Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Severed Head Left At Doorstep Of Mexican Daily

By E&P Staff Published: May 29, 2007 5:30 PM ET

CHICAGO - The severed head of a municipal official was left at the door of the offices of the Villahermosa, Mexico, daily Tabasco Hoy this weekend, the press freedom group National Center for Social Communications (CENCOS) reported Tuesday. Mexico City-based CENCOS said shortly after midnight on May 26, two pickup trucks drove up to the front of the newspaper's offices, and a man dressed in black emerged from one of the vehicles carrying a white cooler. He placed it at the main door of the building, saying to guards, "they've sent you this." The guards immediately contact the police, who discovered the head of Terencia Sastré Hidalgo, a municipal official in the nearby town of Nacajuca in where seven alleged drug traffickers were arrested last month.

Sastré Hidalgo was abducted at his home May 24 by armed men. His headless body was later found with a note reading, "This happened to me for making an anonymous call to the authorities."Tabsco Hoy Editorial Director Hector Tapia said the incident was an act of intimidation aimed not only at his paper, but all news organizations. The paper has asked Mexican president Felipe Calderón and Tabasco state Gov. Andrés Granier Melo to send protection for its staff.

Newspapers in Mexico are confronting an escalating wave of violence and intimidation from drug gangs. Last week, the big media company that owns Cambio Sonora in the northwestern city of Villahermosa shut the daily down "temporarily" after a second grenade attack on its offices in a month. The paper has not reopened.

E&P Staff (letters@editorandpublisher.com)

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