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Oaxaca community radios hounded for opposing wind farm

Reporters Without Borders condemns the harassment of community radio stations in the southern state of Oaxaca by the local authorities and international companies.

The radio stations are opposing the proposed construction of a huge wind farm in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec by Mareña Renovables and Gas Natural Fenosa and are criticizing the failure to consult the local indigenous communities.

The conflict has intensified in the past few days. Radio Totopo journalist Carlos Sánchez Martínez was arrested and physically attacked yesterday by members of the Oaxaca state police and is still in detention.

His case is emblematic of the way this station, which has spearheaded indigenous opposition to the wind farm, has been hounded for months. Just days ago, representatives of the Oaxaca state government attacked the station and confiscated equipment.

The persecution of Radio Totopo is not isolated. Other news outlets that have been covering the conflict have also been hounded for months. Radio Xadani journalist Filiberto Vincente Aquino received death threats on 20 March after attending a news conference on opposition to the wind farm.

The next day, several journalists – including Ignacio Garrido and Karina Martínez of Radio Voces de los Pueblos, Rosa Rojas of the daily La Jornada, photographer Francisco Olvera, David Henestrosa and Eliseo Ramirez – were arrested by the municipal police in San Mateo del Mar and were held for several hours.

Transmitting equipment was stolen a few days ago from Radio Huave, which has been criticizing the wind farm’s potential impact for years.

Reporters Without Borders urges the Oaxaca government and international companies to end their campaign of criminalizing the community radio stations and to respect their work. The role they play in defending local community rights is beyond dispute, and they are just covering an ongoing local conflict.

Reporters Without Borders also calls on the authorities to comply with their obligation to respect the rights of indigenous peoples as established in International Labour Organization Convention No. 169, which Mexico ratified in 1990, and in Article 2 of the Federal Constitution.

The safety of journalists in Mexico, which Reporters Without Borders visited in March, continues to be very worrying, especially in the north and east of the countries where online media and blogs, in particular, are being targeted.

Reporters Without Borders is astonished that the Mexican Association of Newspaper Publishers chose to award the governor of Veracruz state a prize for his “efforts to guarantee full use of freedom of expression” on 2 April.

Five journalists were killed in Veracruz in 2012, many journalists have fled the state and those responsible for crimes of violence against journalists enjoy complete impunity.