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

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Fleeing the black hole called Tamaulipas

Translated by El Profe for Borderland Beat from Horizontal

I survived three kidnappings and one week of torture. Forty companions and acquaintances disappeared. The State and Los Zetas threatened me. I fled from my house, but they will not shut me up. I am a journalist who defends those who have been silenced for reporting.

                         Run away from hell The Truth · Illustration @donmarcial

by Gildo Garza

After surviving three "levantones" of Los Zetas and endured a week of unimaginable tortures, I could not write anymore.
After thinking for hours that they were going to kill me - to "see the devil's eyes" as they say in Tamaulipas - or after observing my companion's broken body, I could have kept quiet.
When between 2000 and 2013 more than 40 comrades and acquaintances disappeared and others were murdered and the state humiliated them by planting drugs and cardboard with messages from the narco at the crime scene to accuse them, I could have surrendered.
After all this, I ran away from my house.
But from the day I arrived at that workshop at the newspaper La Voz de Tamaulipas, of the late José Luis Contreras, and put a bucket, solution, and a printing plate in my hands, I knew that I had been caught by journalism. I felt the obligation to educate and document the history of Tamaulipas. That's why I'm still recounting.

For example, in its majority, it was the State. It was the agents of the Ministerial Police who, under the orders of some politician or criminal, silenced my companions.
In 2006, when Felipe Calderón deployed the first hordes of soldiers to Tamaulipas, cities such as Reynosa, Nuevo Laredo, Ciudad Victoria, and the metropolitan areas, they collapsed in bloody shootings. Entire families were exterminated and others more impaled alive to demonstrate the power and terror that Los Zetas and the Gulf Cartel would rule with for about 7 years.
Journalists, without being criminals, were made to be halcones. We were co-opted by criminal groups and often forced to portray the faces of their enemies at the last second before they were killed. Those who did not obey were tortured, sometimes to death, as in February 2008: The Zetas forced the journalist of El Expreso, José Luis Villanueva Berrones, to hang himself.
And so one by one they were falling. Some 13 years later they are officially disappeared because their bodies were never found. Others were left in sewers or burned alive. The criminals told us not to ask. Not for Miguel Ángel Domínguez, nor Pedro Argüello, nor David Silva, nor José Navarro Valdez, nor my former boss Guillermo Martínez Alvarado, with whom I spoke three days before his execution:
-Flaco, take the shot, this got hot. They put us up against a wall and told us that if we worked for the Gulf or the Zetas they would kill us.

That was the last thing I talked to him about.
The next day a message arrived to my Nextel:
-Go see the chicharrones of your companions, the cons, where you will go if you don't obey, you goddamn reporter shits-.

Four companions had been burned in front of the Specialties Hospital in Ciudad Victoria. They were from Reynosa. International organizations continue to report them as missing.
The death of a journalist in Tamaulipas is justified. The government does it with words like chayotero or narcoreportero. Society politicizes the issue and is responsible for destroying the image, the career, and the dignity of the family. Your own colleagues give you up or criminalize you: "He was bad, he talked to them, they paid him ...".
In that black hole called Tamaulipas, since 2006 a "Manual to Kill Journalists" has been created. It has worked perfectly because there is not a single case that has been prosecuted.
In 2009, I published several cases of corruption in the public administration of the municipality of El Mante, Tamaulipas. The then mayor, Héctor López González, sent some men to beat me up. When I denounced him to my employer, Adalberto Garza Dragustinovis, he told me: "That's what you are for, to receive the chingazos."
Doing journalism in Tamaulipas is a suicidal job offering little chance of getting old. The value of a journalist lies in its participation to build the truth above all, but in my state we are seen as enemies of the State and criminal groups. That's why my companions and friends were silenced by bullets.
In 2013 it was my turn to recognize my friend in the morgue. It was my partner and teacher, Mario Ricardo Chávez Jorge, who in June of that year was mutilated from the heels and a bullet was put into his head. We were killed when we had just become independent after years of work from media and bosses that only used us and silenced hundreds of news items. The Special Prosecutor's Office for the Attention of Crimes committed against Freedom of Expression (FEADLE) said: "We are still investigating." Nothing else
With him I walked immensely long distances to do an interview because we did not have any other transport than our feet and we had to ask for change to put together for tortillas. We shared a vision and a mission, but the family blamed us.
After his murder and the hunting from Egidio Torre Cantú's state government, I did not stop either. I recommitted myself to my newspaper, now called Cambio, and denounced corruption, diversion of resources, nepotism, and the misery inherited to the Tamaulipas people from a political alternation that has not changed my beautiful state.
On June 6, 2017, hidden enemies carried out a smear campaign where they accused me of offending a person who sold himself as an activist for the release of some inmates in Ciudad Victoria prison and turned out to be a criminal.  

They made two facebook pages: "Denisse Lady Penal" and "Corrupt Journalists of Tamaulipas" where they talked about my supposed attack and another where they denigrated my labor and my journalistic work, all with paid publicity.
On June 8, they killed "Denisse Lady Penal" , the woman I supposedly threatened and offended. It was a media scandal. Many blamed me and attacked me through social networks. According to the FEADLE, the aggression came from the State. But ... [are you going to bite the hand that feeds you?] The messages were signed by Los Zetas.

