MEXICO In recent months, press freedom has stumbled over many obstacles, including the murders of journalists, various attacks and efforts to regulate journalistic activity. The possible legislative passage of a Law of Social Communications in Mexico has provoked a huge controversy in the media in recent months. The proposed law could cover the following points: 1. regulation of the right to information; 2. formation of a National Commission of Social Communication to oversee the work of printed and electronic media organizations; 3. repeal of the Press Law in effect since 1917 and establishment of a new system to grant radio and television concessions. In the face of this controversy, the congressional committees that proposed the law decided to postpone the debate in the lower house of Congress until next year. President Ernesto Zedillo, speaking for the federal government, opposed the initiative and repeated tJ:lat the best way to respect freedom of expression is for the media to regulate themselves. The third attempt to privatize the state-run newsprint company PIPSA was unsuccessful because bids presented by domestic and foreign companies did not reach the minimum requested by the Mexican government. On Oct. 8 the federal government announced that no bid was accepted During the last seven months four journalists and employees of media companies were murdered. This brings the total number of murders in the past 10 years to 26, most of them unpunished. Fernando Martinez Ochoa, a reporter and spokesman of the social development agency in the city of Chihuahua, Chihuahua state, was killed with an ax on Oct. 25. His body was found in an official vehicle with Federal District license plates. Claudio Cortes Garda, graphics editor of the magazines La Crisis and Le Monde Diplomatique, was found dead on Oct. 23 in his car in the Ampliaci6n Ver6nica Azures neighborhood in Mexico City. The autopsy found that the cause of death was "homicide by strangulation," but it is not known who was responsible. August. 3, the North American journalist Susan Caroline Hulse Furnis, who wrote the popular column "Pulse by Hulse," was murdered at her home in Mexico City along with her servant, Cutberto Chavez, 60. The motive was robbery. On September 30, Pedro Valle Hernandez, correspondent in Puerto de Zihuatanejo of Guerrero state government radio and television was murdered. The reporter had been working on a program about a local child prostitution ring. On August 19, Lucio Hernandez Ramirez, a photographer for the newspaper El Independiente of Hermosillo, Sonora state, was attacked by a number of armed and drunk municipal policemen. He had taken pictures of them when they were causing a disturbance in an amusement park. Hernandez filed a complaint against the policemen, but the case has not been resolved. On April S, Jorge Munoz, TV Azteca's correspondent in Villahermosa, Tabasco state, was attacked by 19 gasoline pump attendants while working as a journalist. Juan Manuel Ramirez, correspondent of Televisa, was also attacked and beaten when he covered the conflict involving several gasoline pump attendants. On April 20, Carlos Medellin, a reporter for the magazine Ovaciones was attacked by police officers in Mexico City while filming the deportation of foreign detainees. On April 13 in San Cristobal, Chiapas, Pascual Gorriz Marcos, a correspondent of the Associated Press, was attacked by some police officers as he taped the ouster of foreign detainees. On the same day, Oriana Gonzalez Elicabe, correspondent of Agence France-Presse, was attacked while taping the same incident. Rafael Gonzalez, a reporter for Notimex; Manuel Gomez, a reporter for the newspaper El Heraldo; Victor Mendez, a reporter for Diario de Mexico; Ernesto Munoz, a photographer for El Universal and Daniel Aguilar, a Reuters correspondent, were beaten on April 23 in Mexico City by supposed street vendors while covering a demonstration. On April 24, Elizabeth Munoz Vazquez a reporter for El Financiero; Citlali Gonzalez Loo, a reporter for the newspaper Sintesis; Edgar Garcia, a reporter for the newspaper El Sol de Tlaxcala; Arturo Diaz, a reporter for the magazine Mercurio XXI; Edgar Juarez, reporter for the magazine Ecos; and David Padilla, a Televisa reporter, were kidnapped in Tlaxcala, Tlaxcala state, by members of the Pioneers of Change, a