Mexican Drug Gangs Target Border Journalists

Sunday, 14 Mar 2010 10:45 AM

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After being able to target and kill police with impunity for years, Mexican drug traffickers are now turning their guns on journalists.

Two powerful groups of drug traffickers engaged in fierce urban combat in the major transshipment town of Reynosa in recent weeks have taken to killing journalists, according to The New York Times.

The result is that radio and television stations have been cowed into reporting nothing about the war waging in the streets even as border towns turn into combat zones engulfing civilians.

Angry residents who witnessed the carnage began to fill the void, posting raw videos and photos taken with cell phones, according to The Times.

“You begin to wonder what the truth is,” said one of Reynosa’s frustrated and fearful residents, Eunice Peña, a professor of communications. “Is it what you saw, or what the media and the officials say? You even wonder if you were imagining it.”

“The pictures do not lie,” an unidentified journalist in McAllen, Tex., told The Times. He monitors what is happening south of the border online but has stopped venturing there himself. “You can hear the gunshots. You can see the bodies. You know it’s bad.”

Traffickers have shot up newsrooms, kidnapped and killed staff members and called up the media regularly with threats that were not the least bit veiled. Back off, the thugs said. Do not dare print our names. We will kill you the next time you publish a photograph like that.

“They mean what they say,” said one of the many terrified journalists who used to cover the police beat in Reynosa. “I’m censoring myself. There’s no other way to put it. But so is everybody else.”

Read more about this story at The New York Times Web site.

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