PEN International protests the murder of political columnist and activist Wilfred Iván Ojeda Peralta, who was abducted in La Victoria, Aragua state, on May 16, 2011, and found dead the next day. The manner in which he was shot may indicate that it was a contract killing ordered by an organized crime group. PEN calls on the Venezuelan authorities to conduct a thorough and impartial investigation into the killing as a matter of urgency and to bring the culprits to justice.

Background Information

Wilfred Iván Ojeda Peralta, columnist for the daily newspaper El Clarín and political activist, was found dead in a vacant lot in La Victoria, Aragua state, in the early hours of May 17, 2011, after having disappeared while driving the previous day. He had been gagged, tied up, hooded and shot once in the head. His car was found 15 miles (24 kilometers) from the scene. His belongings did not appear to have been taken, according to the police.

Ojeda, 56, mainly focused on local politics in his weekly column, which he had written for 22 years. Also an activist for the opposition Democratic Action party, Ojeda had been a representative in the Aragua state legislature and had held various municipal and regional posts. His family said he had not reported any threats against him or been aware of any danger.

As of May 20, prosecutors were investigating the murder and had reportedly not dismissed any possible motives, including his journalism. The Scientific, Criminal, and Forensic Investigations Corps (Cuerpo de Investigaciones Científicas, Penales y Criminalísticas, or CICPC) is in charge of the investigation.

According to Reporters Without Borders, the method of Ojeda’s execution suggests that it was a contract killing ordered by an organized crime group. The last journalist to be murdered in Venezuela was Orel Zambrano, editor of the political weekly ABC de la Semana and columnist for the regional daily Notitarde, in Valencia, Carabobo state, who was shot dead on January 16, 2009. The investigation into Zambrano’s murder is ongoing and has led to the arrest of a number of individuals presumed to have ordered and carried out the killing, all of them linked to organized crime.

Write A Letter

  • Protesting the murder of political columnist and activist Wilfred Iván Ojeda Peralta, who was abducted in La Victoria, Aragua state, on May 16, 2011, and found dead the next day;
  • Urging the Venezuelan authorities not to discount the possibility that Ojeda was killed in connection with his journalistic work;
  • Calling on the authorities to conduct a thorough and impartial investigation into the murder as a matter of urgency and to bring the culprits to justice.

Send Your Letter To

President
Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías
Presidente
Ministerio del Poder Popular del Despacho de la Presidencia
Final Avenida Urdaneta, Esq. de Bolero
Palacio de Miraflores
Caracas, Distrito Capital, Venezuela
Fax: + 58 (212) 806 36 97
Email: dggcomunicacional@presidencia.gob.ve
Salutation: Dear Mr President/ Sr. Presidente

Attorney General
Dra. Luisa Ortega Díaz
Fiscalía General de la República
Avda. México, Manduca a Pelelojo, Edif. Sede Fiscalía Geneal de la República
La Candelaria, Caracas, Venezuela
Fax: +58 212 509 7264/ 7345/ 8504
Email: ministeriopublico@mp.gob.ve
Salutation: Dear Attorney General/ Señora Fiscal General

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

Please send appeals immediately. Check with PEN if sending appeals after July 26, 2011: ftw [at] pen.org