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05/14/2012

The silencing of a newspaper

Last Friday night, gangsters threw an explosive at the façade of the El Mañana newspaper in Nuevo Laredo, then raked it with automatic gunfire. Luckily, no one was injured in the attack.

At least six cars in the adjacent parking lot were damaged.

It is the second time the newspaper in the border city has come under attack. On Feb. 6, 2006, an assailant threw a grenade at the newspaper.

As a result of the latest attack, El Mañana announced in an editorial on Sunday that it would no longer report and publish news about the criminal gangs that besiege the city and much of the border region. It marked another small chapter in the slow death of the free flow of information in areas of Mexico where organized crime reigns. Here’s a portion of the editorial:

“This newspaper, appealing to the understanding of public opinion, shall not for the time being publish any information about the violent disputes taking place in our city and other regions.

The Editorial Board of this company has come to this unfortunate decision forced by circumstances that we all are aware of and due to the lack of conditions for the free exercise of journalism.

We will only address the issue (of crime) through the professional opinion of analysts who study the phenomenon and treat it wisely and responsibly.

However, we will not lose heart or give in in an effort to promote the values that dignify Mexican society: the value of social and economic justice, rule of law, responsibility, honest and well-paid work, transparency and accountability, citizen participation, strengthening institutions and commitment to education.

…We also share the fundamental idea that all forms of lawless violence, aimed at subduing, oppressing and removing the freedom of a peoples, is definitely doomed.”

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Carol Wheeler

And yet the Mexican authorities still do almost nothing to investigate these crimes, find the culprits, indict and try them, and put them in jail. And do any of the presidential candidates talk about changing this culture of total impunity? I don't think so. It's a horrible situation.

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Tim

This blog is written by Tim Johnson, the Mexico bureau chief for McClatchy Newspapers.

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