February 4, 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
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 editor José Alberto Velázquez López.

According to our information, Velázquez, owner of Expresiones de Tulum in the southeastern state of Quintana Roo, was shot dead in Cancún, Quintana Roo state, on December 22, 2009. Velázquez was reportedly driving home after a Christmas party for the newspaper staff when he was followed by two men on a motorbike who shot him in the chest, leaving him with serious wounds. He was taken to a hospital but died late that night. It is believed that his murder may be linked to his criticism of the mayor. Velásquez was the seventh print journalist to be killed in Mexico in 2009 and the 27th since 2004. He leaves behind a wife who was about to give birth and a five-year-old son.
Expresiones de Tulum had received several anonymous death threats by phone over the months prior to Velázquez’s murder, and its printing press was firebombed in November 2009. Velázquez, who was also a lawyer and contributor to a local TV station Canal 30, had written several articles accusing local officials of corruption. He had stopped writing on local corruption issues after receiving the death threats, which allegedly included a threatening phone call from the mayor. Police investigations into the November 2009 firebombing and the December murder have not yet been fruitful.
PEN American Center is seriously concerned that the murder of José Alberto Velázquez López is a result of a very troubling climate of impunity in Quintana Roo and elsewhere in Mexico. We therefore call on the federal and state authorities to investigate his murder and to bring the culprits to justice, and to implement effective journalist protection programs and increase efforts to investigate the unsolved disappearances and murders of all journalists to ensure their safety. We once again reiterate our call to 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 to 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

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