El diario de Juarez has dedicated Sunday's newspaper editorial to the cartels which are destroying their once beautiful and prosperous city.
To the organizations that are disputing the plaza of Ciudad Juarez: the loss of two reporters of 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 would like it to be known, we are communicators, not psychics. With that in mind, as information correspondents, we want you to explain, What is it you want from us? What is it you want us to publish, or stop publishing? Explain so we can attend these issues.
You are, at present, the de facto authorities of this city. The legal security commands have done nothing to prevent our colleagues from being killed in the line of their duties, although we have repeatedly demanded protection.
That is why, faced with this indisputable fact, we are writing to you and asking, because the last thing we want is another one of our colleagues to become another victim of your shootings.
Although the entire journalistic community of this border has suffered the consequences of this war that you and the federal government are waging, EL Diario has undoubtedly been hurt the most so far because no other media source has suffered the death of two its partners, like us.
We do not want anymore deaths. We do not want more injuries nor more intimidation. It is impossible for us to work in these conditions. Therefore, we ask of you, what do you expect of us, as a media outlet.
This is not a surrender. Nor does it mean we will give up on the work we have been developing. This is a respite, an offering of truce to those who have imposed their law on this city, providing they respect the lives of those of us who dedicate ourselves to informing the public.
Faced with the loss of legal authority in Chihuahua, citizens are no longer guaranteed any type security when going about their lives and daily activities. Journalism has now become one of the most dangerous professions, El Diario can attest to these facts.
For those who are at the forefront of this publishing company, our goals and mission of informing the community remain the same 34 years ago, during these times it does not make sense to continue putting at risk the safety of so many colleagues, whose lives are so valuable, just to have them used as message carriers, encrypted or not, between feuding organizations, or from them to official authorities.
Even in war there are rules. And in any conflict there are protocols or guarantees to the warring sides, to safeguard the integrity of the journalists covering them. Therefore, I reiterate, gentlemen of the various drug trafficking organizations, explain what you want from us so we can stop paying our infringements with the lives of our colleagues.
From the message that one of these groups left on a banner placed yesterday morning at the corner of Ejército Nacional and Tecnológico, we can attribute the murder of photojournalist Luis Carlos Santiago Orozco, registered on Thursday afternoon at a mall.
The banner contained a threatening message directed to alleged commanders and a police chief, in which they were warned they would end up like our photographer if they did not return an undisclosed sum of money.
Since the beginning when these types of messages started appearing on banners and painted on walls, El Diario has never taken them lightly, especially because they have demonstrated reliability, as several of these warnings have been acted upon.
Quite the contrary, almost two years after the assassination of our colleague Armando Rodriguez, we find ourselves very skeptical that the law enforcement authorities who are in charge of his case and are about to to finish their terms will ever deliver any type of reliable clarification.
There have been so many offers, so many promises that his case would be solved and none of them have held any truth. At this point, if the authorities we were to to present us with the alleged killer, the first thing we'd feel is doubt.
The newspaper is not going to just accept the first suspect brought in out of the blue for "El Choco's" attack, because we have reliable information that a scapegoat is being sought to pin the crime on.
Creating a scapegoat to ease the tension involved with this case would only prove counterproductive as it would only attract a greater distrust amongst the citizens who have already been forced to bear witness to endless impunity.
In any case, for El Diario to accept an outcome at this stage, it would also have to be accepted by international journalists, as well as human rights commissions.
Four and half years ago, when Felipe Calderón Hinojosa was still campaigning for the presidential race, he came to the Diario facilities to give an interview on various topics.
During this meeting with our media employees, the now President, answered a question regarding what type of guarantees his administration would provide to insure the development of freedom of expression and those who represent it.
Calderon said: "In the case of the murders (of journalists)just as I am protected because of my status as a candidate, I think that any activity which is for the benefit of the community and has danger involved must have mechanisms to protect it. A journalist who has been threatened or is involved in an investigation against organized crime should have special protection. Thankfully there has been a legal entity created especially for the needs and protection of journalists."
Around these years, the story is well known: the President, to create a legitimacy that he was unable to obtain at the polls, went "without a proper strategy," to war against organized crime without fully knowing the enemy or of the consequences this confrontation could bring to the country.
Thrown into the conflict without prior consideration, Mexicans-and particularly those of Juarez-have been led adrift by erroneous decisions that continuously leave them in the middle, with results now known and, above all, abhorred by the majority.
In this context, journalists were also dragged into this fight, without the President giving a second thought of the commitment he made in the boardroom of El Diario, because the media workers have been threatened,they have conducted investigated organized crime and have been in the midst of this war as privileged witnesses and intimidated intimidated, but still never received from his administration the "special protection mechanisms" which he considered indispensable.
