July 23, 2009

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) 5277 2376

Lic. Eduardo Medina-Mora Icaza
Attorney General
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 3,300 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 over the killings of journalists Martín Javier Miranda Avilés and Ernesto Montañez Valdivia.

According to our information, reporter Martín Javier Miranda Avilés was killed at his home in Zitácuaro, Michoacán state, on July 12, 2009. A contributor to the daily newspaper Panorama and correspondent for the news agency Quadratin, he was found with two knife wounds in his back. The motive for his killing is not clear, as Miranda Avilés only covered crime very occasionally. His colleagues stated that he recently had received threats, but thought it likely that the killing was a “crime of passion.” The management of Panorama, however, reportedly believes the murder was intended as retaliation against the newspaper. Two weeks earlier, some news vendors were attacked while selling an edition of Panorama that contained a report on the arrest of a police officer in possession of weapons and drugs.

On July 14, 2009, only two days after the murder of Miranda Avilés, Ernesto Montañez Valdivia, editor of Enfoque del Sol de Chihuahua, was shot dead in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua state. At the time, he was driving with his 17-year-old son who was also badly wounded by the gunshots and needed medical attention. Their car bore a sticker saying “Press 2007” as well as “Enfoque del Sol de Chihuahua.” However, there were reportedly 325 such killings in Chihuahua state in June alone, leaving the motive for Montañez Valdivia’s murder unknown. Violence has reportedly increased in Mexico after the arrest of Arnoldo Rueda Medina, a key member of the Michoacán-based drug cartel known as “The Family.”

PEN American Center is extremely concerned by the recent murders of Martín Javier Miranda Avilés and Ernesto Montañez Valdivia and by the fact that Mexico has become one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists. Twenty-four writers have been murdered since 2004—four print journalists in this year alone—and few if any of these crimes have been properly investigated. We therefore reiterate our call for the government of President Felipe Calderón to fulfill its promises to make crimes against journalists a federal offense and urge that there be a full, prompt and impartial investigation into Miranda Avilés’ and Montañez Valdivia’s killings, as well as all other unsolved murders of journalists in Mexico