April 4, 2011

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. 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

Dr Gustavo Salas Chávez
Special Prosecutor for Crimes against Journalists and Freedom of Expression
Fiscal Especial para la Atención de Delitos Cometidos contra Periodistas (FEADP)
Email: feadp@pgr.gob.mx

Your Excellencies,

On behalf of the 3,500 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 disappearance of newspaper journalist Noel López Olguín.

According to our information, López, journalist for the local weeklies Horizonte and Noticias de Acayucan, as well as the daily La Verdad, was last seen in Jáltipan, Veracruz state, on March 8, 2011. Gerardo Perdomo, head of the Veracruz State Commission for the Defense of Journalists, reported that no one has heard from López since he set off for Soteapan to “sort out a problem” after receiving a phone call. We understand that López’s car was found on the road to Soteapan the next day but that it contained no clues as to his whereabouts. It is feared that López has been abducted by an armed group with links to drugs trafficking, which is rife in Veracruz. His family and colleagues have reportedly refused to talk about his disappearance, apparently out of fear of reprisals, and their silence has intensified these suspicions.

López is the second print journalist to go missing in the state in a year, following the disappearance of Espacio editor Evaristo Ortega Zárate on April 20, 2010. Since 2004, a total of 38 writers—36 print journalists and two writers—have been murdered in Mexico, while 10 other print journalists have gone missing. Nine of the killings and three of the disappearances occurred in 2010 alone and few if any of these crimes have been properly investigated or punished.

PEN American Center remains seriously concerned that the climate of impunity for those who attack and kill journalists in Veracruz and elsewhere in Mexico has contributed to the increasing violence and helped precipitate the disappearance of Noel López Olguín. We therefore call on the federal and state authorities to carry out a full and impartial investigation into their murders as a matter of utmost urgency, with the involvement of the Special Prosecutor for Crimes Against Journalists, and investigate all other unsolved journalist killings and disappearances in Mexico. We also urge 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, and to immediately implement the journalist protection mechanisms it promised in November 2010.

Thank you for your consideration of this urgent matter.

Hannah Pakula                                              
Chair, Freedom to Write Committee           
Larry Siems
Director, Freedom to Write and International Programs

CC: Ambassador Arturo Sarukhan Cadamitjana
Mexican Ambassador to the United States
Embassy of Mexico
1911 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20006
Fax: (202) 728 1698

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