<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 October 2, 2014 | Issue #67


Making Cable News
Obsolete Since 2010


Set Color: blackwhiteabout colors

Print This Page
Comments

Search Narco News:

Narco News Issue #66
Complete Archives

Narco News is supported by The Fund for Authentic Journalism


Follow Narco_News on Twitter

Sign up for free email alerts list: English

Lista de alertas gratis:
Español


Contact:

Publisher:
Al Giordano


Opening Statement, April 18, 2000
¡Bienvenidos en Español!
Bem Vindos em Português!

Editorial Policy and Disclosures

Narco News is supported by:
The Fund for Authentic Journalism

Site Design: Dan Feder

All contents, unless otherwise noted, © 2000-2011 Al Giordano

The trademarks "Narco News," "The Narco News Bulletin," "School of Authentic Journalism," "Narco News TV" and NNTV © 2000-2011 Al Giordano

XML RSS 1.0

El Diario Writes to Narcos: What Do You Want from Us?

Translation of the Open Letter Published by a Mexican Daily Newspaper


By El Diario de Juárez
Editorial

September 22, 2010

To the leaders of the different organizations that are fighting for control of Ciudad Juarez:

The loss of two reporters from this publishing house in less than two years represents an irreparable breakdown for all of us who work here, and, in particular, for their families.

We’re aware that we are communicators, not fortune-tellers. Therefore, as workers in information we want you to explain to us what it is that you want from us, what it is that you expect us to publish or not to publish, so that we know what to expect.

All of you are, at this moment, the defacto authorities in this city, because the legally instituted authorities have not been able to do anything to stop our colleagues from continuing to die, although we have repeatedly called for them to act.

That is why, faced with these indisputable facts, we’re writing to you to ask, because the last thing we want is for another one of our colleagues to again be the victim of your shootings.

Even while the entire journalistic profession along this border has suffered the consequences of this war that you and the federal government are waging, El Diario has without a doubt been hurt the most so far, because nobody has suffered the death of two colleagues like we have.

We don’t want any more deaths. We don’t want any more injuries or any more intimidation either. It’s impossible to do our jobs in these conditions. Therefore, tell us what you expect from us as a media outlet.

This is not a surrender. Nor does it mean that we’re going to give up the work that we have been doing. It’s about a truce with those who have imposed the rule of law in this city, provided that they respect the lives of those who are dedicated to the craft of reporting.

Faced with the vacuum of power that the Chihuahua people are breathing, in the midst of an environment in which there are no sufficient guarantees for citizens to be able go about their lives and daily activities safety, journalism has become one of the most dangerous professions, and El Dario can attest to that.

For those who are at the forefront of this publishing company, whose objective and mission have been inform the community for 34 years now, at this time it doesn’t make sense to keep putting the security of so many colleagues at risk, so that their valuable lives can be used to send messages, encrypted or not, between the various organizations, or to the official authorities.

Even in war there are rules. And in any outbreak there are protocols or guarantees among the warring sides to safeguard the integrity of the journalists who cover them. That is why, we reiterate, to the various leaders of the narco trafficking organizations, to explain to us what you want from us so that we can stop paying tribute to the lives of our colleagues.

And it was one of those messages from these groups that was left in a blanket yesterday morning at the corner of Ejército Nacional and Tecnológico, which we can infer was given through the murder of photographer Luis Carlos Santiago Orozco, that occurred on Thursday afternoon at a mall.

A placard contained a threatening message directed to alleged federal commanders and a commissioner, in which they were warned that the same thing would happen to them if they didn’t return a certain amount of money.

Since these narco messages began appearing on banners or as paint on the walls, El Diario has not taken them as a joke, as several of these threats have been realized.

Instead, with almost two years since the murder of our colleague Armando Rodríguez Carreón, we are very skeptical that the supposed law enforcement authorities who are about to finish out their terms will give us an honest explanation.

There have been so many offers, so many promises to solve the case that ended up not coming true, that if at this point we were introduced to the presumed perpetrator of the crime the first thing we would do is doubt him.

The newspaper isn’t going to all of a sudden be satisfied with the first suspect who was said to be the the perpetrator of the attack against “El Choco,” because we have information that the authorities were looking for a “scapegoat,” so they could charge someone with this crime that is so sensitive to us.

