Blog dedicated to reporting on Mexican drug cartels
on the border line between the US and Mexico

Friday, June 17, 2011

Mexican Journalists Seek Asylum in US


Photo: Eric Reyna

Three Mexican journalists facing death threats in their native country urged the U.S. government Wednesday to speed up approval of their asylum petitions. Emilio Gutierrez Soto, Ricardo Chavez Aldana and Alejandro Hernandez Pacheco speak out at the National Association of Hispanic Journalists convention on June 15, 2011.

Emilio Gutierrez Soto said he first received threats in 2005 after writing stories about alleged military involvement in drug trafficking in the northern state of Chihuahua. Three years later, his house was ransacked, and he received more threats. After filing complaints with the national government and getting little response, he fled the country in 2008 with his 15-year-old son.

Gutierrez was held for more than seven months in a U.S. immigration detention center, until his story was aired on national television. His son was held for four months. The next hearing in his case is not likely to happen before 2012.

Gutierrez called the drug war a cancer destroying his country, during a panel discussion at the National Association of Hispanic Journalists' annual meeting in the central Florida suburb of Lake Buena Vista. The former reporter for Ciudad Juarez's El Diario newspaper said losing his country was harder even than the death of his parents. He pleaded with the U.S. government to make a decision in his case and those of his fellow journalists.

"We are living in a legal limbo," said Gutierrez, who has a temporary work permit but has yet to find a job. "We are unable to have any emotional, familial or employment stability."

Reporter Ricardo Chavez Aldana, a native of Ciudad Juarez, attacked the drug cartels on his radio show until his nephews were killed outside their home. He says he and his wife, mother and son received repeated death threats until they crossed the border in 2009 into El Paso, Texas.

"I have covered more than 4,000 killings," he told the group the several hundred journalists gathered at Disney's Coronado Springs Resort.

"They are destroying Mexico. They are killing children, pregnant women, "Chavez said, his voice breaking as he talked of the drug war in Mexico.

Alejandro Hernandez Pacheco was a TV cameraman for Televisa when he was kidnapped last July in Durango, Mexico along with three other reporters, allegedly by one of the country's largest drug cartels who demanded his station no longer broadcast stories about the gang. He was freed a week later and crossed the border in October.

All three men's asylum cases are pending, and they acknowledged that while they may be able to document the persecution they've faced as journalists, they face an added challenge because of the U.S. public's concerns about the flood of immigrants from Mexico.

But all three said they will not return to Mexico.

At least 66 journalists have been killed in the last four years in Mexico, according to the country's government. The U.S. receives hundreds of asylum applications from the country each year, but approves only a handful.

Angela Kocherga of Belo TV, who has covered the journalists' asylum cases, as well as life and death along the U.S.-Mexico border said the violence against journalists in Mexico has created "zones of silence."

Added Kocherga: "It's the war next door, and we know more about what's happening in Afghanistan."


  1. Welcome to journalism 101! If you play with fire you are bound to get burned! No journalist is safe or exempt from violence..what did these guys think because they were "press" they would be given some sort of immunity from the drug cartels?

  2. Let them stay. Let them tell the truth in peace.

  3. What idiots are posting today?.. ignorant morons.... "imjustagirl" you must be retarded?

    Let these poor people into the USA. They had the courage to simply report what they saw happening around them in Mexico..... Mexico is a lost cause because of their government but their is a human element that must be addressed. Compassion and democratic "blind" justice is what make makes USA such a wonderful country.

  4. To the two boneheads who commented calling these journalists "chicken' while the other talks of "journalism 101" - both of you do not know what you are talking about.

    Journalists like these are the only thing standing between the truth and lies.

    All journalists who report the truth are brave and courageous unlike the cartel cowards who cannot go mano-el-mano - that's man to man, without a gun in their hands.

    The cartels are the cowards and the depths of HELL await them. Let's see how brave the cartel individuals are when they are bound by their feet and dragged into the depths of Hades itself.

  5. its going to be a loooong loooong time and its going to get a lot uglier before it gets better. The lies have just begun. The USA will continue to try and solve this problem from afar and by sending money much longer before they get involved. It will not be done under a spineless Obama in this term or if he see's a next term.

    "It's the war next door, and we know more about what's happening in Afghanistan." This is one the most profound statements I've read on BB in a long time. So true!!

    Until we get a brave military man in the drivers seat in Washington....Adios Mexico.

  6. Hey anonymous 3:07: I meant let them stay in the US, not Mexico. How else would it be possible to report the truth in (relative) peace?

  7. Might I also ask, Anonymous 3:07, if you can read? It was my understanding that the three journalists in question are currently in the US, therefore "Let them stay" would imply "in the US". Try not to call people names. It is unnecessary and discouraging to posters.

  8. May the Gods protect these people and all like them who risk their lives to tell us the truth.

  9. Many here seem to think it's very easy to send in troops wherever there is a people suffering. Well unless you were just wishfully thinking, the U.S. will never send troops in sincere hopes of helping anybody. When are we going to get this fact through our thick skulls? The biggest lie is that America is the good guy. When I say america I mean our government, not its people. We all know americans are the best and the most generous but unfortunately our country is not run by the people anymore. It is a greedy, corporate system designed to profit from disaster and if there's none, well then one must created. If America was really the good guy it would recognize the Constitution and respect its laws forbidding us from engaging in foreign wars. Lets not forget though that the Constitution does not prohibit us from volunteering to join the battle across the borders...But like I said, our government is evil, it does not have the best interests for us the american people let alone anybody outside. You want our troops in there, well then you're asking for a lot of trouble, a lot of destruction, a lot of more hell then you already have. If it were up to the american people, sure, perhaps we'd find it in our hearts to voulnteer and help but with the way things are there is just no chance. Too many factors, too many mistakes, too many legal and illegal businesses involved, too much corruption on both sides of the border. I hate to say it but it looks like Mexico is going to have to deal with having to live with these criminals for ever one way or another. Don't think it's that clear cut either...there are millions of us who are not just Gringos, not just Mexicans, not just black, and so on. We are of various mixed peoples, some with more vested interests in what's happening, others completely oblivious. There's no such thing as a brave military man in the drive's seat, that my friend is a media invention. I'm not saying brave military men do not exist but that it doesn't take a military man to be brave, what it takes is guts and that you can have without joining any armed forces. The problem with the way our world runs is that everybody wants it to run according to their ideas not everybody else's. Have we forgotten that this country is a republic not a democracy? A republic means that the Law is the Law no matter who it benefits. In a democracy the law would be number 2 and it would only serve the many because that's what democracy means. Unfortunately even our government has trashed our Constitution, our laws, our decency, our well-being, our kindness, and our humaneness and reduced us all to crabs in a giant tightly filled bucket. We don't stand for anything any longer. We serve our lords in Washington when it is they who should be serving us, doing our bidding. Look at us, we are on our knees as well, except we don't recognize it yet because we are still dreaming but not in the american dream but in the material dream, the greedy dream, the carefree, non-committal, non-humane, murderous oil-hungry dream.

  10. grant them asylum now!


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