Warning!!! Very graphic and violent content!
Drug syndicates in Mexico shoot, stab, hang reporters and photographers who are brave enough to tell the truth about brutal cartels that control entire territories
The mangled and unidentified corpses of a man, right, and a woman, left, hang from a pedestrian bridge in in the Mexican city of Nuevo Laredo, across the border from Texas in 2012. The yellow sign above them reads: “This is going to happen to all of those posting funny things on the Internet. You better f—–g pay attention. I’m about to get you.”
RAUL LLAMAS/AFP/Getty Images
By Deborah Hastings / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
In the country of Mexico, there is no such thing as freedom of the press.
There is, however, widespread freedom to simply kill or kidnap journalists who dare to report on the vicious drug wars that make Mexico one of the world’s most dangerous places for residents and reporters alike.
“There’s no real hope there for journalists,” Anthony Coulson, a former DEA agent stationed in Arizona, told The Daily News. And, he added, “it’s getting worse.”
Mexico is the fourth most deadly country for reporters, topped only by battle-plagued Syria, Somalia and Pakistan, according to the most recent survey by media watchdog group Reporters Without Borders.
“Mexico’s violence, which has grown exponentially … targets journalists who dare to cover drug trafficking, corruption (and) organized crime’s infiltration of local and federal government,” the report said.
According to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists, more than 50 journalists in Mexico have died or disappeared since 2006, when incoming president Felipe Calderone declared war on drug cartels and launched a high-profile media campaign that paraded arrested drug thugs and seized heroin, guns and cocaine before the public. The organization maintains a list of names of the murdered.
Calderone’s term ended in December, and so did the much-hyped perp walks of drug suspects.
New president Enrique Pena Nieto has a markedly different stance on drug cartels. Earlier this year, it announced that local and state authorities would no longer work directly with U.S. agencies, including the FBI and the DEA, when it came to sharing drug tracking intelligence.
Arriving in Mexico Thursday for private talks, President Barack Obama side-stepped the controversial policy change, saying it was “up to the Mexican people” to determine its own security issues.
Meanwhile, the atrocities against journalists have mounted. Earlier this week, radio and television announcer Jose Gerardo Padillo Blanquet vanished in Saltillo, the capital of Coahuila, which is crisscrossed with illicit smuggling routes and controlled by the Los Zetas cartel, arguably the most violent drug syndicate in Mexico .
Blanquet works for Radio Grande de Coahuila, whose director was beaten a few months ago. The media outlet also has received numerous threats over its narcotics coverage, according to local reports.
Just last week in the same city, the hacked remains of photographer Daniel Alejandro Martinez, 22, who had just started working for the Vanguardia newspaper, were found in the middle of a busy street.
His body had been butchered into pieces.
Even bloggers and Twitter users aren’t safe.
As journalists and their employers have backed off reporting on drug cartels for fear of bloody reprisals, social media users have stepped into the void, trying to inform terrified residents of drug cartel violence.
In February, a gruesome video — much like the ones Islamist terrorists posted of journalist Daniel Pearl’s 2002 decapitation in Pakistan — surfaced on YouTube.
In it, a man on his knees talks about Facebook page Valor Por Tamaulipas, (Courage For Tamaulipas) which posts security updates for the state of Tamaulipas. It hugs the southern border of Texas on the Gulf of Mexico. He calmly warns social media users to stop what they’re doing.
“Please refrain from publishing any information — if not, this is the price you will pay,” he says before a masked man appears to shoot him in the head.
“People are turning on to social media because in many areas throughout Mexico, organized crime has taken control of entire territories,” Carlos Lauria of the Committee to Protect Journalists, told The News. Another popular, and endangered, site is called Blog del Narco.
“It’s a war being fought in the streets and it’s a war for information,” Lauria said.
“People are terrified. And so are the journalists.”
North Korea warns of nuke test, more rocket launches
www.xfinity.comcast.net – By HYUNG-JIN KIM, AP
SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea’s top governing body warned Thursday that the regime will conduct its third nuclear test in defiance of U.N. punishment, and made clear that its long-range rockets are designed to carry not only satellites but also warheads aimed at striking the United States.
