Chiapas Police Arrest Italian Professor & Journalist Gianni Proiettis
By Al Giordano
Photo taken in January 2010 by journalist Gianni Proiettis during interview with family members of assassinated anti-mining organizer Mariano Albarca in Chicomuselo, Chiapas, Mexico. DR 2010 Gianni Proiettis.
Gianni Proiettis walked out the door of his San Cristóbal de Las Casas, home at one p.m. today and on his way to the corner store, neighbors witnessed three uniformed men in an unmarked white vehicle kidnap Proiettis and take him away. When family members and friends went to the Chiapas state police headquarters in that city to report the crime, they found that Proiettis was being held by those same police, and was being transported to the state capital of Tuxtla Gutiérrez.
Asked by family members and an attorney what crime he is charged with, authorities said only that Proiettis had been present last week in Cancún (twelve hours away, where he had been covering, along with many other reporters, the climate summit meetings and protests for the Italian newspaper, Il Manifiesto).
Proiettis, an Italian native who resides in Mexico legally on a work visa, is a professor of history at the state university - Autonomous University of Chiapas (UNACH, in its Spanish initials) - and has resided in San Cristóbal de Las Casas since 1993. During those 17 years he has reported regularly for Il Manifiesto, for the French publication Liberación and since 2006, for Narco News, among other publications. A tall, thin, soft spoken man with white hair and goatee, Gianni also teaches at an eco-tourism project in the Chiapas town of Venustiano Carranza, site of numerous conflicts in recent years between the state government and nonviolent townspeople. Gianni also reported earlier this year, for Narco News, on struggles against international mining companies in Chiapas.
A January 23, 2010 report in Narco News by Proiettis, an interview with the father of assassinated Chiapas anti-mining leader Mariano Abarca, was particularly bothersome to Canadian mining company Blackfire Exploration, LTD, and state officials that act to protect the company.
Given that they wer state, and not federal, officials who took Proiettis, and that hundreds of national and international reporters also covered events in Cancún last week, it seems highly improbable that his attendance there as one reporter could be the real motive or a legal pretext for his arrest.
Attorneys are now moving for an ampáro – a special protective order under Mexican law – to prevent authorities from continuing to hold Proiettis and also to bar them from deporting him from the country where he has resided for almost two decades.
Narco News considers an attack on the press freedom of Gianni Proiettis or any of our journalists to be an attack upon all and we will not rest until our colleague is free and his rights under law are reestablished. We are alerting our international network of journalists and friends and inform authorities that if they hoped they would be able to attack the press freedom of this journalist quietly, that has already become impossible. We will be monitoring this situation 24/7 and posting updates here when we encounter new information and until Gianni Proiettis is freed.