MEXICO Press freedom has been affected by threats against and attacks on journalists, as well as by incidents of censorship imposed by various authorities. The country's severe economic crisis aiso constitutes yet another threat to the role and effectiveness of Mexico's press. It has caused the demise of innumerable companies and layoffs of at least 5,500 employees in media-related jobs. Both journalists and their media suffer, along with the rest of the population, the effects of the increase in crime, which has translated into robberies, attacks and even murders of some media workers, in circumstances not related to their tasks of informing the public. As is common in the reports on Mexico, practically all the aggressions against journalists have gone unpunished, so that it is quite impossible to clearly establish the motives. In the case of journalists who have assumed very critical stances, it can be inferred that the attacks were motivated by their work. Another factor that has stepped up security risks for journalists is the increase in drug trafficking within the country. The most serious case to be described in this report - the June 18 murder of reporter Dante Espartaco Cortez in Tijuana, Baja California - appears to be linked to drug traffickers. On July 24, Cortez's father and brother were themselves shot at during a press conference in which they were giving details about their family member's death. They both survived, despite serious injuries. Police agents have theorized that the attacks were reprisals by drug traffickers who had been affected by Cortez' journalistic investigations. In September, at least two other cases were reported in which drug traffickers attacked journalists and went free on bail. A similar case involves reporter Yolanda López Ordaz, who received death threats in Chiapas for writing about a kidnap gang. Two of the gang members went armed to her editorial offices to look for her. Another episode involves El Diario de Casas Grandes editor Javier Pedraza, who was shot at along a highway. The motive for the attack is thought to be political, since the journalist was aiso an opposition candidate for mayor in his city. Censorship has also been imposed in various guises. On one occasion, censorship affected the President himself, when a thorny question and his subsequent answer were edited out of the official transcript of a press conference. The President himself criticized this act of censorship. However, he personally reproached the newspapers Re(orma and El Norte for having published a document directed to him by PRI candidate Luis Donaldo Colosio, who was later assassinated. The letter was written while both men were involved in Colosio's presidential campaign. In a message to the editor of both newspapers, Alejandro Junco de la Vega, which was also published, the president asserted that the publication of the letter was in violation of journalistic ethics. He suggested that the letter had been obtained by subterfuge. In a subsequent conversation with a group of journalists, he corrected that assertion. For his part, Junco de la Vega said he regretted the President's discomfort with the publication, but expressed his conviction that the letter was not of a confidential or private nature. Censorship has also been manifested on several occasions in the form of pressures on radio stations, which are constantly threatened by the withdrawal of their operating licenses. This sometimes leads them to restrict their journalists, who in turn sometimes refuse to comply and declare their opposition to such measures. Another case involves the "disappearance" of the Itaiian magazine30 Dfas, precisely with the issue that carried an article about the murder of Mexican Cardinal Juan Jesus Posadas Ocampo. In another matter, there has been no progress in investigations of the murder of three journalists in Morelos state, a case which prompted the dispatch of an IAPA mission to Mexico last February. The IAPA in May expressed concern to the Mexican president after he praised the contribution of the Newspaper Vendors Union to press freedom and the distribution of newspapers. As described in our last report, the Union has refused to sell the newspaper Reforma and has sought to prevent others from doing so. The attacks on Reforma distributors, however, have virtually ceased, although the Union still refuses to distribute the newspaper. Herewith a chronological account of the most important events: March 2. Dozens of reporters from Tabasco state demand guarantees for their life and safety after five of them suffered attacks in the course of their work during a 15-day period. 7. Police-beat reporters declare on a radio program that the Tabasco state government ordered the press offices of the Attorney General and the Office of Traffic and Public Security to be shut down as part of a "program to centralize all government information," to block freedom of information. 8.Transit police in the town of Nacucalpan in Mexico state accost reporter Lourdes de la Torre of Nucleo Radio Mil, when she attempted to interview them about citizen complaints concerning police extortion. 15. Writers and journalists report that columnist Carlos Ramirez has received death threats and that his family has been harassed. April 22. Politician Jesus Gonzalez Schmall, editorial writer and radio commentator, reports that he was ordered to criticize the attitude of the National Mediation Commission, headed by the controversial Bishop Samuel Ruiz, if he wished to continue his regular collaboration with Radio Fórmula .. The Commission is mediating negotiations between the government and the Chiapas rebels. When Gonzalez refused to broadcast the criticism, he was prevented from going on the air. Radio director Gabriel Nunez explained to Gonzalez that he had instructions from the Secretary of Government to act this way. May 5. Several individuals raided the premises of the newspaper Siglo 21 in Guadalajara, robbing and seriously injuring one person. 13. The National Human Rights Commission recommended that the Attormey General's office investigate an attack on reporter Joaquin Moreno Navarro by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEAl near the international border in Tijuana. The attack took place December 23, 1994. 14. Javier Pedraza Reyes, editor of Diario de Casas Grandes, Chihuahua, was shot at as he was driving along the highway. The authorities assumed that the motive was political, since Pedraza had accepted the mayoral candidacy for an opposition party two days before. 14. Gregorio López Vazquez, editor of the weekly El Grafico, was arrested on charges related to damage to property not his own. The arrest took place as the journalist, along with others, demonstrated in front of the offices of the Public Ministry, protesting the Ministry's failure to take action against those who had attacked him weeks before in a neighborhood dispute. Vazquez López said there was no basis for his arrest. 