Gilberto Martinez Vera (@gilius_22) and Maria de Jesus Bravo Pagola (@MARUCHIBRAVO) were arrested last month after using the micro-blogging site to spread rumors of an attack by drug gangs on a local primary school. They were charged with terrorism and sabotage, crimes that carry penalties of up to 30 years in jail. Human rights and social media advocates were outraged, saying the punishment hardly fit the offense.
The case snowballed into something of an embarrassment for Veracruz Gov. Javier Duarte. On Tuesday, he pushed through a new law that would allow prosecution of rumor-mongers on the lesser charge of disturbing the peace. Many analysts saw this as a face-saving attempt by state authorities to make the case go away.