Mexican farmers take three journalists hostage in order to negotiate with local authorities

A group of Mexican farmers held three journalists hostage and threatened to burn them alive in hopes of receiving financial aid from authorities in the state of Campeche, the newspaper Milenio reported.

Residents of Nunkini, an indigenous community, held hostage during 12 hours a correspondent of the Milenio newspaper and two television reporters from local network Mayavision, and demanded roughly $382,300 for their release. That amount corresponds to what they had been promised by the National Forestry Commission (Conafor in Spanish), according to the freedom of expression organization Article 19.

Reporters Edgar Icthe Villafaña and Oliver Pacheco along with cameraman Erik Hernández Uscanga went to the community to cover a protest by peasants armed with sticks and machetes which had started on Tuesday, April 10. Upon arrival at the scene, reporters were stripped of their equipment and imprisoned in city hall, reported Article 19.

After 10 hours, the farmers agreed to release Pacheco, who reported the situation and along with other journalists, sought help from the Ministry of Public Security and the state attorney, according to the news site Campeche. In addition, local journalists protested outside the government building to demand the release of their colleagues.

The other two reporters were released the afternoon of Wednesday, April 11, after Secretary of Public Safety and the state attorney volunteered themselves in exchange and agreed to sign the petitions of the farmers, reported Milenio. After the incident, two of the journalists were hospitalized due to a broken arm and intoxication, the publication said.

The confrontation between residents of Nunkini with farmers of neighboring Santa Cruz Ex Hacienda left four people with gunshot wounds, according to the news agency Proceso.

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