In Mexico, two media outlets attacked within a week

New York, March 27, 2012–Mexican authorities must investigate attacks on a newspaper and TV station in the northeastern state of Tamaulipas and ensure the offices and its staff members are protected, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Both attacks occurred within the space of one week.

A car bomb exploded outside the offices of the newspaper Expreso in the city of Ciudad Victoria at around 8 p.m. on March 19, according to news reports. The attack damaged nearby cars and five bystanders were wounded, according to news reports. Shortly after the attack, Expreso published a statement on its website about the bombing but then removed it, and the newspaper’s website was offline for a day, the daily Vanguardia.

An unidentified assailant threw a grenade at the offices of television station Televisa in the city of Matamoros on Sunday, according to news reports. No one was injured, news reports said. The attack was not confirmed by the station or by authorities, the reports said.

The motives in both cases are unknown. A journalist who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal told CPJ that his colleagues suspected the attacks may have been intended to intimidate the press before national elections in July. Neither media outlet generally covers criminal activities.

“As Mexico prepares for national elections, authorities must send a clear message that they will not tolerate attacks on vital democratic institutions such as the press,” said Carlos Lauría, CPJ’s senior program coordinator for the Americas. “The government must thoroughly investigate these attacks on Expreso and Televisa and bring the perpetrators to justice.”

Televisa’s facilities have been attacked in the past. The Matamoros offices were targeted with a homemade explosive device in August 2010, and in the same month, the network’s offices in Ciudad Victoria and Monterrey were also attacked by a grenade and car bomb, CPJ research shows.

In much of Mexico, organized crime groups have terrorized the local press into silence. Earlier this month, the Mexican Senate approved a constitutional amendment that, if passed by a majority of states, would federalize anti-press crimes and transfer investigative powers to national authorities.