Editorials | Issues
|Mexico's Diario Editorial Appeals to Narcos - and the Mexican Government |
Allan Wall - PVNN
September 27, 2010
The Mexican drug cartel war drags on. According to Universal, Mexico’s paper of record, as of September 25th there were 8,083 narco killings thus far in calendar year 2010.
|The fact of the matter is that Mexican journalists are in great danger, and this can’t be swept under the rug.|
A recent editorial by a Mexican newspaper raised the ire of the Mexican government as it publicly dealt with this issue in a new manner. The newspaper was El Diario de Juarez, published in Ciudad Juarez, the Mexican border city (across the border from El Paso, Texas) which has seen the worst violence of any city in the country.
On September 19th, 2010 (the Sunday edition), on its front page, El Diario published an editorial entitled ¿Qué Quieren de Nosotros? In English that translates to "What do you (plural) want of us?"
The question is directed to the narcos themselves, but it was also written to inform the public and criticize the government’s failure to get control of the situation.
The editorial (you can read it here in its Spanish original). Here is how it begins:
"Señores [lords, rulers, bosses] of the different organizations that are fighting for the plaza [trafficking corridor/marketplace of narcotics] of Ciudad Juarez: the loss of two reporters from this newspaper in less than two years represents irreparable damage for all of us who work here and, in particular, for their families."
The second of these two deaths was the recent one of 21-year old photographer Luis Carlos Santiago, shot in the city in mid-September. Diario’s editorial continues...
"We want you (plural) to know that we are communicators, not mind readers. Therefore, as information workers, we want you (plural) to explain what it is you (plural) want from us, what it is you (plural) want us to publish or not to publish, in order to know what to expect."
Publicly asking narco barons to decide what should or should not be published may seem a step too far, but it should be seen in the context of the following paragraph:
"You (plural) are, at present, the de facto authorities in this city, because the legally mandated authorities have not been able to do anything to keep our colleagues from continuing to fall, although we have repeatedly demanded they do so."
Taken in context of the situation in Ciudad Juarez such a statement is not surprising. Mexican government security forces have not been able to permanently pacify the city. So the newspaper’s calling the drug barons "the de facto authorities in this city" is understandable. Whether you want to call them the "de facto authorities in the city" or not, what’s undeniable is that the government hasn’t been able to stop them.
The editorial also stated that...
"We do not want more deaths. We do not want more injured nor more intimidation. It is impossible to carry out our role in these conditions. Tell us therefore, what is expected of us as a medium of communication... Even in war there are rules. And in any conflagration there are protocols or guarantees to the warring sides to safeguard the integrity of journalists covering them. Therefore we reiterate, señores (lords, rulers, bosses) of the various drug trafficking organizations, explain to us what is wanted of us in order to stop paying the price with the lives of our colleagues."
Elsewhere in the editorial, Diario stated that it was not surrendering, but calling for a truce, a "truce with those whom have imposed the force of law in this city, so that they respect the life of those of us who are dedicated to the profession of informing."
The editorial sure got the attention of the Mexican government, which quickly responded. The administration’s point man was its security spokesman Alejandro Poire, who asserted that "...to negotiate, postpone or suspend the fight against organized crime, far from making the threat of violence disappear, implies submission to the law of those who attack... and that will not occur."
It’s not right, says Poire, for anyone "to make a pact, promote a truce or negotiate with the criminals, who are precisely those who provoke the anguish of the population."
Poire even went so far as to assert that Santiago’s death was caused provoked by personal reasons more than his journalistic functions. This accusation seems unfounded and outrageous, and sounds suspiciously like the government is trying to shift blame.
The fact of the matter is that Mexican journalists are in great danger, and this can’t be swept under the rug. According to the US-based Committee to Protect Journalists, since 2006, over 30 journalists in Mexico have been slain.
Therefore, rather than attack Diario’s editorial, the Mexican government had better take heed of the precarious situation in which Mexico’s reporters find themselves. They ought to take the editorial as a cry for help.
Allan Wall is an American citizen who has been teaching English in Mexico since 1991, and writing articles about various aspects of Mexico and Mexican society for the past decade. Some of these articles are about Mexico's political scene, history and culture, tourism, and Mexican emigration as viewed from south of the border, which you can read on his website at AllanWall.net.
Click HERE for more articles by Allan Wall