Mexico: Second moderator from anti-crime site killed

The fourth murder of a blogger in the northern Mexico state of Tamaulipas has confirmed the suspicion many journalists have in this country: that organised crime has become more sophisticated in their interception capabilities.  The decapitated body of the blogger, a male in his 30s, was reported to local police in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas early Wednesday morning.  Next to the victim there was a scrawled message on a piece of clothing often used by organized crime.  The message said that the man was 35 years old and nicknamed him “El Rascatripas”,  (the intestine scratcher).  It accused the man of moderating the Internet site “Nuevo Laredo En Vivo”, the same site once moderated by María Elizabeth Macías, la “NenaDLaredo”, (the girl from Laredo), who was also killed by drug traffickers in September.

The blog continued to operate after the Wednesday reports, but warned its users not to reveal personal details and claimed that the blog was secure.

Social media has been an important source of information for residents of Tamaulipas, where the local press exercises 100 percent censorship on stories related to drug trafficking because of reprisals, according to an investigation by the Fundacion MEPI de Periodismo de Investigacion published last year. Using social media still comes at a cost, two youths were tortured and hung as examples for reporting drug-related crime on Twitter in September.

The level of technical skills at the disposal of drug traffickers and their associates is unknown, and the question of security and social media use has been a much discussed subject amongst Mexican journalists. The  Fundacion MEPI, recounts how 13 technicians working for various international telephone and data companies have been kidnapped in the last two years by suspected members of the Zetas drug organization. Only two of the victims have been released. News of the kidnapping received some coverage in the Mexican media, but they were quickly replaced by stories of new victims in a drug war that has already caused 40,000 deaths. For the families of the victims, hope was renewed when federal police release pictures of technical equipment confiscated to the Zetas in the southern port city of Veracruz, according to Proceso.

Colombian reporters to hold silent protest

Violence against journalists in Colombia has escalated recently, with paramilitary groups issuing threats against reporters all over the country. The threats are worrisome for a country, where drug traffickers, corrupt politicians, leftist guerrillas and paramilitary groups killed 43 journalists since 1992. For that reason, the Colombian Federation for Journalists, FELCOPER, will hold a silent march on 3 May to mark International Press Freedom Day.

The paramilitary group, Grupo Bloque Capital de las Águilas Negras, has become the worst press freedom offender.  It recently issued threats against 28 reporters from the capital city of Bogota and other provincial towns.

Worse yet, is the fact that the Colombian Attorney General´s office just announced that it was shelving investigations on murders of journalists that occurred in the 1990s. One case is that of two journalists from El Universal, Julio Daniel Chaparro, 29, and Jorge Torres, 39. The two were killed by unknown men while reporting on the anniversary of a human rights massacre in the town of Segovia, Medellin. That massacre was completed by paramilitaries in 1988, but Chaparro and Torres were killed by guerrillas who later died in combat themselves.