Mexico: Another newspaper office attacked by armed gang

English PEN was alarmed to learn of the recent armed assault on the offices of the Mexican daily newspaper, El Siglo de Torreón; the attack is the second of its kind in ten days. English PEN is calling on the Mexican authorities to bring the perpetrators of the attack to justice and to end the climate of impunity in which these assaults take place, and urges our members to send urgent letters of appeal (details below.)

During the early hours of the morning of 15 November 2011, a group of at least three armed men opened fire on the offices of El Siglo de Torreón in Coahuila state. At least 20 shots were fired from AK-47 automatic rifles as the attackers caused damage to the outer facade of the building. A car outside the offices was also set on fire. Nobody was hurt in the attack, which bore strong similarities to another recent attack on the offices of El Buen Tono in the state of Veracruz on 6 November 2011.  

According to the editor of the newspaper, Javier Garza, the staff had not received any threats before the attack, and he could think of no article that might have triggered such an assault. Like many Mexican journalists who live in fear, the reporting staff at El Siglo de Torreón practise self-censorship when covering organised crime. Reporters do not identify the names of groups involved in shoot-outs or arrests, and as an extra precautionary measure, El Siglo de Torreón has removed bylines (identifying the reporter) from articles.

In the last five years, 36 print journalists, writers and bloggers have been murdered in Mexico. Most of the deaths are connected to the writers’ work. The attacks on El Siglo de Torreón and El Buen Tono form part of a growing and disturbing pattern, where newspaper facilities, websites and chat-rooms are targeted by organized criminal gangs seeking to intimidate into silence reporters, bloggers and commentators.

The attack on El Siglo de Torreón marks the 10th attack on media facilities in Coahuila since 2009, and the second attack on El Siglo. On 18 August 2009, unidentified individuals fired shots at the building’s main entrance; the attack was not investigated and the perpetrators have not been punished.


Please send appeals:

– Protesting the attack on El Siglo de Torreón on 15 November 2011;
– Calling for an end to Mexico’s climate of impunity in which attacks such as these take place;
– Calling on the government of President Felipe Calderón to fulfil promises to make crimes against journalists a federal offence, by amending the Constitution so that federal authorities have the power to investigate, prosecute and punish such crimes.

Appeals to:

Lic. Felipe De Jesús Calderón Hinojosa
Presidente de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos
Residencia Oficial de los Pinos Casa Miguel Alemán
Col. San Miguel Chapultepec, C.P. 11850, DISTRITO FEDERAL, México
Fax: ( 52 55) 5093 4901/ 5277 2376
Salutation: Señor Presidente/ Dear Mr President

Attorney General
Lic. Marisela Morales Ibáñez
Procuradora General de la República
Av. Paseo de Reforma No. 211-213, Piso 16
Col. Cuauhtémoc, Defegacion Cuauhtémoc
México D.F. C.P. 06500
Tel: 52 55 5346 0108
Fax: 52 55 53 46 0908 (if a voice answers, ask “tono de fax, por favor”)
Salutation: Señora Procuradora General/Dear Attorney General

Special Prosecutor for Crimes against Freedom of Expression
Dr Gustavo Salas Chávez
Fiscal Especial para la Atención de Delitos Cometidos contra la Libertad de Expresión (FEADLE)

Please also send copies of your appeals to the Mexican Embassy in London:

Mr Miguel Jimenez
Minister for Parliamentary Affairs and Human Rights
16 St George Street
Fax: 020 7495 4035

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