Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Mexico: Two journalists killed

Mexico: Two journalists killed

Published: July 23, 2009


English PEN protests in the strongest possible terms the murder of two more Mexican print journalists within two days of each other, bringing the death toll this year alone to four. Reporter Martín Javier Miranda Aviles died of stab wounds in Zitacuaro, Michoacán state, on 12 July 2009, while editor Ernesto Montañez Valdivia was shot dead in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua state, on 14 July 2009. The motives for the killings are not yet known.

Martín Javier Miranda Avilés, reporter for the daily newspaper Panorama and correspondent for the news agency Quadratin, was found dead with two knife wounds in his back at his home in Zitacuaro, Michoacán state, southeast Mexico, on 12 July 2009. The motive for the killing is not clear. Miranda Avilés only covered crime very occasionally. His colleagues reportedly stated that he had recently received threats, but also thought it likely that the killing was a 'crime of passion'. However, according to the management of Panorama, the murder could have been intended as a reprisal against the newspaper. Two weeks earlier, some news vendors were reportedly attacked while selling an edition of Panorama that contained a report on the arrest of a police officer in possession of weapons and drugs.

Two days later, on 14 July, Ernesto Montañez Valdivia, editor for local newspaper Enfoque del Sol de Chihuahua, was shot dead while driving his car in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua state, in the north of the country. His 17-year-old son, who was him at the time, was badly wounded and was taken to hospital. The car bore a sticker saying "Press 2007" as well as his newspaper's name. However, there were reportedly 325 such killings in Chihuahua state in June alone.

Chihuahua and Michoacán are said to be the two regions of Mexico most affected by warring drug cartels and the federal government's drive against drug trafficking. Miranda Avilés' death reportedly occurred the same day as the arrest of Arnoldo Rueda Medina, a key member of the Michoacán-based cartel known as "The Family", which was followed by a marked increase in violence, including an attack on a police station in Zitacuaro.


Mexico is one of the most dangerous countries in the world to work as a journalist. The deaths of Miranda Avilés and Montañez Valdivia bring to four the number of print journalists killed in the country this year alone.

The two previous murders both took place in Durango state, which is also said to be an important centre for the drugs trafficking trade. El Tiempo de Durango reporter Carlos Ortega Samper was shot dead on 3 May - World Press Freedom Day - after being threatened by local officials (for more information on Ortega's murder, click here). Crime reporter Eliseo Barrón Hernández was abducted and murdered on 25-26 May following his coverage of a police corruption scandal (for more information on Barrón's killing, click here).

From 2004 to 2009, a total 24 writers - 23 print journalists and one author - have been murdered in Mexico, while four more print journalists have disappeared. Few if any of these crimes have been properly investigated or punished. English PEN believes that it is likely that these journalists were targeted in retaliation for their critical reporting, particularly on drug trafficking. While organised crime groups are responsible for many attacks, state agents, especially government officials and the police, are reportedly the main perpetrators of violence against journalists, and complicit in its continuance. For more information, click here.

Useful links:

• Report on murders by Reporters Without Borders (16 July 2009) (Spanish)
• Report on journalist murders and impunity in Mexico by La Fundación para la Libertad de Expresión (Fundalex) (20 July 2009) (Spanish only)
• Special report on 'Reporting, and surviving, in Ciudad Juárez by the Committee to Protect Journalists (24 June 2009) (English) (Spanish)

Please send appeals:

• Protesting the murders of reporter Martín Javier Miranda Aviles in Zitacuaro, Michoacán state, on 12 July 2009, and editor Ernesto Montañez Valdivia in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua state, on 14 July 2009;
• Calling for a full, prompt and impartial investigation into their killings and all other unsolved murders of journalists in Mexico;
• Calling on the government of President Felipe Calderón to fulfil promises to make crimes against journalists a federal offence, specifically by amending the Constitution so that federal authorities have the power to investigate, prosecute and punish such crimes.

Appeals to:

Lic. Felipe De Jesús Calderón Hinojosa
Presidente de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos
Residencia Oficial de los Pinos Casa Miguel Alemán
Col. San Miguel Chapultepec, C.P. 11850, DISTRITO FEDERAL, México
Fax: ( 52 55) 5093 4901/ 5277 2376
Email: felipe.calderon@presidencia.gob.mx
Salutation: Señor Presidente/ Dear Mr President

Attorney General
Lic. Eduardo Medina-Mora Icaza
Procurador General de la República
Av. Paseo de Reforma No. 211-213, Piso 16
Col. Cuauhtémoc, Defegacion Cuauhtémoc
México D.F. C.P. 06500
Teléfono 52 55 5346 0108
Fax: 52 55 53 46 0908 (if a voice answers, ask "tono de fax, por favor")
E-mail: ofproc@pgr.gob.mx
Salutation: Señor Procurador General/Dear Attorney General

Please also send copies of your appeals to the Mexican Embassy in your country:

Juan José Bremer de Martino
Ambassador of Mexico to the United Kingdom
Mexican Embassy to the United Kingdom
16 St George Street
Hanover Square
London W1S 1FD
United Kingdom
Fax: ( 44) 20 7495 4035
To email the Embassy, please click here.


Mexican Embassy to the United Kingdom 16 St George Street Hanover Square London W1S 1FD United Kingdom Telephone: (+44) 20 7499 8586 Fax: (+44) 20 7495 4035

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