MEXICO: Another print journalist abducted and murdered
12 January 2010
The Writers in Prison Committee of International PEN (WiPC) is shocked and saddened by the murder of Zócalo de Saltillo journalist Valentín Valdés Espinosa, who was abducted on 7 January 2010 and found dead the next day in Saltillo, Coahuila state. He had reportedly been tortured before being shot dead. Valdés is the second print journalist to be murdered in Mexico in as many weeks and the 28th since 2004. The WiPC calls on the federal and state authorities to investigate this latest killing, along with all other unsolved journalist murders, as a matter of the utmost urgency, and to bring the culprits to justice. It also calls for the implementation of effective journalist protection programmes.
Valentín Valdés Espinosa, co-founder of and journalist for the daily newspaper Zócalo de Saltillo, reportedly left the newspaper offices with two colleagues late on the night of 7 January 2010. In the centre of Saltillo, their car was intercepted by a group of men who forced Valdés and another, unnamed Zócalo reporter into a vehicle and drove away.
According to the Coahuila state attorney general's office, Valdés was found dead in front of a hotel in Saltillo early on the morning of 8 January. He had reportedly been tortured and shot several times. On his corpse a message was found that read: "This is going to happen to those who don't understand. The message is for everyone."
The attorney general's office has stated that the murder was carried out by organized crime. Valdés covered local news, including crime, for Zócalo de Saltillo. In July 2006, another journalist from the same newspaper chain, Rafael Ortiz Martínez, reportedly disappeared in Monclova, Coahuila, and has not been seen since.
The national news magazine Proceso has reported that the other reporter who was abducted along with Valdés was later released, but this has not been confirmed by either the newspaper or the attorney general's office. According to the newspaper, the third reporter who was with Valdés was not abducted.
Mexico is one of the most dangerous countries in the world to work as a journalist. From January 2004 to December 2009, a total of 27 writers - 26 print journalists and one author - were murdered, seven of them in 2009 alone. Five more print journalists have disappeared in the same period. Few if any of these crimes have been properly investigated or punished. International 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.
- Report by the Committee to Protect Journalists (8 January 2010): http://cpj.org/2010/01/abducted-reporter-found-dead-in-mexico.php (English);
- Report by Reporters Without Borders (8 January 2010): http://www.rsf.org/Two-more-journalists-kidnapped-one.html (English), http://www.rsf.org/spip.php?page=article&id_article=36007 (Spanish)
Please send appeals:
- Protesting the murder of Zócalo de Saltillo journalist Valentín Valdés Espinosa, who was abducted on 7 January 2010 and found dead the next day in Saltillo, Coahuila state
- Calling for a full, prompt and impartial investigation into Valdés' death 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;
- Calling on the federal authorities to set up protection programmes for journalists to ensure their safety
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
Salutation: Señor Presidente/ Dear Mr President
Lic. Arturo Chávez Chávez
Procurador General de la República
Av. Paseo de Reforma No. 211-213, Piso 16
Col. Cuauhtémoc, Defegacion Cuauhtémoc
México D.F. C.P. 06500
Tel: + 52 55 5346 0108
Fax: + 52 55 53 46 0908 (if a voice answers, ask "tono de fax, por favor")
Salutation: Señor Procurador General/Dear Attorney General
Please also send copies of your appeals to the Mexican Embassy in your country.
***Please send appeals immediately. Check with International PEN if sending appeals after 12 March 2010.***
For further details please contact Tamsin Mitchell at the Writers in Prison Committee London Office: International PEN, Brownlow House, 50-51 High Holborn, London WC1V 6ER Tel: +44 (0) 207 405 0338 Fax +44 (0) 207 405 0339 email: firstname.lastname@example.org