Free Journalists Dul Santamaria and James Daria! (And What You Can Do to Help Find and Free Them)
A Letter from the Chaos of the Other Mexico: Two of Your Journalists Are in Jail in Oaxaca as the Other Campaign Nears Tepito, “the Bronx of Mexico City”
By Al Giordano
The Other Journalism with the Other Campaign in Mexico City
May 2, 2006
Your correspondent was really looking forward to Wednesday’s visit by Zapatista Subcomandante Marcos to the Mexico City neighborhood of Tepito, in part because this popular barrio is often referred to as “the Bronx of Mexico City” and strolling through its bustling street markets brings him back to the gray, gray concrete of his youth in that borough of New York City.
Now, it seems, we are going to have to mobilize from Oaxaca to Mexico City to the Mexican Consulate in New York (stay tuned for details on when and where) to denounce the illegal detention, yesterday, of your and our journalists Dul Santamaría and James Daria, along with other Mexican and U.S. journalists, in the city of Oaxaca. This attack on press freedom may pull me and others away from the story I most wanted to report about Marcos in Tepito. When our journalists are imprisoned — in this case, also “disappeared,” since nobody can find them so far — the world stops and every other priority takes a back seat to finding and freeing them.
Alas, but Tepito: On Sunday some of your correspondents of the Other Journalism of Narco News made an advance trip to Tepito to distribute — free of charge — three of our video newsreels about this historic Other Campaign in Mexico. We went looking for — and found — those hardworking men and women, legendary in this nation’s capital that the law calls “video pirates” but that we call “distributors.” We gave them copies of the DVD “Delegate Zero in Yucatán” — with three of the newsreels you’ve already seen on Narco News and today, 48 hours later, they are on sale for 20 pesos (less than two dollars) next to the latest cloned DVDs of “Mission Impossible III” (they have it days before it hits the cinemas here) and television series’ such as “Desperate Housewives.” As always, we won’t receive a centavo of the proceeds, but the distributors say they will give a portion to the local Other Campaign organizing committee in Tepito, where a large multitude will await the Zapatista spokesman’s visit tomorrow morning. In any case, this is the fastest way we know to put our newsreels in the hands of the most people in the shortest period of time.
So — in the context of the extra demands that the detention of your and our journalists causes today — this is to announce that you can get your own copy of the DVD “Delegate Zero in Yucatán and Quintana” — with three original newsreels in English plus three more translated versions in Spanish — simply by traveling to the Mexico City barrio of Tepito, a brisk walk from the National Palace, for less than two dollars.
Or, alternately, you can do it from home: Simply make a donation — because this latest attack against our journalists and journalism squeezes our meager resources even harder — of any size, large or small, to The Fund for Authentic Journalism, to support the work of Narco News, and the Fund will send you a copy of the DVD with the six video newsreels on it.
It may take a couple of weeks to get you the DVD. We were planning to offer them later this month. But the illegal detentions of Dul, James and other journalists and compañeros in Oaxaca City — plus the threat that the four U.S. journalists, including James, could be deported by the government of Mexican President Vicente Fox; a precedent, if made, that could threaten others of us here, too, who do the volunteer work of breaking the information blockade — now stretch our meager budget even farther. (We will soon see to what extent the federal government of Vicente Fox is behind this attack or not, based on whether his immigration agency now goes after the volunteer international journalists, as occurred frequently under the rule of his predecessor, ex-president Ernesto Zedillo.)
Even as we do everything to keep the costs of reporting and producing these newsreels down — on Sunday, in Tepito, we were able to purchase 40 mini-DV video cassettes (supposedly of a famous Japanese brand name, but which we also suspect might be, ahem, what the law calls “pirated”) for our documentary camera crew for just 33 pesos apiece (about three dollars), cheaper than the Sam’s Club price of 38 pesos (and since we’ve joined The Great American Boycott, we’ll stick with the Tepito street vendors anyway) — our meager budget is stretched to the max.
Today, with the prospect of having to pull out of reporting from Tepito tomorrow and possibly having to go to Oaxaca to find our colleagues, as well as the five-year-old child of one of the journalists arrested there, plus the good possibility of having to put attorneys to work in this quest, or legal fees, or fines, or all those other nasty things that come with government repression, we are made painfully aware, once again, that we don’t have the kind of journalistic safety net that the Commercial Media enjoys. As for the institutional “press freedom” organizations, we know from past experience that we can’t count on the Committee to Protect Journalists or Reporters Without Borders or any of the others that exclusively serve the profit-making media (and sometimes even the intelligence agencies of governments as they collect information around the world) to help find and free our disappeared journalists. Even when we were sued by Banamex (now Citibank), those fraudulent “press freedom” organizations remained complicit in their silence: we had to beat the narco-bankers all by ourselves, with your help.
