November 9, 2011

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
Lic. Marisela Morales Ibáñez
Procuradora General de la República
Av. Paseo de Reforma No. 211-213, Piso 16
Col. Cuauhtémoc, Defegacion Cuauhtémoc
México D.F. C.P. 06500
Fax: + 52 55 53 46 0908

Dr Gustavo Salas Chávez
Fiscal Especial para la Atención de Delitos Cometidos contra la Libertad de Expresión (FEADLE)
Email: [email protected], [email protected]

Your Excellencies,

On behalf of the 3,500 members of PEN American Center, an international organization of writers dedicated to defending freedom of expression wherever it is threatened, we are writing to express our concern regarding the recent attack on the offices of the newspaper El Buen Tono.

According to our information, 15 armed men forced themselves into the offices of the Mexican daily newspaper El Buen Tono, based in Cordoba, Veracruz state, on November 6, 2011. They destroyed equipment, doused the editing and reception rooms in gasoline, and then set the offices on fire. The 20 employees present at the time of the attack had to take refuge from the flames in the print room. None have reported injuries.

The month-old El Buen Tono is owned by former Partido Acción Nacional (PAN) mayoral candidate, José Abella García. Although the newspaper does not focus on policing and security issues, it has nevertheless drawn attention to itself through its strong criticism of local authorities. The State Attorney General’s office is currently investigating the attack.

Mexico is one of the most dangerous countries in the world to work as a journalist. Since January 2004, 43 print journalists and two writers have been murdered, and 11 print journalists have gone missing. Veracruz state has become increasingly violent as drug gangs battle for territory. Over the past 18 months, three journalists have been murdered and two have disappeared in Veracruz state alone. Among those murdered in Veracruz state are La Verdad de Jáltipan columnist Noel López Olguin (abducted March 8, 2011, found June 1), Notiver columnist Miguel Ángel López Velasco (June 20, 2011), and Notiver reporter Yolanda Ordaz De La Cruz (July 24, 2011). Journalists disappeared include Espacio editor Evaristo Ortega Zaraté (April 20, 2010) and El Mañanero reporter Gabriel Manuel Fonseca Hernández (September 19, 2011).

PEN American Center is seriously concerned that the attack on the offices of El Buen Tono indicate an ongoing intolerance of journalist and a climate of impunity in Mexico in general and in Veracruz state in particular. We therefore call for an investigation into the attack on the newspaper, and reiterate our call on President Felipe Calderón to fulfill promises to make crimes against journalists a federal offense by amending the Constitution so that federal authorities have the power to investigate, prosecute, and punish such crimes, and for federal authorities to immediately implement the journalist protection mechanisms it promised in November 2010.

Thank you for your attention to this critical matter.

Hannah Pakula
Chair, Freedom to Write Committee

Larry Siems
Director, Freedom to Write and International Programs

CC: Ambassador Arturo Sarukhán
Mexican Ambassador to the United States
Embassy of Mexico
1911 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20006
Fax: (202) 728-1698

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