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Mexico: PEN Protesta! International Writers Protest in Solidarity With Mexican Colleagues

On January 29, 2012, PEN International, the world’s oldest international literary and human rights organization, held an event in Mexico City called PEN Protesta! (“PEN protests”) to show solidarity with Mexican writers, poets and journalists, and to demand freedom of the press and of expression in Mexico.

PEN Protesta! was held at Casa Lamm, a cultural centre and gallery located in the legendary Colonia Roma district of Mexico City. On its official website, PEN International described the event as “a public demonstration of solidarity and a demand for accountability for the murders and disappearances of journalists in Mexico,” adding that:

As an international literary organization dedicated to the protection of writers and the defense of freedom of expression, PEN has condemned these killings and called for an end to impunity for those who carry out attacks on media workers in Mexico. At “PEN Protesta,” delegates representing PEN’s distinguished global membership of writers lend their voices to the growing national chorus demanding effective protections for members of the Mexican press.

On January 27, PEN published the following ad in Mexican newspaper El Universal:

To the journalists and writers of Mexico:

We, writers from around the world, stand with you and all Mexican citizens who are calling out for the killing, the impunity, the intimidation to stop.
These violations diminish us all and threaten the right of Mexican citizens to live lives both safe and free from censorship.
You have an absolute right to life and a guaranteed right to practice your profession free from fear.
We call on your government to apprehend and prosecute all who have silenced your colleagues and seek to silence you. This is its obligation – to respect and to protect citizens and their rights.
We honor your courage and demand this in the name of our common humanity.

The ad includes the signatures of 170 writers from all over the world, including J.M. Coetzee, Chinua Achebe, Daniel Alarcón, and Toni Morrison.

PEN International Delegation at PEN Protesta! in Mexico City on January 29, 2012. Photo by Alain Pescador, used with permission.

PEN International Delegation at PEN Protesta! in Mexico City on January 29, 2012. Photo by Alain Pescador, used with permission.

The event was mentioned [es] in the blog Geografia de Riesgos:

En México 56 periodistas fueron asesinados y 18 desaparecieron entre el 2000 y el 2011, según datos de la Sociedad Interamericana de Prensa. La ONU y la OEA consideran a México como el país más peligroso para el ejercicio periodístico en el continente americano.

En este contexto, una delegación compuesta por 12 personas de la asociación de escritores PEN Club Internacional visitó México bajo el lema PEN Protesta, para emitir “un mensaje de solidaridad de decenas de miles de escritores del mundo con el pueblo mexicano que tanto admiramos”, informó John Ralston Saul, escritor canadiense y presidente de PEN.

In Mexico, 56 journalists were killed and 18 disappeared between 2000 and 2011, according to the Inter American Press Association. The UN and the OAS consider Mexico as the most dangerous country for journalists in the Americas.

In this context, a delegation of 12 people from the writers’ association PEN International visited Mexico under the slogan PEN Protesta to convey “a message of solidarity of tens of thousands of writers in the world with the Mexican people that we admire so much,” said John Ralston Saul, Canadian writer and president of PEN.

Journalist Renato Consuegra highlighted the words of poet Homero Aridjis [es] in the blog Cuba Nuestra:

La frase del poeta Homero Aridjis no podía ser más emotiva: “México es un país mágico, donde hay asesinados pero no asesinos”. Por ese motivo la delegación más grande de PEN viajó a México —los 7 de Norteamérica, Japón e Inglaterra y todo el Ejecutivo—, en muestra de solidaridad con los periodistas asesinados y con la exigencia a flor de labios, en la jornada de este medio día: PEN protesta.

The words of the poet Homero Aridjis could not be more emotional: “Mexico is a magical country where there are people killed but no murderers.” For this reason the largest PEN delegation traveled to Mexico —7 from North America, Japan and England and the entire Executive – to show solidarity with those killed and with the demands on their lips, during midday today: PEN protests.

Later in his post Renato quotes the powerful words [es] of renowned Mexican writer Elena Poniatowska:

La escritora Elena Poniatowska dijo que “en México decir la verdad es jugarse la vida; lo terrible es que el número (de asesinatos) aumente; hasta cuándo ejercer el periodismo será una sentencia de muerte; cuánto tiempo más debemos esperar para que las autoridades ofrezcan garantías reales que garanticen la vida y la profesión, cuánto tendrá que pasar para que México deje de ser el país más peligroso de América Latina para ejercer el periodismo”.

Writer Elena Poniatowska said that “in Mexico telling the truth means risking your life; the terrible thing is that the number (of killings) increases, to the point when practicing journalism will be a death sentence; how much longer must we wait for the authorities to provide real guarantees that guarantee life and the profession, how long will it take for Mexico to stop being the most dangerous country in Latin America for journalists. “
Read more bout PEN Protesta! in the organisation's official website.

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