June 15, 2009

Lic. Félix González Canto
Gobierno del Estado de Quintana Roo.
Administración 2005 – 2011
Palacio de Gobierno. Av. 22 de Enero No. 001 Col.
Centro. C.P. 77000.
Chetumal, Quintana Roo, México

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) 5093 4901/ 5277 2376

Lic. Fernando Francisco Gómez-Mont Urueta
Secretaría de Gobernación
Bucareli 99, 1er. piso,
Col. Juárez, Del. Cuauhtémoc,
México D.F., C.P.06600, MEXICO
Fax: (+52 55) 5093 3414

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 serious concern regarding the harassment of writer Lydia Cacho.

According to our information, Lydia Cacho, an award-winning author, activist, and journalist, reported being watched and followed by unknown armed individuals who have been seen photographing and filming her home and inspecting her car. On May 12, 2009, a man was reportedly seen in Cancún taking photos of Cacho’s apartment and car. Two days later the same man, this time armed, was seen outside her apartment door. On May 15, two men in a different car allegedly parked outside Cacho’s apartment for two hours and later appeared outside her office, also in Cancún. One week later the first man—again armed—returned to her home with a second man and reportedly filmed the building. Cacho has also received death threats via her blog since February 2009, including one that reportedly threatened to “slit her throat.”

Cacho reported the surveillance and death threats to the Quintana Roo state police who reportedly said they would look for the owners of the cars surveilling her home and office, but that they do not consider the presence of an armed civilian to be a criminal offense. Police reportedly are aware of the origin of the death threats she received via email but refused to take action as they were “only threats.”

The ongoing harassment of and death threats against Cacho are particularly alarming given the Mexican authorities’ failure to provide her with protection and legal redress in the past. Following the publication of her first book in 2005 on child pornography in Mexico titled Los Demonios del Edén: el poder detrás de la pornografía (The Demons of Eden: the power behind pornography), Cacho was illegally arrested, detained, and ill-treated before being subjected to a year-long criminal defamation lawsuit. Although she was cleared of all charges in 2007, her attempts to gain legal redress for her treatment have been thwarted.

PEN American Center is deeply disturbed by the harassment of Lydia Cacho and by the fact that Mexico has become one of the most dangerous countries in the world to work as a journalist. Over 20 journalists have been murdered in the last five years and four more have disappeared. Few if any of these crimes have been properly investigated or punished. We therefore call on the government of President Felipe Calderón to fulfill its promise to make crimes against journalists a federal offense, and expect that authorities will initiate a full, prompt, and impartial investigation into Cacho’s harassment and take immediate measures to guarantee her safety.

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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