Newspaper editor said he will almost completely stop covering drug gangs
NUEVO LAREDO, Mexico – The owner of Nuevo Laredo’s El Manana newspaper said he will almost completely stop covering drug gangs after the company officers were attacked by assailants who sprayed the reception with bullets and lobbed a grenade at the building.”Zero investigations into the narco,” Ramon Cantu said Tuesday, while more than 50 state and federal police guarded his offices. Under the policy, El Manana will only report the basic facts of drug-related killings and will avoid mentioning names or doing any follow-up reporting.Reporter Jaime Orozco Tey was shot five times during Monday night’s attack and remained in serious condition in hospital Tuesday.President Vicente Fox called the incident “despicable” and said federal agents would take over the case as it had the hallmarks of an organized crime job.”I say again to organized crime: You will not make the Mexican people yield,” Fox told reporters in the Pacific state of Sinaloa.Judith Bryan, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City, said “the U.S. embassy condemns the attack on the El Manana newspaper in Nuevo Laredo, and very much sympathizes with the wounded reporter and the families of all of those who work there.””We strongly lament any and all attacks aimed at silencing or limiting the freedom of the press,” Bryan said.So far this year, almost one person every day has been murdered in Nuevo Laredo, a city of 300,000 over the river from Laredo, Texas. Investigators say most of the killings are related to a bloody battle between Mexico’s top drug cartels fighting for control of its billion-dollar smuggling routes into the United States.The New-York based Committee to Protect Journalists condemned the latest attack saying it is “a clear signal that northern Mexico, particularly the region along the U.S.-Mexican border, has become one of the most dangerous places in Latin America for journalists to do their jobs.”In a news release, the non-profit CPJ asked Mexican authorities to conduct “an exhaustive investigation into this attack and bring those responsible to justice.”The statement also urged Fox to honor his pledge to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate crimes against journalists, adding that such a position “will be crucial in the months leading to the July presidential elections.”Fortunately for the paper, Monday was a holiday – celebrating the country’s Constitution – and fewer reporters than usual were on duty.The gunmen began shooting in the reception area, and employees alerted by the shots ran for cover in the printing area. The floor of the reception area was littered with empty shell casings.A witness on the street outside the building said the gunmen had arrived in a red compact car before attacking the newspaper offices.In January, two reporters with El Manana were caught in the crossfire of a gunfight between rival gangs.On April 5, 2005, radio crime reporter Guadalupe Garcia Escamilla, 39, was shot nine times in the chest, abdomen, legs and arms in Nuevo Laredo. She later died of her wounds.In March 2004, Roberto Mora, news editor of El Manana was stabbed to death. Police arrested a homosexual from Laredo, Texas, who they said killed Mora in a gay jealous rage. The suspect was stabbed to death in prison before the case reached trial.