April 15, 2010

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
Fax: (+ 52 55) 5093 4901/ 5277 2376

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

Dr Gustavo Salas Chávez
Special Prosecutor for Crimes against Journalists
Fiscal Especial para la Atención de Delitos Cometidos contra Periodistas

Your excellencies,

On behalf of the 3,400 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 concern over deaths of journalists Evaristo Pacheco Solís and Jorge Rábago Valdez and the alleged abduction of seven journalists in Reynosa, Tamaulipas state, five of whom are reportedly still missing.

According to our information, Evaristo Pacheco Solís, reporter for the weekly newspaper Visión Informativa, was found dead in Guerrero state on March 12, 2010. Pacheco, aged 33, had been shot several times and his body left by the side of a road near the state capital Chilpancingo. He is the second print journalist to be murdered in Guerrero this year.

Ten days earlier, another journalist died in Reynosa, Tamaulipas state, under disputed circumstances. Jorge Rábago Valdez, journalist for the daily newspaper La Prensa and two radio stations, died on March 2. The state prosecutor’s office stated that Rábago, aged 49, died of natural causes after suffering an embolism and falling into a diabetic coma. However, according to several local reporters, Rábago had reportedly been stopped by police and badly beaten prior to being admitted to the hospital. The state prosecutor has reportedly denied that the reporter was assaulted.

Seven other journalists were reportedly abducted in Reynosa around the time of Rábago’s death: two have since been released and one has been confirmed to be disappeared, while four others remain missing. Miguel Ángel Domínguez Zamora, reporter for the Reynosa-based daily newspaper El Mañana has been missing since March 1, 2010. His family has reported the disappearance to the state prosecutor’s office. Two broadcast journalists from the Milenio media group assigned to cover a wave of drug-related violence in Reynosa were abducted by gunmen on March 3 and released the next day, after being told to leave the area. As of March 11 there were unconfirmed reports that at least four other journalists had been abducted; they have not been named but work, respectively, for the newspapers El Mañana, La Tarde, and La Prensa and the news Web site MetroNoticias.

PEN American Center is seriously concerned that deaths of Evaristo Pacheco Solís and Jorge Rábago Valdez, and the abduction of seven other journalists, are a result of a very troubling climate of impunity in Tamaulipas, Guerrero and elsewhere in Mexico. We therefore call on the federal and state authorities to investigate these crimes, along with all other unsolved journalist murders and disappearances, as a matter of the utmost urgency, and to bring the culprits to justice. We also continue to call for the implementation of effective journalist protection programs, and urge the government of President Felipe Calderón to fulfill promises to make crimes against journalists a federal offense, specifically by amending the constitution so that federal authorities have the power to investigate, prosecute and punish such crimes.

Thank you for your consideration of this urgent matter.

Hannah Pakula                                               
Chair, Freedom to Write Committee                                  

Larry Siems
Director, Freedom to Write and International Programs

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

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