Day of the Imprisoned Writer 2019 – Take Action for Lydia Cacho Ribeiro

By | November 15, 2019 at 4:07 pm | No comments | News

Celebrated writer, journalist and activist Lydia Cacho Ribeiro has faced continued harassment, death threats and attacks due to her investigative journalism and activism. Such attacks occur despite the fact that she was awarded precautionary protective measures by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) in 2009, which the Mexican authorities have failed to adequately implement.

Following yet another attack on her home on 21 July 2019 in which two individuals broke into Cacho’s home, stole equipment and research materials, and killed her dogs, Cacho was forced to go into exile in order to ensure her own safety. To date, the authorities have not been able to identify the perpetrators of the break-in, nor have they executed arrest warrants related to her illegal detention and ill-treatment in 2005.

PEN International believes that Lydia Cacho Ribeiro is being targeted as a direct result of her investigative journalism, which she continues undeterred. PEN calls on the Mexican authorities to make good on its commitments to protect Cacho by providing her with adequate and appropriate security measures, as well as bringing the perpetrators of attacks against her to justice.

 

Svetlana Alexievich writes to Lydia Cacho

When you have been fighting those who are seemingly all-powerful it is easy to believe that the battle will never be won. I know this feeling, my dear Lydia, because I have felt it too. When your culture has been forged in war and barricades, as mine has been, words like freedom and love can feel like they belong in fairy tales only. You will know this feeling better than most. Over the last forty years I have travelled collecting other people’s stories – sometimes I have been shocked and frightened, wishing I could forget what I had heard. My friends and I, we are trying to resist the all-consuming darkness that is enveloping us, and so are you. You too are a collector of peoples’ stories: not only have you exposed the worst of humanity, but you have also shown us a way forward. You don’t simply share them, you also tell us what actions we must take to bring about real change.

I have been reading about the dizzying array of threats and harassment you have faced for telling the truth. And even more astounding, that the more you tell stories, the more you expose yourself, the more you make yourself vulnerable. But where most would be afraid, you endured and fought back.

When your home was attacked and your dogs killed, instead of being cowed into silence you said: ‘Like many journalists, I focus on human rights, gender equality, feminism, a perspective that embraces the rights of men, women, girls and boys. And I won’t stop. We have to move from indignation to action.’

In my own long journey having seen all that we are capable of perpetrating against one another, it is women like you who fill me with hope. You are not alone, dear Lydia, and neither am I. We are many, and when we stand together, we cannot be silenced. It is a great comfort to me to know that, in these callous times, when writers are criminalised and murdered, when you see darkness, instead of turning away, you illuminate it.

Svetlana

 

Take Action – Share on Twitter, Facebook and other social media using the hashtag #ImprisonedWriter

Please send appeals to the Mexican authorities urging them to:

  • Protect writer and journalist Lydia Cacho Ribeiro by providing her with adequate and appropriate security measures;
  • Execute all outstanding arrest warrants relating to her illegal detention and ill-treatment in 2005;
  • Conduct a swift and thorough investigation into the July 2019 attack on her home and bring the perpetrators to justice;
  • To urgently establish the essential conditions for the free exercise of journalism throughout the entire country, complying with the international agreements on human rights and freedom of expression signed and ratified by Mexico

Send appeals to:

President
Andrés Manuel López Obrador
Palacio Nacional
Presidencia de la República
Plaza de la Constitución S/N, Centro, Cuauhtémoc, 06066 Ciudad de México, CDMX, México.
Twitter: @lopezobrador_
Mexican Office for Domestic Affairs

Secretary of the Interior
Olga Sánchez Cordero
Dirección: Edificio del Hemicicho Piso 4, oficina 21, col. Tabacalera, Alcaldía Cuauhtémoc, Ciudad de México, C.P. 06030.
Email: olga.sanchezcordero@senado.gob.mx
T. +52 55 55 53453000 ext. 3660
Twitter: @M_OlgaSCordero

Special Prosecutor for the Attention of Crimes Committed Against Freedom of Expression 
Ricardo Sánchez Pérez del Pozo
(Fiscal Especial para la Atención de Delitos cometidos contra la Libertad de Expresión – FEADLE) Calle Ignacio L. Vallarta 13, Tercer Piso, Colonia Tabacalera, Delegación Cuauhtémoc, C.P. 06030, México Distrito Federal,
Tel.: 01 (55) 53 46 42 38
Email: ricardo.sanchezperez@pgr.gob.mx; feadle@pgr.gob.mx

Attorney General of the Republic Avenida Insurgentes
Alejandro Gertz Manero
Número 20 de la Glorieta de Insurgentes,
Col. Roma Norte, Ciudad de México. C.P. 06700
Tel: 01 (55) 53460000
Email: alejandro.gertz@pgr.gob.mx

Send copies to the Embassy of Mexico in your own country. Embassy addresses may be found here: https://embassy.goabroad.com/embassies-of/mexico

We also encourage you to reach out to your Ministry of Foreign Affairs and diplomatic representatives in Mexico, calling on them to raise Lydia Cacho’s case in bilateral fora.