The only true weapons of defense we've had, those of us dedicated to this profession, have been our search for the truth, our management of words, and our typewriter-today-computers and cameras.
The State as protector of the rights of citizens, and thus, of the media, has been absent during these years of militancy, even when you pretended to do so through a range of operations, which in practice, have been paramount failures.
Last Friday, after the murder of photojournalist Luis Carlos Santiago Orozco, El Diario published an editorial, that emphasized this absence of response,with the question "To whom do we demand justice?". Caught in the same uncertainty are our citizens who no longer know where to turn for help.
A few days ago the medical universities announced the possibility of a strike as a measure of pressuring the government for answers, after several of their colleagues had been abducted and some killed despite their ransoms being paid.
Others, such as merchants and businessmen have also contemplated lobbying the government, by creating a strike in which they will withhold all payments of taxes and duties, precisely what the government needs to survive.
Such is the lack of justice, such is the desolation and helplessness felt by all sectors, it would not be unreasonable to begin to implement actions that really hurt those who are obliged to do more to safeguard the security of the city, state and the country.
In contrast, the one who is most obligated to protect citizens is lost in fruitless disquisitions on whether Mexico is equal to or worse than Colombia twenty years ago, a statement issued by the U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, and backed by media as reputable as The Washington Post, or even better, assumes the responsibility of providing a circus for his compatriots through the costly expense used in the celebrations for the Bicententario, resources that should be spent on strengthening weak security strategies.
Not content with this, the President pontificates on peace in the country as if it were real, sending a letter to each of the families in the nation in which he, among other things, and rhetorically, stresses the color white in our national flag is "the peace we have won."
That statement is a mockery of all Juarenses who drown in blood baths, peace is what we know least of in these times.
In Ciudad Juarez it have reached a point where it is necessary, and urgent, to take other measures to force the authorities established by law to provide conclusive answers, because the capacity for tolerance of so many hurting people has now passed its limits.
El Diario, for now, assumes the position expressed in the opening paragraphs, to call upon the warring groups to express what they want from us as communicators.
From Victims to Executioners
As if the threats, attacks, and other intimidation of the media were not enough, yesterday the State Secretary of Education and Culture, Guadalupe Chacón Monárrez, came to pour more salt on our wounds by declaring that we are guilty of the psychological terrorism that exists in the city.
Now it turns out that in addition to being victims, in the mind of this state official, we are the perpetrators as she declares us terrorists for performing our duty of informing the community about what is happening in this border.
Terrorism, and this should be very clear to the Secretary of Education, comes from other sources, not the media, we are an outlet to report what happens in this city.
Chacón Monárrez specifically referred to the case of Elementary school and kindergarten in the northwest where not only parents but teachers themselves, live in fear that something may happen to them after receiving threats from a group of extortionists.
They were the parents themselves who approached this newspaper to express the fear they felt-and feel-for the safety of their children. These threats were not caused by el Diario, the same as this media did not create the initiative within these parents to denounce the threats.
Given this situation, what did Chacón Monárrez expect? That we simply listen to these parents and return them to their homes? Or that we send them to fill out the proper paperwork necessary to file a complaint with Preliminary Investigations, when they themselves said they did not trust the authority because it does nothing about it?
The reporter who listened to them did what he had to do: He wrote the story and delivered it to the editor, who also complied with his duties and his responsibility to publish it because it was a fundamental issue in which the integrity of many people, especially children, was on the line.
Terrorism was not induced by this divulged information, which was echoed by the rest of the media in the city, but by those who threaten children, their parents and teachers. But above all, it's been caused by people who have the responsibility and the ability to stop these acts, and haven't either by omission, negligence or even collusion.
The Secretary of Education says she can not imagine that someone would disrespect children, and that quite possibly it could have been just a bad joke. It is obvious the official does not live in this city where children, toddlers, and even babies have been massacred. The bad joke is her and her comments which certainly will not please the many parents who have lost children to violence.
Hernán Ortiz, an anthropologist and researcher at the UACJ, was absolutely right when he responded to Chacon Monárrez and said she should not be blaming the media for the terrorism we are suffering, but 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 crime, because psychological terrorism is achieved through communication," she said.
What is she trying to tell us with this? To stop publishing? Or to only report the good and positive notes? The media collects and publishes everything that happens in the city, it's the reader who will give the connotation of good or bad to everything he reads, sees or hears.
In any case, the Education Secretary has the great responsibility that children who are are being educated now, finish with a well-developed mind so they are not criminals of tomorrow.
Monárrez Chacón has only created a smokescreen to hide the failures of authorities who have not done their job well.