Two Journalists Killed in Chihuahua and Michoacán
International PEN protests in the strongest possible terms the murder of two more Mexican print journalists within two days of each other, bringing the death toll this year alone to four. Reporter Martín Javier Miranda Aviles died of stab wounds in Zitácuaro, Michoacán state on July 12, 2009, while editor Ernesto Montañez Valdivia was shot dead in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua state, on July 14, 2009. The motives for the killings are not yet known. PEN is calling on the federal and state authorities to investigate the murders immediately and to bring the culprits to justice.
Martín Javier Miranda Avilés, reporter for the daily newspaper Panorama and correspondent for the news agency Quadratin, was found dead with two knife wounds in his back at his home in Michoacán state, southeastern Mexico, on July 12, 2009. The motive for the killing is not clear. Miranda Avilés only covered crime very occasionally. His colleagues reportedly stated that he had recently received threats, but also thought it likely that the killing was a “crime of passion.” However, according to the management of Panorama, the murder could have been intended as a reprisal against the newspaper. Two weeks earlier, some news vendors were reportedly attacked while selling an edition of Panorama that contained a report on the arrest of a police officer in possession of weapons and drugs.
Two days later, on July 14, Ernesto Montañez Valdivia, editor of the local newspaper Enfoque del Sol de Chihuahua, was shot dead while driving his car in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua state, in the north of the country. His 17-year-old son, who was him at the time, was badly wounded and taken to the hospital. The car bore a sticker saying "Press 2007" as well as his newspaper's name. There were reportedly 325 such killings in Chihuahua state in June alone.
Chihuahua and Michoacán are said to be the two regions of Mexico most affected by warring drug cartels and the federal government's drive against drug trafficking. Miranda Avilés's death reportedly occurred the same day as the arrest of Arnoldo Rueda Medina, a key member of the Michoacán-based cartel known as "The Family," which was followed by a marked increase in violence, including an attack on a police station in Zitácuaro.
Mexico is one of the most dangerous countries in the world to work as a journalist. The deaths of Miranda Avilés and Montañez Valdivia bring the number of print journalists killed in the country to four this year alone.
The two previous murders both took place in Durango state, which is also said to be an important center for the drug trafficking trade. El Tiempo de Durango reporter Carlos Ortega Samper was shot dead on May 3—World Press Freedom Day—after being threatened by local officials. Crime reporter Eliseo Barrón Hernández was abducted and murdered on May 25-26 following his coverage of a police corruption scandal.
From 2004 to 2009, a total of 24 writers—23 print journalists and one author—have been murdered in Mexico, while four more 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.
Write A Letter
- Protesting the murders of reporter Martín Javier Miranda Avilés in Zitácuaro, Michoacán state, on July 12, 2009, and editor Ernesto Montañez Valdivia in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua state, on July 14, 2009;
- Calling for a full, prompt and impartial investigation into their killings and all other unsolved murders of journalists 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.
Send Your Letter To
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: [email protected]
Salutation: Señor Presidente/ Dear Mr. President
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: [email protected]
Salutation: Señor Procurador General/Dear Attorney General
Please copy 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