International PEN is outraged by the fatal shooting of journalists Juan Francisco Rodríguez Ríos and María Elvira Hernández Galena in Coyuca de Benítez, Guerrero state, on June 28, 2010. Their deaths bring the number of print journalists killed in Guerrero in 2010 to four and the total for Mexico to seven; three more print journalists have gone missing in Mexico this year. PEN calls on the federal and state authorities to investigate the murder of Rodríguez and Hernández as a matter of the utmost urgency, and to bring the culprits to justice.

Background Information

Husband-and-wife journalists Juan Francisco Rodríguez Ríos, aged 49, and María Elvira Hernández Galena, aged 36, were shot dead in the Internet café they owned near their home in Coyuca de Benítez, Guerrero state, on June 28, 2010. They were reportedly shot at close range by two unidentified gunmen who drove up to the café. The couple is survived by their two children, aged 17 and eight; the younger child witnessed the shooting but was not injured.

Rodríguez was the local correspondent for two daily newspapers, El Sol de Acapulco and Diario Objetivo, while Hernández edited the weekly paper Semanario Nueva Línea. Rodríguez had been a journalist in the Costa Grande region, north of Acapulco, for 20 years, and had provided general coverage of the region for El Sol de Acapulco for the past five years. He was also secretary general of the local branch of the National Union of Press Reporters (SNRP) in Coyuca de Benítez as well as a member of the technical committee of the Guerrero state Support Fund for Journalists.

A few days before the shooting, Rodríguez reportedly took part in an annual convention for Guerrero state journalists in Coyuca de Benítez, during which concern was voiced about growing violence against journalists in Mexico.

The Guerrero state prosecutor’s office began an investigation on June 29. To date the motive for the crime is not known. 

Mexico is one of the most dangerous countries in the world to work as a journalist. Since January 2004, a total of 34 writers—33 print journalists and one author—have been murdered, while nine other print journalists have disappeared. 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.
 
Seven of the killings have occurred in 2010 alone, four of these in Guerrero state. Prior to the murder of Rodríguez and Hernández on June 28, Jorge Ochoa Martínez, editor and publisher of local newspapers El Oportuno based in Chilpancingo and El Sol de la Costa based in Ayutla de los Libres was shot dead on January 29, while Evaristo Pacheco Solís, reporter for the weekly newspaper Visión Informativa, was found dead, also in Guerrero state, on March 12.
 

Write A Letter

  • Protesting the fatal shooting of journalists Juan Francisco Rodríguez Ríos and María Elvira Hernández Galena in Coyuca de Benítez, Guerrero state, on June 28, 2010;
  • Calling for a full and impartial investigation into their murder, with the involvement of the Special Prosecutor for Crimes Against Journalists, as well as into all other unsolved journalist killings and disappearances 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;
  • Calling on the federal authorities to set up protection programs for journalists to ensure their safety.

Send Your Letter To

Lic. Felipe De Jesús Calderón Hinojosa
President
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

Lic. Arturo Chávez Chávez
Attorney General
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
Salutation: Señor Presidente/ Dear Mr President

Dr Gustavo Salas Chávez
Special Prosecutor for Crimes Against Journalists
Fiscal Especial para la Atención de Delitos Cometidos contra Periodistas (FEADP)
Email: feadp@pgr.gob.mx
Salutation: Señor Procurador General/Dear Attorney General

Please also send copies of your appeals to the diplomatic representative for Mexico in your country if possible.
 
Please contact PEN if sending appeals after September 1, 2010: ftw [at] pen.org