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Latin America: On Day of the Dead 2019, PEN remembers assassinated writers and journalists

Friday 1 November 2019 - 5:04pm

Day of the Dead (Drawing by Maxine Young)

London, 30 October 2019 – PEN International and its Centres in Latin America and the Caribbean will mark the Day of the Dead in a series of events held between 30 October and 9 November. During their events – held in the Chile, Guatemala, Haiti, Mexico, Nicaragua, Paraguay and the USA – will call on Latin American governments to break the cycle of impunity, and protect their journalists from persecution, they will also commemorate the lives of those who have been killed for exercising their right to freedom of expression and whose cases have gone unsolved.

At a global level, Latin America and the Caribbean is the second most lethal region to work as a journalist, in 2018 and 2019 along, at least 23 journalists from print or digital media have been killed. Mexico and Brazil are the two countries in which it is most dangerous to be a journalist, according to a recent report by the Committee to Protect Journalists.

PEN’s calls for the protection of journalists and freedom of expression are all the more important in light of assaults on the press and freedom of expression as part of attempts to quell public demonstrations ; elsewhere, such as in Nicaragua, the media has begun to disappear owing to a shortage of supplies, which has got worse in recent months.

“To speak and write the truth can cost us our lives. In marking Day of the Dead, we remember writers and journalists who have been killed for investigating, for writing and for exercising their right to free expression. This campaign is a reminder and a call on the governments of America to respect those for whom the word is a tool to create a more just and democratic world,” said Jennifer Clement, President of PEN International.

Activities in Latin America and the Caribbean


30 October

PEN Guatemala will celebrate Day of the Dead with a public event in which they will explore how the right to freedom of expression has been violated in Guatemala and Latin America as a whole. They will remember journalists killed in recent years in order to ensure that historical memory is preserved and that new generations learn of the atrocities committed against the population. The Centre will also dedicate December’s volume of their magazine Códice to the issue. Members of PEN Guatemala will commemorate the lives of Alejandro Córdova, Miguel Ángel Cospin Rodas, Víctor Manuel de la Cruz, Mario Monterroso Armas and Lorenzo Montúfar Navas, among others.



31 October

PEN Paraguay will join its voice to the campaign by paying special homage to one of its members, Joel Hoden Filártiga Ferreira, for his indefatigable and staunch defence of human rights.



31 October-2 November

In 2018 and 2019 alone, 14 journalists have been killed in Mexico, and 99% of them remain unsolved. Because of this, PEN Guadalajara and PEN San Miguel de Allende will make calls on the Mexican government with events and altars in memory of the country’s murdered journalists.


PEN San Miguel de Allende
31 October – 2 November,
all day Altar open to the public,
San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato

PEN Guadalajara



1 November

This Day of the Dead, PEN Nicaragua will call for freedom of expression for all writers and journalists. Nicaragua has faced a prolonged period of social protest and many journalist are facing threats and attacks. Many Nicaraguans have been detained or fled the country, simply for peacefully defending their rights. Recently, one of the most important newspapers in the country has been forced to close due to the control of printing supplies. PEN Nicaragua will give voice to journalists working in this climate of fear and will join their voices with others in the PEN community to denounce such crimes and demand an end to the violence.



1 November

Day of the Dead 2019 serves as an opportunity for PEN Haiti to raise public awareness of the difficulties that journalists in the country face. PEN will call on the government to protect its journalists and protect freedom of expression. Since July 2018, Haiti has seen a wave of protests against the social, political and economic crisis facing the country. PEN Haiti will publish poems and quotes writing by writers and journalists who have been killed or who have disappeared. They will also hold a traditional wake.


1 November
Puerto Prince

USA / Cuba

9 November

From Miami, USA, Cuban Writers in Exile PEN will mark the day by holding an event to condemn and denounce the murder and disappearance of journalists in Latin America.


9 November
Location to be confirmed