The Narco Soap Opera: Televisa vs. Proceso
Both Mexican Media Outlets are Accusing Each Other of Being a Part of the Same War that They Have Exploited
By Fernando León
Special to The Narco News Bulletin
December 16, 2010
A series of accusations between two of Mexico’s most important media outlets has unleashed a publicity war. The accusations are related to Mexican President Felipe Calderón’s “drug war,” and the alleged funding of drug trafficking. These make up part of a recent soap opera that could only happen in Mexico at a time like the present. A recent clash between the weekly magazine Proceso and television station Televisa is happening four years after the drug war was launched by Calderón in the beginning of his administration. However, the accusations between both media outlets are a part of the upper echelons of a show that rarely deals with the real problems of the war.
On the evening of December 1—coincidentally the four-year anniversary of the Calderón government—Televisa news star Joaquín López Dóriga broadcast a video of alleged statements made by reported drug kingpin Sergio Villarreal Barragán (alias “El Grande”), a protected witness of the country’s Attorney General’s Office who was arrested in the state of Puebla last September. In the video Villarreal Barragán claimed to have paid $50,000 to Proceso journalist Ricardo Ravelo to not mention him in his articles.
After that, both outlets were locked in a media circle of accusations and distinctions. In the next edition of the weekly magazine (Number. 1779) Ravelo published an extensive list of instances where he had mentioned “El Grande” in Proceso after the the alleged payments occurred between 2003 and 2006. Televisa, through López Dóriga, said that the business was not the one making the accusation, but that it was the alleged drug trafficker doing so.
With the accusations broadcast by Televisa, Proceso publisher Rafael Rodríguez Castañeda denounced the television company as “a media outlet at the service of the current government. It’s not the only one, but it is the most powerful and helpful.” Despite the clear relationship between the Calderón government and other previous governments to Televisa, both the TV station and the magazine have fallen into a tragic comedy worthy of the country’s political and military moments.
In the last four years, both media outlets have been responsible for focusing on Calderón’s drug war. Both have been caught up in the show that labels the more than 28,000 people killed and the countless number of people disappeared in the war as only a product of a “wrong strategy.” The show does nothing more than further the objectives that the war has brought with it: increasing the income derived from the trafficking of illegal substances and setting a scenario for direct or indirect intervention from transnational military contractors in the country.
During the the Calderón government, both media outlets have made up part of an endless representation of the war’s devastation. For everyone it is clear that the war has bloodshed, however, Mexican society needs something more than the eye-catching murder of Arturo Beltrán Leyva or the sinister laugh of Edgar Váldez (alias “La Barbie”) to end the war, because behind them there are hundreds to take their place. What is needed is the ending of a war that only produces profits for its main beneficiaries, the governments and corporate industries. It is a war that each day turns dozens of Mexican children into orphans. Therefore, the diversionary strategy that both media outlets have used as a part of the circus of the war between the misnamed “cartels” has only served to make the public cry for a “security” which only the government can give them.
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