Six years have passed today since the murder of El Diario reporter, Armando Rodriguez. The Chihuahua state authorities continue to say that his death was not related to his work as a journalist. The Special Prosecutor for crimes against journalists in Mexico (a federal authority) says that there is evidence that he was indeed targeted for his reporting. “El Diego” a lieutenant for La Linea (Juarez cartel) was arrested in 2011 and extradited to the US where he is serving 10 life sentences for various crimes. There is information (not officially confirmed by the state authorities) that El Diego said that he ordered the murder of Rodriguez for writing stories that damaged his organization…
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DOWN BY THE RIVER…Rhapsody for Chuck Bowden
To all of our friends on the frontera list… Jose Luis Benavides sent me this great note, including Chuck’s own words about his life and work… It says things far better now than I can…Thanks to everyone who has written to me. I hope I can respond personally in time… molly
I have spent my life trying to learn. I once taught American history at the University of Illinois, Chicago Circle Campus but my real education has come from working on newspapers and magazines and from writing books. I started out interested in nature (Killing the Hidden Waters, University of Texas Press, 1977) but got sidetracked by the endless wars of the border–wars against drugs, wars against the migration of the Mexican poor and wars against decent wages (see Juarez: the laboratory of our future, Down by the River, Murder City, El Sicario, Exodus). I have also co-produced a documentary film, “El Sicario/room 164.” I have not controlled my life or work but been controlled by events. I could not stand by in silence as the war on drugs killed tens of thousands, imprisoned millions and squandered over a trillion US dollars. Nor could I ignore the massive flight of the poor unleashed by NAFTA, especially since the Mexicans who come north to survive are often demonized by politicians and portrayed as a national security risk. I constantly try to abandon my work. Recently, I bought a backpack, threw forty pounds into it and returned to walking the hills. I’ll see if this effort at a cure works. It never has before but I am a creature of hope.
Monthly tallies: Jan 32; Feb 41; Mar 40; Apr 35; May 52; Jun 31; Jul 39 for 7-month total of 270.
Also below, Proceso reports that Zacatecas reporter Nolberto Herrera Rodríguez was beaten to death in his home… Government investigators are reporting that the murder was a crime of passion relating to his sexual orientation. The Article 19 organization for the defense of freedom of expression demanded that the PRI government in Zacatecas provide protection for journalists and to fully investigate the case and not to dismiss the possibility that the crime was related to his profession.
Dr. Celeste González de Bustamante is an associate professor in the School of Journalism at the University of Arizona and an affiliated faculty member of the UA Center for Latin American Studies. She is the author of “Muy buenas noches,” Mexico, Television and the Cold War and co-editor of Arizona Firestorm: Global Immigration Realities, National Media, and Provincial Politics . Prior to entering the academy, Dr. González de Bustamante reported and produced commercial and public television for 16 years, covering politics and the U.S./Mexico border. Dr. Jeannine Relly is an assistant professor in the School of Journalism at the University of Arizona. She is an affiliated faculty member with the Center for Latin American Studies and holds a courtesy appointment with the School of Government and Public Policy. She has published numerous articles in top academic journals. Before joining the academy, she worked as a journalist in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands and in the Caribbean. Follow them @celestegdb @JeannineRelly
Professors Relly and González de Bustamante are founding members of the Border Journalism Network. Since 2011, they have interviewed more than 100 journalists and activists from Mexico and the U.S. They have published two academic articles on violence and journalism along the U.S.-Mexico border in the International Journal of Press/Politics and Digital Journalism. They are now working on a book examining the same subject.
In the city of Reynosa, and in other parts of the state of Tamaulipas, it’s common for members of the news media to have to wait for a “green light,” before publishing stories about delicate matters such as organized crime and drug cartels. A newsroom editor answers to two bosses, the owners of the news media outlet and the leaders of organized crime.
“We never imagined that we would have to wait for orders,” said Héctor Hugo Jimenez,” a 30-year-veteran journalist and editor-in-chief of Verbo Libres Editores, which publishes the bi-monthly alternative newspaper Hora Cero in Reynosa and Monterrey, Nuevo León.
In 2014, violence and gang warfare continue at high levels in Reynosa. And since 2010, after the split of the Gulf and the Zetas cartels, two powerful transnational criminal organizations, the old rules that governed newsrooms changed dramatically. Antonio Mazzitelli, representative of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in Mexico said that his office began to track a unique situation along the border of crime bosses dictating the news. Before, Mazzitelli said, “violence, generally speaking, operated by crime tended to be hidden, not so broadcasted and visible.”
Although the rule of waiting for a green or red light has been in place for several years, that doesn’t mean that all forms of journalism in Tamaulipas or other parts of the border have been silenced. Under extreme circumstances, journalists have looked for innovative ways to publish and professionalize their craft.
In 2011, Jimenez directed Una ruta nada santa: de San Salvador a San Fernando (An unholy route: From San Salvador to San Fernando). Heriberto Deandar Robinson, owner of Verbo Libres produced the film. The documentary retraces the lives and route of two Salvadoran migrants who were massacred in 2010 along with 70 other migrants, most from Central America. Their bodies were found on a ranch in San Fernando, Tamaulipas.
Jimenez said that at the time, to question who was responsible for the murders of 72 migrants would have amounted to a death sentence. Nevertheless, they knew they had to cover the story, somehow. The documentary won an award from the Inter-American Press Association in 2012 for journalism excellence in the category of Human Rights and Community Service.
