February 11, 2010

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

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

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 regarding the murder of newspaper editor and publisher Jorge Ochoa Martínez.

According to our information, Jorge Ochoa Martínez, editor and publisher of local newspapers El Oportuno, based in Chilipancingo, and El Sol de la Costa, based in Ayutula de los Libres, Guerrero state, was shot dead onJanuary 29, 2010. He was reportedly shot several times in the face after leaving a birthday party for a local politician at a restaurant in Ayutla de los Libres. The authorities are reportedly investigating but still do not have any leads in the case. Ochoa is the second print journalist to be murdered in 2010, and the 29th since 2004.

Ochoa, who is 55 years old, had not reported receiving any threats. According to a colleague, his newspapers did not tend to cover sensitive stories such as drug trafficking or corruption in any depth due to the poor security situation for journalists in Guerrero. However, his family reportedly believes it possible that his murder was connected to his work. According to the police, there is to date no indication that his death was linked to organized crime. Still, Guerrero has become one of the most dangerous states for journalists to work as a result of a turf war between two drug cartels and the state and federal forces’ attempts to remain in control.

PEN American Center is seriously concerned that the murder of Jorge Ochoa Martínez is a result of a very troubling climate of impunity in Guerrero state and elsewhere in Mexico. We therefore call on the federal and state authorities to investigate Ochoa’s murder, as well as all other unsolved murders of journalists, as a matter of the utmost urgency, and to bring the culprits to justice. We continue to call for the implementation of effective programs to ensure the safety of all journalists, and we 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
Ambassador of Mexico to the United States
Embassy of Mexico
1911 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20006

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