International PEN is shocked by the abduction and murder of La Opinión crime reporter Eliseo Barrón Hernández on May 25-26, 2009. Barrón, who had recently covered a police corruption scandal, is the second journalist to be shot dead in Durango state this month. His death brings to 22 the number of writers and print journalists killed in Mexico since 2004. PEN calls on the Mexican authorities to carry out a full and impartial investigation into Barrón’s murder and all other unresolved killings of journalists and to bring to justice those responsible. PEN also urges the authorities to fulfill promises to make such crimes against journalists a federal offense.

Background Information

Eliseo Barrón Hernández, crime reporter for the Torreón-based daily newspaper La Opinión and other local newspapers in Gómez Palacio, Durango state, was abducted on May 25, 2009 and subsequently murdered. On the night of May 25, approximately eight hooded and armed men reportedly entered Barrón’s house in Gómez Palacio, beat him in front of his wife and two children, and forced him into a vehicle parked outside. His body was found the next morning in a ditch in the municipality of Tlahualiko, Durango, next to Coahuila state. He had a gunshot wound to his head and, according to some reports, his body also bore signs of torture.
 
Barrón (35) had reportedly covered police and crime for La Opinión, based in Torreón in the neighboring state of Coahuila, for the last 10 years. It is understood that he had recently reported on a corruption scandal among the Torreón police, and as a result, 302 police officers were fired and at least 20 others were investigated.

The journalist's family has filed a complaint with the Attorney General's Office (Procuraduría General de la República). The local authorities have not made public any leads or possible motives for the crime, however the investigation has reportedly been taken over by federal authorities for reasons that are as yet unclear.

Barrón is the second journalist to be killed in Durango state this month, following the fatal shooting of El Tiempo de Durango reporter Carlos Ortega Samper on May 3—World Press Freedom Day. Durango is reportedly an important center for the drug trafficking trade.

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 are complicit in its continuance.

Write A Letter

  • Expressing grave concern at the abduction and murder of La Opinión crime reporter Eliseo Barrón Hernández in Durango state on May 25-26, 2009;
  • Calling for a full, prompt and impartial investigation into Barrón’s killing and all other unsolved murders of journalists in Mexico;
  • 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

President
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
Email: felipe.calderon@presidencia.gob.mx
Salutation: Señor Presidente/ Dear Mr. President

Attorney General
Lic. Eduardo Medina-Mora Icaza
Procurador General de la República
Av. Paseo de Reforma No. 211-213, Piso 16
Col. Cuauhtémoc, Defegacion Cuauhtémoc
México D.F. C.P. 06500
Fax: + 52 55 53 46 0908 (if a voice answers, ask "tono de fax, por favor")
E-mail: ofproc@pgr.gob.mx
Salutation: Señor Procurador General/Dear Attorney General

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