Mexican drug cartels are assaulting the press, and so journalists are banding together to ask the Mexican government for protection.
The Mexican press has been subject to assault and attack at the hands of suspected drug traffickers – including grenades launched into high-tech broadcast stations and dingy newspaper offices – for years.
Even as media watchdogs have declared Mexico one of the world's most dangerous places to report from, each outlet has had to act individually to protect its staff. Mostly they omit writer bylines and leave out crucial details of shootouts and kidnappings – if they cover the mayhem at all.
But now the Mexican media is demanding more protection, working together to draw attention to the threats the job is generating.
The plight of journalists was forced into the national consciousness last Sunday, after the daily El Diario, based in murder hot spot Ciudad Juárez across the border from El Paso, Texas, pleaded to drug traffickers: "Tell us what you want."
The front-page editorial told drug traffickers they are essentially the de facto authorities and asked them what the paper can do to keep its staff off Mexico's growing casualties list. The editorial came days after the paper´s young photographer, Luis Carlos Santiago, was gunned down in a car at a mall in Juárez, the paper´s second reporter to be killed in two years.
Tragic as they may be, El Diario's woes are far from isolated. Mexico's National Commission on Human Rights says that 65 media workers have been killed in the past decade. The Committee to Protect Journalists says more than 30 reporters have been killed or have disappeared since December 2006, when Mexican President Felipe Calderón took office and dispatched the military to tackle organized crime. In that time, more than 28,000 people have been killed in drug-related violence.