Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Mexico’s Drug War Culture Jumps from Streets to Web

By Juan David Leal

MEXICO CITY – The gory images of drug-related violence in Mexico are no longer limited to the streets, with scores of blogs and Web sites popping up to cover the carnage, and criminals often posting photos and videos documenting their deeds.

Several Web sites and blogs post news reports culled from traditional media outlets, photos of bodies and commentaries.

Other types of blogs, however, publish content provided by criminals, turning into sites for heated debates involving people who claim to belong to one or another drug cartel and threaten purported rivals.

At least three Web sites call themselves “Blog del Narco,” having URLs featuring different types of registrations, and others housed on blogging sites like Blogger or Wordpress, with one offering a “narco chat.”

These Web sites post videos of supposed interrogations of rival drug traffickers, torture sessions, shootouts, photographs featuring explicit images and even footage of the beheadings of suspected criminals.

Purported cartel members often make threats on the Web sites, vowing to hunt down and kill those who post comments critical of their criminal organizations.

“I come here because it’s an open forum, where I hear about what nobody wants to talk about,” a user calling himself “Manitas” said in a posting on one of the Web sites that also congratulated the site’s operator for not being a “sellout.”

Some people claim to be drug traffickers and sign with the name of a cartel.

“We are not against the people, we protect the people from those types of people who want to harm them, that’s why we need you to support us too,” a posting by CDG (the Spanish acronym for the Gulf cartel) said, referring to Los Zetas.

Los Zetas, the former armed wing of the Gulf cartel, is now locked in a war with its ex-employer in several parts of Mexico.

About 40,000 people have died in drug-related violence in Mexico since December 2006.

Some traditional media outlets used to publish daily tallies of killings and kept monthly and quarterly counts of violent crimes.

Media outlets, moreover, often published messages left by gangs with the bodies of rivals, and reporters used criminal slang in stories.

Around 50 media outlets, out of the more than 700 operating in Mexico, agreed in March to follow common guidelines in covering the war on drugs in an effort to avoid becoming “involuntary spokesmen” for criminals.

The media companies agreed to “act professionally,” stick to the facts, properly cast reports, not prejudge the guilty, protect victims and minors, protect journalists and urge citizens to play a role in fighting crime, among other measures.

The blogs, meanwhile, have mushroomed, with operators vowing to present information without an editorial filter and in its crude form.

Efe tried to contact the administrators of several Web sites without any success.

Some Web sites have posted mission statements.

“Reporting on what’s really going on in Mexico, a country that is tied up and which many think lacks a memory, while some of us do have one,” one Web site’s mission statement says.

The founders of the Web site, created on March 2, 2010, describe themselves as “two young men who are fighting to objectively let people know what is going on” and are specialists “in the fields of computers and journalism, respectively.”

“We make known the acts of violence that have made Mexican society live a reality that until recently was found in the shadows,” the Web site’s founders said, adding that their “principal source of information has been people who work with facts and materials.” EFE

Latin American Herald Tribune

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