia Cacho who has reported mistreatment by Puebla state authorities. The state prosecutor, Blanca Laura Villena Martínez, said she considered the writer’s report of being held incommunicado without medicine and food a “myth.” The journalist said she was detained in Cancun, Quintana Roo, in December, 2005, and transferred to Puebla on charges of libel brought by a textile executive. Cacho wrote the book “The Devils of Eden,” about child sexual abuse. The National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) reported that a computer with information about the journalist’s case and a case of police torture had been stolen from its office in Mexico City. The computer was stolen on August 10 by four men who said they were employees of a maintenance company. On April 20 in Michoacán state, Rafael Rivera Millán of the daily El Universal, reported that he was threatened by mining union activists in Lázaro Cárdenas for his coverage of the union’s conflict with steel companies which led local authorities to attempt to evict the miners, leaving two of them dead. On May 10, Oscar Mario Beteta of Radio Fórmula reported that he received telephoned death threats against himself and his family by hit men in Tamaulipas state because of his commentaries against one of the presidential candidates in the July 12 election. On May 13, Federal Investigation Agency (AFI) agents detained Miguel Ángel López Solana, a photographer for the newspaper Notiver, on charges of possession of cocaine. This took place after his father, Miguel Ángel López Velasco, a columnist for the newspaper, published information about alleged corrupt actions by Juan Selem Kuri, an agent of the federal Public Prosecutor’s Office. López Solana was interrogated for 17 hours by policemen directed by Salem Kuri himself, and said they had tried to force him to implicate his father in drug trafficking. On May 24, in Michoacán state, journalist Antonio Ramos Tafolla said he was kidnapped and threatened with death by drug traffickers in Apatzingán municipality after reporting on a radio program about a clash between traffickers and police. On June 7, Alejandro González Anaya, president of the Journalists’ Association of Querétaro state and correspondent of the daily Milenio, complained to the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) that he was harassed by the state government after publishing a news story reporting its excessive advertising expenditures. On June 7 in Ciudad Victoria, Tamaulipas, Rocío Cantú Galindo, of the morning news show on Radio GAPE, said she had received telephoned death threats after several city employees had gone to her office to threaten her. Cantú Galindo, said the city government, headed by Francisco Javier García Cabeza de Vaca, would be responsible for whatever might happen to her or her family. On June 8, journalist Hugo Isaac Robles Guillén said several unidentified men broke a window in his vehicle and tried to burn it while he was at radio station XEWM in San Cristobal de las Casas. On June 21, a state leader of the National Action Party (PAN) reported a telephone conversation in which Claudia Corichi García, daughter of the governor of Zacatecas state, Amalia García, ordered an official of the state Finance Department to suspend payment of advertising contracts with the newspaper Imagen and the weekly El Nopal because they “have behaved badly” and published news stories against the local government. Corichi García was elected a senator of the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) in federal elections July 2, 2006. On June 23, in Oaxaca state, Román Carlos Velasco, a photographer for the newspaper Noticias, reported to the special prosecutor’s office to investigate crimes against journalists that he was beaten by members of the special police unit called “Jaguars” when he was shooting pictures of the eviction of city residents who were trying to hold a sit-in in front of city hall. The 44-year-old journalist, who has diabetes, was thrown to the ground hitting his head and then kicked and beaten until passersby came to his rescue. On June 26, Alejandro Benjamín Vivanco of the daily Provincia of Michoacan state was physically attacked by the spokesman of the Public Safety Department in Morelia while working as a reporter there. Reporter Lucio Torres Monzalvo and cameraman Raúl Leyva Corona of Televisión Azteca in Hidalgo, reported that they were detained by Federal Investigation Agency police while covering the arrest of suspected criminals. The journalists reported that at least six AFI police officers took them to their headquarters in Pachuca where they were beaten. Their possessions were taken, as well as a video camera and a recorder. Two people convicted of the murder of Philip True, a correspondet for The San Antonio Express-News in Mexico in 1988 are still at large. The executives of the newspaper Cuarto Poder, of Chiapas, are still being attacked by Pablo Salazar, the state governor. For this reason the editor, Conrado de la Cruz remains outside the country since he has been threatened with arrest if he returns.