RAN 03/10 12 January 2010
The Writers in Prison Committee of International PEN (WiPC) is shocked and saddened by the murder of Zócalo de Saltillo journalist Valentín Valdés Espinosa, who was abducted on 7 January 2010 and found dead the next day in Saltillo, Coahuila state. He had reportedly been tortured before being shot dead. Valdés is the second print journalist to be murdered in Mexico in as many weeks and the 28th since 2004. The WiPC calls on the federal and state authorities to investigate this latest killing, along with all other unsolved journalist murders, as a matter of the utmost urgency, and to bring the culprits to justice. It also calls for the implementation of effective journalist protection programmes.
Valentín Valdés Espinosa, co-founder of and journalist for the daily newspaper Zócalo de Saltillo, reportedly left the newspaper offices with two colleagues late on the night of 7 January 2010. In the centre of Saltillo, their car was intercepted by a group of men who forced Valdés and another, unnamed Zócalo reporter into a vehicle and drove away.
According to the Coahuila state attorney general's office, Valdés was found dead in front of a hotel in Saltillo early on the morning of 8 January. He had reportedly been tortured and shot several times. On his corpse a message was found that read: "This is going to happen to those who don't understand. The message is for everyone."
The attorney general's office has stated that the murder was carried out by organized crime. Valdés covered local news, including crime, for Zócalo de Saltillo. In July 2006, another journalist from the same newspaper chain, Rafael Ortiz Martínez, reportedly disappeared in Monclova, Coahuila, and has not been seen since.
The national news magazine Proceso has reported that the other reporter who was abducted along with Valdés was later released, but this has not been confirmed by either the newspaper or the attorney general's office. According to the newspaper, the third reporter who was with Valdés was not abducted.
Mexico is one of the most dangerous countries in the world to work as a journalist. From January 2004 to December 2009, a total of 27 writers - 26 print journalists and one author - were murdered, seven of them in 2009 alone. Five more print journalists have disappeared in the same period. Few if any of these crimes have been properly investigated or punished. International PEN believes that it is likely that these journalists were targeted in retaliation for their critical reporting, particularly on drug trafficking. While organised crime groups are responsible for many attacks, state agents, especially government officials and the police, are reportedly the main perpetrators of violence against journalists, and complicit in its continuance. For more information, click here.
•Report by the Committee to Protect Journalists (8 January 2010): http://cpj.org/2010/01/abducted-reporter-found-dead-in-mexico.php (English);
•Report by Reporters Without Borders (8 January 2010): http://www.rsf.org/Two-more-journalists-kidnapped-one.html (English), http://www.rsf.org/spip.php?page=article&id_article=36007 (Spanish)