MEXICO


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MARCH 4, 2003

Isabel Arvide, freelance
LEGAL ACTION

Freelance journalist Arvide was charged with criminal defamation by Chihuahua State Attorney General Jesús Solís Silva and detained for 24 hours.

Arvide, a Mexico City­based journalist and author who has written many exposés about drug traffickers, corruption, and violence, as well as the book Muerte en Juárez (Death in Juárez), was detained at around 5 p.m. in Chihuahua City, where she is required to appear every two weeks before Judge Octavio Rodríguez Gaytán, of the 2nd Penal Court, in connection with another criminal defamation complaint filed against her, in 2002.

According to Arvide's son Bruno Cárcamo Arvide, the journalist was never notified that Solís had filed a suit against her. She had just finished eating at a local restaurant before leaving for the airport when about 20 Chihuahua State police officers arrested her.

Isabel Arvide told CPJ that she spent about 24 hours isolated in a cell at Chihuahua's Social Rehabilitation Center before being released on a 200,000 Mexican pesos (around US$20,000) bail at around 7 p.m. on March 5. Arvide then flew to Mexico City. She was told she must appear in court in Chihuahua on March 7 so that her detention order and her release on bail could be formally announced. Under Mexico's Criminal Code, Arvide faces six months to two years in prison if convicted.

Attorney General Solís' suit, which was filed on December 23, 2002, stems from a June 2, 2001, article by Arvide that appeared on the journalist's Web site, www.isabelarvide.com, and in the Mexico City edition of the daily Milenio. The piece alleged that a number of state government officials, including Solís and newspaper publisher Osvaldo Rodríguez Borunda, had organized a new drug cartel in Chihuahua.

This is the second time that Arvide has been detained for criminal defamation. In August 2002, Chihuahua State police arrested Arvide after Rodríguez Borunda, owner of the Chihuahua dailies El Diario de Chihuahua and El Diario de Juárez, filed a criminal defamation suit against her in connection to the June 2001 article. Rodríguez Borunda requested 50 million pesos (US$5 million) in "moral damages." Arvide was released more than 24 hours later, after paying a 100,000 Mexican pesos (US$10,000) bail. She must appear before Judge Rodríguez Gaytán every 15 days and sign a court record while her trial continues.

Arvide, who needs judicial authorization to leave the country, must make frequent trips to Chihuahua. Travel costs and high legal expenses strained her resources and hampered her journalistic work. In December 2002, Judge Rodríguez Gaytán rejected an injunction she filed in August 2002 against the arrest warrant and the detention order against her.

Arvide filed an appeal at the end of December, and on February 20, 2003, a federal judge annulled her detention order and ordered Judge Rodríguez Gaytán to review his ruling. On March 4, hours before her second arrest, she was informed that Judge Rodríguez Gaytán had upheld her detention order. Arvide plans to file a second appeal.

The journalist fears that she may be jailed at any moment since the Chihuahua State Attorney General's Office has asked that her bail be revoked because she is a repeat offender.


MAY 12, 2004
Posted: June 3, 2004

Manuel de la Cruz, Cimacnoticias and W Radio
ATTACKED

De la Cruz, correspondent for the news agency Cimacnoticias and W Radio in the city of Tuxtla Gutiérrez, in the southeastern state of Chiapas, was robbed and beaten by police. The journalist, who frequently covers drug trafficking and human rights issues in the region, believes that the attack was related to his work.

At around 1:30 a.m., as de la Cruz was leaving his girlfriend's home, two plainclothes officers detained him. After he identified himself as a journalist, the police officers laughed at him and insulted him, the Mexican press reported.

After stealing the journalist's money from his wallet, the two police officers beat de la Cruz. Five other agents on duty joined their colleagues in attacking the journalist. They later took him to a nearby park, where they met another 20 police officers. One of the officers, called Commander Medina by the others, attempted to sexually abuse him, de la Cruz said.

When de la Cruz resisted, he was beaten again and sprayed in the face with tear gas. An officer who identified himself as Enrique Àngel Ocaña told the journalist that he had a report accusing de la Cruz of defying police authority and assaulting the police. According to local press reports, the same officer later freed him.

De la Cruz told CPJ that the police never explained why they attacked him. Beatriz Jiménez, a reporter for Cimacnoticias in Mexico City, said the attack could have been motivated by de la Cruz's coverage of drug-related issues and of the illegal smuggling of immigrants across the Mexican-Guatemalan border.

Following the attack, de la Cruz filed criminal charges against the police officers with the Attorney General's Office in Chiapas, as well as a complaint with the State Commission on Human Rights. On May 21, a judge ordered the arrest of four police officers accused of beating de la Cruz and said he will continue to investigate other officers who participated in the attack.