Journalists Might Become Breaking News if they Expose the Mexican Cartel

Presently, freedom of the press is far from free in Mexico, and it has not been for the past few years.  Journalists need to be careful about what they publish, their lives depend on it.  The journalists in Mexico have been threatened by the Cartel relentlessly, and some of those threats have come to fruition.

According to Mexico’s National Commission on Human Rights, at least 81 journalists have been murdered in Mexico in the last decade, and another 14 have disappeared, and the threats have not ceased.  Media outlets have two choices, continue to do their job and inform the public on organized crime, or look the other way and sacrifice freedom of the press rather than sacrificing their lives.

Sources say that in June 2012, after four Mexican newsrooms were targeted, and the bodies of several news reporters were found mutilated, the Mexican government took action, on paper at least.  But writing words onto paper  is easy, enforcement of those words is what’s difficult.  The Mexican Congress passed a constitutional amendment giving the federal government jurisdiction over murders against journalists, so that more extensive measures maybe taken to remedy the violence.  Local authorities were previously responsible for investigating such crimes, but local police have slim resources and are not equipped to fend off the Cartel.

At least 60,000 people died of drug-related violence during the past six years of Mexican President Calderon’s reign.  However  the death toll numbers tend to fluctuate, for instance, Mexican newsweekly Proceso published a death count of above 88,000, a number they believe to be more accurate.  Enrique Peña Nieto was inaugurated as Mexico’s new president in Dec. of 2012, despite protests from the public.  The new president promises to reduce drug-related violence, but the public and especially the journalists are not breathing easy yet.  Sources say, there were 151 attacks on the media in the first six months of 2013 under President Enrique Pena Nieto.  What do you think about this crime spree against journalists?  Do you think there will be improvement?  How many lives have to be taken before the Cartel is silenced, or the government employs real tactics (as opposed to reassuring words) against organized crime?


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  1. At this time, it’s difficult to believe that there will be any improvement in the near future. Unfortunately, local efforts are almost completely ineffective, and understandably so. Clean politicians are killed for being threats; dirty politicians are killed for favoring one cartel over another. The result has been the murder of more than a hundred local leaders in less than a decade. With this in mind, the fact that there is rampant local corruption is not surprising.

    The Mexican federal government is the only body with the resources available to have a meaningful impact on the drug wars. They should take exclusive jurisdiction and control over all cartel-related matters. Undoubtedly, there is corruption in the federal government as well, but it is less rampant. Mexico could then take a comprehensive approach to solving their drug wars: from disrupting the sources and distribution channels of the cartels, to using federal police or the military to enforce the laws at the local level – rather than leaving such enforcement to local police forces who are more susceptible to bribes and pressure from the cartels.

    It’s nice that Mexico’s federal government has tried to take some control over the situation by taking jurisdiction over journalist killings, but I struggle to see how this will have any meaningful impact on Mexican organized crime. Does anyone really believe this will be an effective deterrent to the cartels? The Mexican government should focus less on taking jurisdiction after a journalist has been killed and spend more time preventing it from happening in the first place.

  2. 60,000 people have died due to drug related violence in Mexico over the past 6 years? That’s insane. It’s no surprise that journalists have become targets for these all too powerful drug cartels. Though the Mexican government has passed legislation rendering the killing of a journalist a federal issue, will this really change the patterns of violence in the country? These killings have been going on for years to no avail. While I do believe the pen is mightier than the sword, there is another saying that speaks to this situation; “He who has the gold, makes the rules.” The reason why these cartels are so powerful is because their drug trade businesses are highly lucrative. It has been proven that most of the Mexican drug trade is financed by the high demand for the drugs in the United States. If Mexico and the United States could work together on securing the boarder between the two countries, it could be a win/win situation. America would be able to cut down on the amount of illegal immigrants, and Mexico would be able to restrict the amount of illegal drug trade, thus reducing the profits of the cartels, their financial leverage, and power.

  3. As stated in the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment, every person has a right to the freedom of press. This freedom should not be contained only with Americans but all over the world. The press perform many different functions including informing the public of events and activities that are happening in their area, which every person deserves to be aware of. In my opinion, the violence occurring in Mexico is unwarranted. To be punished for simply doing your job is inappropriate and if the government does not take stronger steps, it doesn’t look like something that will end quickly. Although the government has attempted to take action by awarding courts jurisdiction over these cases, this is not enough since it seems that the death toll is not diminishing. The government should be taking matters into their own hands, to protect their people from organized crime.

  4. Journalists play an important role in the community by informing and empowering the public about critical issues. In this way, journalists can be promoters of change, which is probably why the cartel is targeting this profession. In the United States, political speech is highly protected under the First Amendment, as opposed to commercial speech for example. Enforcement needs to go beyond paper to make a change. The purpose of enforcement is to prevent a certain behavior. If the enforcement has no effect on the criminals, then those criminals have no reason to stop murdering reporters and journalists. Do the cartels have more power than the Mexican federal government? Could corruption be taking over? If government officials are involved with the cartel this could be a reason why justice is not being brought.
    It seems that even anonymous activist activity can be life threatening. Nameless anti-cartel advocates organized a Facebook page, Valor por Tamaulipas, to empower citizen activists by tracking local crimes. This page has not gone unnoticed by the drug cartels. “The cartel has responded by printed flyers, which offer a $47,000 reward for any information on the activists or their family members.” ( It is horrible that the price these Mexican citizens are paying for freedom of speech could be their lives.


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