Blog dedicated to reporting on Mexican drug cartels
on the border line between the US and Mexico

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Beleaguered Mexican Daily Facing Extortion Threat

Management at a Mexican newspaper whose offices were riddled with bullets earlier this week said Friday that they received demands for the payment of 200,000 pesos ($15,400) in exchange for not blowing up the daily’s headquarters in the Pacific resort town of Mazatlan.

“What happened yesterday is that the threats returned and even extortion attempts by telephone,” Noroeste deputy editor Guillermina Garcia Nevares said.

“They threatened our people on the street,” she said, mentioning incidents in which men in vehicles brandished guns in front of two Noroeste reporters and one of the paper’s distributors.

The daily is taking precautions such as telling workers in the advertising and administrative departments to stay home, the deputy editor told MVS radio.

“We on the editorial side continue working to put out the daily edition. We skip a little of the coverage ... we don’t go out to the rural areas, we travel in pairs, etc., but here we are,” Garcia said.

She said that while Noroeste started getting threats months ago, they intensified after assailants shot up the paper’s offices shortly after midnight Tuesday.

The newspaper reported the initial threats to both the Sinaloa state police and federal authorities, she said.

In a separate interview with MVS, congressman and former Noroeste publisher Manuel Clouthier Carrillo said situations like the one facing the paper arise in the absence of effective action by authorities.

“This goes from less to more,” he said. “It’s not the first time the Noroeste publication suffers aggression. It’s not the only media outlet in Sinaloa that has been attacked. There are even problems that some journalists have been murdered.”

Though himself a member of Mexico’s ruling National Action Party, or PAN, the lawmaker was critical of the federal government, which he said should deal with “the problems of Sinaloa, particularly those of narco-trafficking and narco-politics.”

“The federal government has had deaf ears for us and it worries me because I don’t know what those gentlemen are waiting for,” Clouthier Carrillo said, complaining that it took 48 hours for an official in President Felipe Calderon’s administration to contact Noroeste after the shooting incident.

“I don’t know what world those gentlemen live in, who they govern, if the governed even exist for them,” said the son of the late Manuel Clouthier, a key figure in the rise of the PAN and the party’s 1988 presidential candidate.

The congressman also said that he wouldn’t rule out Sinaloa state authorities as a possible source of the campaign against Noroeste, though the paper’s staff said some of the callers making threats identified themselves as members of La Linea, a group of hired guns working for the Juarez drug cartel.

The callers demanded that Noroeste report on the crimes of the rival Sinaloa cartel, the newspaper said Wednesday.

With bureaus in Mazatlan, Culiacan, Los Mochis, Guasave and Guamuchil, Noroeste provides coverage of all of Sinaloa.

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