Drug wars squelch news coverage on Mexico–Texas border; eight journalists have been abducted

By Dean Graber

A worsening dispute between the Gulf drug cartel and its former security force, the Zetas, has resulted in 200 deaths in two weeks in the northeastern states of Tamaulipas and Nuevo León and unprecedented censorship along Mexico’s border with Texas. The news blackout is backed by threats, kidnapping, and attacks against journalists, The Dallas Morning News reports.

“In the past 14 days, at least eight Mexican journalists have been abducted in the Reynosa area, which is across the border from McAllen," Alfredo Corchado reports. “One died after a severe beating, according to reports that could not be independently verified. Two were released by their captors. The rest are missing.”

The five missing journalists are a reporter for El Mañana newspaper, a freelance photographer from the paper’s afternoon edition, La Tarde, two journalists from an online news service, and a TV cameraman, Corchado says, citing editors and reporters who spoke anonymously.

Even in Mexico, one of the world’s most dangerous countries for journalists, the recent intimidation campaign is more far-reaching and effective than previous attempts. Unlike Ciudad Juárez, a drug-plagued city where news organizations update the daily death toll, news media in the Gulf Cartel region say they have no other choice but to censor themselves.

The city of Reynosa has created a Twitter account to give details about violence in the city. It tries to dissuade residents from spreading unconfirmed information over the Internet, the (McAllen) Monitor reports.

Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.

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