MEXICO For the first time in many years, no journalist was murdered in Mexico in the last year. But freedom of the press was severely affected by fiscal intimidation, kidnappings, judicial demands and physical attacks against journalists and media workers. Nevertheless, the 1995 disappearance of Cuauhtemoc Ornelas, editor of the magazine Alcance, of Torreon, Coahuila, and the murders of various journalists - including Victor Manuel Oropeza of Ciudad Juarez, Dante Espartaco of Tijuana, and Jose Luis Rojas, Jorge Martin Dorantes and Enrique Peralta Torres of Morelos - remain unpunished. The authorities have arrested and prosecuted thesuspects in a number of murders of prominent journalists, including the killers of Manuel Buendia Tellezgiron and Hector "El Gato" FHix Miranda. But those behind the murders have never been prosecuted or even identified. The presence of a guerrilla group in Chiapas state and the birth of a second group in Guerrero state have led the government to pressure journalists and the media reporting on those events. On June 5, the lAPA sent a letter to President Ernesto Zedillo, asking the government to reduce the import tax on newsprint, which was raised on June 26, from 6 percent to 15 percent. In August, IAPA delegates met with Industry and Foreign Trade Undersecretary Raul Ramos Tercero, who agreed to annul the tax increase. The decision was enforced on September 2. A number of legal decisions regulating press freedom were issued during this period: On June 14, the newspaper Espada 4, of Saltillo, Coahuila, was audited by the Public Credit and Treasury Secretary, following a series of articles by Javier Villareal Lozano, editor and publisher of the daily, who specifically criticized Coahuila's city treasurer. On June 20, in Zacatecas, the dally Momenta was confiscated on orders of the government of Governor Arturo Romo Gutierrez, after the daily gave prominent coverage to local teachers protests, according to Heliorodo Escobedo, editor of the newspaper. Escobedo said that state authorities used a pretext to confiscate the newspaper's installations. The state contended that the newspaper failed to pay severance to former employees and then confiscated the paper. On August 8, in the city of Monterrey, Alberto Santos de los Hoyos, a senator for the PRI, sued El Norte publisher Alejandro Junco and editor Ramon Alberto Garza, for defamation and libel. Senator de los Hoyos claims that the newspaper libeled him in an August 2, editorial, where it questioned the financial dealings between Aero Sami, a local aviation company and the former Governor Socrates Rizzo Garda. The senator is a major stockholder in the company, which sold two aircraft to the state during Rizzo Garda's term. The demand was thrown out of court. On September 12, a Mexico City court issued an arrest warrant for Juan Francisco Ealy Ortiz, publisher and editor of the daily El Universal, and charged him with tax evasion. The government said Ortiz owes 41 million pesos in back taxes. On September 13, Ealy Ortiz surrendered before the Attorney General's Office and was released after he paid more than 14 million pesos in bail. Ealy Ortiz's detention elicited several protests from local and international journalism organizations because El Universal has been a severe critic of the government of Ernesto Zedillo. In July, a libel lawsuit presented against Jose Santiago Healy Loera, editor of El Impardal, by Roberto Alcide Beltrones Rivera, was presented before a Hermosillo, Sonora judge, claiming libel and defamation for the 1995 publication of a New York Times article the newspaper translated and published. The lawsuit was initiated on September 11, 1995, by Beltrones Rivera, who is the brother of Sonora Governor Manlio Fabio Beltrones. It Charged the newspaper of inserting Beltrones name in the Spanish translation of the article, which linked Beltrones with drug trafficking. On September 10, Mexican customs officials in the state of Sonora banned the distribution of the Arizona Daily Star, for three days because of bureaucratic problems. Only after the newspaper was classified as a pamphlet was it allowed to be distributed in Mexico. Following are a number of physical attacks against journalists: On March 25, in Huachinango, Puebla, journalist Manuel Rodriguez was physically attacked by Noe López, for criticizing Edgar Alvarado, city council secretary and a mayoral candidate for the PRJ. López file a legal complaint against Alvarado. On April 28, in Ciudad Obregón, Sonora, Heriberto Pena Le6n, editor of the afternoon daily Extra de la Tarde, was physically attacked by ten plainclothesmen for reporting against state police officials. In June, in Ciudad Acuna, Tamaulipas, Leoncio Martinez Sanchez y Carmen Rodriguez, broadcasters for the radio XHPL and XERF, respectively, were attacked by members of the judicial federal police, while they reported on an on-going melee between an unidentified crowd and the police. In June, in the same city, Rolando Trejo Ortiz, of the radio XGPL, was attacked by unidentified men connected to the PRI, after he reported that the local International Food Bank was used for electoral purposes and had been utilized to smuggle foreign beer into Coahuila. On July 12, in Reynosa, Tarnaulipas, Julio Jose Normendez, a television news director and former correspondent for Televisi6n Azteca, accused police lieutenant Rodolfo Manzano Paredo of physical aggression. On July 18, in Yucatan, Fernando Olvera del Castillo, a reporter for Channel 13 and "Radio Solidaridad", was physically and verbally attacked by the mayor of the city of Merida Patricio Patrón Laviada, of the