Publicity

We encourage PEN members to:

  • Publish articles and opinion pieces in your national or local press highlighting the case of Lydia Cacho;
  • Share information about Lydia Cacho and your campaigning activities via social media;
  • Organise public events, press conferences and demonstrations;
  • Organise readings of Cacho’s work (see for example her contribution to PEN’s Write Against Impunity Anthology ‘I don’t want to lose my head’.

Please let us know about your activities and send us reports about the actions you take.

Social Media

Please use the hashtag #ImprisonedWriter.

Share information about Lydia Cacho and your campaigning activities for her via social media.

Suggested tweets:

  • On Day of the #ImprisonedWriter join PEN and take action for writer #LydiaCacho {insert RAN link}
  • I stand with #LydiaCacho and @pen_int on Day of the #ImprisonedWriter; #JournalismIsAlive

Background

Lydia Cacho Ribeiro has worked as a journalist for over 30 years, serving as editor, presenter, and columnist for various national and international media outlets, where she has reported on people trafficking, organised crime, drug trafficking, gender violence and corruption, among other topics. She has also published multiple books on similar issues, including: Los Demonios del Edén (The Demons of Eden), Muérdele el corazón (Bite the Heart), Esta boca es mía y tuya también (This Mouth is Mine and Yours Too), Memorias de una Infamia (Memoirs of a Scandal), Con mi hij@ no (Not with my daughter/son), Esclavas de poder: un viaje al corazón de la trata sexual de mujeres y niñas en el mundo (Slavery Inc. the Untold Story of International Sex Trafficking), En busca de Kayla (In Search of Kayla), Sexo y Amor en tiempos de crisis (Sex and Love in Times of Crisis)among others.

She is also the co-founder of the Network of Journalists from Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean as well as a Goodwill Ambassador for the UN Office on Drugs and Crime. In 2012, she contributed to PEN’s Write Against Impunity Campaign. Cacho has received multiple awards, among them the PEN/Oxfam Novib Freedom of Expression Award (2007), the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano Award (2008), the 2008 Tucholsky prize from Swedish PEN, the 2009 One Humanity Award from Canadian PEN, and the PEN Pinter Prize for an International Writer of Courage (2010) from English PEN.

As a result of her work, she has regularly been the target of attacks, threats and intimidation.In 2005, following the publication of Los Demonios del Edén (The Demons of Eden) in which she implicated a number of influential businessmen and politicians in child abuse networks operating across Quintana Roo and Puebla states, Cacho was illegally arrested, detained and ill-treated before being subjected to a year-long criminal defamation lawsuit. She was cleared of all charges in 2007. On 31 July 2018, the United Nation’s Human Rights Committee held the State of Mexico responsible for the violation of Cacho’s human rights in relation to the case, more specifically for the torture to which she was subjected and for its failure of due diligence in the investigation.

Cacho has continued to face threats and intimidation attempts in retaliation for her writing and her search for justice. As a result, the IACHR granted her precautionary protective measures in 2009, which compelled the Mexican authorities to protect not only Cacho, but also her family and those she was working with. However, the Mexican authorities have failed to provide adequate protection measures to safeguard Cacho, and as a result she has been forced to flee the country on multiple occasions.

Most recently, following a break-in at her home in which her research materials were taken and her dogs poisoned, Cacho fled into exile, and has indicated that she will not return until those responsible for the attack are brought to justice. Cacho believes that this attack came in retaliation for the issuance of arrest warrants for the alleged masterminds – among them the former governor of Puebla State – behind her illegal detention and ill-treatment in 2005. While the arrest warrants have been issued, the individuals in question have yet to be apprehended, according to Article 19’s Office for Mexico and Central America.

On 25 September 2019, Cacho addressed the inadequacies of the Mexican government’s implementation of the precautionary measures at a meeting hosted by the IACHR and attended by the Mexican authorities. Cacho reportedly detailed the sporadic and cosmetic measures that have been availed to her, including furnishing her with mobile telephones, numbers to call in an emergency and the temporary allocation of bodyguards. Due to these insufficient actions, Cacho has felt forced to take charge of her own security, contracting her own bodyguards. According to Article 19’s Office for Mexico and Central America, the meeting concluded with the State’s commitment to provide all necessary measures to ensure Cacho’s safety, as well as an agreement to form an inter-agency working group to ensure the collaboration of all parties involved in her protection.

Shortly after the meeting, Cacho was informed of yet another attempt to intimidate her; individuals had been seen outside her home in Mexico, taking photographs of its surveillance cameras.

Freedom of expression in Mexico

Mexico continues to be one of the most dangerous countries in the world in which to practice journalism. At least eight print journalists have been killed this year, while yet more broadcast journalists have also been killed. According to ARTICLE 19’s office for Mexico and Central America, 99 per cent of threats against journalists are unsolved. Impunity for violence against journalists emboldens perpetrators to carry out further attacks and thus perpetuates a vicious cycle.

Additionally, the repeated attempts to discredit Mexico’s journalists, columnists and writers by Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador as well as other public officials put freedom of expression, opinion and information at risk, not just in traditional media but also on social media.

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