They destroyed my life.
I did not want to stay to investigate what would happen after this message:
-You have a few hours to leave Tamaulipas, if not we will kill your family and even your dog ... -
And so once again the "Manual to Kill Journalists" in Tamaulipas worked, from which I have documented each case from 2000 to date.
Now I am a forced displaced inmate, but I am still a journalist -one who fled from hell with the task of speaking for all those who died because of the commitment to inform- and I was also reborn as a defender of human rights. I have become a journalist who defends journalists. And as long as I have life they will never shut me up.


  1. That’s what happens when you snitch on the zetas

  2. Tamaulipas is just a latino Afghanistan at this point.

    1. So are many Mexican states.
      Actually the majority of them are not safe to walk at night like the old days. Where a walk to the plaza's on a cool evening to mingle and be entertained by performers is a thing of the past. Merchants in mercados are weary of paying piso for what little they sell.
      Extortion, murder and police abandonment has crippled many businesses.
      Going on 20 years since I last visited and not thinking about going anytime soon.

      Bottom line: not safe.

    2. 10:32 no heroin poppies have been found in Tamaulipas, just like no cocaine fields have been found in Colombia.
      But Afghanistan is famous for their agro business even since they beat the Romans for sticking their noses where they shouldn't

  3. It's well noted the Pegasus was widely used on journalists and political rivals than fighting the war on drugs. Despite the countless rebuttals and denials of Mexican government officials this spyware was acquired from public money. A mistrust of public funds for political purposes.

    One can't collaborate your story to be true. Nor to be false. Nevertheless, tactics by criminals with computer knowledge have surfaced as a new era of war manipulating and distorting perception.

    As for journalist in this day and age globally. The risks have always been high.
    Power, money and influential resources are at play. Always on the offensive to keep continuing their misdeeds.

    Nice post.

    Continue to deliver the truth responsibly and safely.

  4. Journalism is a dangerous gig in Tamaulipas. Even my family is reluctant to tell what goes on there. Sad, because the Tamaulipas I remember as a kid wasn’t like this.

  5. “For example, in its majority, it was the State. It was the agents of the Ministerial Police who, under the orders of some politician or criminal, silenced my companions.“

    “we are seen as enemies of the State and criminal groups“



    1. Transparency international index ranks very low for Mexico.
      A problem which will continue unless reforms are implemented.

    2. Transparency International could be more transparent and say something about "low intensity conflicts" created to destabilize poor nations until they cry uncle and surrender to private industrializers of other nations natural resources, that promise progress with an absolute lack of success, proven by more than 200 years of Latin-American Dependent Independence...

  6. 11:26 Sue Pegasus, they were not suppossed to release their technology to crooked murdering regimes or their henchmen.
    Even Edward Snowden knows and condemns NSO Group, owner of Pegasus based in Herzliya, Israel, among the clients is Saudi Arabia's Mohammad BIN Sultan murderer of journalist Jamal Khashoggi among others, (Haaretz)
    --"It was not just Jamal Kashoggi" , the New York Times...
    --In Mexico, murder of Javier Valdez and spying on his colleagues as of next day, discovered by Canadian Watchdog Citizen Lab
    --among other customers Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Colombia, Mexico, Brazil, Uganda, Venezuela... "Israeli Spyware Said Used by Mexican Government to Target Dissident Journalists"

    1. Question? How can one define who is or not a crook or a murderous person? Moreover, where technology is not being administered for vested interests?

      Eavesdropping technology has and continues to be a THREAT to ones civil liberties along with national security. Activists, protesters, journalists and human rights organizations have all been targeted by some form of legal /illegal spyware. The labeling of such groups as Terrorists or National security threat have been unjustun placed for many years.
      All formulated by private companies funded by a US federal agency with taxpayers money.

      Nice input 11:26

      Nevertheless, in this day and age where technology can be considered a threat outweighs Rights of privacy and freedoms. Where can one draw a line to what's acceptable?

    2. Murdering journalists in the embassy of another country and dismembering them with a bone saw or while answering the bell at their doorstep in Sonora or Sinaloa after being monitored by their own government, there are no cases of journalists eliminating the politicians or their tormentors after monitoring them illegally...

    3. Maybe don’t let drug cartels use the technology? People’s idea of good and evil is blurred and everyone has an opinion on it... drug cartels probably fall in under the evil side ...

    4. 8:25 after extraditing hated Nazi war criminals Klaus Barbie and (abducted) Adolf Eichmann, somebody real smart also took over their drug trafficking, and took it to great heights, they made great progress and are the most vicious and the richest people in the world, they also write history like the winners they are, only their side comes up victorious every day for the last 50 years...

    5. @8:21
      Maybe? Maybe is a bit too late.
      Cartels are so embedded in government that many consider both (government / cartels) the same.
      Opinions are a dime a dozen. Where good and evil is defined by one's political / religious beliefs. Added with the stream of propagandists fueling the flames.

  7. Just when i thought it was getting better

  8. this getting boring
    nothing changes
    my God this becoming a joke

  9. 4:16 remember and be careful,
    don't let the door hit your back while you leave

  10. January highest murder rate in long time. So Amlo whats u gooing to do?


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