And so, kind reader, if our colleagues are not freed immediately, in the coming hours we will announce the time and place of a protest in front of the Mexican Consulate in New York City — nuyorquinos, stand on alert — to free our journalists and denounce Mexican President Vicente Fox and Oaxaca Governor Ulises Ruiz Ortiz as international enemies of freedom of the press.
And so it is, once again…
What We Know About Our Disappeared Journalists
We know that yesterday, in Oaxaca City, as in Mexico City and throughout the Republic, there were workers’ day demonstrations, many in solidarity with the wave of immigrants’ rights marches and the boycott of U.S. products on the northern side of the border.
According to one of our correspondents in Oaxaca, Nancy Davies, who passed by the Burger King in the historic center of Oaxaca City yesterday, the boycott was very effective: “There were no customers, just some employees mopping an empty floor” she told me last night.
We also read in La Jornada that during the marches in Oaxaca City yesterday a group of demonstrators reportedly entered that Burger King later in the afternoon and spray-painted pro-boycott slogans on the walls.
And from the communiqué last night by the Oaxaca Zapatista Network we know that various independent journalists, including our two Narco News correspondents, were audio and videotaping the demonstrations. And, that after — not during, but after — the demonstrations, undercover police followed various protestors and arrested them, together with Mexican and international journalists (including four U.S. citizens). And, that attorneys arrived to see the political prisoners but were quickly expelled from the jail. Since then, we have been unable to make contact with Dul, or James or the others. Their cell phones, when we dial them, play a recorded message saying that the phone is “outside the area of service.”
The first thing you can do is to send emails to the following functionaries, demanding to know what they have done with our correspondents and the others arrested, and holding them responsible for their safety and the restoration of their rights as citizens, visitors and truth-tellers:
Oaxaca Governor Ulises Ruiz Ortiz: firstname.lastname@example.org
Oaxaca Attorney General Lic. Rosa Lizbeth Caña Cadeza: email@example.com
Mexico President Vicente Fox: firstname.lastname@example.org
U.S. Ambassador Tony Garza: email@example.com
(By law, if a U.S. citizen is arrested or detained in Mexico, the U.S. Embassy must be contacted and told of their status. By tradition, if the U.S. Embassy or Consulate asks for a citizen’s release, the detained persons are set free. Such is the power of the U.S. Embassy on Mexican soil. If our colleagues are still in jail, it is also because U.S. Ambassador Tony Garza is hostile to press freedom, too; especially of the independent press to which, unlike with the Commercial Media correspondents, his press flaks are unable to spoon-feed and spin their reports in accordance with Washington’s party line.)
Although, obviously, we take the arrest and disappearance of two Narco News journalists personally, and very seriously, we also urge you to demand to know the wheareabouts, and insist on the freedom of, each and every one of the journalists and citizens — Mexican and international — detained in yesterday’s illegal police raid. Please mention their names in your communications with the officials who are responsible:
Mexican citizens (and journalist) Dulce Estrella Santamaría Robles (Narco News); Moisés Altamirano Bustos; Hasavias López Cortés; and U.S. citizens and journalists James Daria (Narco News); Jessica Joseph Daria; Hillary Chase Lowenbere, and; Andrew William Saltzman.
Free the Oaxaca City Seven!
The second thing you can do is make a donation, right now, online, to the Fund for Authentic Journalism, to help both with costs of finding and freeing these good men and women, as well as to continue the journalism that some in power want to silence, via this website:
Or send a donation by mail to:
The Fund for Authentic Journalism
P.O. Box 241
Natick, MA 01760
No matter what the size of your donation, if you include your address, the Fund will also send you a gift copy of the DVD “Delegate Zero in Yucatán and Quintana Roo” with three video newsreels (six in all, since the DVD includes versions of each in English and in Spanish).
Again, it might take one to three weeks for the DVD to arrive at your home or workplace: We weren’t planning to make this gift offer today, but the arrest and disappearance of our colleagues right now — when our pockets are empty, limiting our ability to respond as we must — has us pulling out all the stops to both free our colleagues and demonstrate to the powers that be, from Washington to Mexico City, that we will not be intimidated, that our work reporting the news that the Commercial Media refuses to report, will not stop.
Or, alternately, you can go to Tepito, where the DVD appears on every corner today.
Wherever you are, whatever you can do, please do it. Once more, the work of authentic journalism is attacked and challenged by those who want it silenced. Once more, we go into battle to free our journalists and others illegally detained.
And we repeat: If these colleagues are not freed immediately, we are going next to the Mexican Consulate in the media capital of the world, New York, to expose Vicente Fox, Ulises Ruiz Ortiz, and Tony Garza as repressors of press freedom.
Once more, into the breach…
From somewhere in a country called América,
Coordinator – Road Team
The Other Journalism with the Other Campaign
Publisher – Narco News
Click here for more Narco News coverage of Mexico
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