RAN 24/10 - Zárate Petition

RAN Petition for Evaristo Ortega Zárate 24/10

MEXICO: editor missing in Veracruz

RAN 34/10

PEN Center USA and The Writers in Prison Committee of International PEN (WiPC) protest the disappearance of a third print journalist in Mexico this year. Evaristo Ortega Zárate, editor of the local newspaper Espacio, Veracruz state, has been missing since April 20, 2010. The last time he was heard from he said he had been arrested, however the police deny any knowledge of the case. We call on the federal and state authorities to investigate Ortega’s disappearance as a matter of the utmost urgency, and to bring the culprits to justice.

Evaristo Ortega Zárate, editor of the local weekly newspaper Espacio in Colipa, Veracruz state, has reportedly been missing since April 20, 2010. According to Ortega’s sister, she received several SMS messages from him that day saying that he had been arrested by police in the state capital of Xalapa. She called him and he asked her to inform the authorities and media before they got cut off. Nothing has been heard from him since.

Ortega, who reportedly intended to run for mayor of Colipa as a candidate of the National Action Party (PAN), was last seen in a PAN branch office 10 minutes before he sent the first of the messages to his sister. Another PAN member who wanted to be the party’s mayoral candidate in Colipa, Francisco Mota Uribe, reportedly disappeared around the same time.

The local police have reportedly denied any involvement in Ortega’s disappearance. According to the Veracruz Commission for the Defence of Journalists, the state attorney general’s office took more than 24 hours to open an investigation into his disappearance even though the local authorities were notified immediately. The head of the State Commission for Human Rights has reportedly ruled out any possibility that Ortega’s disappearance is linked to his work as a journalist.

To date, Ortega is still missing and an investigation at state and federal level is ongoing.


Ortega is the third print journalist to go missing in Mexico this year. On April 6, 2010, Ramón Ángeles Zalpa of Cambio de Michoacán, Michoacán state, disappeared after receiving anonymous phone calls, while Miguel Ángel Domínguez Zamora of Mañana, Tamaulipas state, has been missing since March 1.

Mexico is one of the most dangerous countries in the world to work as a journalist. Since January 2004, a total of 32 writers—31 print journalists and one author—have been murdered, while nine other print journalists have disappeared. 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 organized 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.


Report by Center for Journalism and Public Ethics (CEPET) (April 22, 2010):
http://www.ifex.org/mexico/2010/04/23/ortega_missing/ (English)
http://www.ifex.org/mexico/2010/04/23/ortega_missing/es/ (Spanish)

Report by Reporters Without Borders (April 23, 2010):
http://es.rsf.org/mexico-un-periodista-avisa-a-traves-de-un-23-04-2010,37137.html (Spanish)

These Appeals will be sent to the following officials:

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
Email: felipe.calderon@presidencia.gob.mx
Salutation: Señor Presidente/ Dear Mr President

Attorney General
Lic. Arturo Chávez Chávez
Procurador 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”)
E-mail: ofproc@pgr.gob.mx 
Salutation: Señor Procurador General/Dear Attorney General

Special Prosecutor for Crimes against Journalists
Dr Gustavo Salas Chávez
Fiscal Especial para la Atención de Delitos Cometidos contra Periodistas (FEADP)
Email: feadp@pgr.gob.mx 

We welcome all individual appeals to be sent directly to their offices as well.

To Take Action: Sign the Petition Below

To: Lic. Felipe De Jesús Calderón Hinojosa
Presidente de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos

Dear Señor Presidente,

We hereby petition in protest of the disappearance of newspaper editor Evaristo Ortega Zárate in Veracruz state on April 20, 2010.

We are writing to express serious concern that Ortega was reported to have been arrested shortly before his disappearance yet the police deny any involvement in the case.

We would also like to express concern that the state attorney general’s office reportedly took more than 24 hours to open an investigation into Ortega’s disappearance even though the local authorities were notified immediately.

By this letter, we call for a full and impartial investigation into Ortega’s disappearance and other such unsolved crimes against journalists in Mexico.

We call on the government of President Felipe Calderón to fulfill 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.

Furthermore, we call on the federal authorities to set up a protection program for journalist to ensure their safety.


The Undersigned



The period for signing this petition is now over.