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A desperate plea from a Mexican newspaper

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Two of its reporters murdered in less than two years. The killings by presumed drug gangs have pushed one of the leading newspapers in Mexico’s northern border region to make an unusual, sad plea.

‘What do you want from us?’ El Diario de Ciudad Juarez asks in a front-page editorial, addressing the traffickers who are fighting for control of Mexico’s deadliest city (link in Spanish).

‘Explain what it is that we should publish, or not publish, so we know what to expect.’

The editorial asks for a truce, adding, ‘It is impossible for us to do our jobs under these conditions.’ Saying the newspaper is not surrendering, the editorial suggests it will nevertheless change, perhaps diminish, the way it covers the drug war.

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Many newspapers in Mexico impose a kind of self-censorship, avoiding coverage of violent drug cartels as a way to avoid angering them. El Diario de Ciudad Juarez had not been one of those papers and was known for its courageous reporting.

In November 2008, one of the paper’s star crime reporters, Armando Rodriguez, was shot to death as he took his daughters to school. And last week, Luis Carlos Santiago, a 21-year-old photographer with just six months on the job, was gunned down as he went to lunch with an intern, who was badly injured. El Universal has a Spanish-language video report of the most recent shooting here.

El Diario’s editorial was most scathing in asserting that journalists will continue to die because the government does not investigate killings and has lost control over much of the border region. ‘You,’ the paper says to the traffickers, ‘are at this time the de facto authorities in this city.’

-- Tracy Wilkinson in Mexico City


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