Narcotrafficker's attacked Televisa, Mexico's top television network on Tuesday evening during the filming of the nightly news. The attack on the television station, located in the bustling northern Mexican town of Monterrey, was the most brutal effort thus far made by drug traffickers to convey their message: that news media should back off of their coverage of the ongoing drug wars. Armed gunmen opened fire on the TV station and hurled a grenade along with a handwritten note that said, “Stop reporting just on us. Report on the narco’s political leaders.”
Mexico has long been considered by media watch groups as one of the most perilous places in the world for journalists. Reporters covering the drug trade have increasingly found themselves the targets in the conflict currently consuming the nation. Only Iraq is considered more dangerous than Mexico. Many journalists in embattled border towns like Ciudad Juarez, where the violence is at its worst, have begun to write without using bylines for fear of attack. “Fortunately, there were no victims, but this attack shows that organized crime is targeting national as well as local media,” said Reporters Without Borders in a statement released yesterday, “Solving this attack will be a new test for the government.”
The Mexican government has responded with seeming indifference to the special threat posed to journalists and free speech in their country. Octavio Orellana, Special Prosecutor for Crimes against Journalists recently downplayed the threat to media professionals at a recent press conference in Mexico saying that they are killed for reasons “similar to what affects the rest of Mexicans.” Orellana was referring to the violence that has rocked the country; approximately 5,700 Mexicans have been killed in drug-related murders in the last 12 months. The majority of the violence has occurred between traffickers, but business owners, bystanders, prosecutors and reporters have also suffered the consequences.
Another indication of the lackadaisical attitude of the government was demonstrated in new reports released today announcing a new initiative to clean up the streets of the capital city by launching a war—on gum chewing. Call us crazy, but it would seem that there are larger, more pressing issues that the Mexican government should be addressing.