‘Criminal Violence’ Tweet Leads to Shutdown, Questions in Mexico

InSight Crime, 9/8/12

Schools and businesses shut down en masse in some parts of Mexico state over fears that a mysterious criminal group was on a rampage. Now state authorities say the rumors were bogus and are blaming social media.  Some 70 percent of the schools in one municipality of Mexico state shut down Thursday due to fears of criminal violence in the area. As La Jornada reports, businesses closed, streets emptied, and state authorities deployed an additional 500 police officers to the city, Nezahualcoyotl, in the northeast of Mexico’s Federal District.

But as fast as authorities were to deploy additional police reinforcements, they were just as quick to deny that anything was wrong. The president of the Federal District’s human rights commission blamed the mass shut-downs on a social media “psychosis,” in which networks like Twitter and Facebook spread false rumours about the alleged insecurity in Nezahualcoyotl. The state secretary of security echoed these claims…

Alternative media website ADN Politco told a different story, interviewing various residents who described seeing groups of armed agitators on the streets…

Other media reports affirmed that the discord was actually caused by a clash between two political groups: Antorcha Popular, a group affiliated with the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), and Movimiento Ciudadano, which is associated with rival party the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD). According to El Universal, clashes between these two groups left 35 people injured and up to two dead on September 5.

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