This period saw a disconcerting delay in terms of federal legislation, and this has created difficulties for journalistic activity. No journalists were murdered during this time, and physical assaults have been less frequent. However, the most common attacks stem from legal provisions on which prosecutors and judges base their infringement of the right to keep news sources confidential. There has also been an increase in criminal charges for libel. As a result, Mexican journalists have been placed on trial, during which they usually remain free on bail. Nothing has come of the Mexican government’s statements on bills that would establish journalistic confidentiality or reforming libel and defamation laws so that media companies and employees may only be assessed civil penalties for statements made against public officials related to the performance of their duties, or private individuals directly involved in matters of public interest. The Press Act, which dates from 1917 and was unilaterally passed by the government of the time before the current Constitution existed, sets forth measures inconsistent with freedom of the press. The possibility of repealing it is not being discussed in Congress. The administration of President Vicente Fox has expressed its willingness to address this issue legally, but no action has been taken. The murders of several journalists remain unsolved, such as the April 29, 1988 murder of Héctor Félix Miranda; the July 3, 1991 murder of Víctor Manuel Oropeza; the December 1998 murder of U.S. journalist Phillip True; and the November 1997 shooting of Jesús Blancornelas. The debate generated through forums and conferences promoted by the current vice president created the conditions in which the Morelia state legislature passed reforms to the state constitution establishing journalistic confidentiality. The state of Coahuila is currently considering a similar bill. The Public Information Transparency and Access Act, whose initial push came in an IAPA-sponsored seminar in February 2001, was formally adopted in June 2002. This law met with favorable public reaction. Of the 32 states or federal entities in Mexico, 11 have passed laws on this issue, and similar bills are pending in 8 others. Unfortunately, in several cases, including in Mexico City, they are in a state of stagnation. Attacks on journalists during this period: - On September 4, federal police agents carried out another act of harassment against reporters from the Mexico City newspaper La Jornada. The agents went to the newspaper’s offices and pressured them to reveal the sources used in an article on the seizure of drugs. The problem began in November 2002, when an agent from the federal public prosecutor’s office presented the reporters with a summons for the same purpose. The Attorney General’s Office stated that the officers and agent involved in this act of harassment were suspended from their jobs, and announced that it would issue a “rule” specifying in which cases a summons may be issued to journalists, and that they will they be asked to reveal their sources “only on an exceptional basis.” - On August 26, Francisco Barradas, a journalist in the state of Zacatecas, was arrested and tried on charges of libel filed by a municipal official in relation to an article published in July 2002. Barradas is free on bail and accused the state attorney general, Aquiles González Navarro, of manipulating the investigation against him. - Conrado de la Cruz Jiménez, editor of the newspaper Cuarto Poder in Chiapas, claimed that the arrest of his son, Conrado de la Cruz Morales, was actually an act of persecution by the state government against the newspaper. De la Cruz Morales, who is also an officer at the newspaper, was jailed for alleged improprieties involving a bar that he owns. The state government has been harassing the newspaper. - On September 8, Tomás Martínez Juárez, a reporter with the newspaper Noticias in Oaxaca, stated that his vehicle was intentionally set on fire. He blamed the act on state police officers who have been mentioned in his articles for their alleged involvement with gangs of car thieves. - On April 6, Agustín Pérez y Saíd Betanzos, reporters with the newspaper Frontera in Baja California, were summoned by the federal Attorney General’s Office to reveal their sources for an article on drug trafficking to the United States. - On July 10, Jesús Mejía Lechuga, a reporter with the MS Radio news organization, was reported missing in the state of Veracruz. His wife filed a criminal complaint regarding his disappearance. State attorney general Pericles Namorado stated that the reporter left the state to evade charges of car theft. Raúl Gutiérrez Rodríguez, director of the radio news organization, asked for an investigation of federal congressman Guillermo Zorrilla Fernández, who had been named on several occasions by the reporter for alleged links with drug trafficking in the region. - On August 14, a police officer hired as a bodyguard for the singer Lucero drew his gun and threatened entertainment reporters inside a theater featuring an event with the artist. There were many similar incidents involving show business celebrities, politicians and businessmen, whose bodyguards intimidated or assaulted reporters hoping to interview these figures. - There has been no progress in the case of U.S. journalist Philip True since January 28, when a federal court threw out the 13-year prison sentence handed down by the Jalisco State Supreme Court against two indigenous men charged in the December 1998 killing of the reporter. The federal judge ruled that the state court committed irregularities in the trial, which came after Miguel Hernández and Juan Chivarra were released in August 2001. As a result of this decision, both men remain free. The two were charged shortly after the crime and held in prison by order of the court for three years. A wide range of legal experts have stated that the legal proceedings have been tainted by “flagrant incompetence or neglect,” and have blamed the judge who initially acquitted the defendants for altering court documents and recording false statements.