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Mexican Journalists Flee Drug War, Seek Asylum

 
 
Reply Fri 24 Sep, 2010 12:05 pm
Fbaezer, are you safe?

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=130087939&sc=fb&cc=fp

September 24, 2010

Mexican President Felipe Calderon announced a series of measures this week designed to safeguard the work of journalists who cover the violent cartel war in that country.

The war has claimed more than 28,000 lives and has become one of the most dangerous stories in the world. Some journalists have taken the ultimate step: fleeing to the United States to seek political asylum.

Now the moment that thousands of Mexican citizens who have fled to the U.S. wait for but very few get to savor has arrived: 52-year-old journalist Jorge Luis Aguirre has been granted political asylum.

Aguirre edits the hard-hitting, irreverent website LaPolaka.com that covers Juarez, Mexico. He fled his city nearly two years ago when he received a death threat, he believes, for writing critically about powerful Chihuahua state officials.

From his exile in El Paso, Texas, Aguirre went to Washington, D.C., last year to testify before the U.S. Senate about his nightmare.

"Today, I live in exile in a foreign country in order to avoid being murdered for my work as a journalist," he told lawmakers.

Aguirre is believed to be the only Mexican journalist to be granted asylum since the cartel war has exploded in the past four years. Recently, he toasted his good fortune with his family and a few friends in the small backyard of his house in suburban El Paso.

"I hope this asylum is a good precedent and there's a chance for other journalists whose lives are threatened by mafiosos and narco-politicians," he said in Spanish. "The U.S. is a friend to Mexico; that's why it should help journalists."

U.S. Examines Other Cases

It's too soon to say what Aguirre's case will mean to other Mexican journalists seeking asylum. But over the past four years, the U.S. government has been more receptive to Mexicans who can prove a well-founded fear of persecution from drug cartels, the government or both.

Figures from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services show that in 2007, asylum officers recommended 58 Mexican cases for approval; already, by the third quarter of this year, they have recommended 176.

Carlos Spector, an El Paso immigration attorney, says he thinks Aguirre's case is encouraging news.

"We were all waiting for the first case because so many cases have been presented," he said. "And I think there was a learning curve going on that they just weren't believing the tragedies and the chaos and the repression in Mexico.

"Finally they've come to realize that there is a major problem in Mexico."

But it's still a struggle.

Of the more than 15,000 Mexicans who have fled to the U.S. in the past five years, on average, U.S. immigration courts grant fewer than 2 percent of asylum requests.

"Many Mexicans are just caught in the crossfire," says Barbara Hines, director of the Immigration Clinic at the University of Texas Law School. "And for the average person in Mexico, that's not enough for asylum because you have to show that you're a member of a particular group or you have a particular political opinion."

Journalists Targeted

Mexican journalists constitute a threatened group.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists reports more than 30 reporters have been killed or have disappeared since December 2006. Just last week, suspected cartel hitmen gunned down a young photographer for El Diaro de Juarez and wounded his co-worker. He was the second journalist at El Diario killed in less than two years.

On Tuesday, three journalists who have fled Mexico appeared at a news conference in El Paso to call attention to their plight.

Speaking in Spanish, Emilio Gutierrez Soto, a Chihuahua newspaper reporter, says he received a death threat after his stories angered the Mexican military. He fled to the U.S. and was locked up in an immigration jail for seven months. Now he's out and waiting for his case to be resolved.

"Now I make burritos and sell them to friends and office workers," he says with a sad smile.

Ricardo Chavez Aldana, a Juarez radio reporter, says he was threatened and his two nephews were killed for his on-air criticism of the state government.

He says he and his wife and five children live with his sister in El Paso.

"It's complicated," he says in Spanish. "But we manage."

Alejandro Hernandez Pacheco, a TV cameraman from Torreon who was kidnapped in July by suspected cartel thugs for reporting on corrupt prison authorities, says he hopes the asylum granted to Aguirre "opens the door for people like me."