If law enforcement intended to ease the pressure on this matter it would be counter productive, because the only thing it would do is attract a greater distrust that, in fact, already remains among citizens due to the high rates of impunity that have already happened.

In any case, El Diario accepts that at this point an answer will have to be endorsed by both international journalism organizations and human rights groups.

Four and a half years ago, when Felipe Calderón Hinojosa was still campaigning for the presidential race, he came to the El Dario office to give an interview on various topics.

In that interview with media workers from this publication, the president of the Republic responded to a question asked to him about the guarantees his administration would offer towards a good development of press freedom.

Calderón said that “regarding the murders of journalists, as I am being protected because of my status as a candidate, I think that to the extent there is an activity benefiting the community that is being put in danger, it should also have mechanisms to protect it. A journalist who has been threatened or who is doing an investigation against organized crime should have special protection mechanisms and it’s very good that a special prosecutor was crated for this issue.”

Now, the story is well known: the president, to obtain the legitimacy that he didn’t receive in the polls, declared—without a proper strategy—a war against organized crime, without knowing the size of the enemy or the consequences this confrontation could bring to the country.

After being brought in to this conflict without asking for it, Mexicans—and people from Juarez in particular—have been set adrift by bad decisions that have ended up leaving them in the middle, with the results now known and, above all, abhorred by the majority.

In this context, journalists were also dragged into the fight without any control—without the promise uttered by the president in the El Diario newsroom—because the media workers have been threatened, they have done investigations into organized crime, and they have been in the middle of this war as privileged witnesses to the intimidation for quite a while. But even so, his government never implemented the “special protection mechanisms” which he had stressed as indispensable.

The only defensive weapons that those who are dedicated to this profession have are the search for the truth, the use of our words, as well as our writing machines—computers today—and photographers.

The state as a protector of the rights of citizens, and thus, of the media, has been absent during these years of militancy, even when it has pretended to do so through various operations that in practice have been tremendous failures.

Last Friday, after the murder of photojournalist Luis Carlos Santiago Orozco, El Diario published an editorial that emphasized this absent question of “Who do call for justice?” In the same vein, there are citizens who no longer know where to turn to ask for help.

Just a few days ago, our colleagues in the hospitals brought forth the possibility of striking, as a way to pressure the those in the government to produce answers, since several of their colleagues have been kidnapped and some of them murdered, despite paying ransoms.

Others, vendors and business people, have also contemplated actions, like not paying taxes to those in the government.

Such is the lack of justice, such is the desolation and helplessness felt by all sectors, that it would not be unreasonable to begin to actually go through with these actions in order to hurt those who should do more to safeguard the city, the state, and the country.

In contrast, those who should be protecting the citizens are lost in fruitless discussion over whether Mexico is equal or worse than Colombia twenty years ago, a statement that was issued by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and backed by media outlets like the Washington Post. Or, there are those responsible for creating a media circus with the costly expense used in the celebrations for the bicentennial, resources that would be better used to strengthen weak security strategies.

Not content with this, the president pontificates on peace in this country as if it were real, sending a letter to every family in the nation in which, among other things, he rhetorically stresses the white color of our national flag as “the peace we have won.”

Such a statement is a mockery of the Juarez people who are drowning in a bloodbath, when peace is the thing we know least these days.

In Ciudad Juarez things have reached a point where it is necessary—and urgent—to find other ways to force the legal authorities to provide conclusive answers, because the tolerance of so many pained citizens has already reached its limits.

El Diario, for one, takes the position expressed in the opening paragraphs, to call upon the warring groups to express what they want from us as members of the press.

From the victims, to the executioners.

As if the violations, assaults, and intimidation of the media weren’t enough, yesterday the state government’s Secretary of Education and Culture, Guadalupe Chacón Monárrez, came to put more salt into the wound, declaring that we’re all guilty of the psychological terrorism that thrives in the city.

Now it turns out that, in addition to being victims, in the minds of the bureaucrats we are the ones to blame as perpetrators of terrorist acts for our job of informing the community about what is happening along the border.

Terrorism, and this should be very clear to the Secretary of Education, comes from other sources, not from the media outlets that are the vehicle to report about what happens in this city.

