MEXICO Several attacks on journalists affected press freedom in the past six months. One was the mysterious death of José Luis Ortega Mata, editor of the weekly Ojinga, in the town of that name in Chihuahua state near the U.S. border. There have also been numerous cases of harassment of journalists and the repeated attempt by some political groups to regulate the media. This contrasts with the government’s demonstration of openness to demands by the media for laws guaranteeing access to public information, protection of confidential sources, encouragement of openness in the use of public funds intended for the media and control of the state-owned media by civil society. On February 21, José Luis Ortega Mata, editor of the weekly Ojinga, was killed with two .22-caliber bullets to the head near his home. His body was found beside his minivan, which had been carefully parked. When the ambulance arrived, the motor of the minivan was running and the lights were on. The state prosecutor’s office in Chihuahua said the crime was committed by someone Mata knew, since he had gotten out of the car voluntarily. Investigators were gathering information about the possible attackers from friends and relatives of the victim. The two main lines of investigation focus on several reports in his weekly on the alleged existence of drug trafficking in Ojinga and other towns near the U.S. border. Authorities are also investigating threats he reportedly received because of personal disputes. On October 27, 2000, Luis Javier Salido, deputy editor of the regional newspaper chain El Debate, located in Sinaloa state, published in the morning edition an open letter to the governor, Juan Millán Lizárraga, saying he had been harassed by people in a van without license plates. The letter said the three armed people, “all with uniforms and insignia of the PGR,” the national prosecutor’s office, harassed and threatened him. The police did not investigate. Last August, Ildefonso Salido, the publisher of El Debate newspapers, was violently kidnapped. He was released four days later after payment of a ransom. In November, Francisco Rodríguez, García, editor of the second edition of the newspaper Ovaciones, received a stream of threats via the Internet, presumably related to the publication in his daily political column of reports implicating members of the Mexican navy in corruption. Shortly after the inauguration of President Vicente Fox in December, several media outlets publicized evidence of repeated incidents of telephone tapping by the Center for Investigation and National Security (Cisen), part of the Interior Ministry and one of many government intelligence and espionage agencies. Among those whose telephones are constantly tapped are Carmen Lira Saade, editor of the newspaper La Jornada; Carlos Ramírez and Miguel Badillo, columnists of El Universal, and Francisco Ortiz Pinchetti, former contributor to the magazine Proceso and currently general director of the news agency Notimex. It has been reported that Cisen has also had journalists and their relatives followed. This was confirmed by the national Human Rights Commission, which recommended that authorities clarify the origin of these practices and have them stopped. The Interior Ministry under the new administration announced the end of political espionage. It offered to investigate the complaints and end these practices. In December an attack against journalist José Meza of the town of Celaya was reported. He was slapped in public by the mayor, José Manuel Méndez Márquez of the National Action Party (PAN) who had complained about the publication of negative reports and criticism of his administration. In what has become a pattern in recent years, legislators from several parties insisted on the necessity of “regulating” journalists’ work, supposedly to guarantee citizens’ right to accurate information. A bill has been pending in Congress for two years to create a council that would supervise the work of the media, dictate their conduct, and eventually sanction them. As this report was being closed, it was reported that state police agents attacked the offices of the daily El Sur de Campeche on March 9. Under the pretext of carrying out a court order, the armed agents, using excessive violence, disconnected and destroyed computer equipment, with the obvious intension of stopping the paper from being published.