International PEN is shocked by the murder of Michoacán-based newspaper editor Miguel Angel Villagómez Valle on October 9, 2008. Abducted on his way home from work, Villagómez was shot dead and his body was dumped on a refuse pile in Guerrero State. He is the seventh writer to be killed in Mexico this year. PEN calls on the federal authorities to carry out a full and impartial investigation and bring to justice those responsible.

Background Information

According to PEN’s information, Miguel Angel Villagómez Valle (29), editor and publisher of the daily regional tabloid newspaper Noticias de Michoacán,  was kidnapped after leaving his office in the port of Lázaro Cárdenas, Michoacán State, central Mexico, on the night of October 9. Police found his body the next day on a garbage dump about 30 miles from Lázaro Cárdenas, in the neighboring state of Guerrero. He had been repeatedly shot.

The motive for Villagómez’s murder is not yet known; however, it may be linked to his work as a journalist. He reportedly received a threatening phone call from a member of a drug-trafficking group known as “the Zetas” about a month before his murder, and had warned his family to be alert. Noticias de Michoacán often reports on organized crime, corruption and drug-trafficking. The state police have not yet reported any suspects or leads.

Michoacán State has one of the highest levels of violence in Mexico, with regular confrontations between members of “the Zetas” and another drugs cartel, “La Familia.” Abductions, disappearances and murders of journalists are common. For example, Mauricio Estrada Zamora of La Opinión de Apatzingán and La Opinión de Michoacán has been missing since February 14, 2008, and José Antonio García Apac of Ecos de la Cuenca since November 20, 2006. Gerardo Israel García Pimentel of La Opinión de Michoacán was shot dead on December 8, 2007.

Villagómez is the seventh writer killed in Mexico this year, according to the PEN’s records. The others are as follows:

  • Francisco Ortiz Monroy, correspondent for the daily newspaper El Diario de México —shot dead in Camargo, Tamaulipas State, on February 5.
  • Bonifacio Cruz Santiago and Alfonso Cruz Cruz, director and editor, respectively, of the weekly El Real—killed in Chimalhuacan, Mexico State, on February 7.
  • Candelario Pérez Pérez, journalist and editor for crime magazine Sucesos—shot dead in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuhua, on June 23.
  • Miguel Ángel Gutiérrez Ávila, anthropologist, linguist, author and indigenous rights activist—beaten to death in Guerrero State on July 25 or 26.
  • David García Monroy, columnist for El Diario and contributor to various publications in Chihuahua, Chihuahua State— killed along with ten other people in a shoot-out in a bar, also on October 9. The incident was apparently unrelated to Villagómez’s murder.

Write A Letter

  • Expressing grave concern over the abduction and murder of newspaper editor Miguel Angel Villagómez Valle near Lázaro Cárdenas, Michoacán State, on October 9, 2008;
  • Calling for a full, prompt and impartial investigation by the federal authorities, such as the Special Prosecutor on Crimes against Journalists, into the killing of Villagómez and all other unsolved murders of journalists;
  • Calling on the government of President Felipe Calderón to prioritize the development of legislation making crimes against journalists a federal offense, which it has pledged to submit in draft form by January 2009.

Send Your Letter To

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
Salutation: Señor Presidente/ Dear Mr. President

Lic. Eduardo Medina-Mora Icaza
Procurador General de la República
Av. Paseo de Reforma No. 211-213, Piso 16
Col. Cuauhtémoc, Defegacion Cuauhtémoc
México D.F. C.P. 06500
Teléfono + 52 55 5346 0108
Fax: + 52 55 53 46 0908 (if a voice answers, ask "tono de fax, por favor")
E-mail: ofproc@pgr.gob.mx
Salutation: Señor Procurador General/Dear Attorney General

Lic. Octavio Alberto Orellana Wiarco
Fiscal Especial para la Atención de Delitos Cometidos contra Periodistas
Procuradoría General de la República
Av. Paseo de la Reforma #211-213
Col. Cuauhtémoc, Del. Cuauhtémoc, C.P. 06500, México D.F., MEXICO
Fax: +52 55 53 46 09 08
Salutation: Dear Sir/Señor Fiscal Especial

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 December 14, 2008: ftw [at] pen.org