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For Immediate Release: July 16, 1997
Contact: Joel Simon (212) 465-1004, x104;
E-mail: [email protected]

Killing of Mexican Journalist Condemned by CPJ

New York, N.Y., July 16--The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) called on the Mexican government today to thoroughly investigate the brutal assassination Tuesday of Mexican journalist Benjamín Flores González.

“We fear that this brutal murder was related to his activities as journalist,” said CPJ in a letter to the governor of Sonora State. If so, the killing would be the first drug-related murder in Mexico documented by CPJ in a decade.

“The assassination of Flores González is reminiscent of Colombia, where journalists have been frequent victims of drug traffickers,” said William A. Orme, Jr., CPJ’s executive director. “It’s alarming to see this kind of crime in Mexico at a time when the country is becoming more democratic.”

According to information provided to CPJ, Flores González, editor and owner of the daily La Prensa in San Luis Río Colorado, Sonora State, was gunned down at 4:30 p.m. on July 15 as he was arriving at the newspaper’s offices. As Flores González opened the door to his pickup truck, a gray Chevrolet Impala pulled up and a gunman jumped out. After firing an entire clip at Flores González, the gunman returned to the Impala and was handed a .22-caliber pistol by an accomplice. He used that weapon to fire three additional rounds into Flores González’s head as the victim lay prostrate on the ground. The assassin then got back in the car, which made a U-turn and sped off in a southerly direction.

Flores González was known for his aggressive coverage of the drug trade‹including a story published in May reporting that a half-ton of cocaine confiscated by federal authorities had disappeared from the Federal Judicial Police Headquarters in San Luis Río Colorado. According to colleagues, Flores González had received many threats.

Flores González is the second journalist killed in Mexico in the last two months; both had been defendants in criminal defamation lawsuits. Flores González was the defendant in five lawsuits and had been jailed briefly in one case. Jesus Abel Bueno León, editor of 7 Días, a small weekly in Guerrero State, was also named a defendant in a criminal defamation suit filed by Guerrero’s former secretary of state. Bueno León was murdered on May 23.

“Taken together, these two cases suggest that Mexican journalists who are named as defendants in criminal defamation suits need to be concerned for their physical safety, especially those who live in the provinces,” said Orme.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists is an independent, nonprofit organization that documents and responds to violations of press freedom worldwide. CPJ’s Web site is http://www.cpj.org.

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