MEXICO: Newsroom resigns following death threats and murder of media workers

October 9, 2007

Posted October 17, 2007

El Imprarcial del Istmo

All reporters working for the Oaxaca-based daily El Imparcial del Istmo resigned a day after three of the paper’s media workers were murdered on the afternoon of October 8 while driving in the southern state of Oaxaca in a vehicle bearing the paper’s logo, according to news reports and CPJ interviews.

Luis David Quintana, El Imparcial del Istmo’s deputy director, told CPJ that all his reporters resigned after the daily received several death threats on the day of the murder. According to Quintana, Gonzalo Domínguez, the daily’s regional coordinator, and Felipe Ramos, a reporter for the police beat, were the first to resign. They had both received numerous death threats since June, when the paper published a piece on a local mass grave connected to a battle between two drug trafficking gangs. The threats, which came via e-mail, text messages, and anonymous phone calls, warned the paper to tone down its coverage of drug trafficking, Quintana said.

According to Quintana, El Imparcial del Istmo is still publishing every day with reports from contributors. However, the daily is being printed with a reduced number of pages. Quintana told CPJ that the paper’s directors had informed local and federal authorities about the threats.

At 1:15 p.m. on October 8, an Equinox SUV with tinted windows chased and then blocked an El Imparcial del Istmo truck along a highway connecting the cities of Salina Cruz and Tehuantepec. According to Quintana, unidentified individuals got out of the car, and shot the van’s driver, Mateo Cortés Martínez, and delivery workers Agustín López Nolasco and Flor Vásquez López at close range.