The National Defense Commission, headed by the country’s young leader, Kim Jong Un, denounced Tuesday’s U.N. Security Council resolution condemning North Korea’s long-range rocket launch in December as a banned missile activity and expanding sanctions against the regime. The commission reaffirmed in its declaration that the launch was a peaceful bid to send a satellite into space, but also clearly indicated the country’s rocket launches have a military purpose: to strike and attack the United States.
While experts say North Korea doesn’t have the capability to hit the U.S. with its missiles, recent tests and rhetoric indicate the country is feverishly working toward that goal.
The commission pledged to keep launching satellites and rockets and to conduct a nuclear test as part of a “new phase” of combat with the United States, which it blames for leading the U.N. bid to punish Pyongyang. It said a nuclear test was part of “upcoming” action but did not say exactly when or where it would take place.
“We do not hide that a variety of satellites and long-range rockets which will be launched by the DPRK one after another and a nuclear test of higher level which will be carried out by it in the upcoming all-out action, a new phase of the anti-U.S. struggle that has lasted century after century, will target against the U.S., the sworn enemy of the Korean people,” the commission said, referring to North Korea by its official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
“Settling accounts with the U.S. needs to be done with force, not with words, as it regards jungle law as the rule of its survival,” the commission said.
It was a rare declaration by the powerful commission once led by late leader Kim Jong Il and now commanded by his son. The statement made clear Kim Jong Un’s commitment to continue developing the country’s nuclear and missile programs in defiance of the Security Council, even at risk of further international isolation.
North Korea’s allusion to a “higher level” nuclear test most likely refers to a device made from highly enriched uranium, which is easier to miniaturize than the plutonium bombs it tested in 2006 and 2009, said Cheong Seong-chang, an analyst at the private Sejong Institute in South Korea. Experts say the North Koreans must conduct further tests of its atomic devices and master the technique for making them smaller before they can be mounted as nuclear warheads onto long-range missiles.
The U.S. State Department had no immediate response to Thursday’s statement. Shortly before the commission issued its declaration, U.S. envoy on North Korea Glyn Davies urged Pyongyang not to explode an atomic device.
“Whether North Korea tests or not, it’s up to North Korea. We hope they don’t do it. We call on them not to do it,” he told reporters in Seoul after meeting with South Korean officials. “It will be a mistake and a missed opportunity if they were to do it.”
Davies was in Seoul on a trip that includes his stops in China and Japan for talks on how to move forward on North Korea relations.
South Korea’s top official on relations with the North said Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile development is a “cataclysm for the Korean people,” and poses a fundamental threat to regional and world peace. “The North Korean behavior is very disappointing,” Unification Minister Yu Woo-ik said in a lecture in Seoul, according to his office.
North Korea claims the right to build nuclear weapons as a defense against the United States, its Korean War foe.
The bitter three-year war ended in a truce, not a peace treaty, in 1953, and left the Korean Peninsula divided by the world’s most heavily fortified demilitarized zone. The U.S. leads the U.N. Command that governs the truce and stations more than 28,000 troops in ally South Korea, a presence that North Korea cites as a key reason for its drive to build nuclear weapons.
For years, North Korea’s neighbors had been negotiating with Pyongyang on providing aid in return for disarmament. North Korea walked away from those talks in 2009 and on Wednesday reiterated that disarmament talks were out of the question.
North Korea is estimated to have stored up enough weaponized plutonium for four to eight bombs, according to scientist Siegfried Hecker, who visited the North’s Nyongbyon nuclear complex in 2010.
In 2009, Pyongyang declared that it would begin enriching uranium, which would give North Korea a second way to make atomic weapons.
North Korea carried out underground nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009, both times just weeks after being punished with U.N. sanctions for launching long-range rockets.
In October, an unidentified spokesman at the National Defense Commission claimed that the U.S. mainland was within missile range. And at a military parade last April, North Korea showed off what appeared to be an intercontinental ballistic missile.
Satellite photos taken last month at a nuclear test site in Punggye-ri, in far northeast North Korea, showed continued activity that suggested a state of readiness even in winter, according to analysis by 38 North, a North Korea website affiliated with the Johns Hopkins School for Advanced International Studies.
Another nuclear test would bring North Korea a step closer to being able to launch a long-range missile tipped with a nuclear warhead, said Daniel Pinkston, an analyst with the International Crisis Group.
“Their behavior indicates they want to acquire those capabilities,” he said. “The ultimate goal is to have a robust nuclear deterrent.”