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Mexican journalists criticize government's silence on PEMEX explosion

Four days after a deadly explosion rocked the central offices of the Mexican state-owned oil company Petróleos Mexicanos, or PEMEX, in Mexico City, journalists are criticizing the lack of transparency and information about the blast that killed 35 people, according to CNN's website.

"Doubts persist over if it was an accident or an attack," wrote Pascal Beltrán del Río, an editor at the newspaper Excélsior, in his article "Pemex: preguntas sin respuestas," PEMEX: Questions without answers. In his opinion, President Enrique Peña Nieto's team was quickly on the scene and used social media to pass on information but the government appointed three different spokespersons in 28 hours, failing to present a uniform message.

So far, according to journalist Sanjuana Martínez on the website Sin Embargo, the federal government has been withholding information, including the number of people missing in the rubble and the investigation's line of inquiry. PEMEX workers are also prohibited from speaking to the press about the possible causes of the explosion, she wrote. Martínez also noted that while the rescue effort continued, President Peña Nieto went on vacation to Punta Mita, on the country's western coast.

"The government has been slow to give a detailed press conference where officials speak, without reservations, about all the information available," added columnist Salvador Camarena in the newspaper Razón.

"The first statements about technical information have been confusing," wrote columnist Raymundo Rivapalacio. For example, the authorities have not released the building's plans nor have they commented on if there were explosive materials in the basement where three of the victims were working in the maintenance ducts. "Whatever was in those ducts is also unknown," he added.

Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.

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