Chacón Monárrez specifically dealt with the case of a elementary and kindergarten school in the northwest, where both families and teachers live in fear that something will happen to them in the face of threats that were received from a group of extortionists.

It was the parents themselves who approached this newspaper to express the fear they felt—and that is still felt—for the safety of their children. The threats were not dismissed by El Diario, and neither were they among the parents who had the initiative to denounce the threats that were received.

Given this situation, what is the staff expected to do? Should we have only listened to the parents and then head back to our homes? Or should we submit the matter as a complaint before criminal prosecutors when the parents themselves said they do not trust the authorities because they’re doing nothing about it?

The reporter did what he had to do: he wrote the story and delivered it to the editor, who also played a role with the responsibility to publish it, because it was about a fundamental issue in which what was at stake was the integrity of many people, especially children.

Terrorism is not what lead to this divulged information, which was echoed by the rest of the media outlets in the city, about those who had threatened minors, their parents and the teachers. But, above all, it was about those who have been causing this, those who have the responsibility and the ability to stop these acts, but have not done so, either by omission, negligence or even collusion.

The Secretary of Education says she cannot imagine anyone who would disrespect children, and that it could be a hoax. It is noted that this bureaucrat does not live in this city, where children, toddlers and even babies have been slaughtered. The one who won’t apologize for such a mockery is she, with her comments, which will certainly not please the many parents who have lost children in a violent way.

Hernán Ortiz, an anthropologist and researcher at UACJ (Autonomous University of Chihuahua at Juárez) , was right about everything when he told Chacón Monárrez that the media should not be blamed for the terrorism that we have been suffering from for a long time now, but rather it should be the incompetence shown by governments, which coincides with our comments made in earlier paragraphs.

“I want to tell the media, with all respect, that we have become partners in this, because psychological terrorism is achieved through communication,” the Secretary of Education said.

What is it that she wants us to say in respect to that? That we will stop publishing? Or that we’ll only divulge “good” and “positive” news during other controversial occasions? The media picks up and publishes everything that is happening in the city, and it will be the reader who decides what is “good” or “bad” based on what is read, heard, and seen.

In any case, the Secretary of Education has the great responsibility to the children who are now being educated, so that they leave with a well-trained mind and do not become the criminals of tomorrow.

Chacón Monárrez has created a smokescreen, to hide the incapacity of the authorities who have not done their jobs.

To the leaders of the different organizations that are fighting for control of Ciudad Juarez:

The loss of two reporters from this publishing house in less than two years represents an irreparable breakdown for all of us who work here, and, in particular, for their families.

We’re aware that we are communicators, not fortune-tellers. Therefore, as workers in information we want you to explain to us what it is that you want from us, what it is that you expect us to publish or not to publish, so that we know what to expect.

All of you are, at this moment, the defacto authorities in this city, because the legally instituted authorities have not been able to do anything to stop our colleagues from continuing to die, although we have repeatedly called for them to act.

That is why, faced with these indisputable facts, we’re writing to you to ask, because the last thing we want is for another one of our colleagues to again be the victim of your shootings.

Even while the entire journalistic profession along this border has suffered the consequences of this war that you and the federal government are waging, El Diario has without a doubt been hurt the most so far, because nobody has suffered the death of two colleagues like we have.

We don’t want any more deaths. We don’t want any more injuries or any more intimidation either. It’s impossible to do our jobs in these conditions. Therefore, tell us what you expect from us as a media outlet.

This is not a surrender. Nor does it mean that we’re going to give up the work that we have been doing. It’s about a truce with those who have imposed the rule of law in this city, provided that they respect the lives of those who are dedicated to the craft of reporting.

Faced with the vacuum of power that the Chihuahua people are breathing, in the midst of an environment in which there are no sufficient guarantees for citizens to be able go about their lives and daily activities safety, journalism has become one of the most dangerous professions, and El Dario can attest to that.

For those who are at the forefront of this publishing company, whose objective and mission have been inform the community for 34 years now, at this time it doesn’t make sense to keep putting the security of so many colleagues at risk, so that their valuable lives can be used to send messages, encrypted or not, between the various organizations, or to the official authorities.

