Newspaper director attacked inside his office

New York, June 23, 2008­­­­—Two unidentified men beat and stabbed Luis Pablo Guardado Negrete, deputy director of the local daily Noticias de la Bahía, on Saturday afternoon inside his office in the western Mexican state of Nayarit. The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on the local authorities to investigate the attack and bring all those responsible to justice.

At 3 p.m. on Saturday, two men arrived at the Noticas de la Bahía offices in the Bahía de las Banderas municipality and asked Guardado about a truck he was selling, according to local news reports and CPJ interviews. Once inside the office, the assailants locked kicked, strangled, and stabbed him while asking him about a story Noticias de la Bahía published last week, according to his brother, Lenin Guardado Negrete, president of the local association of journalists.

The story reported on a sexual assault scandal involving a local gym, Guardado’s brother told CPJ. According to the regional daily Expreso, neighbors later saw the two men running out of the Noticias de la Bahía offices covered in blood.

“We condemn this vicious attack against Luis Pablo Guardado Negrete at his own newspaper,” said CPJ Americas Senior Program Coordinator Carlos Lauría. “Mexican state authorities should work in conjunction with federal authorities to investigate the incident and bring all those responsible to justice. Authorities should also provide the necessary protection to allow Guardado and his staff to continue to work without fear of other reprisals.”  

Guardado was taken to a nearby clinic where he received medical attention to a stab wound, multiple bruises, and a broken jaw, said his brother. He was later taken to a hospital in Tepic, the state capital, where doctors operated on his jaw. According to his brother, Guardado is now in stable condition.

The director of the Nayarit State Police, Javier Vásquez Paniagua, told CPJ that authorities are investigating the attack, which they believe to be retaliation for the article in Noticias de la Bahía. Vásquez said he could not comment further. According to Lenin Guardado, investigators have identified the two assailants but no arrests have been made.
Mexico is one of the most dangerous places for journalists in Latin America, CPJ research shows. In the last five years, as the war between powerful drug cartels has intensified, local journalists who report on organized crime and the drug trade are facing grave risks.

CPJ examined three recent unsolved killings of journalists in a special report released on June 7. Twenty-one journalists have been killed in Mexico since 2000, seven of them in direct reprisal for their work. Since 2005, seven others have gone missing. Mexico ranks 10th on CPJ’’s Impunity Index, a list of countries where journalists are slain on a recurring basis and governments consistently fail to solve the crimes. Under current law, state authorities generally investigate attacks on journalists. Because of the poor record of successful prosecutions, CPJ has urged that the federal government take over such investigations.