PEN International is appalled by the news that yet another journalist has been murdered in Mexico. Marco Antonio Ávila García, a reporter for newspapers Diario Sonora de la Tarde and El Regional de Sonora, was found dead on May 18, 2012. He had been tortured and then strangled to death. Ávila’s body was discovered in a plastic bag which had been dumped on a road near the city of Empalme, Sonora State. PEN calls on the Mexican authorities to carry out a thorough investigation into this horrific crime and to bring those responsible to justice.

Background Information

Marco Antonio Ávila García, 39, reported on organized crime for two regional newspapers. On May 17, 2012, while waiting at a car wash in Obregon, Ávila was approached by three armed men. According to witnesses, the men asked Ávila if he was a journalist. When Ávila replied that he was, they bundled him into a waiting truck and drove off. Less than 24 hours later, his body was discovered at the side of a road just outside Empalme. 

Police reportedly found a message signed by a cartel near the journalist’s body, but have not revealed its contents.

Sonora’s State Attorney General has begun an investigation into Ávila’s abduction and murder. Mexico’s National Commission on Human Rights has also announced that it will launch an investigation.

Mexico is one of the most dangerous countries in the world in which to practice journalism. Since December 2006, at least 43 print journalists and writers have been killed. The vast majority of these crimes have been investigated at a state level, where investigations are rarely thorough. There have been less than a handful of convictions.

Since January 2012, seven print journalists and writers have been murdered in Mexico. Among them are:

Investigative reporter Regina Martínez
Poet and translator Guillermo Fernández García
Journalist Raúl Régulo Garza Quirino
Ex-reporter René Orta Salgado.

In March 2012, the Mexican Senate passed an amendment that would make all attacks on journalists federal crimes. This represented a crucial step towards tackling the problem of impunity in Mexico, as federal investigators are considered less susceptible to the corruption that plagues state authorities. The amendment needs to be ratified by 17 states for it to become law.

Write A Letter

  • Calling for a full and impartial investigation into the death of journalist Marco Antonio Ávila Garcia;
  • Urging the Attorney General of the Republic to take up the case;
  • Urging the Mexican authorities to do more to tackle the widespread local state corruption that slows and often prevents proper, objective investigations into the murders of writers and journalists.

Send Your Letter To

PresidentLic. 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
Email: felipe.calderon@presidencia.gob.mx
Salutation: Señor Presidente/Dear Mr President

Attorney General
Lic. Marisela Morales Ibáñez
Procuradora General de la República
Av. Paseo de Reforma No. 211-213, Piso 16
Col. Cuauhtémoc, Defegacion Cuauhtémoc
México D.F. C.P. 06500
Tel: + 52 55 5346 0108
Fax: + 52 55 53 46 0908 (if a voice answers, ask "tono de fax, por favor")
Email: ofproc@pgr.gob.mx
Salutation: Señora Procuradora General/Dear Attorney General

Please copy appeals to the diplomatic representative for Mexico in your country if possible.

Please send appeals immediately. Contact PEN if sending appeals after July 21, 2012: ftw [at] pen.org