September 10, 2008

Lic. Zeferino Torreblanca Galindo
Gobernador del Estado de Guerrero
Palacio de Gobierno, Boulevard René Juárez #62
Col. De los Servicios, Chilpancingo, Guerrero
Fax: + 52 74 74 71 99 56

Lic. Eduardo Murueta Urrutia  
Procurador General de Justicia del estado de Guerrero
Carretera Nacional México- Acapulco Km. 6+300
Tramo Chilpancingo- Petaquillios, Chilpancingo 39090, Guerrero
Fax: + 52 74 74 72 23 28

Lic. Eduardo Medina- Mora IcazaDoan Hop
Procurador General de la Républica
Av. Paseo de la Reforma #211-213, Piso 16
Col. Cuauhtémoc, Del. Cuauhtémoc, C.P. 06500, México D.F.
Fax: +52 55 53 46 09 08

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 concerns regarding the murder of anthropologist, writer, and activist Miguel Ángel Gutiérrez Ávila.

According to our information, Mr. Gutiérrez, author of a number of books on the indigenous people of Guerrero state and activist for the rights of the Amuzgo people, was killed on July 26, 2008 while driving towards the capital of Guerrero, Chilpancingo de los Bravo. His body was found covered in bruises and cuts by the side of the Acapulco- Pintopepa highway near La Caridad community in the municipality of San Marcos, Guerrero the same day. Although initial police reports have suggested that Gutiérrez died as a result of a car accident, it is now believed that he was beaten to death. According to his family, the vehicle in which Gutiérrez was travelling was untouched and only his filming equipment had been stolen.

A few days before his death, between July 23 and 25, Gutiérrez was visiting the Suljaa’ and Cozoyoapan communities in Costa Chica, Guerrero, in connection with a documentary film he was making on indigenous cultures and traditions, entitled La Danza del Tigre. During his visit, he had also documented alleged human rights violations by the authorities against the staff of the community radio station Radio Ñomndaa or La Palabra del Agua, including an interview with founder David Valtierra Arnago, which he reportedly intended to include in his documentary.

PEN American Center is shocked by the murder of Miguel Angel Gutiérrez Avila and believes that the killing may be related to his peaceful reporting activities. We therefore respectfully call on the state and federal authorities to carry out a full and impartial investigation into his murder and to ensure those responsible are brought to justice.

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: Ambassador Arturo Sarukhan
Embassy of Mexico
1911 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
Washington, D.C. 20006

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