17. The offices of the magazine Nexos and the publishing house Cal y Arena are broken into. 19. Reporters from the newspapers La romada and EI Financiero and the magazine Proceso are excluded from private talks with the Attorney General's office - which other journalists were permitted to cover - after those media had published reports which annoyed the office's press spokesperson. 21. An issue of the newspaper A.M. de la Piedad, in Michoacan, which carried a story about the arrest of the charge d'affaires of the city's Public Security Office by another police agency, was bought up by mayoral office personnel, including persons who were recognized as members of the Preventative Police. 24. Agents of the Federal Fiscal Police beat up reporters Santiago Palmeros and Javier Quiroz and destroyed the equipment of photographer Reynaldo Garda at International Bridge 1 in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas. 30. Heriberto Deander Martinez, editor of Manana of Reynosa, returns to the country after the Supreme Court issued a permanent decree of protection under the court. 30. At a commemoration of the eleventh anniversary of the murder of journalist Manuel Buendia, Omar Raul Martinez, editor of the Revista Mexicana de Comunicac{on, says that during the administration of Carlos Salinas de Gortari (1988 to 1994), 46 journalists were murdered, 26 of them for unknown motives, 10 for reasons directly related to their journalistic tasks and the remainder for motives not related to their profession. He added that during the same period, the Manuel Buendia Foundation had recorded 512 attacks on media workers. June 6. Adalberto Carvajal Berber, managing editor of the newspaper Ecos de la Costa, and Sergio Venancia Osegueda, managing editor of El Correo of Manzanillo, both in Colima state, face criminal libel suits. 6. Journalists and intellectuals staged a public protest against the Veracruz state government, which they accused of acting against freedom of press and expression. They condemned the persecution of journalist Jose Pablo Robles Martinez as a clear example of this abuse. 22. Tomas Perez Medrano, reporter for the newspaper El Ciudadano, of San Luis Potosi, filed a legal complaint that he had received threats from Federal Judicial Police assistant deputy Oscar Benjamin Garda Davila, who was annoyed because of information published concerning conflicts among different police agencies. Garda Davila was dismissed from his post the day of the publication. 26. Unidentified assailants shot up the house of journalist Isidoro Pedrero Totosaus at dawn. Three bullets hit the journalist's bed, but he was not at home. Pedrero blamed the attack on state governor Roberto Madrazo Pintado. July 1. Guerrero state police beat up television news program Hoy cameramen and threatened them with death. The cameramen, whose news program is aired on local channel 12, belonging to Televisa, were filming drunken uniformed officers as they were shooting off their guns into the air. The police commander and two agents were dismissed because of the incident; the agents were arrested, but the commander took flight. August 1. Bodyguards for Campeche Governor Jorge Salom6n Azar Garda attacked several journalists when they tried to interview a peasant leader who was accompanying the governor. Tribuna reporter Leandro Dzib Reyes was beaten up. 2. Ramón Coria Nunez, public finance manager for the town of Suyaletepec, Oaxaca, threatened Roberto Hernandez Torres, editor of the weekly El Pinero de la Cuenca, with death. The journalist had surprised him shooting a machine gun and took a picture. 5. Journalist Marco Lara Klahr is arrested by Michoacan state police, who detained and interrogated him for more than twelve hours, supposedly for car robbery while he strolled through the city of Patzcuaro with his two small children. He was set free only after journalistic colleagues alerted the appropriate authorities. 10. During a presidential press conference, reporter David Romero, of the newspaper Ovadones, asked Ernesto Zedillo about the possibility of his not finishing out his term or the likelihood of a coup. The president answered the question by asking the media not to convert these rumblings of opinion into news. The exchange between the president and journalist had two consequences. In the first, the reporter was suspended from his job. Secondly, the Presidency's Media Office omitted the question and answer from the official transcript of the press conference that was sent out to the media. The president subsequently criticized the censorship in a letter to the journalist June 13. September Journalist Benjamin Flores, editor of La Prensa, of San Luis Rio Colorado, Sonora, whose capture and subsequent liberation was described in our previous report, is condemned to six months in prison or a fine of 1,500 pesos, for slander against Jose Cruz Bedolla, an official who, according to several documents published by Flores, had engaged in acts of corruption. The combative stance of Benjamin Flores' publications arouses suspicion that his sentencing was a political one. 1. The Democratic Revolutionary Party leader in Campeche, Abraham Bagdali Estrella, accuses the newspaper El Sur de Campeche of libel and slander. Those accused in his compaint are editor Jose Luis Llovera Baranda, columnist Shoemaker Xaman Noh (a pen name) and the owners of the newspaper,Francisco Castillo Goytia and Carlos and Alejandro Azar Garda, brothers of Campeche Governor Jorge Salomón Garda. 7. The National Correspondents Association of Reynosa sent Tamaulipas Governor Manuel Cavasos Lerma a document in which the correspondents demand respect for freedom of expression. They likewise demonstrate their concern over State Attorney General Cesar Cevallos Blanco's acts of intimidation against journalists Jose Luis Deanda Yancey and Miguel Angel Dominguez Zamora, respectively columnist and reporter for El Manana of Reynosa, and Arturo Solis G6mez, correspondent for La Jornada, as a result of declarations concerning acts of a Public Ministry agent. 13. Two gunmen, apparently in the service of a known drug trafficker, were set free on bail after being arrested for the kidnapping and beating of two reporters from El Norte, Ciudad Juarez. 20. Francisco Tijerina Gonzalez, editor of the regional newspaper La Razon, declared that he had received death threats from Jesus Heriberto Gonzalez Pena, manager of the Port group, after Gonzalez published accusations that the company, frequently favored in bidding procedures, had engaged in corrupt practices. 24. Margarito Castro Orozco, known as "The Magician," an alleged drug trafficker, is set free on bail in Matamoros, Tamaulipas, after being accused of attacking reporter Pablo Pineda Gaucin, of the evening newspaper PM.