International PEN protests the fatal shooting of 27-year-old journalist and editor Hugo Alfredo Olivera Cartas, whose body was found on July 6, 2010. He had left his newspaper office in Apatzingán, Michoacán state, to cover a story the previous night. Olivera’s death brings the number of print journalists killed in Mexico in 2010 to eight; three more print journalists have gone missing in the country this year. PEN calls on the federal and state authorities to investigate Olivera’s murder as a matter of the utmost urgency, and to bring the culprits to justice.

Background Information

Hugo Alfredo Olivera Cartas, aged 27, owner and editor of the Apatzingán-based local daily newspaper El Día de Michoacán, went missing on the evening of July 5, 2010, after receiving a phone call and setting off from the newspaper office to cover a story. He reportedly called his wife shortly after leaving and told her to “take care of the children.” His body was found in the early hours of the next morning in his vehicle in a rural area near Apatzingán; he had been shot three times in the head. The same morning, unidentified individuals reportedly entered the offices of El Día de Michoacán and stole computer hard disks and memory storage devices.

The motive for the murder is as yet unknown. However, Michoacán governor Leonel Godoy Rangel has been quoted in local press reports as saying that it bore the hallmarks of an organized crime killing.

Olivera, who was also owner and editor of the regional news agency ADN as well as correspondent for the daily regional newspaper La Voz de Michoacán and the news agency Quadratín, had covered crime in the Apatzingán area for the past two years. He is not known to have reported receiving any threats prior to his death. However, in February 2010, he reportedly filed a complaint with the National Commission for Human Rights (CNDH) accusing members of the federal police of assaulting him while he was covering a murder on February 18.

Olivera leaves behind a widow and two children, a five-year-old and a five-month-old.

Mexico is one of the most dangerous countries in the world to work as a journalist. Since January 2004, a total of 35 writers—34 print journalists and one author—have been murdered, while nine other print journalists have disappeared. Eight of the killings have occurred in 2010 alone. 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 complicit in its continuance.

Write A Letter

  • Protesting the fatal shooting of journalist and editor Hugo Alfredo Olivera Cartas in Apatzingán, Michoacán state, on July 5, 2010;
  • Calling for a full and impartial investigation into his murder, with the involvement of the Special Prosecutor for Crimes Against Journalists, as well as into all other unsolved journalist killings and disappearances 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;
  • Calling on the federal authorities to set up protection programs for journalists to ensure their safety.

Send Your Letter To

Lic. Felipe De Jesús Calderón Hinojosa
President
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

Lic. Arturo Chávez Chávez
Attorney General
Procurador General de la República
Av. Paseo de Reforma No. 211-213, Piso 16
Col. Cuauhtémoc, Defegacion Cuauhtémoc
México D.F. C.P. 06500
Tel: + 52 55 5346 0108
Fax: + 52 55 53 46 0908
E-mail: ofproc@pgr.gob.mx
Salutation: Señor Presidente/ Dear Mr President

Dr Gustavo Salas Chávez
Special Prosecutor for Crimes Against Journalists
Fiscal Especial para la Atención de Delitos Cometidos contra Periodistas (FEADP)
Email: feadp@pgr.gob.mx
Salutation: Señor Procurador General/Dear Attorney General

Please also send copies of your appeals to the diplomatic representative for Mexico in your country if possible.
 
Please contact PEN if sending appeals after September 14, 2010: ftw [at] pen.org