Mexican opposition leaders blamed the government Thursday for organizing a media boycott of an international conference on press freedom taking place here this week.
Only one Mexican radio station, privately run Radio Red, covered the event in its first two days Wednesday and Thursday, according to congressional deputies who organized the four-day conference.Reporters from several radio and television stations have told Reuters they were ordered not to cover the event, aimed at creating laws in Mexico to undo the traditionally close-knit relationship between the government and media.
"We have been sabotaged by the government," Porfirio Munoz Le-do, head of the leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) in the lower house, told reporters.
Munoz Ledo blamed the politically powerful Interior Ministry and its head of communications and former transport and communications minister, Emilio Gamboa Patron, for organizing the boycott.
"Gamboa is a threat to democracy in Mexico, and he is pressuring the media to have a blackout of this event," said Munoz Ledo, former member of the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI).
An Interior Ministry official told Reuters the government welcomed the event and did not tell media to boycott coverage of the conference, sponsored by UNESCO, the Konrad Adenauer International Cultural Foundation and local universities.
"We have done absolutely nothing to prevent this event from being covered. On the contrary, we welcome events like this," Raul Torres, head of media at Gamboa's office, told Reuters.
Mexico's PRI has been in power since 1929 and had largely ensured a tame press through favors or threats, speakers said Thursday.
Speakers urged the Mexican government to scrap outdated press laws.
"The threat by the government to cancel rights of broadcast if media stray from the official line is constant . . . media have learned to live with laws that are obsolete but still feared," Raul Trejo, a professor at Mexico's largest public university, UNAM, told the conference.