The government of Mexico does to journalists, reporters and human rights watchdogs, what a certain prominent politician in America has indicated he would like to do to his resident media thorns in the side – put them under surveillance and in many cases, silence them permanently.
In this, the first part of the series, we’ll look at the silencing that is taking place south of the border and the motivations behind it.
In no country on earth that masquerades as a democracy, do members of the press and government critics have targets on their back to the extent they do in Mexico. Instead of making good on all the empty rhetoric about putting drug traffickers out of business, the Mexican government finds it more expedient to intimidate and conspire to murder the very critics that expose those promises as lies.
The ruling party in Mexico is the PRI – Partido Revolucionario Institucional (Institutional Revolutionary Party). PRI has presided over 7 decades of partnership with the country’s most powerful drug cartels. During that same period of time, the party has leveraged its role as junior partner with the United States‘ “War On Drugs” to enhance the franchise of certain traffickers and at the same time enable the sanctioning of their competitors.
To put it simply, while the US supplies billions of dollars to the Mexican national government for the ostensible purpose of battling drug smuggling, the Mexican government picks winners and losers in the market. It’s institutionalized political incest. The profits that Mexican politicians skim from their comrades in drug trafficking, are used to support the party, pay off regional and local officials and live extravagantly.
Howard Campbell, in his book, “Drug War Zone: Frontline Dispatches From the Streets of El Paso and Juárez”, writes:
The PRI viewed the illegal drug trade as a source of profits, patronage, and power. It created a durable political, police, and military infrastructure that enabled drug traffickers to cultivate, manufacture, and distribute cocaine, heroin, and marijuana for export to the United States. The PRI and the Dirección Federal de Seguridad (DFS), a domestic secret police organization modeled on the CIA and FBI, created and controlled the plaza system. The system operated by establishing transportation routes and territories controlled by specific cartels in collusion with police, military and government officials. Control of a plaza gives the drug lord and police commander of an area the power to charge less powerful traffickers tolls, known as pisos. Generally, one main cartel dominates a plaza at any given time. . . . The cartel that has the most power in a particular plaza receives police and military protections for its drug shipments.”
One of the remarkable facets in all of this is that by lawmakers refusing to remove the profit incentive in drug production and narco-trafficking, they perpetuate the symbiotic relationship between themselves and the cartels. Experts like Samuel Blackstone in Business Insider, estimate that more than $1 billion in bribes are paid annually just to municipal police.
When the PRI lost its permanent stranglehold of power in 2000, drug cartels and their government patrons (or is it the other way around?), had to reorganize, but chaos ensued. And since then, a constant re-shuffling of the criminal and corruption deck has claimed tens of thousands of collateral victims – including journalists and human rights advocates who attempt to pull back the rug on the cockroaches and their atrocities. Our Congressional Research Service reports estimates of at least 80,000 people killed in organized crime related incidents in Mexico since just 2006.
117 journalists have been slain in the country since 2000. Only 8 cases have been submitted for investigation and only one crime was solved.
And of the more than 800 serious cases of harassment, assault or homicide committed against journalists in the past six years, the New York Times reports – the federal office created to prosecute crimes against the freedom of expression has convicted suspects in only two.
Not all of the killings are directly related to the protection of the the cozy relationship between elected officials and narco traffickers. Some have merely to do with a reporter exposing malfeasance on the part of a local or regional politician.
Of the countless tragic and frustrating stories of the slayings of journalists, one seems to have resonated in the public consciousness beyond the others.
It is the case of Regina Martinez, investigative journalist for independent media outlet, Proceso. The publication itself is one that is a constant irritant to corrupt officials. Ms. Martinez had plied her trade professionally for 20 years, but on April 28, 2012, Martinez was discovered on the bathroom floor of her residence, having been beaten and strangled to death.
The murder was believed to be tied to her coverage of collusion between Veracruz police and drug traffickers.
Recently, the apparatus that the government and their merchants of death partners employ to silence media and human rights critics, accidentally showed it’s hand. In the next in this series, we will outline the methods that Mexican government officials and the powerful drug cartels use to detect and identify the whereabouts and the activities of their victims.
The technology partners in this horrific and deadly cat and mouse game and the role our government plays, will shock you. Stay tuned.