Sep 21, 2010

Sad state of the Mexican press

The drug war in Mexico has claimed the lives of at least 56 reporters in the last five years; 90 percent of the media-related crimes go unpunished, according to a recent report from the Committee to Protect Journalists. In response, one newspaper to ask the drug lords what exactly they want it to publish. From the New York Times:
It was by turns defiant and deferential, part plea and part plaint, a message as much to the drug gangs with a firm grip on Ciudad Juárez, the bloodiest city in Mexico’s drug battles, as to the authorities and their perceived helplessness.

“We want you to explain to us what you want from us,” the front-page editorial in El Diario in Ciudad Juárez asked the leaders of organized crime. “What are we supposed to publish or not publish, so we know what to abide by. You are at this time the de facto authorities in this city because the legal authorities have not been able to stop our colleagues from falling.”

In Mexico’s drug wars, it is hard to pinpoint new lows as the atrocities and frustrations mount. But Ciudad Juárez belongs in its own category, with thousands killed each year, the exodus of tens of thousands of residents, the spectacle of the biggest national holiday last week observed in a square virtually devoid of anybody but the police and soldiers, and the ever-present fear of random death.

The question now is whether anyone there will dare to continue documenting the turmoil in Ciudad Juárez, a smuggling crossroads across from El Paso that is battled over by at least two major criminal organizations.
The Committee to Protect Journalists is meeting with President Felipe Calderon on Wednesday to discuss the constant and dire threat journalists face. The group's report on journalists deaths in Mexico is here.

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