April 16, 2024

Press Freedom


Mexico September 29, 2011

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

Your Excellency:

The systematic gangland-style killing of journalists across Mexico for reporting on the drug trade is a campaign that has taken on wartime proportions. It threatens to turn the image of your nation into a press killing zone, a place where anyone covering the drug war can be murdered just for doing their job.

We, at the Overseas Press Club of America, understand that you have been doing your best to address this crisis, but we join with other international press organizations in urging you to redouble your efforts.

The discovery on September 24 of the headless body of Maria Elizabeth Macias, the 39-year-old editor of the daily Primera Hora in Nuevo Laredo in the state of Tamaulipas, brings to 4 the number of journalists slain in the last two months. Macias, blogging under a pseudonym, was skilled at using social networking to gather material about criminal gangs. According to a police report, a message warning others against using social networks was found near her body. “I am here because of my reports and yours … for those who don’t want to believe it, this has happened to me because of my actions,” it said.

Other journalists murdered in this intimidation spree are:

Rocio González Trápaga, a former reporter for Televisa, found strangled on August 31.

Ana María Marcela Yarce Viveros, editor and columnist of the weekly magazine, Contralínea, also found strangled on August 31.

Yolanda Ordaz de la Cruz of the regional daily Notiver, found with her throat slit on July 26 in the port city of Veracruz.

Gonzalez and Yarce had been kidnapped before their bodies were found lying side by side in a Mexico City park. Marking Mexico City as a killing ground for journalists, in addition to the notoriously dangerous state of Veracruz, was a warning from gang leaders, some reports said, that no place in the country is safe from their reach.

This spree of barbaric killings is aimed at journalists who have reported on Mexico’s drug mafia and on the corrupt government officials who assist them. The deplorable result is that this bloody pogrom against the press appears to be working.

According to Reporters Without Borders, some 15 journalists have fled to other states or left Mexico in the past two months. The organization reported that on Sept. 22 Rafael Pineda, a well regarded editorial cartoonist, said he was leaving the state of Veracruz “for his safety.”

As we noted in our August 2 letter to you, the body of Notiver reporter, Yolanda Ordaz, was also found with a warning letter. “Friends can also betray you,” it read. In June, her boss, crime editor and columnist, Miguel Angel López Velasco, was killed in his home, along with his wife and son, all shot execution-style in the forehead. According to reports, a prime suspect has been known to authorities for some months. Why, we ask, is there no progress on this case as well?

As of this writing, Manuel Gabriel Fonseca Hernández, a crime reporter for the newspaper, El Mañanero de Acayucan, in Veracruz, has been missing since September 19.

We, at the OPC, know that Mexico is at war against the narco gangs. We know that high-powered weapons used by the gangs come from the U.S., which is also the prime market for drugs and thus bears some responsibility for the violence. We also know that thousands of dedicated law enforcement officials and innocent civilians have died in this war. As non-combatants, your journalists are the eyes and ears of your nation. If you permit gangland thugs to silence them, we fear, as others have suggested, that Mexico will appear to the outside world “a collapsed state.” Dramatic action is needed before more lives of your courageous reporters are wasted.

Respectfully yours,

Robert J. Dowling
Larry Martz
Freedom of the Press Committee


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. Earl Anthony Wayne
U.S. Ambassador to Mexico
Embassy of the United States of America
P.O. Box 9000
Brownsville, TX 78520
Fax: (011.52.55) 5080.2005

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

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

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

Fax: ( 931.1346

Patricia Mercado Sanchez,
El Economista
Mexico, DF

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

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

Alfredo Corchado
The Dallas Morning News

Jorge Luis Sierra

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

Maria Otero
UnderSecretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street, NW
Washingtong, DC 20520