Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Press Must Bear Witness to Mexico’s Drug War

By Emilia Perez
Spanish journalist Judith Torrea said the press must report on the reality in violence-wracked Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, “where only the dead are safe and life only exists in the cemeteries.”

“If we as journalists don’t inform (readers). If we don’t say what’s really happening in Mexico, in the so-called ‘war on drugs,’ we become participants in genocide, accomplices of genocide,” she said.

Torrea is in Madrid to present her book “Juarez en la sombra” (Juarez in the Shadows), published by Aguilar.

The work, to be released in Mexico in late May, compiles articles published on her blog “Ciudad Juarez, en la sombra del narcotrafico” (Ciudad Juarez: In the Shadows of Drug Trafficking), winner of the 2010 Ortega y Gasset Prize for Digital Journalism, as well as other accounts of people who live in the violent city just across the border from El Paso, Texas.

Torrea harshly criticized a recent pact on news coverage of the drug-related mayhem signed by 50 Mexican media groups, saying it was an agreement to “not report” on drug trafficking and violence “because they say organized crime shouldn’t get any publicity.”

“When Mexican authorities say nothing’s happening (and) that all the people dying are narcos and you realize that’s not true, that an entire city is dying, you (as a journalist) feel you ought to tell those stories,” the reporter, a former Efe correspondent in Texas, said.

As many as “26 or 27 corpses” are discovered each day in Juarez - the largest city in Chihuahua state - and Mexican authorities say most of the fatalities have links to drug-trafficking.

But Torrea says that’s not the case.

“Death has become more democratic: everyone’s in danger,” she says.

“I see dead bodies every day. It’s not a problem of perception. It’s a problem of more than 8,300 people killed in Ciudad Juarez in these four years since the so-called war on drug trafficking began,” Torrea added.

Some 35,000 people have died in drug-related violence since President Felipe Calderon militarized the struggle against the cartels shortly after taking office in December 2006.

The reporter left her life in New York, where she reported on the world of entertainment for the Spanish-language edition of People magazine, and took up residence in “Juaritos,” her pet name for the city she fell in love with 15 years ago.

“I discovered the joy of living, which still exists in Juarez despite the constant death, and it fascinated me. It was a love I’d never felt before ... not even for a man,” said the reporter, whose blog is a finalist in three categories of German international broadcaster Deutsche Welle’s prestigious Best of the Blogs prizes.

“A lot of people want to leave but they don’t have the money. People are starving. The companies have gone. There’s no work,” Torrea says of life in Juarez.

“Sometimes you know you have to leave, that they’ve killed your family, that it’s very dangerous. You stay and then they kill you.”

Torrea insists she does not live in fear - “the only thing I’m afraid of in life is not doing what I feel I should do” - although she recognizes the danger. She is even considering buying a house in the city now that “they’re much cheaper.”

“When I see I’m facing a great deal of danger or that they’re coming after me, I’m not going to stay. And I’m prepared for that day,” said Torrea, who is looking for other avenues for reporting on the reality in Juarez.

The journalist is working on a film script based on her own life - “because everyone is very interested in those two worlds, New York and Juarez” - and is training new bloggers in Ciudad Juarez so “normal citizens will tell its story.”

Source: EFE

16 comments:

  1. wow i love mexico too but please dont stay in juarez

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  2. Ai mija mija don't buy property there at least not yet .... its like you said only the dead are safe

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  3. Same old take Calderon is responsible for the mess in Mexico. A reason we have government anywhere in the world is to maintain order,Mexico never had effective laws,or enforcement of what they did have. A time came when the growth of criminal activity threatened the entire country,someone had to try and save the country,this effort needs support and encouragment especially from journalist.

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  4. I am grateful she is speaking up. But there are many excellent journalist in Mexico who must think about their children's lives when reporting. What a horrible pressure to be up against.

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  5. Wow, I cannot believe that ANYONE could love their job enough to commit suicide for it!
    How freakin stupid do you have to be? She's thinking about buying property in Juarez? And announces it in a public forum?

    I'm sorry, I don't usually make comments like this but.....THIS LADY IS PLAIN STUPID. Kiss your life goodbye, it's been nice knowing you.

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  6. she will be dead within the month if not week. Juarez is ruled by cartel power and if she says anything to upset anyone anywhere she will face a horrible death.

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  7. or she is crazy , estupid, or she want to look like a heroe,poor lady...

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  8. Seems like she's mainly interested in furthering her career. What a very dangerous PR campaign...

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  9. Pretty woman; too bad she's not going to live long.

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  10. Lady you are cute if you want to be safe in Mexico come to visit as a tourist not as a reporter because if you go sniffing around this people busyness they will kill you.

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  11. She's walking dead, and she's so arrogant that she doesn't even know it. When I look at her picture, I see a zombie.

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  12. DOLLY said:

    she thinks showing off what she does, will succeed in life and wants to look like the GREAT CHINGONA, but poor stupid, what will happen is that one day she will find her dead in somewhere at "JUARITOS".. At less that she is also part of the Organized Crime..

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  13. Unfortunately, I have to agree with most of the other postings. I fear we will be reading about her death in this very blog soon. She's light skinned and sticks out like a sore thumb, and will be easy for the cartel to find her. Sad.

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  14. The woman is spot on in what she is saying. When the mainstream press gets its self together and decides how its going to spin the news all their sources together, then we all are going to get crap from the governments repeated to us sheep nonstop. Of course, that's what many of the knuckleheads actually want to deliver to themselves. Spares them from ever having to use their brains.

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  15. It may be a better idea if J.T. extends her working vacation, gets plastic surgery, a haircut, name change, a tan, a new blog and not do any book promotion in Mexico. Then maybe, we'll all be lucky enough not to read about her demise. What good can she do for Mexico, dead as a doornail? J.T. is smart enough to devise another tactic to expose governmental complicity other than doing so waving a red flag in La Ciudad Juarez.

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  16. Why put Reporter Judith Torrea down like that? If there had been maybe more of her type around in the press informing us throughout the world more about all the women being murdered in Juarez from the first get go, then the situation would have not been pushed to now being so much drastically even worse than it originally was. Instead, the mainstream press did a piss poor job in their contrived lack of coverage of that issue. And today most of the press continues to be doing a poor job of reporting Mexico, to even not reporting anything at all.

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