MEXICO Three murders, four kidnappings, 20 physical assaults and three death threats have cast a shadow over press freedom in the last six months. On July 15, Benjamin Flores Gonzalez, owner and editor of La Prensa in San Luis Rio Colorado, Sonora was murdered on the doorstep of his newspaper. One of the four assailants shot 30 rounds from an AK47 rifle at him. Flores, who was just sending the paper to press, fell to the ground. His murderer then took a pistol and shot him twice through the head. La Prensa, a modest newspaper known for its courageous reporting, was celebrating its fifth anniversary at the time of the murder. Flores had been sent to jail on a previous occasion on charges filed by an official he had accused of fraud, according to earlier IAPA reports. Luis Enrique Rincön Mora was charged with shooting Flores; Vidal Zamora Lara, Carlos Pacheco Garda and Jose Francisco Benavides Avila were arrested as accomplices. There are suspicions that authorities looking into the case have deliberately muddled the investigations since they never revealed the presence of Carlos Pacheco Garda, known as "Roman," at the murder scene. One of the accomplices fingered him as the person who pulled the trigger, but Pacheco has not been arrested. On May 20, Abel Bueno León, editor of the weekly La Cronica de Chilpancingo in Guerrero, was shot in the head and killed after being tortured by assailants. On July 26, Victor Hernandez Martinez, a reporter for the Mexico City magazine Como, died the day after a severe beating by unidentified men. In both cases, officials have held up the investigations and neither the identity nor the motives of the assailants are known. Cuauhtemoc Ornelas Campos, editor of the magazine Alcance in Torreón, Coahuila, has been missing since October 4, 1995, and investigations have not moved ahead despite a plea by the IAPA. In the last nine years, 21 journalists have been murdered in Mexico, 14 have been kidnapped and more than 228 physically assaulted. The murders of Hector Felix ( "The Cat") Miranda and Victor Manuel Oropeza Contreras continue to go unpunished. The escalation of attacks on members of the Mexico City press corps has been underscored by three crimes with apparent police involvement. On August 25, David Vicentefio, a reporter for Mexico City newspaper Reforma, was kidnapped, beaten and threatened with death for carrying out investigations into the disappearance of a police officer whom some sources have identified as a double for alleged drug trafficker Amado Carillo Fuentes. In a prior incident on September 6, 1996, reported by the IAPA, the Mexico City police chief had barred Vicentefio from access to information. On September 5,1997, Reforma reporter Daniel Lizarraga was abducted and beaten after interviewing relatives of Attorney General's Office staff linked to the shipment of cocaine aboard aircraft belonging to that agency. The abductors questioned the reporter about what Reforma was investigating, but had not yet published. On September 15, Ernesto Madrid and Rene Solorio, reporters for TV Azteca, were kidnapped and physically attacked by four unidentified men who questioned why they were broadcasting reports on organized crime in Mexico City. Other attacks: On April 8, Nestor Olivares Medina, a photographer for the Mexico City newspaper La Jomada, was beaten up by street vendors. Olivares was taking photos of the vendors during a police eviction. On April 11, municipal police in Guadalajara arrested and beat up Salvador Chavez Calderon, a reporter for Televisa's Channel 4, who was covering a raid and hostage-taking at a local business. On April 15, Francisco Lopez Vargas, a stringer for EI Sur of Campeche, was physically assaulted by Alvaro del Carmen Arceo Concuera, a former civil judge and secretary general of the state government. The reporter was attempting to interview Layda Sansores, a gubernatorial candidate for the opposition party PRD in Campeche. Arceo Concuera, who had held elected office on the ruling PRI party ticket and is now a member of the opposition PRD, had been accused of using his brother's newspaper to attack and insult those who disagreed with his ideas. On May 14, three men armed with high-caliber pistols beat up EI Sur employees in Campeche to pressure them into stopping their critical reporting. Editors and editorial assistants Victoria Heredia Chavez, Cesar Cortez Toroya, Estela Escalante Dzib and Dalia Aldana Gonzalez were beaten, as were Candelario Coyoc Ramirez and Lucy Maribel Chihi from the circulation department and security guard Javier Flores Cruz. On May 22, five photographers taking photos of the violent eviction of several Tarahumara Indians in