International PEN condemns the murder of Pierre Fould Gerges, vice president of Reporte Diario de la Economía, who was shot dead on June 2, 2008. Several senior staff members at the newspaper, including the president, Gerges’ brother, have reportedly received death threats over the last year that were linked to the paper’s critical stance on government corruption.

Background Information

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, unidentified gunmen killed Pierre Fould Gerges following dozens of death threats against the paper’s senior administrative staff. The killing occurred shortly after Gerges left his office in a car owned by his brother Tannous Gerges, president of the daily. On his way to visit his mother, Gerges stopped at a gas station in the southeastern Caracas neighborhood of Chuao. Two unidentified individuals on a black motorcycle approached Gerges and shot him at least 12 times in the neck and torso. Caracas police said Gerges was pronounced dead at the scene.

Yisel Soares, a lawyer for Reporte Diario de la Economía, said that Pierre Gerges had not been directly threatened, though several senior staff members, including Tannous Gerges, had been receiving telephone and e-mail death threats since June 2007. The threats were not linked to a specific story but rather to the daily’s general editorial stance, which has been tough on government corruption. Venezuelan authorities said they are conducting an investigation.

Gerges is the first Venezuelan journalist to be killed since 2006. However, the local press has been subjected to repressive government measures, while reporters and photographers have been attacked during street protests.

Write A Letter

  • expressing shock at the murder of Pierre Fould Gerges, vice president of the Caracas daily Reporte Diario de la Economía;
  • expressing concern that the murder suggests that journalists have been targeted for exercising their internationally recognized right to freedom of expression and opinion;
  • calling on the Venezuelan authorities to investigate these crimes and to bring the perpetrators to justice.

Send Your Letter To

Minister of Justice and the Interior
Sr. Ramón Rodríguez Chacín
Ministerio del Poder Popular para Relaciones Interiores y Justicia
Av. Urdaneta, Edif. Sede MIJ, Piso 1, Carmelitas
Caracas, Venezuela
Salutation: Señor Ministro/Dear Minister

Attorney General
Dra. Luisa Ortega Díaz
Fiscal General de la República
Avda. México, Manduca a Pelelojo, Edif. Sede Fiscalía Geneal de la República, La Candelaria
Caracas, Venezuela
E-mail: mp@fiscalia.gov.ve
Salutation: Señora Fiscal General/ Dear Attorney General

Please send appeals immediately. Check with PEN if sending appeals after July 4, 2008: ftw [at] pen.org