June 2, 2011

Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías
Ministerio del Poder Popular del Despacho de la Presidencia
Final Avenida Urdaneta, Esq. de Bolero
Palacio de Miraflores
Caracas, Distrito Capital, Venezuela
Fax: + 58 (212) 806 36 97

Dra. Luisa Ortega Díaz
Fiscalía General de la República
Avda. México, Manduca a Pelelojo
Edif. Sede Fiscalía Geneal de la República
La Candelaria, Caracas, Venezuela
Fax: +58 212 509 7264/ 7345/ 8504

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 extreme concern regarding the murder of political columnist and activist Wilfred Iván Ojeda Peralta.

According to our information, Wilfred Iván Ojeda Peralta, columnist for the daily newspaper El Clarín and political activist, was found dead in a vacant lot in La Victoria, Aragua state, in the early hours of May 17, 2011, after having disappeared while driving the previous day. He had been gagged, tied up, hooded and shot once in the head. His car was found 15 miles from the scene, and his belongings did not appear to have been taken, according to the police. There are fears that the manner in which he was shot may indicate that it was a contract killing ordered by an organized crime group.

Ojeda, 56, mainly focused on local politics in his weekly column, which he had written for 22 years. Also an activist for the opposition Democratic Action party, Ojeda had been a representative in the Aragua state legislature and had held various municipal and regional posts. His family said he had not reported any threats against him or been aware of any danger. We understand that as of May 20, prosecutors were investigating the murder and had reportedly not dismissed any possible motives, including his journalism.

PEN American Center is seriously concerned that Wilfred Iván Ojeda Peralta was murdered for his journalistic work in violation of his right to freedom of expression, guaranteed by Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Venezuela is a signatory. We therefore urge authorities to conduct a thorough and impartial investigation into the murder as a matter of urgency, and to bring the culprits to justice.

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: Ambassador Bernardo Álvarez Herrera
Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela
1099 30th St., NW
Washington DC, 20007
Fax: (202) 342-6820

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