Mexican columnist kidnapped, threatened for criticizing leader


MEXICO CITY -- A prominent Mexican academic and anti-government newspaper columnist was kidnapped and threatened with death unless he ceased criticizing President Carlos Salinas de Gortari, his associates disclosed last night.

Rene Chemoux, a columnist for the Mexico City newspaper Excelsior, was kidnapped last Wednesday night by six armed men after leaving a meeting of the National Accord for Democracy, a multiparty group seeking fairness in the August congressional elections. Mr. Chemoux is a member of the group.

According to a press bulletin signed by the group's coordinating committee, Mr. Chemoux was taken to a remote area and threatened with death unless he stopped writing criticisms of President Salinas.

Mr. Chemoux, a professor at Mexico's National Autonomous University, was kept for about 10 hours and then released, said the bulletin. He then immediately went into hiding.

Mr. Chemoux was to disclose his kidnapping in today's editions of Excelsior, said Adolfo Aguilar Zinzer, a member of the democracy group's coordinating committee.

The National Accord for Democracy has criticized the government-dominated election commission for distributing voter registration cards in a way that allegedly favors the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI).

Mr. Aguilar said that Mr. Salinas telephoned Mr. Chemoux last Thursday to promise a thorough investigation of the kidnapping. Calls to the president's office were not returned late last night.

The incident recalls similar threats against Jorge Castaneda, another Salinas critic and a columnist for Newsweek magazine.

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