June 15, 2009

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) 5277 2376

Lic. Eduardo Medina-Mora Icaza
Attorney General
Procurador 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

Your Excellencies,

On behalf of the 3,300 members of PEN American Center, an international organization of writers dedicated to protecting freedom of expression wherever it is threatened, we are writing to express our extreme concern regarding the abduction and murder of reporter Eliseo Barrón Hernández.

According to our information, Eliseo Barrón Hernández, a crime reporter for the Torreón-based daily newspaper La Opinión and other local newspapers in Gómez Palacio, Durango state, was abducted on the night of May 25, 2009 and subsequently murdered. That night, eight hooded and armed men reportedly entered Barrón’s home in Gómez Palacio, beat him in front of his wife and two children, and forced him into a vehicle parked outside. His body was found the next morning in a ditch in the municipality of Tlahualiko, Durango, next to Coahuila state. He had a gunshot wound to his head and, according to some reports, his body also bore signs of torture. Barrón’s family has filed a complaint with the Attorney General’s Office (Procuraduría General de la República). The local authorities have not made public any leads or possible motives for the crime, however the investigation has reportedly been taken over by federal authorities for reasons that are as yet unclear.

Barrón had reportedly covered police and crime for La Opinión for the last 10 years. He had recently reported on a corruption scandal among the Torreón police, and as a result, 302 police officers were fired and at least 20 others were investigated. He is the second journalist to be killed in Durango in May, following the fatal shooting of El Tiempo de Durango reporter Carlos Ortega Samper on May 3, 2009—World Press Freedom Day.

PEN American Center is extremely concerned by the recent murder of Eliseo Barrón Hernández and by the fact that Mexico has become one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists. Over 20 journalists have been murdered since 2004, and few if any of these crimes have been punished. We therefore reiterate our call for the government of President Felipe Calderón to fulfill its promises to make crimes against journalists a federal offense and urge that there be a full, prompt and impartial investigation into Barrón’s killing and all other unsolved murders of journalists in Mexico.

Thank you for your attention to this serious matter.


Hannah Pakula                  
Chair, Freedom to Write Committee   

Larry Siems
Director, Freedom to Write and International Programs

CC: H.E. Ambassador Arturo Sarukhan
Embassy of Mexico
1911 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
Washington, D.C. 20006

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