International PEN protests in the strongest possible terms the murder of yet another Mexican journalist, Carlos Ortega Samper of El Tiempo de Durango, who was shot dead on May 3, 2009—World Press Freedom Day. Ortega was known for his critical reporting on local government corruption and had reportedly been threatened by local officials a few days before he was killed. His death brings the number of writers and print journalists killed in Mexico since 2004 to 21. PEN calls on the Mexican authorities to carry out a full and impartial investigation into Ortega’s murder and all other unresolved killings of journalists and to bring to justice those responsible. It also urges the authorities to fulfill promises to make such crimes against journalists a federal offense.

Background Information

Carlos Ortega Samper (52), columnist for the daily Durango City-based newspaper El Tiempo de Durango, was shot dead in Santa María El Oro, Durango State, northern Mexico, on May 3, 2009. The journalist was driving home when he was intercepted by four unidentified men who pulled him from his car and, after a heated argument, shot him three times in the head. He died at the scene.
On May 2, 2009, Ortega published an article alleging that the town mayor and another local official had threatened him after he published an article on April 28, 2009, that criticized poor hygiene standards in a local abattoir. In the May 2nd article, Ortega also indicated that he was investigating allegations of corruption by a local policeman, and that these three men should be held responsible if anything happened to him.
The state attorney’s office is in charge of the investigation into Ortega’s murder and has not yet made public any motive. However, the editor of El Tiempo de Durango reportedly believes that Ortega was killed in retaliation for his reporting on local government corruption.
According to press reports, Ortega previously came under attack in early 2009 when his house was shot at and his car set on fire. He reported the incident to the authorities but no action was taken.
Ortega, who was also a lawyer, had worked for El Tiempo de Durango for a year and for the five previous years at another regional daily, El Siglo de Durango.
Mexico is one of the most dangerous countries in the world to work as a journalist. From 2004 to 2008, 20 writers—19 print journalists and one author—were murdered, while four more journalists disappeared. Few if any of these crimes have been punished. PEN believes 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 the violence against journalists, and complicit in its continuance.

Write A Letter

  • Expressing grave concern over the murder of El Tiempo de Durango journalist and lawyer Carlos Ortega Samper in Santa María El Oro, Durango State, on May 3, 3009, reportedly after being threatened by local government officials;
  • Calling for a full, prompt, and impartial investigation into Ortega’s death and all other unsolved murders of journalists;
  • 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

Governor of Jalisco
Emilio González Márquez
Gobernador del Estado de Jalisco
Palacio de Gobierno,
Av. Corona No. 31, Planta Baja
Col. Centro
Guadalajara C.P. 44100
Estado de Jalisco
Fax: (+52 33) 36 48 1601/02
Salutation: Dear Governor/ Señor Gobernador

Attorney General of Jalisco
Lic. Tomás Coronado Olmos
Procurador del Estado de Jalisco
Procuraduría General de Justicia del Estado
Calle 14 no. 2567
Colonia Zona Industrial
Guadalajara, C.P. 44940
Estado de Jalisco
Salutation: Dear Attorney/ Señor Procurador
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 copy appeals to the diplomatic representative for Mexico in your country if possible.
Please contact PEN if sending appeals after July 6, 2009: ftw[at]