July 14, 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
México D.F. 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
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
Email: feadp@pgr.gob.mx

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 shock over the fatal shooting of journalist Hugo Alfredo Olivera Cartas in Apatzingán, Michoacán state.

According to our information, Hugo Alfredo Olivera Cartas, owner and editor of the Apatzingán-based local daily newspaper El Día de Michoacán, aged 27, went missing on the evening of July 5, 2010. He had previously received a phone call and set off from the newspaper’s office to cover a story. He reportedly called his wife shortly after leaving and told her to “take care of the children.” His body was found in the early hours of the next morning in his vehicle in a rural area near Apatzingán; he had been shot three times in the head. The same morning, unidentified individuals reportedly entered the offices of El Día de Michoacán and stole computer hard disks and memory storage devices.
Olivera, who was also owner and editor of the regional news agency ADN as well as correspondent for the daily regional newspaper La Voz de Michoacán and the news agency Quadratín, had covered crime in the Apatzingán area for the past two years. He is not known to have reported receiving any threats prior to his death. However, in February 2010, he reportedly filed a complaint with the National Commission for Human Rights (CNDH) accusing members of the federal police of assaulting him while he was covering a murder on February 18.

The motive for the murder is as yet unknown. However, Michoacán governor Leonel Godoy Rangel has been quoted in local press reports as saying that it bore the hallmarks of an organized crime killing. Olivera’s death brings the number of print journalists killed in Mexico in 2010 to eight; three more print journalists have gone missing in the country this year.

PEN American Center remains seriously concerned that the climate of impunity for those who attack and kill journalists in Apatzingán and elsewhere in Mexico is contributing to the increasing violence and helped precipitate the murder of Hugo Alfredo Olivera Cartas. We therefore call on the federal and state authorities to carry out a full and impartial investigation into their murders as a matter of utmost urgency, with the involvement of the Special Prosecutor for Crimes Against Journalists, and investigate all other unsolved journalist killings and disappearances in Mexico. We also 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, and to set up protection programs for journalists to ensure their safety.

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
Fax: (202) 728-1698

>> Back to Rapid Action