December 15, 2018

Press Freedom

Mexico

OPC Protests Murder, Disappearances of 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:

Since our last letter to you on March 19, there has been no respite in the appalling level of violence and drug-related gang warfare gripping Mexico.  We are especially dismayed that another journalist has been murdered — at least the fifth so far this year — and two more have disappeared, one of them possibly at the hands of Mexican police.

The murder victim, Enrique Villicaña Palomares, was found on April 10 with his throat cut in Morelia, five days after he was reported kidnapped.  He was a columnist for the daily, La Voz de Michoacan.  His employers told our colleagues at Reporters Without Borders that they were not sure Villicaña had been killed in connection with his work, but that the Michoacán State Justice Department failed to take any action after being notified two weeks ago that threats had been made against him.  If true, this indifference is inexcusable.

Another Michoacán journalist, Ramon Angeles Zalpa, a reporter for Cambio de Michoacán, has been missing since April 6, when he left his home in his car.  And on April 20, Evaristo Ortega Zarate, the editor of the local weekly, Zarate, in Colipa, Veracruz, sent three text messages to his sister reporting that he had just been arrested by police while driving to Xalapa.  Ortega, who was to be a candidate for mayor of Colipa, has been missing ever since.  So has another mayoral candidate who disappeared on the same day.  The local police have denied any involvement.  But according to the Veracruz Commission for the Defense of Journalists, the State Attorney General’s Office took more than twenty four hours to launch an investigation of the case.  Inexplicably, the head of the State Commission for Human Rights, Nohemi Quirasco, has ruled out any possibility that Ortega’s abduction might be connected to his work as a journalist.  She said she was unaware of him, and dismissed him as a “complete unknown.”

Your Excellency, after a year in which some two thousand of your citizens were slaughtered in the relentless drug wars, some might think we are self-centered to be focusing on the plight of your country’s journalists.  But when journalists are killed for doing their jobs, the result is self-censorship by other journalists and the loss of information that is vital to any democracy.  “We have learned the lesson: To survive, we publish the minimum,” said Alfredo Quijano, editor-in-chief of Norte de Ciudad Juárez, not long ago.  “We don’t investigate.  Even at that, most of what we know stays in the reporter’s notebook.”

Your Excellency, as we have written you previously, we recognize that you cannot defeat drug violence with a snap of your fingers.  But as an independent organization that has defended press freedom around the world for seven decades, the Overseas Press Club of America urges you to order officials at all levels of government to respect freedom of the press, to do everything in your power to promote legislation to protect journalists, and to re-double your determined effort to end the violence of the drug cartels.  

Thank you for your attention.  We would appreciate a reply.

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 of America
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:  jlsierrag@yahoo.com

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