In Nuevo Laredo, the Cantu Deandar family is being honored and is celebrating 90 years of publishing news in Tamaulipas. Don Heriberto Deandar Amador first founded Verbo Libre in 1924, and in 1932 began to publish El Mañana de Nuevo Laredo.
The current editor-in-chief of El Mañana, Ramón Darío Cantú Deandar reflects on his family’s journalism tradition in times of crisis. “What motivates me is saving a business that’s been around for 90 years. That’s why I’m there.”
West of Nuevo Laredo, in Ciudad Juárez, which a few years ago ranked as one of the world’s most dangerous cities, journalists continue to struggle to publish investigative journalism.
In response to a violent working environment, and after El Diario de Juárez lost two of its journalists, several female reporters at the paper founded the Juárez Journalists Network (Red de Periodistas de Juárez).
The network lists among its goals: professionalization of journalists, organizing workshops on investigative journalism skills, dealing with victims, and increasing safety among reporters.
Rocio Gallegos, one of the co-founders of the network and current editor-in-chief of El Diario de Juárez said, “first, we focused on security and self-protection.”
Looking back at the worst years of the violence, Gallegos said with emotion in her voice, “I feel so proud of the Juárez journalists. I’m not just talking about my colleagues at El Diario, but colleagues from all over Ciudad Juárez, in newspapers and television.”
This blog post is our introduction to a collection of dozens of interviews with journalists and activists in Mexico and along both sides of the border. We consider their experiences as critical oral histories.
We feel strongly that the public should hear about the experiences of journalists and activists to help improve understanding about the borderlands and Mexico. As a result, we are including our interviews in an open-access archive titled “The Documented Border,” which will be launched on October 8.
A traffic policeman was killed in Juarez late this afternoon in what appeared to be a hit and run incident. There has not yet been an official report on the incidents.
Below, three El Diario reporters were attacked in the city center while on the job. When first attacked by three guys, they were leaving the area and took a photo with a cell phone. At that point, one of the attackers called and apparently asked permission to beat them up and they were then set upon by about 11 men. -Molly
Juarez attorney Salvador Urbina Quiroz was assassinated yesterday in his office. A judge serving in the current city administration, César Cordero, was murdered also. The men were meeting in Urbina’s office and it is reported that 2 young men got out of a black pickup, came to the office and asked to see Urbina. The receptionist told them he was in a meeting. When he did not come out, the men took out their weapons, threatened the people in the outer office, then went into the private office, asked who was Urbina. When the men did not answer, both of them were shot to death. The shooters then left. Police and paramedics arrived, but nothing could be done for the victims.
The story indicates that two men were arrested, but no more details were provided before the paper went to press.
Salvador Urbina Quiroz had also worked as a journalist for El Diario de Juárez in 2004-2005 and for other media in Juarez. He was a leader of the Juarez legal community and was often consulted as a source by the news media as a critic of government authorities in fighting the violence. He has also served as subdirector of the state prison (CERESO). Urbina received many threats to his life and briefly fled to the US in 2011 after receiving a warning from the federal police. He had returned some time ago and continued to practice law until he was killed yesterday.
UPDATE May 27:
In total, 9 people were murdered yesterday in Juarez. The details are in the article below. It was the most violence day so far in 2014.
Asesinan A 9 Ayer En Distintos Hechos (El Diario)
Ciudad Juárez is not all about the drug war. The city is a complex place: 1.3 million people live here. It’s not the Wild West, as some writers seem to make out. And the city is woefully served by its leaders, political, educational, or otherwise. This October 2011 article by Sandra Rodríguez Nieto lays bare the human costs to students in higher education of these problems.
The article commemorates the two year anniversary of the murder of journalist Regina Martínez a fearless documenter of public corruption in Mexico.
Ciudad Juárez’s Perverse Development: Knowledge City — Between Scholarly Pursuits and Private Interests
By Sandra Rodríguez Nieto (EL DIARIO DE JUÁREZ)
Even though his classes begin at 0800, David Valles, 19, and a resident of Colonia Monumental, has to get up before 0600 so that he can take the Indiobús at 0640 from the Zona Centro. From there it takes him more than an hour to arrive at the Autonomous University of Ciudad Juárez’s (UACJ) new southeast campus, 16kms from the southern limits of the border city.
Click here to read the rest of the article.
‘Man in the Middle’ separates Ruben Salazar from his myth
By Yvonne Villarreal April 26, 2014, 6:00 a.m.
His is a name that has appeared in this publication’s pages hundreds of times — as an author and as a subject. It’s a name that calls up notions of the Latino struggle for civil rights and the radical Chicano movement in Los Angeles.
It’s also a name that initially made filmmaker Phillip Rodriguez groan when someone suggested the life behind the name as a subject for his next documentary.
Click here to read the rest of the story.
Thanks to Patrick for this translation of an Animal Político story about torture in Mexico. Not a single English-speaking journalist has covered the visit to Mexico of the Special Rapporteur on Torture. The article points out Mexico’s failure to investigate, prosecute, and punish serious human rights violations.
This article was published on 24 April 2014 in AnimalPolítico. It has been translated without permission for the Mexican Journalism Translation Project (MxJTP).
Human Rights Abuse in Mexico: A Decade Without a Single Public Official Guilty of the Crime of Torture
By Tania L. Montalvo (ANIMALPOLÍTCO)
– Investigations Exist but no Punishment for Public Officials in either Military or Civilian Jurisdictions
Over the past decade — and in response to public information requests — figures provided by the Federal Attorney General (PGR) and the Ministry of Defense (SEDENA) show that not a single official has been published for the crime of torture, neither in civil nor military jurisdictions.
Click here to read the rest of the story.