Mexico: Second journalist murdered in Durango state

English PEN is shocked by the abduction and murder of La Opinión crime reporter Eliseo Barrón Hernández on 25-26 May 2009. Barrón, who had recently covered a police corruption scandal, is the second journalist to be shot dead in Durango state this month. His death brings to 22 the number of writers and print journalists killed in Mexico since 2004.

Eliseo Barrón Hernández, crime reporter for the Torreón-based daily newspaper La Opinión and other local newspapers in Gómez Palacio, Durango state, was abducted on 25 May 2009 and subsequently murdered. On the night of 25 May around eight hooded and armed men reportedly entered Barrón’s house in Gómez Palacio, beat him in front of his wife and two children, and forced him into a vehicle parked outside. His body was found the next morning in a ditch in the municipality of Tlahualiko, Durango, next to Coahuila state. He had a gunshot wound to his head and according to some reports his body also bore signs of torture.

Barrón had reportedly covered police and crime for La Opinión, based in Torreón in the neighbouring state of Coahuila, for the last 10 years. It is understood that he had recently reported on a corruption scandal in the Torreón police as a result of which 302 police officers were fired and at least 20 others were investigated.

The journalist’s family has filed a complaint with the Attorney General’s Office (Procuraduría General de la República, PGR). The local authorities have not make public any leads or possible motives for the crime, however the investigation has reportedly been taken over by federal authorities for reasons that are as yet unclear.

English PEN calls on the Mexican authorities to carry out a full and impartial investigation into Barrón’s murder and all other unresolved journalist killings and to bring to justice those responsible. It also urges the authorities to fulfil promises to make such crimes against journalists a federal offence.


Barrón is the second journalist to be killed in Durango state this month, following the fatal shooting of El Tiempo de Durango reporter Carlos Ortega Samper on 3 May – World Press Freedom Day (for more information on Ortega’s murder, click here). Durango is reportedly an important centre for the drugs trafficking trade.

Mexico is one of the most dangerous countries in the world to work as a journalist. From 2004 to 2009, 22 writers – 21 print journalists and one author – have been murdered, while four more print journalists have disappeared. Few if any of these crimes have been properly investigated or punished. English 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.

Useful links:

• Report by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)
• Report by Reporters Without Borders (RSF)
• Report by the National Center for Social Communication (CENCOS)


Please send appeals:

• Expressing grave concern at the abduction and murder of La Opinión crime reporter Eliseo Barrón Hernández in Durango state on 25-26 May 2009; 
• Calling for a full, prompt and impartial investigation into Barrón’s killing and all other unsolved murders of journalists in Mexico;
• Calling on the government of President Felipe Calderón to fulfil promises to make crimes against journalists a federal offence, specifically 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. Eduardo Medina-Mora Icaza
Procurador General de la República
Av. Paseo de Reforma No. 211-213, Piso 16
Col. Cuauhtémoc, Defegacion Cuauhtémoc
México D.F. C.P. 06500
Teléfono 52 55 5346 0108
Fax: 52 55 53 46 0908 (if a voice answers, ask “tono de fax, por favor”)
Salutation: Señor Procurador General/Dear Attorney General

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

Juan José Bremer de Martino
Ambassador of Mexico to the United Kingdom
Mexican Embassy to the United Kingdom
16 St George Street
Hanover Square
London W1S 1FD
United Kingdom
Fax: ( 44) 20 7495 4035
To email the Embassy, please click here.

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