Bloggers and social media users in Mexico aren't letting the cartels intimidate them. They continue to blog, tweet, and post information about the drug war. Two people were found hanging from a bridge this week in Nuevo Laredo with a warning to social media users.
Alex Marentes, the blogger who runs a website called Borderland Beat, knows he and his bloggers in Mexico could be the next target. He says his mission is more important than the risk.
The pictures are brutal. The words are brazen. They're a warning to social media users and bloggers. The note mentions three blogs and signed with a Z, perhaps for Zetas.
“This is the first time we've seen a direct possible tie to cartels targeting bloggers,” says Marentes.
A man and woman were apparently killed for posting something the Zetas didn't like. Marentes and his Mexican bloggers know they could be targets, too. He says the deaths of these two people are sending fear through the social media community.
“I get threats everyday here and there,” says Marentes.
Marentes started the Borderland Beat blog more than two years ago.
“It was intended to fill a voice that the media wasn't reporting,” says Marentes. “A lot of the narco cartels were targeting the media.”
Mutilated corpses, murdered people, specific names and places where cartels are doing their dirty work, his bloggers know things like who's taking over control of the plazas. You'll find all that on some of the blogs.
“How we get our information, a lot of it is translating from news that doesn’t reach out. We have people on the ground that give us info,” says Marentes.
They take great risks to be the eyes and ears.
“We had one contributor; her name was Illeana. She was very active posting a lot of information and all of a sudden she just stopped,” says Marentes.
Marentes doesn't know if Illeana is dead or alive. The cartels killed a woman last year for talking about cartel activity on a highway.
“The cartels reach deep,” says Marentes.
Not deep enough to silence Facebook, Twitter and the bloggers.
“People don’t know whets going on over there; that’s why I do it,” says Marentes.
They know knowledge is power. They want to be the change they want to see in the world.
Marentes says some Mexican blogs act as propaganda machines for the cartels. He says he won't let that happen to his. He says he can't verify the information he's getting from the bloggers because sometimes official information doesn't exist.