RAN 51/11 27 September 2011
The Writers in Prison Committee of PEN International (WiPC) protests in the strongest possible terms the murder of Primera Hora editor María Elizabeth Macías Castro and the disappearance of El Mañanero reporter Gabriel Manuel Fonseca Hernández, which occurred within a few days of each other. Macías' body was found decapitated in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas state, on 24 September 2011, while Fonseca went missing in Acayucan, Veracruz state, on 19 September. Macías is the ninth print journalist to be killed in Mexico this year; Fonseca the second to have disappeared. The WiPC calls on the federal and state authorities to investigate these latest crimes as a matter of the utmost urgency, focusing on the victims' journalistic work as a possible motive, and to bring the culprits to justice.
María Elizabeth Macías Castro (39), editor-in-chief of the daily newspaper Primera Hora and blogger, was found dead in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas state, on 24 September 2011; her body had been decapitated. A note found next to her accused her of denouncing drug violence on social networks and websites such as Nuevo Laredo en Vivo or Nuevo Laredo Live, where members of the public can leave messages indicating to the security forces locations where gangs congregate and sell drugs. The state authorities said that the message had been left by a criminal gang. The note reportedly made reference to the pen name Macías used to blog, ‘La Nena de Nuevo Laredo', and was signed with the letter ‘Z', usually associated with the Zetas cartel. A similar note was found near the bodies of two people discovered hanging from a bridge in Nuevo Laredo on 13 September. The Tamaulipas state government reportedly expressed its "deepest condolences" to Macías' family and friends. The state attorney general's office is investigating the murder.
Macías is the ninth print journalist murdered in Mexico this year, and the third female journalist to be killed, after Yolanda Ordaz De La Cruz (24 July 2011) and Ana María Marcela Yarce (1 September).
Gabriel Manuel Fonseca Hernández (19), police reporter for the newspaper El Mañanero, based in the municipality of Acayucan, southern Veracruz state, was last seen when he went to the newspaper's offices to collect his wages on 19 September 2011, according to the paper's director. Witnesses claim to have seen him in Acayucan later that afternoon but he did not return home that night and has not responded to calls to his mobile phone. His father reported him missing to the authorities on 21 September. Fonseca, who previously worked for the newspapers El Diario de Acayucan and La Verdad de Jáltipan, covered the police beat for El Mañanero but did not report on matters directly related to organized crime, according to the paper's director. El Mañanero is reportedly owned by the mayor of Oluta municipality.
Fonseca is the second print journalist to have disappeared in Mexico this year, after editor Marco Antonio López Ortiz was kidnapped on 7 June 2011. Four journalists have been killed in Veracruz state this year, including the print journalists Noel López Olguin (abducted 8 March 2011, found 1 June), Miguel Ángel López Velasco (20 June) and Yolanda Ordaz De La Cruz (24 July).
Mexico is one of the most dangerous countries in the world to work as a journalist. Since January 2004, 43 print journalists and two writers have been murdered, while 11 print journalists have gone missing in the same period. Nine of the killings and two of the disappearances have occurred in 2011. Few if any of these crimes have been properly investigated or punished. PEN International believes that it is likely that many of these writers were targeted in retaliation for their critical reporting, particularly on drug trafficking. While organised 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.
On 3 June 2011, PEN Canada, in collaboration with the International Human Rights Program at the Faculty of Law, University of Toronto, published a timely and provocative report on the situation in Mexico: Corruption, Impunity, Silence: The War on Mexico's Journalists (also available in Spanish). The same day Canada's national newspaper The Globe and Mail published an op-ed by John Ralston Saul, President of PEN International, on the report.
Please send appeals:
Protesting the murder of Primera Hora editor María Elizabeth Macías Castro in Tamaulipas state on 24 September 2011, and the disappearance of El Mañanero reporter Gabriel Manuel Fonseca Hernández in Veracruz state on 19 September
Calling for a full and impartial investigation into these crimes, focusing on the victims' journalistic work as a possible motive, with the involvement of the Special Prosecutor for Crimes against Freedom of Expression, as well as into all other unsolved journalist killings and disappearances in Mexico
Calling on the government of President Felipe Calderón to fulfil promises to make crimes against journalists a federal offence, by amending the Constitution so that federal authorities have the power to investigate, prosecute and punish such crimes.
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
Salutation: Señor Presidente/ Dear Mr President
Lic. Marisela Morales Ibáñez
Procuradora 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 (if a voice answers, ask "tono de fax, por favor")
Salutation: Señora Procuradora General/Dear Attorney General
Special Prosecutor for Crimes against Freedom of Expression
Dr Gustavo Salas Chávez
Fiscal Especial para la Atención de Delitos Cometidos contra la Libertad de Expresión (FEADLE)
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Please also send copies of your appeals to the Mexican Embassy in your country.
Please send appeals immediately. Check with International PEN if sending appeals after 26 November 2011.
For further details please contact Tamsin Mitchell at the Writers in Prison Committee London Office: email: firstname.lastname@example.org PEN International, Brownlow House, 50-51 High Holborn, London WC1V 6ER Tel: +44 (0) 207 405 0338 Fax +44 (0) 207 405 0339