May 20, 2011

Dr. Alan García Pérez

Presidente de la República del Perú
Jr. de la Unión S/N 1ra. Cuadra, Cercado de Lima
Lima, Peru
Fax: +51 1 311 3940

Your Excellency,

On behalf of the 3,500 members of PEN American Center, an international organization dedicated to protecting freedom of expression wherever it is threatened, we are writing to express our concern regarding the death threats received by La Primera editor César Levano and Board president Arturo Belaúnde.

According to our information, on May 11, 2011, funeral wreaths were delivered to both Levano and Belaúnde at La Primera’s Lima headquarters. One wreath bore the words “Rest in Peace” and identified the sender as the Lima-based Press and Society Institute (IPYS), Peru’s leading press freedom organization, though there are serious doubts that IPYS was the actual sender. IPYS has been active in pressing the two leading presidential candidates on their commitment to press freedom. Levano reported that he received another death threat the following morning. An anonymous caller told his secretary, “Tell César Levano we are not joking about [the wreaths] and that next time we will kill him.”

We understand that there has been a rash of assaults and dismissals of journalists in recent weeks in the lead-up to June 5 presidential elections. La Primera has been openly supportive of candidate Ollanta Humala.

PEN American Center is extremely concerned that the threats against César Levano and Arturo Belaúnde are endemic of a deteriorating climate for freedom of expression in Peru, in which the rate of attacks on journalists has risen in the last year and impunity remains high. We therefore call on authorities to investigate the death threats against Levano and Belaúnde in order to establish the source, and to provide them and all other threatened journalists with adequate protection as a matter of urgency.


Hannah Pakula
Chair, Freedom to Write Committee

Larry Siems
Director, Freedom to Write and International Programs

CC: H.E. Luis Miguel Valdivieso Montano
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary
1700 Massachusetts Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20036
Fax: (202) 659-8124

>> Back to Rapid Action