Chihuahua were beaten up by city policemen. On June 5, municipal guards roughed up Telecable reporter Hugo Meza and cameraman Fernando Corro Rosas while they were filming an eviction in downtown Puebla. On July 31, state police officers beat and threatened to kill five reporters trying to gather information about the arrest of two federal agents and two imposters in Culiacan, Sinoloa, on extortion charges. Attacked were RafaelJimenez and Leobardo Espinoza from El Debate; Georgina Caideron Gill, a Televisa correspondent, and Manuel Salas and Moises Juarez from Noroeste. On September 3, police beat up photographer Raul Urbina in Mexico City's central plaza while he was covering the eviction of members of the Citizens' Assembly of Bank Debtors. These events occurred at the same time President Ernesto Zedillo was meeting with an IAPA delegation on the issue of attacks on Mexican journalists. In regard to threats, on March 31, the daughter of Miguel Cervantes Gomez, a veteran radio journalist, was kidnapped in Chilpancingo, Guerrero. She was freed unharmed four hours later. Fifteen days later, Cervantes Gomez filed an official complaint that he had been threatened by unidentified persons who warned him to stop investigating murders allegedly involving senior officials of the Ruben Figueroa Alcocer government. On May 29, Martin Alberto Mendoza, editor of Tribuna del Yaqui of Ciudad Obregon, Sonora, received death threats from an alleged local car thief. Mendoza had been writing about automobile chop shops. At dawn two days later, unidentified individuals fired shots at Mendoza's home in an apparent bid to scare him and force him to withdraw the charges he filed against those who had threatened him. On August 4, Maria Idalia Gómez, a reporter for Mexico City's El Economista, was summoned to the Attorney General's Office. She was questioned for more than five hours concerning a report about Raul Salinas published in June this year. She was asked to reveal her sources and to testify about them in court, but she refused to do so. In other incidents, on March 7 and 20, Governors Manlio Fabio Beltrones of Sonora and Jorge Carillo Olea of Morelos filed a libel suit stemming from publication of a New York Times report linking them to drug trafficking. Beltrones filed suit in a Mexico City court against "whoever may be found responsible" for publishing the story, while Carillo Olea pressed charges in Morelos State specifically against reporters Sam Dillon and Craig Pyles. Various media called the lawsuits an attempt at intimidation of the press and said the matter should have been pursued in the U.S. courts rather than in Mexico. On July 17, a senior state official sued and then verbally attacked Hector Sanchez de la Madrid, editor of El Diario de Colima, over his reports of alleged mismanagement at the Universidad de Colima during the time the official was rector. Sanchez de la Madrid has asked for federal court protection to respect constitutional guarantees against such a lawsuit. Other incidents during this period include the July 16 firing of members of the board of directors of El Momento of San Luis Potosi on orders of Attorney General Jorge Madrazo Cuellar because of a July 5 opinion poll published the day before local elections. The decision was made because such publications are prohibited by federal and local electoral laws. On August 10, the weekly Vertical of Matamoros, Tamaulipas, was subject to an act of retaliation for its reporting. A molotov cocktail was hurled at the newspaper building, setting fire to the morgue and injuring columnist Melquiadez Perez. On September 3, an IAPA delegation conducted meetings with President Ernesto Zedillo, Government Secretary Emilio Chuayffet and Attorney GeneraIJorge Madrazo Cuellar, in which investigations into the death of two journalists were discussed. During the meeting, the IAPA urged action to solve the murder of the two Mexican journalists, Hector Felix "The Cat" Miranda (1988), of the weekly Zeta of Tijuana, Baja California, and Victor Manuel Oropaeza Contreras (1991), of Diario de Juarez of Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua. In regards to official decisions, on April 23, the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party congressional contingent decided that the current Chamber of Deputies would not pass legislation regulating the media and the right to information because it said it regarded such actions as contrary to freedom of expression. Several days earlier, the same congressmen had presented a bill to prevent both Mexican and foreign journalists from reporting any confidential matters or conversations that might take place in the legislature