Monday, September 20, 2010

Mexico Border Newspaper Seeks Truce with Cartels

By Olivia Torres
Associated Press Writer
A man mourns in front of the coffin containing the body of Diario de Juarez newspaper photographer Carlos Santiago during his wake in the northern border city of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, Saturday, Sept. 18, 2010. Santiago, a news photographer with the local Diario de Juarez newspaper, was shot and killed on Sept. 16 while another photographer was seriously injured when gunmen in two cars intercepted them and opened fire.

The largest newspaper in Ciudad Juarez asked the border city's warring drug cartels Sunday for a truce after the killing last week of its second journalist in less than two years.
In a front-page editorial, El Diario de Juarez asked the cartels what they want from the newspaper so it can continue its work without further death, injury or intimidation of its staff.

"Leaders of the different organizations that are fighting for control of Ciudad Juarez: The loss of two reporters from 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," the editorial said.

"We ask you to explain what you want from us, what we should try to publish or not publish, so we know what to expect."

It was the newspaper's second front-page editorial since gunmen attacked two El Diario photographers Thursday—one a new employee and the other an intern. One died and the other was seriously wounded as they left for lunch in Mexico's most dangerous city.

In 2008, a crime reporter for El Diario was slain outside his home as he was about to take his daughters to school.

Federal police officers stand guard during the burial of Diario de Juarez newspaper photographer Carlos Santiago in the northern border city of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, Saturday, Sept. 18, 2010. Carlos Santiago, a news photographer with the local Diario de Juarez newspaper, was shot and killed on Sept. 16 while another photographer was seriously injured when gunmen in two cars intercepted them and opened fire.

The editorial Sunday said drug gangs in the city across from El Paso, Texas, are the de facto authorities, and criticized both the Chihuahua state government and President Felipe Calderon for their lack of protection for journalists.

"We don't want to continue to be used as cannon fodder in this war because we're tired," Diario's editor, Pedro Torres, told The Associated Press.
He said the staff felt great rage, helplessness and despair after burying new employee Luis Carlos Santiago, 21, on Saturday.

"Burying the body does not bury the impunity or pain," Torres said. "There is a feeling of great anxiety and impotence surrounding this situation."

Mexican journalists are increasingly under siege from drug cartels seeking to control the flow of information, and many media outlets, especially in border areas, have stopped covering the drug war. Until Sunday, El Diario was not one of them.

In a front-page editorial Friday, El Diario said journalists have nowhere to turn for protection because of the inability of Mexican security forces to solve most attacks on the media.

The Committee to Protect Journalists, a New York-based watchdog group, said in a recent report that at least 22 Mexican journalists have been killed since December 2006, when Calderon intensified a crackdown on drug cartels by deploying tens of thousands of troops and federal police across the country.

El Diario de Juarez photojournalist Christian Torres, colleague of Luis Carlos Santiago who was killed, reacts at the scene of the crime at a shopping mall parking lot in the northern border city of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, Thursday Sept. 16, 2010. Santiago, 21, who started working at the newspaper two weeks ago, and fellow photojournalist Carlos Sanchez, an intern, were attacked as they left their offices, according to El Diario de Juarez news director Pedro Torres. Sanchez was seriously wounded. This is the second attack against reporters of El Diario and comes almost a year after the death of reporter Armando Rodriguez who was shot outside his house.
 Mexican media defenseless against gangs

Mexican journalists are defenseless against cartel attacks that the government seems incapable of stopping, the main newspaper in this drug war-torn city said Thursday in a front-page editorial inspired by the killing of one its photographers.
Violence, meanwhile, continued in Ciudad Juarez: Gunmen burst into a bar and killed seven men and a woman, said Arturo Sandoval, a spokesman for the Chihuahua state attorney general's office. One woman was injured.

El Diario de Juarez said journalists have nowhere to turn for protection because of the inability of Mexican security forces to solve most attacks on the media.

"In a country where authorities have proven their incompetence, where can we ask for justice? Who can we complain to for the dangers that journalists face every day?" the newspaper said in its editorial.

Photographer Luis Carlos Santiago, 21, was gunned down in his car Wednesday. Another photographer, Carlos Sanchez, was seriously wounded.

The Interior Department condemned the attack and promised that investigators would do everything in their power to find those responsible.

Santiago was the second El Diario journalist slain since a turf war erupted two years ago between the Juarez and Sinaloa drug cartels in this city across from El Paso, Texas.

Crime reporter Armando Rodriguez was shot dead in front of his home in 2008, and the next year a federal agent who was investigating his death was killed.
The Committee to Protect Journalists, a New York-based watchdog group, said in a recent report that at least 22 Mexican journalists have been killed since December 2006, when President Felipe Calderon intensified a crackdown on drug cartels by deploying tens of thousands of troops and federal police across the country.

Several Mexican newspapers have stopped reporting on drug-gang violence because their journalists were attacked.

El Diario de Juarez is not one of them.

"The truth is, there is nothing we can do but keep reporting while feeling totally defenseless," the editorial said.

The fighting in Ciudad Juarez has made it of the most dangerous cities in the world, with more than 4,000 people killed in the past two years.

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