Tuesday, September 21, 2010

“Tell Us What To Write” - Headline in “El Diario"

Driving the wrong car, a 21-year-old journalist is slain by mistake

Juarez - Luis Carlos Santiago, 21, was headed out to lunch one day last week when drug cartel gunmen ambushed him in a shopping center parking lot.

Cut down by gunfire, the young photojournalist for “El Diario de Juarez” died at the scene. An intern riding with him on the way to lunch, Carlos Manuel Sanchez, was recovering from serious wounds.

From all appearances, the young news photographer was driving the wrong car.

Chihuahua state prosecutors think that the fact he had borrowed a car usually driven by Gustavo de la Rosa Hickerson, another journalist who works for “El Diario,” led to the killing. His son is a member of the Human Rights Commission.

Sr. Hickerson told investigators he feels that his investigations of torture cases involving Mexican soldiers and drug cartel members may have led to the confusion that cost the young shutterbug his life.

Sr. Santiago is only one of about 30 Mexican journalists who have been killed this year by drug cartels in a sub rosa war on the public's right to know.

Apparently, the editorial leadership of the large daily has capitulated to the threat. A headline on a Sunday edition's front-page editorial read “Tell Us What To Write.” The editorial requested an immediate truce with drug gangs and their allies in the Federal Judicial Police, the military and “los policias locales.”

The posture drew immediate criticism from the administration of Mexican President Felipe Calderon.

Said his security spokesman, Alejandro Poire, “In no way should anyone promote a truce or negotiate with criminals who are precisely the ones causing anxiety for the public, kidnapping, extorting and killing...All sectors of society should fight them and bring them down in a definitive way.”

Violence has claimed the lives of more than 28,000 persons since the President declared a war on drug cartels in 2006. Smuggling cartels are fighting for the right to use certain routes into the lucrative U.S. Drug market.

More than 6,000 business have closed on the Juarez side of the border across the river from El Paso del Norte, Texas, last year. An estimated 60,000 people are out of a job as a result with a cost to local economy of $2 billion. Business owners are unable to afford the “tax” charged by drug gangs in return for their “protection.”

A few have relocated to the American side of the border, but such landmarks as Jenny's in Juarez and The Cadillac Bar in Nuevo Laredo are now closed.

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