December 17, 2018

Press Freedom

Mexico

Call for Day of Mourning for Slain Mexican Journalists

H.E. Felipe Calderon
President
Residencia Official de los Pinos
Col. San Miguel Chapultepec
11850 Mexico, DF
Mexico
Fax: (011.52.5) 515.5729

Your Excellency:

We applaud your determination to bring an end to the appalling violence afflicting Mexico, and we understand that this task will be neither quick nor easy. But as an organization of journalists that has defended press freedom around the world for more than seventy years, the Overseas Press Club of America is especially sensitive to the price being paid month-after-month by your country’s media workers as they try to inform the public about this crucial story. Indeed, the violence to them must now be recognized as a threat to Mexico and its democracy.

According to our colleagues at Reporters Without Borders, five more were murdered just in the past two weeks, bringing the total so far this year to at least 10. By RSF’s count, there have been 67 journalists killed since 2000, and since 2003, another 11 have disappeared. One result of this slaughter is that other journalists have been intimidated into self-censorship to avoid being kidnapped, tortured and killed in retaliation for their work.

The latest five victims will not come as news to you, but perhaps they merit a further moment of your time.

On July 10, Guillermo Alcaraz Trejo, 24, was gunned down by masked gunmen in Chihuahua as he left the newspaper, OMNIA, where he had gone to greet former colleagues. Investigators said he was hit by at least 40 bullets from an AK-47 rifle. A former cameraman, Alcaraz edited the video section of the website of the state human-rights commission, CEDH.

Radio journalist, Marco Aurelio Martínez Tijerina, 45, was kidnapped on the street by gunmen aboard three pick-up trucks in the evening of July 9 in Montemorelos, in Nuevo León. His body was found 24 hours later. He had been shot once in the head and, according to initial reports, had also been tortured. Martínez produced and presented Informativo 800, a news program broadcast by regional radio station XEDD Radio La Tremenda.

Early in the morning of July 6, Hugo Alfredo Olivera Cartas, 27, editor of the El Día de Michoacán, director of the ADN news agency and a correspondent for La Voz de Apatzingán, was found dead in his pick-up truck outside of Apatzingán, Michoacán. Olivera Cartas had three shots to the head, apparently fired from a .32 caliber weapon. His watch, mobile phone and rings were missing, while his wallet was found on the front seat.

Husband-and-wife journalists, Juan Francisco Rodríguez Ríos, 49, and María Elvira Hernández Galena, 36, were gunned down on June 28 in the Internet café they owned near their home in Coyuca de Benítez, in the southwestern state of Guerrero. Rodríguez was the local correspondent for two dailies, El Sol de Acapulco and Diario Objetivo. Hernández Galena edited the weekly, Semanario Nueva Línea. They were shot at close range by gunmen who arrived in a black car. Their oldest child witnessed their murder.

Your Excellency, we urge you to make plain via presidential directive to officials at all levels of government that they have a duty to respond when journalists ask for special protection. We further urge that you use your influence to promote legislation promoting the safety of our Mexican colleagues.

As a symbol of Mexico’s concern for the threats to reporters and editors, we propose a national day of mourning in recognition of the quiet heroism of those who have not been intimidated into silence, and in memorial to those who have been slain. A national day of mourning would recognize the contribution made by these and all the many other journalists who have died in dedication to their calling.

We thank you for your attention, and hope you will respond.

Respectfully yours,

Larry Martz
Kevin McDermott
Co-chairmen – Freedom of the Press Committee

cc:

Eduardo Medina-Mora Icaza
Attorney General
Avenida Paseo de la Reforma, Nos. 211-213
Mexico, DF, C.P. 06500
Mexico
Fax: (202) 728.1698

Olga María del Carmen Sánchez
Ministra
Suprema Corte de Justicia de la Nación
Pino Súarez, No.2
Colonia Centro, México, DF
México
Fax: (011.525.55) 522.0152

Genaro David Góngora Pimentel
Ministro Presidente
Suprema Corte de Justicia de la Nación
Pino Súarez, No.2
Colonia Centro, México, DF
México
Fax: (011.525.55) 522.0152

H.E. Arturo Sarukhan Casamitjana
Ambassador of Mexico to the U.S.A.
Embassy of Mexico
1911 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20006
Fax: (202) 728.1698

Ambassador Claude Heller
Permanent Representative
Permanent Mission of Mexico to the United Nations
2 United Nations Plaza
New York, NY 10017
Fax: (212) 688.8862

H.E. Antonio O. Garza, Jr.
U.S. Ambassador to Mexico
Embassy of the United States
P.O. Box 9000
Brownsville, TX 78520

Fax: (011.52.55) 5080.2005

Lcda. Rosario Robles
Presidenta
Partido de la Revolución Democrática
Huatusco # 37, 5o. piso
Col. Roma Sur, México, DF
Mexico
Fax: (011.52.55) 5207.1200

Patricia Mercado Sanchez
Editor
El Economista
Mexico, DF
Mexico
pmercado@economista.com.mx

Juan Francisco Ealy Ortiz
El Universal of Mexico City
Bucareli N° 8, Col. Centro
Delegación Cuauhtémoc, C.P. 06040
México

Ramón Darío Cantú Deándar
El Maòana
Mexico
Fax: (011.52.5) 714.8797

Alfredo Corchado
The Dallas Morning News
acorchado@dallasnews.com

Jorge Luis Sierra@jlsierrag@yahoo.com

Robert Rivard
Editor
San Antonio Express-News
P.O. Box 2171
San Antonio, TX 78297