For the past four years, Mexico has been fighting an increasingly bloody war on drugs. Twenty-eight thousand people have been killed since President Felipe Calderón launched his crackdown on the drug cartels in 2006. “Lost cities”, such as Tijuana and Ciudad Juárez, are practically run by the leading drug cartels.
Despite occurring often just a few miles from the border, this war goes largely unreported. Comprehensive coverage of the events is nigh-on impossible, mainly because journalists who report on the cartels’ activities have a very short lifespan.
Eleven journalists have been killed this year alone. After a second journalist was murdered, El Diario took the unprecedented step of publishing a front-page editorial, addressed to the local drug cartel and entitled: “What do you want from us?”
You are, at present, the de facto authorities in this city because the legal institutions have not been able to keep our colleagues from dying.
We do not want more deaths. We do not want more injuries or even more intimidation. It is impossible to exercise our role in these conditions. Tell us, then, what do you expect of us as a medium?
Journalists cannot do their job when placed in such danger. There is, however, some hope for Mexican journalism. One blog single-handedly provides a visceral and at times horrifying insight into Mexico’s drug war.
Blog del Narco (warning: extremely violent images) chronicles Mexico’s current struggle. It is a rolling news source, with basic reports, images and videos and little in the way of comment or analysis.
To say that the blog’s coverage is raw is an understatement. It is visceral and undigested. This is news unprocessed, unadulterated and uncensored. Where a news editor would cut away, Blog del Narco’s footage lingers. Decapitations are not described, they are pictured. It’s unapologetically violent. The blog’s raison d’être is simple: to reflect what is happening.
The author explained this mentality further in a recent interview:
The idea to create the Blog del Narco came because the media and government in Mexico try to pretend that NOTHING IS HAPPENING, because the media are intimidated and the government has apparently been bought. So we decided to tell people what is actually happening and tell the stories exactly as they happen, without alteration or modifications of convenience. The main goal of the blog is to help Mexican people to take all necessary measures against the insecurity.
In the same interview, the author of the blog was asked whether publishing such explicitly violent images and videos — often provided by the cartels perpetrating the violence — was “irresponsible”.
People have a right to know why things have become so insecure in recent years. The violence that is happening in Mexico is not because the public reads about what is happening in BlogdelNarco.com
The content of the blog’s videos is frankly horrifying. Limbs litter streets. Bullethole-riddled 4x4s contain blood-spattered corpses. One shows the interrogation of three government hitmen before their execution. The camera did not cut away. Instead, the viewer witnessed the lives of three men being ended.
Whether this footage is necessary or gratuitous is unclear. Audiences do not need to see men meet their end, but to cut away would have an element of dishonesty. Blog del Narco is there only to reflect what is happening — and executions such as this one occur in Mexico nearly every day.
One thing sticks out about this video. The comment thread for the footage of the execution had 1,265 entries and 117 “Likes”. This is news for a generation seemingly immune to violence. If not immune, then certainly willing to watch.
Duncan Robinson also blogs here. You can follow him on Twitter, too.