political group. They were released later. On September 18, the newspaper La Voz del Puerto of Guaymas in Sonora state, was seized by Joel Mendoza Rodriguez and city council members Hernan Aaron Garcia Luna, Miguel Laredo Romero, as well as Reynaldo Valle Pedrosa, the father of the mayor, Sara Valle Dessen. They said they had taken over the newspaper because it was attacking Valle Dessen. The newspaper's executives brought a criminal complaint concerning the attack against freedom of expression, but the case has not been concluded. In recent months 12 lawsuits have been brought against journalists, most of them with obvious overtones of intimidation., The journalists Francisco Quezada Hernandez, Gerardo Sandoval Ortiz, Oscar Octavio Mendoza, David Garcia Barroso, Roberto Edgar Aceves and the editor of the newspaper Tribuna de la Bahia, Procuro Hernandez Oropeza were sued in Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco state, for allegedly violating electoral laws a week before the elections of July 6,1997. An arrest warrant was issued for Hernandez Oropeza, Sandoval Ortiz, Francisco Quezada, Garcia Barroso and Edgar Aceves, but they are now free on bail awaiting the results of their trial for publishing a series of surveys before the 1997 elections. Oscar Octavio Mendoza was the only journalist acquitted in the case which is being heard in a federal court in the city of Guadalajara, 210 miles from Puerto Vallarta. All those involved in the case must report to that city every week On September 8, the editor of the newsmagazine Proceso, Carlos Marin, along with reporter Gerardo Albarran, appeared before a military court as defense witnesses for Col. Pablo Castellanos Garcia, who was accused of leaking secret military documents to these journalists. Marin was pressured by the military prosecutor to reveal the magazine's sources for a report on military subjects but the journalist, citing the Press Law, refused to do so. On April 21 in La Paz, Baja California Sur, editor Leoncio Aguilar Marquez, news editor Mario Alberto Mexia and columnist Luis Miguel Salazar, of the newspaper Sudcalifomiano, were sued by the Federal Electoral Institute for an alleged violation of election laws. On April 16 in Reynosa, Tamaulipas, Francisco Javier Rojas Ruiz, correspondent of El Universal, was sued for the alleged theft of election documents, double voting and theft of a credential. In Sonora, Rodolfo Barraza Gonzalez, editor in chief of the newspaper El Cambia, was sued for libel and defamation on Sept. 7 by Jorge Valencia Juillerat, the mayor of Hermosillo. Jose Carreno Carlon, former press secretary in the government of Carlos Salinas de Gottari, brought charges against columnist Ricardo Aleman Aleman and two executives of the daily El Universal, publisher Juan Francisco Ealy Ortiz and editor Roberto Rock. The charges, filed before the attorney general of the Federal District last Nov. 4, accused the three men of slander, libel, attacks on his personal life and threats On November 9, Carreno Carlon, who is a journalist and head of the Communications Department at the Universidad Iberamericana, brought similar charges against writer Carlos Ramirez of the same publication. The equipment of photographer Candelario Castellon Valtierra of Diario de la Frontera, was stolen on March 23 in the frontier city Nogales in Sonora state. The thieves have not been caught. Unknown persons stole a television camera, a tripod, a microphone and a vehicle from CNN cameraman Martin Asturias and his assistant Jean Pierre Salinas in Mexico City. Also in Mexico City, unidentified persons, acting in league with a tax driver, stole the possessions of Jan Reid, a reporter for Texas Monthly. On November 13, five shots were fired at the home of Raul Rodriguez Angulo, a correspondent in Guaymas, Sonora state. Four hit his car and one was embedded in the stairway of a neighboring house. The attack occurred at dawn, but the journalist did not see the damage to his car until he left home to go to work at 7:30 a.m. Raul Rodriguez said it could have been a reprisal by a man connected to a high Guaymas offiCial who had hurled abuse at him in Serda Street and had recently insulted him in a meeting. The journalist planned to appear before a representative of the national attorney general to pursue an earlier inquiry for damages.