PEN Mexico condemns the murder of two journalists in one day

PEN Mexico condemns the murders of Javier Valdez Cárdenas and Jonathan Rodríguez Córdova, as well as the attempt on the life of Sonia Córdova Oceguera

16 May 2017

Yesterday, Monday 15 May, the Mexican press once again witnessed that freedom of expression remains under threat in our country. PEN Mexico emphatically condemns – with profound indignation and sadness – three violent acts carried out in one day alone; the murders of two journalists – the Sinaloan Javier Valez Córdova, from the weekly Ríodoce, and the young Jaliscan Jonathan Rodríguez Córdova, from the weekly El Costeño – as well as the attempt on the life of journalist Sonia Córdova Oceguear – deputy commercial editor of El Costeño and mother to Rodríquez Córdova.

Valdez Cárdenas, also a journalist and corresponded for La Jornada and author of various books, was shot dead by unidentified hitmen with 12 bullets. The armed assault occurred at midday in the centre of Culiacán, capital of Sinaloa. Jonathan Rodríguez C. and Sonia Codova O. were shot in their car, an indeterminate number of assailants fled the scene in Autlán, Jalisco state.

With these two murders, a combined total of eight journalists have been killed this year: Cecilio Pineda Brito, in Guerrero; Filiberto Álvarez, in Morelos; Juan José Roldán, in Tlaxcala; Maximino Rodríguez Palacios, from Baja California; Miroslava Breach, in Chihuahua; and Ricardo Monlui Cabrera, in Veracruz. Two more jouranlists, Armando Arrieta and Julio Omar Gómez, were also victims of assassination attempts whilst the bodyguard of the latter died in his defence. Previously, the home and vehicle of Gómez [their error] were set on fire on two separate occasions.

Journalists Patricia Mayorga, from Chihuahua and Fabián García Castrejón from Nayarit, abandoned their respective states after receiving death threats. The former, correspondent for Proceso, left Mexico on 25 April after the assassination of Miroslava Breach; the latter, fled on 16 May. “To kill a journalist in Mexico is a sure bet on impunity: 107 journalists have been killed and not a single intellectual author has been detained” is a statement circulating, in the form of a meme, on social networks in the last few days. As we know, the journalists in greatest danger are those that work on in the interior of the country. In Mexico City they are more protected for obvious reasons.

Finally, PEN Mexico condemns the assault against journalists Alejandro Ortiz (Grupo Imagen), Ángel Galeana (portal Bajo Palabra), Jair Cabrera (La Jornada), Jorge Martínez (Agencia Quadratín), Hans Musielik (Vice), Pablo Pérez (Hispano Post) in Acapetlahuaya, Guerrero, on Saturday 13 May. Around 100 drugged, young hooded individuals, reportedly members of La Familia, detained the journalists and stripped them of their cameras, computers and a car. They threatened to burn the journalists unless they left the area.

Lawyer Ricardo Sánchez Pérez de Pozo, the newly appointed Special Prosecutor for Crimes against Freedom of Expression, faces an enormous challenge. He has already been faced with the murders of Valdez and Rodríguez and has yet to make a statement. To close this statement we quote Luis Cardona, journalist kidnapped in Chihuahua in 2012 for reporting on a story of young people forced to work in the cultivation of poppies. “Patricia Mayorga’s flight from Chihuahua leaves a large gap in society’s right to be informed. But I prefer you alive, until the conditions are right for your return. With love.” Which he published on social media at the end of April.