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Calderón Announces Arrest in Journalist's Murder
email this pageprint this pageemail usDaniel Borunda - El Paso Times
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September 23, 2010

Calderón said he would push for laws that would make attacks on journalists a federal crime and for the creation of a federal program to protect at-risk journalists.
Mexican President Felipe Calderón on Wednesday told a journalists group that authorities have made an arrest in the death of a Juárez newspaper reporter slain two years ago.

Calderón's announcement comes as the editor of the Juárez news website La has reportedly received political asylum in the U.S. after fleeing Mexico in fear of his life.

During a meeting with members of the Committee to Protect Journalists and the Inter American Press Association, Calderón said investigators have arrested a suspect in the homicide of Armando Rodriguez, the committee reported. Details were not disclosed.

On Nov. 13, 2008, Rodriguez, a crime reporter for the Diario de Juárez, was shot multiple times in his company-issued car outside his Juárez home while waiting to take his daughter to school. The girl was not hurt.

Calderón also said he would push for laws that would make attacks on journalists a federal crime and for the creation of a federal program to protect at-risk journalists.

Last week, two Diario photography interns were shot in a daytime attack in a parking lot in Juárez. Luis Carlos Santiago, 21, was killed, and Carlos Manuel Sanchez was wounded and survived.

More than 30 journalists and other media workers have been killed or have disappeared in Mexico since December 2006, making it one of the deadliest countries for the press, stated the Committee to Protect Journalists.

José Luis Aguirre, who runs the Juárez news website while living in El Paso, on Tuesday told Reuters news service that he had been granted political asylum by the United States. Aguirre, his wife and their three children crossed the border in 2008 after Aguirre received a death threat on his cell phone telling him "you're next" while driving to the wake of Rodriguez, the slain reporter.

Carlos Spector, an immigration lawyer representing three other Mexican journalists seeking asylum, said the grant for Aguirre was "a welcome decision that signals a change of policy from the Obama administration because they can no longer deny reality."

Aguirre testified about his experience to the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Crime and Drugs during a hearing last year on Mexican drug cartels.

"The government of Chihuahua allowed the state to be converted into an instrument of organized crime," Aguirre told the subcommittee. "Press freedom is threatened by a terrifying dilemma: 'Plata o Plomo,' (silver or lead) meaning accept a bribe or face a bullet."

Aguirre, who came to El Paso on a temporary visa, said he was threatened because of his criticism of Chihuahua state Attorney General Patricia Gonzalez.

Violence against members of the news media has become a concern as rival drug cartels fight a war that has killed more than 6,400 in Juárez since 2008.

"On a daily basis, ordinary citizens in Juárez are condemned to die, to be kidnapped, to be assaulted, to suffer extortion or to be exiled at any moment," Aguirre told senators. "Who can help them if they are persecuted and threatened? Criminals, police and politicians are often one and the same. People are more afraid of the police than of the drug cartels."

Daniel Borunda may be reached at dborunda(at)

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