Fears for Safety of Author Lydia Cacho
International PEN is deeply concerned by the harassment of award-winning author, journalist and activist Lydia Cacho, which has reportedly escalated over the last two weeks, giving rise to fears for her safety. Cacho reports being watched and followed by unknown armed individuals who have been seen photographing and filming her home and inspecting her car. PEN calls on the Mexican authorities to investigate these incidents and repeated death threats Cacho has reportedly received since February as a matter of the utmost urgency, and to take immediate measures to guarantee her safety. PEN also urges the authorities to fulfill its promises to make such crimes against journalists a federal offense.
On May 12, 2009, a man was reportedly seen taking photos of Lydia Cacho’s apartment in Cancún and inspecting her car. On May 14, the same man, this time carrying a gun, was seen outside her apartment door; he left when a neighbor passed by. On May 15, two men in a different car reportedly parked outside Cacho's apartment door for two hours and later appeared outside her office, also in Cancún. On May 22, the first man—again armed—came back to her home with another man and reportedly filmed the building with a video camera.
According to Cacho, she has also been receiving death threats via her blog since February 2009, including one that reportedly threatened to “slit her throat.” According to Cacho, a number of the emails in February were sent from the same computer; the authorities know the origin but refused to take action as they were “only threats.”
Cacho has reported the surveillance and death threats to the Quintana Roo State police. The police have reportedly said that they would look for the owners of the cars but that they do not consider the threats or the presence of an armed civilian to be a criminal offense.
The ongoing harassment of and death threats against Cacho are particularly alarming given the Mexican authorities’ failure to provide her with protection and legal redress in the past and the climate of violence against journalists in the country.
Following the publication of her first book in 2005 on child pornography in Mexico titled Los Demonios del Edén: el poder detrás de la pornografía (The Demons of Eden: the power behind pornography), Cacho was illegally arrested, detained and ill-treated before being subjected to a year-long criminal defamation lawsuit. She was cleared of all charges in 2007, but her attempts to gain legal redress for her treatment have been thwarted while all but one of the people involved in the pedophile network she exposed in her book remain free. Cacho was awarded the 2008 Tucholsky Prize from Swedish PEN and the 2007 Oxfam/Novib PEN Award for Free Expression, among numerous others. She was one of the subjects of the PEN’s International Women’s Day action in March 2009 and International PEN’s Day of the Imprisoned Writer action in November 2006.
Mexico is one of the most dangerous countries in the world to work as a journalist. From 2004 to 2009, 22 writers—21 print journalists and one author—have been murdered, while four more print journalists have disappeared. Few if any of these crimes have been properly investigated or punished. PEN believes 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
- Expressing deep concern about the ongoing harassment of award-winning author, journalist and activist Lydia Cacho, which has reportedly escalated in recent weeks, giving rise to fears for her safety. Cacho reports being watched and followed by unknown armed individuals who have been seen photographing and filming her home and inspecting her car;
- Calling on the state and federal authorities to investigate these incidents and the repeated death threats Cacho has reportedly received since February as a matter of the utmost urgency, and to take immediate measures to guarantee her safety;
- Calling on the government of President Felipe Calderón to fulfill its 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
Governor of Quintana Roo State
Lic. Félix González Canto
Gobierno del Estado de Quintana Roo. Administración 2005 - 2011
Palacio de Gobierno. Av. 22 de Enero No. 001 Col. Centro. C.P. 77000.
Chetumal, Quintana Roo, México
Tel: +52 983 832 4257
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
Salutation: Señor Presidente/ Dear Mr. President
Minister of Interior
Lic. Fernando Francisco Gómez-Mont Urueta
Secretaría de Gobernación
Bucareli 99, 1er. piso,
Col. Juárez, Del. Cuauhtémoc,
México D.F., C.P.06600, MEXICO
Fax: +52 55 5093 3414
Salutation: Señor Secretario/Dear Minister
Please send also appeals to the diplomatic representative for Mexico in your country if possible.
Please send appeals immediately. Check with PEN if sending appeals after July 29, 2009: ftw[at]pen.org