December 17, 2018

Press Freedom

Mexico

OPC Urges Calderon’s Explicit Support for Journalists in Mexico’s Drug Crisis

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 write to applaud your continuing efforts to control the violence and lawlessness that threaten to reduce your provinces along the United States border to a state of anarchy. We are also grateful to our own government in Washington, D.C. for its efforts to provide help to Mexico. But we continue to be appalled by the drug-related gang warfare that left some 2,000 Mexicans dead in 2009 alone.


We are particularly concerned by the continuing toll on our journalistic colleagues. According to the conservative count of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), thirty two media workers have been murdered in the past ten years, at least eleven of them in direct reprisal for their journalistic work. Since 2005, nine journalists have disappeared. Just in the past two months, according to press reports, three have been killed and eight kidnapped. For fear of retribution, media of all kinds in the border region are increasingly censoring themselves and failing to report the increasing carnage of the drug wars.


The result, Your Excellency, is a growing breakdown in the public information that is essential to any democratic country. Yet, legislation to provide more protection for journalists remains stalled in Mexico’s Congress.


In Chilpancingo, in the state of Guerrera, the body of Evaristo Pacheca Solis, a reporter for the weekly, Vision Informativa, was found by a rural roadside on March 12. He had been shot several times. On January 29, Jorge Ochoa Martinez, publisher of the weekly, El Oportuno, and the twice-weekly, El Sol de la Costa, was also shot to death in Guerrero after leaving a party. And on March 11, Jorge Rabago Valdez died in a hospital in Reynosa. A reporter for the daily, La Prensa, and for Radio Rey and Reporteros en Red radio stations, Rabago had been abducted on February 19 as he left a party. He was dumped on a highway in Matamoros on March 1, according to the Inter-American Press Association.


Thus far, there is no evidence that Pacheco was killed in retaliation for his work. We expect Mexican authorities to investigate. We also call for further investigation into the bizarre explanations that police have given for the deaths of Ochoa and Rabago. Two men have been accused of hiring a taxi driver to kill Ochoa, allegedly because he drove his car down a one-way street and refused to back up to let their vehicle pass. Similarly, the state prosecutor’s office in Reynosa maintained that Rabago suffered an embolism while walking on the street and had died of natural causes. But colleagues who visited him while he was unconscious in the hospital said it seemed clear that he had been beaten and perhaps tortured. The hospital refused to discuss his condition with CPJ.


Your Excellency, as we have written you previously, journalists in Mexico live under constant threat not only from drug cartels but from the police, army officials, the judiciary and local officials who should be protecting them. Our letter of September 18, 2009, detailed many such cases. While we recognize that you can not defeat gang violence with a snap of your fingers, you do have the authority to control your own government.


We urge you to order authorities at all levels of government to respect freedom of the press, to do everything in your power to push the legislation to protect journalists, and to re-double your determined effort to end the violence of the drug cartels. As an independent organization that has defended press freedom around the world for seven decades, the Overseas Press Club of America knows that Mexico’s future depends on your success.


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

alfredo_corchado@harvard.edu


Jorge Luis Sierra

jlsierrag@yahoo.com


Robert Rivard

Editor

San Antonio Express-News

P.O. Box 2171

San Antonio, TX 78297