NEW YORK—The murder of photographer Ruben Espinosa in Mexico City on Friday indicates a failure to provide even the most basic protections for journalists, PEN American Center said in statement Tuesday.

Ruben Espinosa was one of five people—including a well-known human rights activist—found bound, tortured, and shot in a private apartment in the the Narvarte neighborhood of Mexico City on Friday. Espinosa arrived in the capital city in June after fleeing threats in Veracruz, widely known as one of the country’s most dangerous states, where he worked for the investigative magazine Proceso and campaigned for free expression. Espinosa is the first journalist-in-exile to be killed in the federal district, according to advocacy group Article 19.

“The gruesome murder of Ruben Espinosa and four others in Mexico City—one of the only remaining ‘safe zones’ for journalists in the country—demonstrates that a decades-long trend of violence against writers and impunity for perpetrators is accelerating, despite new measures to curb it,” said Karin Deutsch Karlekar, director of Free Expression Programs at PEN American Center. “The international community must increase pressure on Mexico to turn its ‘protection’ rhetoric into reality and to allocate the necessary resources to end ‘censorship by bullet’ and the sprawling corruption that feeds it.”

In 2012, Mexico federalized crimes against journalists and dedicated new resources to a national protection program. In the years the followed, the program has been plagued by insufficient funding and understaffing, technological failures, and a lack of transparency that has degraded journalists’ confidence in the established safety protocols. In January, a report by Mexico’s National Commission on Human Rights revealed that 97 journalists had been killed in Mexico in connection with their work since 2010.


Founded in 1922, PEN American Center is an association of 4,000 U.S writers working to break down barriers to free expression worldwide. Its distinguished members carry on the achievements in literature and the advancement of human rights of such past members as Langston Hughes, Arthur Miller, Susan Sontag, and John Steinbeck.

Karin Deutsch Karlekar, Director of Free Expression Programs:, +1 (646) 779-4822
Sarah Edkins, Communications Manager:, +1 (646) 779-4830