"I can't return to Mexico," he says, "either the cartels or the police will get me."
 
roger
 
  1  
Reply Fri 24 Sep, 2010 01:09 pm
@Butrflynet,
Butrflynet wrote:

"I can't return to Mexico," he says, "either the cartels or the police will get me."


Frightening.
0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Fri 24 Sep, 2010 01:13 pm
Mexico could well enter into full civil war, and the same door to door fighting that has been experienced in Iraq.
InfraBlue
 
  2  
Reply Fri 24 Sep, 2010 01:20 pm
So, what's the price for coke here in the US nowadays?
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Fri 24 Sep, 2010 01:56 pm
@InfraBlue,
Enough to keep the drug cartels interested.
0 Replies
 
roger
 
  2  
Reply Fri 24 Sep, 2010 02:39 pm
@edgarblythe,
Civil war or anarchy?
0 Replies
 
electronicmail
 
  2  
Reply Fri 24 Sep, 2010 02:42 pm
@InfraBlue,
It's dropping like a stone, quality's improving as well. The gangs are all into running cigarette and Medicare scams, penalties are puny and that's only if they get caught meaning never.
0 Replies
 
electronicmail
 
  2  
Reply Fri 24 Sep, 2010 02:43 pm
@edgarblythe,
Yeah so? See if I care.
0 Replies
 
InfraBlue
 
  2  
Reply Fri 24 Sep, 2010 04:54 pm
Do A2Ks prohibitionists think that the price being paid by the people of Mexico in the war against drugs is worth their continued prohibition?
dyslexia
 
  2  
Reply Fri 24 Sep, 2010 05:10 pm
@InfraBlue,
InfraBlue wrote:

So, what's the price for coke here in the US nowadays?
an 8-ball is running around $550.
0 Replies
 
Ceili
 
  1  
Reply Fri 24 Sep, 2010 07:32 pm
@InfraBlue,
It's not just happening in Mexico either, several cities in Canada have/have had gang wars directly related to the growing scarcity and cost of coke. I'd assume this was the case in the States as well as it's affecting the supply route in either direction. People are murdered, not just scumbags, across the whole of N. America.
Prohibition is a poor excuse for all the lives destroyed, in jail, in hospitals, in foster care, in courts. God knows there has to be a better way. After all this time, why hasn't this method been reversed or at least challenged. Prohibition will only continue to wreak havoc until our governments wise up. America has a taste for getting high, face up to it, embrace it, legalize it, tax it...
at the moment, and for a very long time, it's has only made bad people rich, politicians included.
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  4  
Reply Fri 24 Sep, 2010 10:11 pm
You call out someone we know by name, who posts with his name.

This is beyond annoying, are you tune or tone deaf?

I don't think he's involved in any of this, nothing in my years of reading his posts makes me think so, but if he were, what is the deal, you'd out him and hope he is ok, to get attention?

This is too ******* fluffy.
BumbleBeeBoogie
 
  -1  
Reply Sat 25 Sep, 2010 11:16 am
@ossobuco,
Whose post are you responding to?

BBB

ossobuco
 
  2  
Reply Sat 25 Sep, 2010 07:09 pm
@BumbleBeeBoogie,
The opening post of the thread.
I am sorry I did not say that by pm.
BumbleBeeBoogie
 
  -1  
Reply Sun 26 Sep, 2010 09:19 am
@ossobuco,
That's whom I thought you were accusing, my daughter Butrflynet, of endangering Fbaezer's life. Now you can also accuse me of endangering his life, too.

BBB
electronicmail
 
  2  
Reply Tue 28 Sep, 2010 10:48 am
@BumbleBeeBoogie,
What gives? Baezer is a common name in Mexico. So's Baez. Whoever FBaezer is he or she doesn't want to know you or that B-fly and I don't blame him one bit.
0 Replies
 
electronicmail
 
  1  
Reply Tue 28 Sep, 2010 11:06 am
@ossobuco,
ossobuco wrote:

You call out someone we know by name, who posts with his name.

