JULY, 2008



FIRE – Feminist International Radio Endeavour
July 30, 2008




The devastation and disorder of a burglary and violent vandalism at the women’s news agency CIMAC (Women’s Communication & Information) offices in Mexico City last weekend suggest that it was more than a common break-in, according to Lucía Lagunes Huerta, general director of the organization.  Manual Fuentes, a lawyer for CIMAC noted that the evidence might be “leaving a message that CIMAC is vulnerable.”  On behalf of the news agency, Fuentes filed a burglary charge with the Attorney General’s office of the federal district of Mexico.

CIMAC has covered women and women’s human rights issues throughout Mexico, Central & Latin America and the world for 20 years, including special in-depth articles about various unresolved cases of femicide and sexual violence against women in Mexico as a systemic violation of women’s human rights.  This journalistic work has included the hundreds of murders and disappearances of women in Juarez, Mexico; the 14 cases of sexual assault charges of women against soldiers on July 11, 2006 in
Castaños in the northern state of Coahuila; and charges of sexual assault and torture of 26 women by Mexican police on May 3, 2006 in San Salvador Atenco (northeast of Mexico City), all of which remain unresolved.

Fuentes said that in the legal documents filed about the burglary against CIMAC, Erica Cervantes, a staff member declared that when they arrived the morning of Monday, July 28th they found the locks to their offices smashed and totally destroyed.  Likewise, the disarray in the office was extensive and unlike typical burglaries was focused more on documents and files, including those containing confidential information about special investigations and coverage by CIMAC.  Fuentes said, “it was obvious they were searching for information and documents…this is something that is very serious since CIMAC is dedicated to the denouncement and dissemination of issues that affect women in the exercise of their human rights.”

Also during the break-in, 12 computers were stolen, as well as electronic and recording equipment used in news productions by CIMAC.  Apparently finger prints and shoe prints were found on the scene by police who investigated the burglary.  Fuentes requested that the federal prosecutor’s office act immediately and with determination to identify those responsible for these felonies.

CIMAC staff said they have no idea who could have burglarized their offices, and noted that this was the first time in their 20 year history that something like this had happened.

Numerous feminist and civil society organizations, as well as journalistic associations have expressed their support for CIMAC and denounced this crime against the agency.  The National Center of Social Communication and the International Organization Article 19 sent an alert to more than 30 civil society organizations of civil society signed by many of these and others to express support for this feminist civil society organization and also asking for suggestions on ways to ensure that despite this situation, CIMAC can continue its work uninterrupted.

CIMAC also received a flood of messages of solidarity via telephone, email and visits to their offices, many of whom acknowledged the importance of CIMAC for Mexican society, and particularly for women and media, in a national context involving a rise in violations of human rights and the rights to freedom of expression and information.  This situation has been documented and denounced by the National Network of Journalists, Tri-National Network of Journalists, International Network of Journalists with Gender Vision; National Gender & Economy Network; World March of Women, and Women for Dialogue.

Communication media who have joined the solidarity effort include La Voz del Puerto 870AM (The Voice of the Port) de Oaxaca; Radio XENKA 1030 AM of Quintana Roo; Radio Vallekas of Spain; Reporters without Borders and the Communicators & Writers Organization of the State of Veracruz, among many others.

FIRE called CIMAC both to express our solidarity and support, to make a commitment to translate and write in English the information that has come out in Spanish so that English-language media and communicators can also respond.  FIRE staff will also visit CIMAC this week in Mexico to assess further needs of the agency..

The robbery and vandalism of equipment and documents at CIMAC does not weaken the staff’s commitment to the project or their journalistic work.  At the same time, the official investigation launched on Monday continues. 

For more information or to send messages of solidarity go to: http://www.cimac.org.mx/

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Sources:  CIMAC reports  (http://www.cimacnoticias.com/site/)

Phone interview by FIRE with Lucía Lagunes Huerta, executive director of CIMAC;

Elizabeth Velasco C. (2008, July 29), ”Saquean oficinas de la agencia CIMAC” (Offices of the agency CIMAC ransacked), La Jornada, Mexico. http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2008/07/29/index.php?section=sociedad&article=043n1soc


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