Pubdate: Mon, 15 Dec 2008
Source: Dallas Morning News (TX)
Copyright: 2008 The Dallas Morning News, Inc.


Safeguard Those Who Reveal Mexican Cartels' Evil

As much as we hate to admit this, the leaders of Mexico's drug cartels
know what they're doing. By targeting the people who tell the rest of
Mexico - and the world, including those of us in North Texas - about
their deadly ways, the cartel's honchos know they are silencing the

And by silencing them, they decrease the chance that people will know
the depth of the cartels' corruption.

Sadly, this is precisely what's happening. The Committee to Protect
Journalists in New York reports that 21 journalists have been slain in
Mexico since 2000. That includes Armando Rodriguez, killed last month
in Ciudad Juárez.

Equally troubling, seven journalists have disappeared since 2005.
During its 27 years of documenting abuses against journalists, the
committee reports, only Russia during the Chechnyan conflict saw a
similar number of journalists simply vanish.

Writing in Dangerous Assignments, the committee's magazine, Monica
Campbell and María Salazar tell the story of the disappearing

One was Rafael Ortiz Martínez, a reporter in the border state of
Coahuila, which abuts parts of southwestern Texas. He disappeared in
the early hours of July 8, 2006, as he traveled from his newspaper's
offices to his apartment. Before this respected journalist
disappeared, he had received death threats because of his coverage of
a local politician.

Local officials, unfortunately, are a big worry in Mexico. The cartels
can intimidate them or tempt them into corruption. Either way, the
locals are less likely to protect those trying to tell the rest of us
the truth.

That's why it's so critical that Mexican legislators pass a law before
them now to make it a federal crime to curtail an individual's right
to self-expression. The proposal also would strengthen the federal
office of special prosecutor and give it more clout in investigating
cases like Mr. Ortiz's.

Giving the feds more power to protect journalists wouldn't end the
violence, but at least the cartels would know that Mexico City values
the storytellers. And that must frighten them.

The more the truth gets out, the more likely the free world will be to
stand up to the merchants of death.
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