Pubdate: Fri, 30 Jul 2010
Source: Dallas Morning News (TX)
Copyright: 2010 The Dallas Morning News, Inc.
Author: Alfredo Corchado, The Dallas Morning News


REYNOSA, Mexico - The disappearance of four more Mexican journalists
this week deepens a disturbing silence in northern Mexico, leaving a
prosperous region void of reliable media coverage or freedom of
expression, media advocates say.

The four journalists, including two from the powerful Televisa
network, were kidnapped Monday in the northern city of Gsmez Palacio
after videotaping and photographing a penitentiary where prisoners
allegedly were allowed to leave the jail to carry out killings,
including a massacre of 17 people.

One journalist from Televisa was reportedly released Thursday, but the
information couldn't be confirmed.

"Northern Mexico is increasingly silent," said Marcela Turati, head of
Journalists on Foot, an organization formed this year to assist a
growing number of reporters who work in fear of organized crime.

"Anywhere you go, the right of a citizen to reliable information is

Whether in Monterrey, Nuevo Laredo, Matamoros, Ciudad Juarez or
Reynosa - all cities on or near the Texas border - journalism is
practiced under severe limitations and increasingly under rules
imposed by organized crime. Any violation can result in death,
journalists and their advocates say.

The latest kidnappings, however, represent a new pattern with
dangerous ramifications.

At least one of the kidnapped journalists contacted his editors and
told them his safety and freedom depended on news outlets' running
certain pieces on the air.

Media company Milenio promptly broadcast three unedited videos on
Tuesday from a website known as Narcoblog, lasting a total of 15 minutes.

In the videos, policemen apparently captured by drug traffickers 
describe their links with a rival paramilitary group known as the 
Zetas, which has been fighting the Sinaloa cartel and others for 
control of the area known as La Laguna: chiefly the cities of 
Torresn, Gsmez Palacio and Ciudad Lerdo

"This by far opens the door to a new dangerous trend with huge
ramifications for the media and society in general," one senior
Mexican journalist said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"You can now expect journalists to be picked up in Ciudad Juarez,
Monterrey or other major cities with the same results, because in the
end no one wants to walk around with a dead reporter on our

The kidnapping of the journalists comes at a delicate time for members
of the media trying to document the most violent period in Mexico
since the 1910 Mexican Revolution.

Reporters today are targeted by criminal groups determined to control
the message as well as the territory.

The four abducted journalists are Jaime Canales, cameraman for the TV
station Multimedios; Oscar Solms, a reporter with the local newspaper
El Vespertino; and Hictor Gordoa and Alejandro Hernandez, both
cameramen for the national Televisa network.

"The term 'investigative journalism' is a thing of the past," said an
editor in Reynosa, also speaking on condition of anonymity.

"Journalism today is about surviving another day, plain and

Earlier this year in Reynosa, six journalists were kidnapped in one

Two were later released with a warning; the status of the others is

More than 25,000 people have been killed in drug-related violence
since President Felipe Caldersn took office in December 2006,
including more than 30 journalists, making Mexico one of the deadliest
countries in the world for journalists, according to the New
York-basedCommittee to Protect Journalists.

"Mexican journalists are paying a terrible price for their work," said
Carlos Laurma, the group's senior program coordinator for the
Americas, "and authorities must send a clear message that this brutal
action will not go unpunished."
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake