PEN Protesta! Blog #1

Written by Marian Botsford Fraser, Chair of the Writers in Prison Comittee, PEN International.

On the plane, to Mexico City from Vancouver: for months, PEN has been putting together a mission to Mexico. For years, PEN has been actively campaigning on Mexico: in the 90s, on behalf of General Gallardo, in the past several years on behalf of the unstoppable Lydia Cacho and increasingly recently on behalf of the many writers and journalists killed or disappeared. Mexico has become one of the most dangerous countries in the world in which to be a journalist, which means that all Mexican writers and journalists face the spectre of intimidation, not to mention the sorrow and anger of fellow citizens. Earlier this year, we published the fierce cry, Enough! from the Mexican poet, Javier Sicilia , whose son was murdered, almost incidentally it seemed, because of the drug wars.
Read Javier Sicilia’s open letter here

And yet, despite promises, and legislation, and a Special Prosecutor devoted to this problem, the killings do not stop. The culture of impunity in Mexico, something PEN has been campaigning on since 2002 ensures that there are few arrests, few prosecutions. Which also means that the scandals of corruption and the insidious influence of the drug cartels are underreported and thus unchecked.

It has been difficult for our colleagues in three centres in Mexico to confront these issues. But a few months ago, PEN International began working with PEN Mexico on the idea of an event in Mexico City, during which the community of Mexican writers and journalists would be joined by the global PEN community, to say, once again, Enough!

The result is PEN Protesta! at noon, on Sunday, January 29th, in Mexico City. Writers from USA, Canada, England, Japan, will stand on a stage with distinguished Mexican writers and journalists. We each have one minute to speak, no more than 200 words.

Watch this space for updates, and follow #PENProtesta on Twitter

You can find out more about PEN Protesta! campaign here