LA CRÓNICA, EXCELSIOR (Mexico)
MEXICO CITY – Ciudad Victoria, a city in one of the most dangerous states in Mexico today, Tamaulipas, was recently flooded with brochures offering money for information on the people behind a project called "Valor por Tamaulipas" (Courage for Tamaulipas).
The project is indeed courageous, aiming to diffuse information regarding violence in the state, through social networks, like Facebook and Twitter. Valor por Tamaulipas offers practical information about what streets or neighborhoods to steer clear, the place where people are being mugged, reports of extortion or information about missing people. The project has into a veritable local media outlet that reflects the situation of insecurity in the state.
La Crónica reports that the brochures that appeared throughout Ciudad Victoria read: “600,000 pesos for the people who will bring us information regarding the owners of the website Valor por Tamaulipas or in that case, any of their family members.”
“Social networks without a doubt have become an information apparatus, while journalism is cornered and silenced” said Darío Ramírez, director for “México y Centroamérica de Artículo 19”, an organization that defends freedom of expression in Mexico and Central America.
Mexico is the second most dangerous country for journalists according to Reporters Without Borders. Since 2000, 93 journalists have been murdered in Mexico, 76 since 2006, when ex-president Felipe Calderón declared the “frontal fight against drugs,” the Press Emblem Campaign recently reported.
In July 2012, El Mañana, Nuevo Laredo’s Daily announced that they would stop publishing information regarding violent acts produced by criminal gangs after their headquarters was attacked with grenades for the second time in the year.
El Excelsior reports that faced with such a scenario, the anonymity granted by the Internet provides an alternative for people eager to inform and be informed about violence in their cities. Dozens of websites, blogs and social media profiles have sprung up to cover many events that traditional media may find difficult to report.
Unfortunately, the identity of the people behind these new media outlets is never 100% safe either. In late 2011, four people were murdered in the city of Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas for denouncing organized crime actions through a blog. Two of them were hung from a bridge and another two decapitated with messages that read: “for typing too much”.
Given the situation, Valor por Tamaulipas, responded “I will not play hero, I play the hopeful believer that is clinging to the hope that one day this will change.”
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