Reporting on the Mexican Cartel Drug War

Threatened Mexican journalist granted US asylum

Wednesday, September 22, 2010 |


Jorge Luis runs the most popular news blog in Ciudad Juarez. His site is called “La Polaka,” which is a derogatory word for “politician” in Mexican slang. Last fall after receiving threats to his life, Luis and his family fled the city for the safety of El Paso, Texas. Video by Travis Fox / Washington Post

Reuters-
by: Julian Cardona
editing by Mohammad Zargham

A Mexican journalist threatened by drug gangs said on Tuesday he had been granted political asylum in the United States to escape the cartels' increasingly violent campaign to silence the media.

Jorge Luis Aguirre, editor of Ciudad Juarez-based online newspaper La Polaka, fled across the border to El Paso, Texas, after receiving telephone threats minutes after the murder of a fellow journalist by hitmen in November 2008.

Aguirre is one of the first Mexican reporters to be granted political asylum in the United States.

"I can breathe again ... this asylum opens the door to journalists caught in the middle in Mexico, where there is no justice and where the (local) governments are part of drug trafficking," Aguirre told Reuters.

U.S. officials were not immediately available for comment.

Media groups say Mexico is one of the world's most dangerous places for reporters. A TV cameraman who was abducted in northern Mexico this year requested asylum in El Paso last week.

More than 30 media workers have disappeared or been killed since President Felipe Calderon launched his war on drug cartels in 2006, the U.S.-based Committee to Protect Journalists said in a report this month.

Mounting attacks on the media are part of the rising drug violence that has claimed more than 29,000 lives since Calderon took office in 2006, undermining Mexico's global image and threatening a recovery in Latin America's second-largest economy.

Thousands of Mexican troops and elite federal police have been unable to quell a brutal offensive in Ciudad Juarez by Mexico's most wanted narcotics trafficker, Joaquin "Shorty" Guzman, for control of the city.

Some 6,500 people have been killed in drug violence in Ciudad Juarez, one of the world's most violent cities, since January 2008.

Guzman wants to wrest control of the city from Vicente Carrillo Fuentes, long-time head of the Juarez drug cartel, who drug experts say handles about a fifth of a drug business believed to earn up to $40 billion a year for the cartels.

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2 Borderland Beat Comments:

Buela said...

Safer, but is he really safe in El Paso? Time will tell but why is it he can't move a greater distance? With Skype etc he could live at a safer distance and still continue to report on his blog. I wish his children would not have been featured in this video, or ever...There will be many that will seek asylum. and their extended families? Retaliation? WHat a choice.

Anonymous said...

Yeah you're right. This man is very naive to think that he is somehow safe now just because he's in the u.s...the cartels have come across to el paso to murder someone. It doesn't happen very often though. Let's face it, these cartels do fear the u.s. government. But still... i wouldn't take the chance by appearing on television. I will say that im happy that the u.s. is allowing mexicans to enter our country to help save their lives.

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