Social media users in Northeast Mexico have recently released a "Twitter Manifesto" in reaction to the latest killing in Nuevo Laredo of a person who allegedly used internet forums to denounce cartel movements.
Tamaulipas, Mexico November 09, 2011
To the international community, users of social media, bloggers of the world, communications media, and global multilateral organizations:
We, the Twitterers and bloggers of Northeastern Mexico release this manifesto in response to the murder of our companion on November 9, 2011 in the city of Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas. We repudiate and condemn this criminal act that has provoked a state of terror. We demand justice in the face of the national silence this terror has imposed, and the state of amnesia and impunity it portends.
This murder is the fourth threat against bloggers that has occurred in less than two months. The first two occurred on September 13th and involved a couple whose bodies were hung from a pedestrian overpass, and who were accused of posting denunciations against organized crime on social media. The third murder occurred on September 25th, when a female journalist was decapitated and left in a public area with a message threatening social media users denouncing Mexican traffickers of death.
The absence of information that derives from the silence of local newspapers and media and municipal authorities at all levels, as well as the constant abuses and violations of human rights by police forces, has led many citizens to inform themselves and take precautions thru the use of social media (Twitter, Facebook, etc.), chats and citizen’s blogs. These new forms of communication differ greatly from the diversity and freedom of expression enjoyed in other countries. In Northeastern Mexico this new social media has evolved into a form of self defense, conducted by citizens to broadcast and denounce violent acts resulting from the conflict between diverse groups of criminals and diverse national institutions in charge of our security.
In this context we want to make evident that:
1. The climate of violence, censorship and abuses by the authorities continue in the northeast border zone of our country, in locations such as Reynosa, Laredo, Matamoros and Mier, and there exists a high risk of death for every resident citizen in these parts of the Mexican nation.
2. This so called war, launched in 2006, has failed to stop the wave of violence that is shattering our nation.
3. The deployment of the military in these zones is evidence that the various police forces in Mexico have been unable to control these “zones of conflict”.
4. It is clear there is no intelligence mechanism, strategy or political support to wage this fight. At least, not through the direct use of the military for providing security and combating drug trafficking activity.
5. That the communications media (local, state and national) have been silenced in the face of both diverse interests and horrific threats from criminal groups.
6. That a justice system does not exist that can offer the ability to interact with the justice system in a safe, simple and appropriate manner to generate the necessary investigations, to expose the crimes that are committed and to bring the perpetrators to justice in a court of law. The guilty must be sentenced to obtain justice for the victims.
7. That, ultimately, we are unprotected in the face of these atrocities. This war has now cost the lives of victims in cyberspace, which is our domain.
The fight for territorial control of the border zone is also waged in a new battleground: the internet and its social media. The criminal groups attempt to restrain our voice that speaks out through the invasion of our accounts and servers, to kidnap us and carry out criminal atrocities or to make direct threats against our companions. This constitutes a flagrant threat against the only freedom left to us, now that the local, state and federal governments are indifferent to our demands, and without even bothering to verify they ignore the facts that we report on our social networks. In summary, we have been abandoned to our fate in this unequal fight of free citizens against the drug traffickers.
We need security for ourselves, our families and honest working society in general. Therefore, we ask from each of you:
1. Your full solidarity with the Mexican people that at this moment is immersed in chaos, violence without limits and violations of the most elemental human rights, as pointed out by Human Rights Watch in its special report released on this same day.
2. That you demand from the Mexican Government investigations to solve the contemptible murders of our fellow social media users and the threats imposed, as this violates freedom of expression and the free use of social media.
3. That the Mexican press demand from the national government guarantees of freedom of information, expression and the press, especially now that crime, violence and corruption are putting an end to not only journalism, but also our journalists and critical thought.
4. That cyber security be addressed so that our citizens can freely express themselves on social networks and online communication media.
5. That a commission composed of the media (news agencies, journalists) and non governmental institutions be formed that can function as international observers to guarantee access to the internet and the security of users.
6. Do not abandon us, we need you now more than ever. We have opened an e-mail account to allow you to communicate with us directly: Twitterermanifesto@gmail.com
In the face of the killers and groups that threaten us from the shadows of impunity we publicly declare: We will not allow our voices to be silenced or censured by the vicious crimes and threats against twitterers and bloggers. We will not conform to living under the rules established by the violence, corruption, and impunity in our nation.
With heads held high, our hearts filled with national pride, and our computers, we declare to those murderous and unpunished groups that the internet and social networks are ours: these are our spaces, these spaces are us. That is why you cannot silence or restrain us. We will honor our dead, we will seek and obtain international assistance to continue informing, and we will dedicate everyday of our lives to working towards a better Mexico.