More than 500 prominent authors, journalists, artists, and free expression advocates, including Homero Arijdis, Chimamanda Adichie, Sandra Cisneros, and Neil Gaiman,joined an open letter to Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto this weekend with a clear message: end impunity in the murder of journalists and guarantee future protections for the media in Mexico.
The letter, initiated by a group of Latin American journalists with the support of PEN American Center and the Committee to Protect Journalists, cites “dozens” of journalists killed in Mexico since 2000—including 14 in Veracruz state alone since 2010—resulting in almost no prosecutions. “Today, journalists in many parts of the world are under attack, and Mexican reporters in particular are in deadly peril. Organized crime, corrupt government officials, and a justice system incapable of prosecuting criminals all contribute to reporters’ extreme vulnerability,” the letter reads.
Writers and journalists around the world were sparked to action on July 31 when photojournalist Rubén Espinosa was found brutally murdered alongside four women in a Mexico City apartment, including human rights activist Nadia Vera. Espinosa, a photographer for Proceso, had fled Veracruz state just weeks prior to the gruesome crime after receiving violent threats. Vera took up residence in the capital after leaving her home in Veracruz in 2012.
Mexico City is considered by many to be the last remaining “safe zone” for journalists in the country.
“In the face of seemingly insurmountable violence against journalists in Mexico, writers and artists from around the world have joined forces to command the attention of President Peña Nieto and demand an end to ‘censorship by bullet,’” said Karin Deutsch Karlekar, director of Free Expression Programs at PEN American Center. “An attempt on the life of even one writer is an attack all of us—and on the public’s right to information.”
Journalist Guillermo Osorno hand-delivered the letter to President Peña Nieto’s office at Los Pinos on Monday morning and will host a press conference at 11:00am DST (12:00pm EST) at Centro Nacional de Comunicación Social AC (Cencos). Signatories to the letter represent more than 40 countries over six continents and include Christiane Amanpour, Margaret Atwood, Lydia Cacho, Noam Chomsky, John Coetzee, Gael García Bernal, Arianna Huffington, Salman Rushdie, and Guillermo del Toro, among others.
Founded in 1922, PEN American Center is the largest branch of PEN International, the world’s only literary human rights organization. Our membership of 4,000 U.S. writers works to bring down barriers free expression worldwide.