Mexican journalist held for 25 hours after criticizing mayor

On May 9, 2009, four police officers in masks arrested Simón Tiburcio Chávez, publisher of the monthly newspaper Nuevo Amanecer in Alvarado, a city in the southeastern state of Veracruz. The journalist told CPJ that he was held for 25 hours without charge. Tiburcio said he believes his arrest was retaliation for two photographs published the day before in Nuevo Amanecer comparing local mayor Bogar Ruíz Rosas to a hyena.

Tiburcio told CPJ that he was taken into custody while covering a neighborhood party for the annual children’s day celebration. He said he was held incommunicado during most of the time he spent in jail. According to the journalist, police told him that the mayor’s orders were that he was to see no one, especially an attorney.

The journalist was released after the state commission to defend journalists intervened with local authorities, he told CPJ. A lawyer for the commission, Nadia Casaren, said there were no charges or arrest warrants leading up to Tiburcio’s detention, although Ruíz later filed criminal suits for defamation and extortion.

There has been friction between the mayor and Tiburcio for some time, the publisher said. He said his newspaper specializes in investigating citizen’s complaints about government services, such as water shortages and improperly done public works projects. Tiburcio has also reported on nepotism in the town hall.

Ruíz declined to be interviewed.