International PEN is shocked and saddened by the murder of Zócalo de Saltillo journalist Valentín Valdés Espinosa, who was abducted on January 7, 2010, and found dead the next day in Saltillo, Coahuila state. He had reportedly been tortured before being shot dead. Valdés is the second print journalist to be murdered in Mexico in as many weeks and the 28th since 2004. PEN calls on the federal and state authorities to investigate this latest killing, along with all other unsolved journalist murders, as a matter of the utmost urgency, and to bring the culprits to justice. It also calls for the implementation of effective journalist protection programs.

Background Information

Valentín Valdés Espinosa, co-founder of and journalist for the daily newspaper Zócalo de Saltillo, reportedly left the newspaper offices with two colleagues late on the night of January 7, 2010. In the center of Saltillo, their car was intercepted by a group of men who forced Valdés and another unnamed Zócalo reporter into a vehicle and drove away.

According to the Coahuila state attorney general’s office, Valdés was found dead in front of a hotel in Saltillo early on the morning of January 8. He had reportedly been tortured and shot several times. On his corpse a message was found that read: “This is going to happen to those who don’t understand. The message is for everyone.”

The attorney general’s office has stated that the murder was carried out by organized crime. Valdés covered local news, including crime, for Zócalo de Saltillo. In July 2006, another journalist from the same newspaper chain, Rafael Ortiz Martínez, reportedly disappeared in Monclova, Coahuila, and has not been seen since.

The national news magazine Proceso has reported that the other reporter who was abducted along with Valdés was later released, but this has not been confirmed by either the newspaper or the attorney general’s office. According to the newspaper, the third reporter who was with Valdés was not abducted.

Mexico is one of the most dangerous countries in the world to work as a journalist. From January 2004 to December 2009, a total of 27 writers—26 print journalists and one author—were murdered, seven of them in 2009 alone. Five more print journalists have disappeared in the same period. Few if any of these crimes have been properly investigated or punished. PEN believes that it is likely that these journalists were targeted in retaliation for their critical reporting, particularly on drug trafficking. While organized crime groups are responsible for many attacks, state agents, especially government officials and the police, are reportedly the main perpetrators of violence against journalists, and complicit in its continuance.

Write A Letter

  • Protesting the murder of Zócalo de Saltillo journalist Valentín Valdés Espinosa, who was abducted on January 7, 2010 and found dead the next day in Saltillo, Coahuila state;
  • Calling for a full, prompt and impartial investigation into Valdés’s death and all other unsolved murders of journalists in Mexico;
  • Calling on 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.

Send Your Letter To

President
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
Email: felipe.calderon@presidencia.gob.mx

Attorney General
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
Tel: + 52 55 5346 0108
Fax: + 52 55 53 46 0908
E-mail: ofproc@pgr.gob.mx

Please also send copies of your appeals to the diplomatic representative for Mexico in your country if possible.

Please check with PEN if sending appeals after March 12, 2010: ftw [at] pen.org