José Gallardo

Brigadier General José Gallardo Rodríguez was arrested in Mexico in 1993, shortly after the publication in the magazine Forum of an excerpt from his master’s thesis ‘The Need for a Military Ombudsman in Mexico’. In March 1998, after protracted legal proceedings, a military court sentenced him to 14 years and 8 months for ‘misappropriation of government property and destruction of military archives’. Another 14 years was added to this for ‘illegal profiteering’.

In 1996 the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights had concluded that the general was imprisoned “without reason and legal justification” and recommended his immediate release. This view was later backed by the UN Working Group of Arbitrary Detention.

General Gallardo was released in February 2002.

PEN centres worldwide defended Gallardo’s case during his eight years’ imprisonment.


Lucy Popescu, José Gallardo and Joan Smith

Joan Smith (Chair of the Writers in Prison Committee, English PEN) and Lucy Popescu (WiPC Programme Director, English PEN) met General Gallardo at the International PEN Congress in Mexico in November 2003.

Gallardo remains in Mexico and is now a member of the Writers in Prison network.

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