The most wanted Mexican blogger says she’s more afraid of the authorities than of the drugs cartels.
by Pablo Gámez
In Mexico, the drugs cartels have become interested in the country’s bloggers. But it’s not just any type of interest. The drugs cartels have put a price on their head, just as they have with journalists. Eliminating them has become a priority. Why? Because they have put the cartels in check, publishing reports that can’t be found in the traditional media.
The censorship imposed by the drugs gangs in Mexico is a cancer that’s affecting all of the country’s media. No magazine, newspaper, radio or television station has been able to circumvent the cartels’ rules. Publishing any news about them immediately leads to threats or the kidnapping of journalists. In the worst cases, reporters are quartered and their limbs are dumped on streets and in parks.
There are drugs dealers who are open about who they are, and there are organised criminals who operate in the shadows. The latter appear to be the worst because they hide behind an official uniform of the police or army or navy. A combination of these three now wants the head of Lucy, a 27-year-old blogger who had to flee Mexico and is now living somewhere in Spain.
Lucy’s sin was to launch the Blog del Narco, a unique space which gradually became the main source of information about the dirty war in Mexico. It’s a war being waged by the cartels, gangsters and corrupt politicians, and it is destroying Mexican society.
In its heyday, the Blog del Narco had an average of three million hits a month. Some people say the blog is required reading because it reveals the terrible levels of violence which are censored by the main news outlets in Mexico.
But things started becoming complicated, and Lucy had to go into exile in Europe. She explains that she fears the authorities more than the drugs traffickers. Her testimony is a cry of desperation.
What started as the need for information about what was happening in Mexico finished with a death threat. Her colleague, the Blog del Narco’s webmaster, disappeared. No one has heard from him. Is he dead? “Maybe”, says Lucy, “I’m prepared for the worst”.
Q: You’re now living anonymously in exile. Did you know that this would be the price you’d have to pay for opening up information spaces in a society marked by the censorship of the drugs traffickers?
No, I didn’t think that I was overstepping boundaries by reporting on the violent and bloody events taking place in Mexico. I couldn’t imagine that I would wind up in exile, living in fear.
Q: Does being abroad make it easier for you to have a clearer and more objective view of what is happening in your country?
It continues to make me sad to see that Mexico is covered in blood. It’s unbelievable, but from the outside I continue to see that there’s a great deal of censorship. The traditional media underplay the situation. It’s a pity because people have the right to be informed, and they’re the ones who are suffering the consequences of this raw violence.
Q: What’s the gap that the Narcoblog has left in terms of freedom of information in Mexico?
People had become used to being informed because the Blog del Narco was a window of information without censorship. Several months ago, legislative reforms were introduced, barring the use of terms such as executed, shooting, kidnapping ,throwing people in the trunk of a car, etc. The media is literally being gagged. So I repeat, people have a right to information, and people are demanding to be informed even though the traditional media is becoming more constrained.
Q: How would you describe the communication vacuum in Mexican society?
It’s legalised censorship. People are hungry for information, and they know full well that many traditional media manipulate it at the whim of powerful people in society.
Q: What do you mean by legalised censorship?
President Enrique Peña Nieto has been introducing legislative reforms in Mexico to fully implement legalised censorship. In various Mexican states, local congressmen have started debates about the use of social media and making the use of social networks and the information available on internet illegal. It’s the authorities themselves who are gagging the internet.
Q: Is organised crime muzzling Mexico’s press?
It’s not only organised crime, but also political groups. But there are still people who are fighting for truth.
Q: Do you fear the authorities more than the cartels?
Yes because the authorities often have more technological resources than the cartels.
Q: The Narcoblog managed to establish a line of communication with the cartels. How was it possible to maintain your editorial independence in the face of pressure from organised crime?
By being objective even with about drugs cartels. If we reported on one group, then we had to report on another. That way they could understand that the Blog del Narco wasn’t for them but for ordinary citizens to be informed.
Q: How can a journalist be objective about organised crime?
The biggest threats didn’t come from the drugs cartels but from the political group behind Felipe Calderón because he was the one who started this failed war.
Q: Do you realize that you are the most wanted blogger in the West at the moment?
Yes, I do. I never wanted to be the most wanted blogger in the hemisphere.