Mexican Drug Cartels Threaten Freedom Of Press; Bilateral Solution Needed, Panel Says

Latin American News Dispatch, 10/20/2010

Luis Carlos Santiago’s last moments were spent in a shopping mall parking lot in the Mexican border city of Ciudad Juárez. Around two in the afternoon on September 16, Santiago, a photographer for the Ciudad Juárez newspaper El Diario, was on his way to lunch along with his colleague Carlos Sánchez Colunga when gun fire erupted in the parking. Moments later Santiago lay dead in the car, while Colunga struggled for for his life.

No suspects were named by local authorities, but many pointed the finger at Mexico’s drug cartels that battle daily over the city. Three day’s later, in a shocking move, El Diario ran a Sunday editorial asking the cartels what the newspaper should do.

“We’d like you to know that we’re communicators, not psychics. As such, as information workers, we ask that you explain what it is you want from us, what you’d intend for us to publish or to not publish, so that we know what is expected of us,” the editorial said, according to The Los Angeles Times.

Over a month later, with Santiago’s murder still far from being solved, journalists in Mexico are still questioning how to safely report on the drug war.

“We are living in an emergency situation,” said Rocío Gallegos, the head of El Diario, at a panel discussion in New York on censorship. “El Diario asked for a truce to ask what was happening and why.”

What is happening in Mexico is that journalists are more frequently becoming targets in the ongoing drug war, according to the group of Mexican journalists and members of journalist rights groups gathered in Cooper Union’s Great Hall Tuesday evening.

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