Mexico: dam opponent slain during radio broadcast

Two gunmen shoved their way into a radio studio in Mazatlán, a port city in Mexico's Sinaloa state, and opened fire on local activist Atilano Román Tirado, killing him live on the air Oct. 12. Román Tirado had a weekly program on Radio Fiesta Mexicana, called "Asi es mi Tierra" (That's How My Land Is), as well as leading a group of campesino families displaced by the Picachos dam. In recent years, the movement of some 800 families demanding compensation for lands lost to the dam on the Río Presidio has staged blockades and protest marches, resulting in some arrests and repression. Sinaloa's Gov. Mario López Valdez (PAN) said the killing would not go unpunished. Violent attacks on reporters and media workers are increasingly common in Mexico. According to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists, 75 journalists and media workers have been killed since 1992, although the vast majority reporters or editors for print media. (AP, Oct. 13; Libération, France, Oct. 12)

In March 2010, six campesinos opposed to the Picachos project were killed when their pick-up truck was riddled with bullets while on their way home from a protest outside the state legislature building in Sinaloa's capital, Culiacán. Police said the truck was caught in the crossfire of a shoot-out between two convoys of gunmen linked to criminal gangs. Three other bodies were also found along the highway murder scene. But dam opponents marched through Culiacán after the incident, accusing the state government of having a hand in the murders. (South Notes, March 22, 2010)