This is beyond annoying, are you tune or tone deaf?

I don't think he's involved in any of this, nothing in my years of reading his posts makes me think so, but if he were, what is the deal, you'd out him and hope he is ok, to get attention?

This is too ******* fluffy.


So B-fly doesn't have the guy's phone number or his address, so she's hollering his real name on the internet? I'll bet he went into hiding soon as he heard her. I know I would Mr. Green Mr. Green
0 Replies
 
InfraBlue
 
  1  
Reply Sun 3 Oct, 2010 11:29 am
Mexico's mayors becoming casualties of drug wars; many towns without leaders

Quote:
TANCITARO, MEXICO - Gustavo Sanchez worked hard in this Mexican farming town at one of the most dangerous jobs in the country. He was a mayor. Last weekend, Sanchez and a town councilman disappeared. Their bodies were found Monday, the skulls smashed open in the fifth killing of a mayor in six weeks.

...

At least 11 mayors have been killed this year across Mexico, as a spooky sense of permanent siege takes hold in the many communities where rival mafias fight for control of local drug sales, marijuana and poppy fields, methamphetamine labs and billion-dollar smuggling routes to the United States.

...

More than 100 mayors have been threatened, kidnapped, shot at or subjected to extortion in the past two years, according to Ramon Galindo Noriega, a senator and head of a congressional commission that supports municipal governments. The number is actually far higher, Galindo Noriega said, but many go unreported because of fears that a police investigation would only make matters worse.

The threats and killings targeting city halls have left many towns without candidates for office, forcing state governments to appoint caretaker administrators. The result, observers say, is a civil society at risk. In most of Mexico, city halls are the people's main contact with the state. When local governments become paralyzed, schools go unbuilt, potholes unfilled, and economic and social development programs grind to a halt.


----------------------------------------

One of the prohibitionist rationalizations for the illegalization of drugs is that the alternative, legalization or decriminalization of drugs, might be worse than their continued prohibition. In what ways could legalization or decriminalization be worse than the consequences of prohibition that Mexico is presently suffering in participating in the war against drugs?
0 Replies
 
fbaezer
 
  4  
Reply Tue 5 Oct, 2010 08:47 pm
I find the title of the thread allarming, since it seems to imply that Mexican journalists, in general, are fleeing Mexico.

The cartel menaces have become a big problem for some local media in the states of Chihuahua, Tamaulipas and Sinaloa.

I have heard some horror stories about daily life for some journalists over there, told from our envoys to those states. If I received a menacing phone call telling me what to publish and what not to publish, like some of my peers over there, I'd resign inmediately, to be honest with you. But many of those guys are very brave and realize they have a commitment with their communities. Others prefer to shut up every news relating to organized crime.

Since the intent to shut up the journalists is very local, I think they can safely move elsewhere within the country... only they have the US border much nearer and can keep in better touch with their local colleagues over there.

As for me, I don't think I'm in danger, not even a wee bit. National media. Mexico City. The troubles are very regional, apart from their national political implications.

(Oh, and the cameraman from TorreĆ³n is angry because the police declared that they rescued him, while the truth was that the gangsters let him free when they found out that the police was nearing them - I understand him, but at the same think he makes a much-ado-about-nothing)


Now, go back in the thread and read infrablue's posts.
Butrflynet
 
  0  
Reply Wed 6 Oct, 2010 01:36 am
@fbaezer,
The thread title is the headline from the NPR report.

Have been keeping up with your writings as best I can. Found last month's piece on history's lessons from Mexico's fight for independence and the revolution of interest. Have not yet read the second installment. Will look for it.

The view of events from the American media makes it seem as though all of Mexico is under siege. Glad to hear that you feel safe.
 

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