Home Page > News Item > Mexico: PEN joins call for protection of staff at Zeta newspaper facing threats

zeta1 December 2016

PEN International and PEN Mexico joins the Inter-American Press Association in calling on the Mexican authorities to take immediate action to ensure the full protection of all staff at the weekly newspaper Zeta. The Mexican magazine is currently under police protection after authorities uncovered a plot by a drug cartel to attack its offices.

‘Mexican authorities must do everything in their power to thoroughly investigate this threat and bring all those responsible to justice. This is not the first time that threats, violence and censorship has attempted to silence Mexico’s free expression advocates. PEN calls on Mexican authorities to create an environment where writers and journalists can with work without fear for their safety’ –said Jennifer Clement, PEN International president.

Journalists have long faced violence and intimidation in Mexico from cartels on one side and corrupt authorities on the other, but there has been a rise in attacks in recent years. Mexico is one of the most dangerous countries in the world in which to be a writer. Since 2004, at least 79 of print journalists, writers and bloggers have been murdered in connection with their work; at least 11 others have disappeared. Few of these attacks have been thoroughly investigated; fewer than 10% of attacks against journalists and writers result in convictions.

Zeta is well known for its continued investigations into organised crime, Mexican drug traffickers and complicit government officials. Zeta has been threatened for its work in the past.  In 1998 Héctor Félix Miranda, co-founder of the magazine, was killed, and co-editor Francisco Ortiz Franco was murdered in 2004.

The Inter American Press Association calls for protection for staff of the weekly Zeta

The threat must be addressed urgently and request precautionary measures of protection.

Miami (November 29, 2016) .- The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) asked the Mexican authorities to “take firm and urgent measures” to protect the staff of the weekly newspaper Zeta, which reported threats by drug traffickers in retaliation for A report on his criminal activities.

On November 25, Zeta de Tijuana, Baja California, included information and 10 photographs on the cover of its recent edition about members of organized crime, mostly the Jalisco Nueva Generación Cartel, investigated for various crimes. Hours later, security officials in Baja California warned Zeta’s leadership that one of the drug traffickers would have ordered in November 27 a shootout of the weekly offices in retaliation for the publication of his photo and other members of the band. However, there was a rumor that the attack was postponed.

The president of the Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, Roberto Rock, urged the government “to take urgent action on this complaint through its system of local protection by applying precautionary measures of protection to ensure the safety of all staff weekly”.

Rock, director of La Silla Rota, of Mexico City, referred to Zeta as “a fierce publication that for decades has been avoiding the dangers of journalism” and that “has been the target of several attacks,” referring to the assassination of Two of its co – directors, Héctor Félix Miranda in 1988 and Francisco Javier Ortiz in 2004, as well as an attempt against one of its founders, Jesús Blancornelas, in 1997.

Since its founding in 1980 Zeta has been a benchmark of independent journalism in the fight against drug trafficking in the country.

The IAPA is a non-profit organization dedicated to the defense and promotion of freedom of the press and of expression in the Americas. It is composed of more than 1,300 publications from the Western Hemisphere; And is based in Miami, United States.