Tags: media mexico drug war

Report: Mexican Drug Gangs Sway Media

Thursday, 09 Sep 2010 07:09 AM

MEXICO CITY — Coverage of drug violence in Mexico, one of the deadliest countries in the world for the press, is increasingly dictated by powerful drug gangs, according to a report released Wednesday.

Journalists are killed, kidnapped, threatened or corrupted, or simply opt out of covering drug-related stories out of fear for their lives, said the report by the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

"Silence or Death in Mexico's Press" studies the murders of 22 journalists and three support workers, and the disappearances of seven journalists since President Felipe Calderon launched a military crackdown on organized crime in 2006.

Since then, more than 28,000 people have died in drug-related attacks, according to official figures.

The report underlines the aggressive media tactics of Mexico' feuding gangs, including threats and bribery to enforce self-censorship, and slams local and federal authorities for collusion and corruption.

Mexico is one of the worst nations for solving crimes against journalists, and the criminal justice system has failed to successfully prosecute more than 90 percent of press-related crimes over the last decade, the report said.

It called on the federal government to take serious measures to prevent attacks on the freedom of expression, including making them a federal crime.

"The more Mexico allows the flow of information to be controlled by drug cartels and dishonest local officials, the more it erodes its status as a reliable global partner," wrote Carlos Lauria, senior program coordinator for the Americas.

Envoys for the freedom of expression from the United Nations and Organization of American States last month urged Mexico to take action to protect journalists during a visit here.

The CPJ report pointed to the deterioration of news coverage in the northeastern city of Reynosa, in a region which has this year seen an eruption of violence, including gunfights and explosives attacks, blamed on the Gulf cartel and its former allies the Zetas.

"The Gulf cartel controls much of the local government ... from law enforcement down to street vendor permitting, journalists and residents told CPJ," the report said.

"That story has not been reported in the local news media, however, because the cartel also controls the press."

Three Reynosa journalists disappeared in March 2010 and are feared dead, it added.

The report said that social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, were increasingly informing citizens in violence-wracked areas.

"But political stability will ultimately depend on the restoration of the news media's ability to report freely and without fear of reprisal," it said.

In a chilling example of threats to journalists, it cited a note left with the bullet-ridden body of Bladimir Antuna Garcia, who was abducted in the northern city of Durango in November 2009.

The note read: "This happened to me for giving information to the military and for writing too much."

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MEXICO CITY — Coverage of drug violence in Mexico, one of the deadliest countries in the world for the press, is increasingly dictated by powerful drug gangs, according to a report released Wednesday.
media mexico drug war
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2010-09-09
Thursday, 09 Sep 2010 07:09 AM
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