April 9, 2009

Lic. Emilio González Márquez
Gobernador del Estado de Jalisco
Palacio de Gobierno,
Av. Corona No. 31, Planta Baja
Col. Centro, Guadalajara C.P. 44100
Estado de Jalisco, México
Fax: (+52 33) 36 48 1601/02

Lic. Tomás Coronado Olmos
Procurador del Estado de Jalisco
Procuraduría General de Justicia del Estado
Calle 14 no. 2567, Colonia Zona Industrial
Guadalajara, C.P. 44940
Estado de Jalisco, México

Lic. Fernando Francisco Gómez-Mont Urueta
Secretaría de Gobernación
Bucareli 99, 1er. piso,
Col. Juárez, Del. Cuauhtémoc,
México D.F., C.P.06600, México
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 grave concern regarding the threats issued against editor Miguel Angel Casillas.

According to our information, Miguel Angel Casillas, editor of el Diario de los Altos, received an anonymous phone call on March 18, 2009, from a man claiming to be an official with Los Zetas, the paramilitary mercenary group. The caller reportedly told Casillas that Los Zetas was tracking the editor because of his newspaper’s coverage of el Zapotillo dam construction project. The man implicated that he was prepared to harm Casillas’s family. The day before, an unknown individual hacked both Casillas’s personal email and the paper’s web site. The hacker, who implied that he or she was working for a congressional politician, left a message stating that “Hoy el secuestro fue del korreo elektonico del medio kuidado kon lo ke publican no keremos lastimar a nadie.”

The project to build el Zapotillo dam in Jalisco state on the Rio Verde has led to concern among local communities, particularly in Temacapulín, Palmarejo and Acasico, which will be flooded. Despite past commitments from the government to consult with these communities, el Diario de los Altos and several local human rights groups have publicly criticized the government’s lack of follow through on these promises, and have questioned the lack of transparency surrounding the dam’s construction.

PEN American Center is deeply concerned for the well being of Miguel Angel Casillas and his family. We remind the authorities of their obligation to ensure that human rights defenders have an opportunity to carry out their activities, without any restrictions or fear of reprisals, under the UN Declaration on the Rights and Responsibilities of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, and therefore urge that the family be issued protection in accordance with their wishes. We also call on authorities to carry out a thorough, prompt, and impartial investigation of the email and telephone threats against Miguel Angel Casillas, including any possible links to local politicians. We expect that any results will be made public, and that all responsible parties be held to account.

Thank you for your attention to this 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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