Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Mexicans In Border Towns Rely On Social Network For News

A business man in Juarez, a young housewife in Nuevo Laredo, a school boy in Reynosa – all have one thing in common.

Before they start their day and venture out into the streets of their border cities, they check Twitter, Facebook, e-mail, and amateur internet news reports on their Blackberries first to see if the coast is clear.

It's a necessity in these cities under siege by drug cartels fighting it out with the military, other gangsters and enforcers who have defected from the Army for lucrative trade routes in illicit narcotics, cash, and human slaves.

They can no longer rely on the traditional mass media. Newspaper editors and broadcasters have more or less capitulated to the terror onslaught.

Only a couple of weeks ago, Juarez's largest daily newspaper, “El Diario,” printed a front-page editorial entreating drug gangsters, “Tell us what you want us to write” after sicarios gunned down a youthful photographer and his running partner on their way to lunch in an area shopping mall.

They were in the wrong car. They had used an associate's vehicle, one often driven by his son who is a member of the Human Rights Commission. The gangsters laid them low with a hail of bullets.

When the killings take place, some by hand grenades, others with automatic rifle fire, still others through arson, it stalls traffic for miles in all directions.

Soldiers, police and scan the crowds to see who is watching – and waiting – for the next even to unfold.

It's best to just not be there, hence, the need for Twitter, Facebook and Blackberry e-mail distribution of news friend to friend, family to family.

One drawback is that the informal social network is a great avenue for disinformation by drug traffickers and other terrorists bent on creating fale impressions and spreading totally false rumors.

In Reynosa, city officials have started countering the problem with their own version of events. “The aim is to establish a tool of communication to put an end to the rumors that come out of social networking, and inform people what's really happening, in real time,” the mayor's Chief of Staff, Juan Triana, told newsmen.

So far this year, drug terrorists have murdered 10 mayors of Mexican cities.

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