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Using social media to report on drug cartels has become an extremely dangerous practice for Mexican journalists. Last Saturday, the body of the 39-years-old newspaper editor Marisol Macias Castañeda was found decapitated alongside a threatening message: “Here I am, for my reports and yours.”
The note was signed with a ‘Z’, a letter that the police associate with the Zetas cartel, the most violent drug cartel at this time in Mexico. Next to the head, which had been placed in a flowerpot by the murderers, the police also found a couple of keyboard and a CD player.
The victim, who worked for the newspaper Primera Hora in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, near to the U.S. border, was an active member of the local social networking site called Nuevo Laredo en Vivo or ‘Nuevo Laredo Live’.
Under the nickname, La Nena de Laredo or ‘Laredo Girl’, Marisol used to encourage people to report the location of drug dealers’ meetings and drug sales points and any other information related to the Zetas and the Gulf Cartel, engaged in a bloody fight for the control of drug trafficking in the states of Nuevo León and Tamaulipas.
Two weeks ago, a man and a woman were found hanging from a bridge, also in Nuevo Laredo, with a similar message warning people not to report drug violence on social networks. According to Reporters Without Borders, the last victim was the fourth female journalist to be murdered in Mexico since the start of the year.
“The grim landmark of 80 journalists killed in the past decade has just been reached, with the murders getting steadily more horrific as the years pass,” published the NGO on its website. “There seems to be no way out of this horror. The country is immersed in an all-out war and just writing the word ‘narcos’ or ‘trafficking’ can cost you your life.
What will be left of freedom of information while the barbarity continues?” Manuel Gabriel Fonseca Hernández, a young journalist who covers crime for El Mañanero de Acayucan, a newspaper in the south of Veracruz state, has been missing since 19 September. The day he disappeared, he had gone out to conduct interviews for a story he was doing for his main newspaper.
After social media in Mexico became a new tool to fight drug trafficking, people living in Mexican border cities started to post under nicknames to guaranty their anonymity and preserve their life. However, after these three violent murderers, social media users in northern Mexico will think twice before posting anything related to drug trafficking in the Internet.