<i>"The Name of Our Country is América" - Simon Bolivar</i> The Narco News Bulletin<br><small>Reporting on the War on Drugs and Democracy from Latin America
 English | Español July 26, 2014 | Issue #65


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An Invitation to Continue Participating in Narco News

The Press Has to Have Ethics, and We All Have to Be Part of That


By Mercedes Osuna
Class of 2010, School of Authentic Journalism

June 17, 2010

When I received the invitation to participate in the 2010 School of Authentic Journalism, to which came journalist compañeros from 30 countries, I accepted immediately the assignment of sharing my experiences on security measures to report from conflict zones. The work that I have done in the communities of Chiapas has allowed me to know something about how observers and journalists need to behave in populations that are under attack by governments. I didn’t know exactly what the School would be like and so took it as a challenge.

My first surprise came on the day of the School’s inauguration in Puerto Morelos in the state of Quintana Roo, when Al Giordano gave me a reporter’s notebook and said starting now I would be an authentic journalist. This was very exciting to me because as you are about to find out it costs me a lot of effort to inspire myself to write.


Mercedes Osuna with Mario Menéndez Rodríguez at the 2010 School of Authentic Journalism.
Photo: D.R. 2010 Noah Friedman-Rudovsky
Being with so many companions from so many different backgrounds was something out of the ordinary. What was incredible is that we all worked harmoniously. That is not to say that we don’t have differences. What mattered more is that the School of Authentic Journalism of 2010 concluded with so much success and that all of its participants worked with great conviction.

At this School I had the opportunity to get to know the experience of my fellow and sister journalists about reporting human rights problems and in each case we saw that the common denominator was the same: repression. I also had the opportunity to know our compañero Mario Menéndez, his family and the authentic journalists who collaborate in the daily Por Esto! newspaer which is a very important news media in Mexican journalism.

My first experience working with journalists came in late 1981, with the arrival of Guatemalan refugees to my state of Chiapas, Mexico.

The governments of Guatemala and Mexico didn’t want the national and international public to find out about the arrival of millions who fled Guatemala because of the raw savagery of that country’s “scorched earth policy,” one in which crops and livestock were burned and entire towns were massacred: “Scorched earth,” in sum, was synonymous with genocide.

The people began their exodus entering Chiapas through the municipalities of Ocosingo, Trinitaria, Margaritas, Independencia and the sierra towns of Frontera Comalapa, Motozintla and the city of Tapachula.

We began to bring national and international press – written and graphic – to the refugee camps, with the goal of making their story that there were thousands of Guatemalan refugees in Chiapas known throughout the country and the world.

We were detained at least three times by agents of the National Immigration Institute (INM, in its Spanish initials) to be searched as they asked what foreigners were doing in these towns. We always said that we were tourists, admiring the natural beauty and the Mayan peoples, and this is how we achieved that the news would be spread. With that, the governments of Mexico and Guatemala had to admit the existence of the refugees, and with them the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (ACNUR, in its Spanish initials).

This experience allowed me to understand the role that an authentic press can play in a situation where human rights are being violated.

Other examples came during the 1980s farmer, teacher and student movement in Chiapas, when the state and federal government repression was very heavy handed against those social organizers. The few journalists who covered that story helped to denounce the violations of human rights nationally and internationally. All that information helped that those imprisoned were declared prisoners of conscience by Amnesty international.

My view is that the press has to have ethics, now that in these times the media sees profiting off of information as more important than telling the truth, it has invited journalists to lie and be on sale as journalists. Whoever controls the flow of information controls the minds of the population. That’s why during social movements the first victim is the truth.

In this work there must be a commitment that journalism is to be of service to civil society. It is important that journalists stop, look and learn what is really happening in each situation. They have to sensitize themselves, humanize themselves, to be able to report it all intensely to the general population. Anything short of that and the written reports, photos and videos aren’t worth anything, not if they don’t open the people’s minds to the story.

“Journalism,” said Luis Miró Quesada, “can be the best of professions or the vilest of them.”

For all those reasons I invite all of you who read here to continue participating in authentic journalism, since without you it would not be possible to continue working at the pace at which Narco News does it.

You can make a donation right now through this link:

http://www.authenticjournalism.org

Or you can make out a check to:

The Fund for Authentic Journalism
PO Box 1446
Easthampton, MA 01027

From here in Chiapas I send fraternal greetings to all the compañeros of the School of Authentic Journalism of 2010, all the teachers and students who make possible what we build and strengthen every day.

Fraternally,

Mercedes Osuna
Class of 2010, School of Authentic Journalism

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The Narco News Bulletin: Reporting on the Drug War and Democracy from Latin America