Even in war there are rules. And in any outbreak there are protocols or guarantees among the warring sides to safeguard the integrity of the journalists who cover them. That is why, we reiterate, to the various leaders of the narco trafficking organizations, to explain to us what you want from us so that we can stop paying tribute to the lives of our colleagues.

And it was one of those messages from these groups that was left in a blanket yesterday morning at the corner of Ejército Nacional and Tecnológico, which we can infer was given through the murder of photographer Luis Carlos Santiago Orozco, that occurred on Thursday afternoon at a mall.

A placard contained a threatening message directed to alleged federal commanders and a commissioner, in which they were warned that the same thing would happen to them if they didn’t return a certain amount of money.

Since these narco messages began appearing on banners or as paint on the walls, El Diario has not taken them as a joke, as several of these threats have been realized.

Instead, with almost two years since the murder of our colleague Armando Rodríguez Carreón, we are very skeptical that the supposed law enforcement authorities who are about to finish out their terms will give us an honest explanation.

There have been so many offers, so many promises to solve the case that ended up not coming true, that if at this point we were introduced to the presumed perpetrator of the crime the first thing we would do is doubt him.

The newspaper isn’t going to all of a sudden be satisfied with the first suspect who was said to be the the perpetrator of the attack against “El Choco,” because we have information that the authorities were looking for a “scapegoat,” so they could charge someone with this crime that is so sensitive to us.

If law enforcement intended to ease the pressure on this matter it would be counter productive, because the only thing it would do is attract a greater distrust that, in fact, already remains among citizens due to the high rates of impunity that have already happened.

In any case, El Diario accepts that at this point an answer will have to be endorsed by both international journalism organizations and human rights groups.

Four and a half years ago, when Felipe Calderón Hinojosa was still campaigning for the presidential race, he came to the El Dario office to give an interview on various topics.

In that interview with media workers from this publication, the president of the Republic responded to a question asked to him about the guarantees his administration would offer towards a good development of press freedom.

Calderón said that “regarding the murders of journalists, as I am being protected because of my status as a candidate, I think that to the extent there is an activity benefiting the community that is being put in danger, it should also have mechanisms to protect it. A journalist who has been threatened or who is doing an investigation against organized crime should have special protection mechanisms and it’s very good that a special prosecutor was crated for this issue.”

Now, the story is well known: the president, to obtain the legitimacy that he didn’t receive in the polls, declared—without a proper strategy—a war against organized crime, without knowing the size of the enemy or the consequences this confrontation could bring to the country.

After being brought in to this conflict without asking for it, Mexicans—and people from Juarez in particular—have been set adrift by bad decisions that have ended up leaving them in the middle, with the results now known and, above all, abhorred by the majority.

In this context, journalists were also dragged into the fight without any control—without the promise uttered by the president in the El Diario newsroom—because the media workers have been threatened, they have done investigations into organized crime, and they have been in the middle of this war as privileged witnesses to the intimidation for quite a while. But even so, his government never implemented the “special protection mechanisms” which he had stressed as indispensable.

The only defensive weapons that those who are dedicated to this profession have are the search for the truth, the use of our words, as well as our writing machines—computers today—and photographers.

The state as a protector of the rights of citizens, and thus, of the media, has been absent during these years of militancy, even when it has pretended to do so through various operations that in practice have been tremendous failures.

Last Friday, after the murder of photojournalist Luis Carlos Santiago Orozco, El Diario published an editorial that emphasized this absent question of “Who do call for justice?” In the same vein, there are citizens who no longer know where to turn to ask for help.

Just a few days ago, our colleagues in the hospitals brought forth the possibility of striking, as a way to pressure the those in the government to produce answers, since several of their colleagues have been kidnapped and some of them murdered, despite paying ransoms.

Others, vendors and business people, have also contemplated actions, like not paying taxes to those in the government.

Such is the lack of justice, such is the desolation and helplessness felt by all sectors, that it would not be unreasonable to begin to actually go through with these actions in order to hurt those who should do more to safeguard the city, the state, and the country.

In contrast, those who should be protecting the citizens are lost in fruitless discussion over whether Mexico is equal or worse than Colombia twenty years ago, a statement that was issued by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and backed by media outlets like the Washington Post. Or, there are those responsible for creating a media circus with the costly expense used in the celebrations for the bicentennial, resources that would be better used to strengthen weak security strategies.

