Despite the murder and decapitation of Prima Hora advertising supervisor Maria Elizabeth Macias, purportedly in retaliation for her postings on an anti-crime website, some bloggers vowed to keep up the fight against powerful drug cartels. But they also warned users to trust no one.
"If we want to regain our peace and our freedom, we always have to fight on, I wouldn't ask anybody to take up arms, clearly, but with our reports, we can do them damage," said one poster logged on as "anon9113," who quickly added a note of distrust, "don't become friends with anybody on here ... we have to be careful with something as simple as giving out personal information."
Another poster agreed. "Exactly, this (Macias' death) should not be in vain, we should make it an example." Others said that despite the risk, they would continue reporting. One user posted that he had seen four drug-gang lookouts in a compact car near a gas station, and gave part of the car's license plate number.
Mexican citizens, including journalists, have been increasingly relying on social media chatrooms and sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, in the face of rampant censorship and threats of violence, Carlos Lauría, the senior Americas program coordinator for New-York based Committee to Protect Journalists, told msnbc.com on Tuesday.
Local media outlets, whose journalists have been hit by killings, kidnappings and threats, are often too intimidated to report the violence, he said. "The press is terrified and in the absence of press reports, citizens are turning to social media to fill in the void," Lauría said.
An editor at Primera Hora said Monday that Macias was the daily's advertising supervisor. The editor would not give his name for security reasons. He said the killing apparently was not related to Macias' job at the daily, which, in the face of intimidation and threats by drug gangs, had stopped even reporting on drug violence two years ago.
"We were taken by surprise, because since about two years ago, we don't even do crime reporting," said the editor. "We don't have a crime reporter."
He said police have not talked to the paper, nor given it any information on the killing. The paper, according to weekend editions posted on its website, has not even reported on her death.
The 39-year-old journalist's body was found by police last Saturday in Nuevo Laredo, just across the Rio Grande from Laredo, Texas. The journalist's legs and trunk were tossed in the grass, while her head was placed on a planter with a computer, mouse, cables, headphones and speakers. Macias, who signed her blog postings as "La nena de Laredo" (The Chick from Laredo), used social-networking sites to report on a criminal organization.
The note found with the body read: “For those who don’t want to believe, this happened to me because of my actions, for trusting the army and the navy. Thank you for your attention, respectfully, Laredo Girl…ZZZZ.”
The gruesome killing may be the third so far this month in which people in Nuevo Laredo were killed by a drug cartel for what they said online.
Sources: Fox News Latino, msnbc.com and BBC News