Partido Acci6n Nacional (PAN). The journalist filed a complaint before the State Commission of Human Rights (CEDH). On August 1, in Monterrey, Nuevo Le6n, Benjamin Borges Romero, a correspondent for the radio network Rasa, was attacked by six police officers and handcuffed to a post, after he refused to corne out of his car, at a drunk drivers police checkpoint. Borges Romero had proven he was not drunk. September 16, in Paraiso, Tabasco, Aristides Hernandez Garcia, a photographer for the daily Presente , was kicked and hit with nightsticks by a group of unidentified people, after he took pictures of a local leader of peanut producers reloading his gun, after he had shot a few rounds into the air. On March 26, gunmen attempted to murder Gina Batista, a reporter for Canal 40 in Mexico City as she drove to work. According to Batista, one of her attackers yelled at her and threatened her to stay out of those things that were none of her business. On AprilS, unidentified gunmen shot atthe loudspeakers of La Radio Contigo of San Miguel Xaltepec, Puebla. According to radio personnel, the shooting could be connected to two interviews the radio aired with two of four candidates to the president of the local auxiliary council, which is the principal authority in the town. On May 23, Julieta Medina, a reporter for the daily Retorma, in Mexico City, was beaten by police as she reported on a street demonstration by the teachers' union. On July 20, 1996, the journalist Thierry Jonard, a stringer for the French-language Belgian Radio and Television, and Juan Osuna, his soundman, were physically attacked by a large group of armed men as they filmed a documentary in Venustiano Carranza, Chiapas. On August 12, Alberto Flores Casanova, a reporter for the daily El Manana de Nuevo Laredo, Taumalipas, was wounded in an attack by two unknown men. According to Ninfa Deandar this was the latest violent incident against the daily because of its critical stand against former president Carlos Salinas de Gortari and his followers in Tamaulipas, including local leaders Manuel Cavazos Lerma and Mónica Garcia Velasquez. Threats reported for the period were: On May 2, 1996, reporter Abel Martinez Reyes, of Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz, filed a legal complaint against the local municipal police chief, Antonio Vasquez Gonzalez, whom he accused of issuing threats against various media outlets. On May 11, Rodolfo E. Pena, of the daily La Jomada , received an anonymous death threat letter. On August 13, municipal and agrarian authorities from the town of Santa Maria Colotepec threatened to confiscate the land and expel from the community radio broadcaster Miguel Angel Menendez L6pez, who has reported during the last seven years on a land dispute between the communities of Colotepec and Puerto Escondido. On September 16, Napole6n Rodriguez Juarez, mayor of Fronteras, Tabasco, threatened to jail those journalists who criticized his government. On September 18, the daily El Manana de Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, received an anonymous telephone bomb threat. On July 30, 1996, Bertrand de La Grange, a correspondent for the French daily Le Monde, was refused participation in the International Convention for the Humanities and Against NeoLiberalism, organized by the National Liberation Zapatista Army (EZLN), which took place from July 27,1996 to August 3, 1996 in Chiapas. The convention organizers accused La Grange of not being an objective journalist. Legal action included: On March 7, Virginia de Viana Amador, a correspondent for El Imparcial in Nogales, was summoned by the General Attorney's Office after she wrote an article on individuals attached to the local police who were demanding payoffs from bus passengers. The reporter was tipped off about the story by local bus drivers. On April 11, journalists Hugo Gutierrez, Jose Luis Undiano, Juan Antonio Manuel Alvarado, Zenón Escamilla and Juan Antonio Martinez, all reporters for the daily El Norte of Monterrey, Nuevo León, were sued by Humberto Lobo Morales, after they published a report on an on-going investigation of Morales. On September 21, national and international journalists sued the executive and judicial branches, the National Commission of Human Rights and the Attorney General's Office in Chiapas, because they are being investigated after they interviewed leaders of the new guerrilla group EPR. On July 31, in Quintana Roo, members of the state judicial police arrested Raymundo Martin Gómez, editor of the daily El Critico, as he was driving to work. He was taken to police headquarters and jailed. On May 3, television producer Jorge Eliorriaga was condemned to 13 years in prison for terrorism, rebellion and conspiracy, after he was found guilty of being the head of propaganda and press for the EZLN. Eliorriaga was freed on June 6, after he appealed his sentence. There were a number of kidnappings in the last few months: On August 29, Enrique Ramirez Cisneros, special editions editor for the Mexico City daily El Dia, was kidnapped for a day by unknown persons and later released. There is no further information on his kidnapping. On June 23, three unidentified men kidnapped Oswald Alonso, a reporter for Radio Rama, a station in Cuernavaca, Morelos. He was tortured and beaten but was freed 24 hours later. Oswald presented a news bulletin on various issues, including reports on the Morelos police. On September 17, Oaxaca, Oaxaca, Razhy Gonzalez Rodriguez, editor of the weekiy Contrapunto, was kidnapped in downtown Oaxaca by a group of armed men who had their faces covered. He was freed unharmed 44 hours later.