Mexican government criticizes besieged newspaper's call for a truce with drug traffickers

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  • September 21, 2010

By Ingrid Bachmann

"In no way should anyone promote a truce or negotiate with criminals who are precisely the ones causing anxiety for the public, kidnapping, extorting and killing." With these words, Alejandro Poire, security spokesman for President Felipe Calderon, criticized the editorial in El Diario de Juárez in which the newspaper asked for a truce with organized crime after the killing of one of its photographers, reported the Associated Press and BBC.

Even though Mexico created a special office to handle crimes against journalists, the government spokesperson denied that the killing of photographer Luis Santiago Orozco, 21, was due to professional reasons, so the case will not be investigated at the federal level, added Milenio. Instead, explained El Diario, the prosecutor from the state of Chihuahua is responsible for the case, as it is assumed to be a result of personal motives.

In an editorial, El Diario rejected the official version of the slaying. “A murder with personal motives isn't committed in the middle of the day, in the parking lot of a busy mall, this was done with all the style of an organized crime professional," the story said.

In addition, the assistant editor for the newspaper in Ciudad Juarez said that the federal government doesn't have the moral authority to question the call for a truce by El Diario de Juárez, especially considering the poor results of President Felipe Calderón's war on drug trafficking, explained La Crónica de Hoy. Since 2006, the fight against organized crime has left 28,000 dead.

Since the publication of the truce, various journalism organizations have expressed concern about the concessions that El Diario de Juárez could be giving drug traffickers. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said it is a signal for urgent government intervention in the crisis affecting the Mexican press. A combined delegation of CPJ and the Inter American Press Association will meet Wednesday, Sept. 22, with President Calderón to discuss declining press freedom.

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.