Mexican Paper Goes Silent on the Violence

By May Wilkerson 07/11/12

After two attacks on its offices, El Mañana newspaper announces it will no longer cover the drug war.

The latest casualty: freedom of the press.
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A Mexican newspaper has publicly announced that it will no longer cover drug war-related crimes—after two violent attacks on its office in two months. Many other news sources in Mexico have taken similar vows of silence, but El Mañana newspaper—based in northern border city of Nuevo Laredo—took the unusual step of releasing a public statement, following a grenade attack on its office on Tuesday. "We ask for the public's comprehension and will refrain, for as long as needed, from publishing any information related to the violent disputes our city and other regions of the country are suffering," their editorial declared. "The company's editorial and administrative board has been forced to make this regrettable decision by circumstances we are all familiar with, and by the lack of adequate conditions for freely exercising professional journalism." The area surrounding Nuevo Laredo has been ravaged by violence, as the Zetas and Gulf cartels battle for control of drug-trafficking in the region. 

The cartels have a complicated relationship with the press: they've been known to seek media attention to threaten their rivals and publicize their power, but frequently lash out at journalists who displease them. At least 45 journalists have been reported missing or murdered in Mexico since former President Felipe Calderón began his crackdown on the cartels in 2006—and the government's human rights commission alleges that 81 journalists have been killed and 16 kidnapped since 2000. Many Mexican newspapers have adopted policies to avoid covering the violence directly—often filling crime sections with stories about traffic accidents. When they do report crimes, they generally publish police records without further investigation, and avoid mention of specific gangs or cartels.

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May Wilkerson is a writer, comic and Managing Editor @someecards. Co-host of the podcast Crazy; In Bed w/alyssalimp. She is also the top Google result for "insufferable lunatic." Follow this insufferable lunatic on Twitter.