Mexican Pol Says U.S. Station Defamed him

     McALLEN, Texas (CN) – The mayor of Reynosa, Mexico and his father sued a Univision TV affiliate, claiming it defamed them with stories that the father “had been detained with a large sum of money” in South Texas.
     Mayor Jesus Everado Villarreal Salinas and Arturo Villarreal Tijerina sued KNVO-Channel 48 TV, its news director Marianele Aguirre and its parent companies Entravision-Texas, Entravision Communications Corp. and Entravision Holdings, in Hidalgo County Court.
     “Beginning on May 17, 2013, defendants recklessly and maliciously published false and defamatory statements about plaintiffs,” the complaint states.
     “Specifically, defendants published news stories saying that Arturo Villarreal Tijerina had been detained with a large sum of money by law enforcement, including online on KNVO’s website and, upon information and belief, were broadcast on Channel 48 in McAllen, Texas and on KLTN 102.9 FM in Houston, Texas and on KGBT 98.5 FM in McAllen, Texas, among other stations and channels.
     “Further, the lies were picked up by other news agencies, bloggers, Internet sites, and media organizations and then republished time and time again, to millions of viewers, readers, and listeners.
     “Defendants knew that any reasonable person hearing or seeing these stories would conclude that Arturo Villarreal Tijerina was a criminal, a drug trafficker, and probably connected to the Mexican drug trade. The defendants’ false and defamatory stories also pointed out gratuitously and specifically that Arturo Villarreal Tijerina was the father of The Honorable Jesus Everado Villarreal Salinas, Mayor of Reynosa, Mexico. The obvious and intended result was that The Honorable Jesus Everado Villarreal Salinas would be defamed and branded by association as a criminal drug trafficker.”
     In a statement to the McAllen Monitor, the Villarreals’ attorney Raymond Thomas said the news stories were wholly fabricated.
     “Mr. Arturo Villarreal Tijerina was never arrested or detained by the Federal Bureau of Investigation or any other law enforcement agency in the U.S. or Mexico. Further, we are not aware of any investigation by any law enforcement agency directed toward Mr. Villarreal Tijerina,” the attorney told the newspaper.
     The Villarreals seek more than $1 million in punitive damages for defamation.
     Mexican media in general have a less than honorable reputation. Politicians, for instance, have is a tradition of passing out sobres, or envelopes, stuffed with money, for reporters to plant “news” stories, or withhold them. Such bribes occasionally have been reported as campaign expenses.

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