Not content with this, the president pontificates on peace in this country as if it were real, sending a letter to every family in the nation in which, among other things, he rhetorically stresses the white color of our national flag as “the peace we have won.”

Such a statement is a mockery of the Juarez people who are drowning in a bloodbath, when peace is the thing we know least these days.

In Ciudad Juarez things have reached a point where it is necessary—and urgent—to find other ways to force the legal authorities to provide conclusive answers, because the tolerance of so many pained citizens has already reached its limits.

El Diario, for one, takes the position expressed in the opening paragraphs, to call upon the warring groups to express what they want from us as members of the press.

From the victims, to the executioners.

As if the violations, assaults, and intimidation of the media weren’t enough, yesterday the state government’s Secretary of Education and Culture, Guadalupe Chacón Monárrez, came to put more salt into the wound, declaring that we’re all guilty of the psychological terrorism that thrives in the city.

Now it turns out that, in addition to being victims, in the minds of the bureaucrats we are the ones to blame as perpetrators of terrorist acts for our job of informing the community about what is happening along the border.

Terrorism, and this should be very clear to the Secretary of Education, comes from other sources, not from the media outlets that are the vehicle to report about what happens in this city.

Chacón Monárrez specifically dealt with the case of a elementary and kindergarten school in the northwest, where both families and teachers live in fear that something will happen to them in the face of threats that were received from a group of extortionists.

It was the parents themselves who approached this newspaper to express the fear they felt—and that is still felt—for the safety of their children. The threats were not dismissed by El Diario, and neither were they among the parents who had the initiative to denounce the threats that were received.

Given this situation, what is the staff expected to do? Should we have only listened to the parents and then head back to our homes? Or should we submit the matter as a complaint before criminal prosecutors when the parents themselves said they do not trust the authorities because they’re doing nothing about it?

The reporter did what he had to do: he wrote the story and delivered it to the editor, who also played a role with the responsibility to publish it, because it was about a fundamental issue in which what was at stake was the integrity of many people, especially children.

Terrorism is not what lead to this divulged information, which was echoed by the rest of the media outlets in the city, about those who had threatened minors, their parents and the teachers. But, above all, it was about those who have been causing this, those who have the responsibility and the ability to stop these acts, but have not done so, either by omission, negligence or even collusion.

The Secretary of Education says she cannot imagine anyone who would disrespect children, and that it could be a hoax. It is noted that this bureaucrat does not live in this city, where children, toddlers and even babies have been slaughtered. The one who won’t apologize for such a mockery is she, with her comments, which will certainly not please the many parents who have lost children in a violent way.

Hernán Ortiz, an anthropologist and researcher at UACJ (Autonomous University of Chihuahua at Juárez) , was right about everything when he told Chacón Monárrez that the media should not be blamed for the terrorism that we have been suffering from for a long time now, but rather it should be the incompetence shown by governments, which coincides with our comments made in earlier paragraphs.

“I want to tell the media, with all respect, that we have become partners in this, because psychological terrorism is achieved through communication,” the Secretary of Education said.

What is it that she wants us to say in respect to that? That we will stop publishing? Or that we’ll only divulge “good” and “positive” news during other controversial occasions? The media picks up and publishes everything that is happening in the city, and it will be the reader who decides what is “good” or “bad” based on what is read, heard, and seen.

In any case, the Secretary of Education has the great responsibility to the children who are now being educated, so that they leave with a well-trained mind and do not become the criminals of tomorrow.

Chacón Monárrez has created a smokescreen, to hide the incapacity of the authorities who have not done their jobs.

See Also: Telling the Whole Truth About the “Drug War”: Thoughts on the Open Letter by El Diario of Juárez, by Al Giordano.

Share |

Lea Ud. el Artículo en Español

Discussion of this article from The Narcosphere


Enter the NarcoSphere to comment on this article

Narco News is funded by your contributions to The Fund for Authentic Journalism.  Please make journalism like this possible by going to The Fund's web site and making a contribution today.


- The Fund for Authentic Journalism

For more Narco News, click here.

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