MEXICO CITY – A group of writers and artists from around the world, including Britain’s Salman Rushdie, American Paul Auster, Mexican Alfonso Cuaron and Nicaragua’s Sergio Ramirez, have sent a letter to President Enrique Peña Nieto calling on him to stop the violence against journalists in Mexico.
The letter, posted on the Web site of the U.S. chapter of PEN International, was signed by more than 500 “journalists, writers, creative artists and free expression advocates from around the world.”
The signatories said that “with the support of PEN and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ),” they wanted “to express our indignation regarding the deadly attacks against reporters in your country.”
The letter refers to the murders of photojournalist Ruben Espinosa and four women, including human rights activist Nadia Vera, on July 31 in Mexico City.
Espinosa’s killing was “only the latest in a long series of outrages against the press, and it took place in a city that was considered one of the last safe places in the country for reporters to work. There would now seem to be no safe haven for the profession,” the letter said.
“Since 2000, dozens of journalists have been killed in Mexico, and approximately 20 more remain disappeared. The great majority of these crimes have never been prosecuted,” the letter said.
The Mexican National Human Rights Commission, or CNDH, has found that “there is evidence that points to the involvement of government officials in many of the attacks against journalists and media outlets,” the letter said.
The letter notes that the 31-year-old Espinosa moved to Mexico City after receiving threats in the Gulf state of Veracruz.
“A few weeks ago, he fled to Mexico City after receiving the last of what he considered severe threats to his life. Reporters in Veracruz who receive threats are often convinced that they come directly from the local government,” the letter said.
The letter says that since Javier Duarte became Veracruz’s governor in 2010, “journalists have been harassed, threatened and killed in unprecedented numbers: 14 have been murdered in atrocious fashion, and three have disappeared in the same time period. In each of these cases, local justice has dismissed the victim’s profession as probable cause.”
The letter called on Peña Nieto to take action to end the violence against members of the media.
“Mr. President, there must be no more murders: his death and the deaths of Alejandra Negrete, Yesenia Quiroz, Nadia Vera, and Mile Virgina Martin, who were killed with him, must be prosecuted and the perpetrators brought to justice. In your country, the statistics are disastrous regarding impunity in crimes against the press: according to the Human Rights Commission, 89 per cent of the murders remain unsolved,” the letter said.