Associated Press Ignores Mexican Drug War News? subject logo: MILGAM
2010-08-19
Posted by: badanov

Crossposted at Rantburg.com
by Chris Covert

Rantburg has posted links to an Associated Press article about the Mexican Blog del Narco, the last of which was last night.

No question Blog del Narco has made a tremendous splash in coverage of Mexico's drug and gang war. I have myself used some of the information contained in Blog del Narco to add additional details that Mexican press does not, or cannot provide.

The July 2nd gun battle between criminal gangs in Tubutama, Sonora is a very good example. You can see the Rantburg summary of the battle here.

A few days later a series of photos emerged from the area showed it was not just an intergang firefight. It was an ambush by Los Zetas versus a Sinaloa subgroup called Command X. How did I know that? From the comments on Blog del Narco. It was obvious from the comments that some of the commenters were people who had detailed knowledge of the ambush and explained that is wasn't just a firefight. It was a massacre.

The tone of the comments was such that they were either experienced Mexican security or they were experienced gang members with what I would call advanced knowledge of small unit tactics. Looking at the photos before reading the comments all I saw was a bunch of young men gunned down in the middle of a desert road. But for the comments I would not have figured out what took place.

The big story for Blog del Narco was the Torreon massacre at the Italia Inn on July 17th. Two things took place within days of the killings. The first was an announcement by one of Blog del Narco commenters had two months before warned about meetings and the people at the inn. We found out that the hotel was used by Coahuila's gay community to meet, but that the meeting had been canceled only days before due to heavy rains.

The existence of the commenter placed the killings in a different light entirely. Instead of being a massacre about contraband smuggling routes, it became a terrorist attack, a genuine one driven by politics.

Then a day later, a video came out. It showed a Ciudad Lerdo, Durango police officer, Rodlfo Najera, beaten and bloody, confessing that prisoners and guards at a Gomez Palacio prison were involved in a number of similar massacres in the Torreon area against Los Zetas operated facilities. Najera had been captured by Los Zetas and forced to confess his knowledge of involvement of senior prison officials in Gomez Palacio CERESO No 2 before he was murdered on camera.

A few days later, the prison was taken over by Mexican Federal forces, the top staff at the prison placed in preventative detention.

By any accounts a tremendous coup for any blogger.

But now we have the US Associated Press which lumbers in with all the grace of defensive tackle William Perry performing for a ballet company, to report on Blog del Narco.

Much of the article appears to be true, but it also appears that AP didn't do its homework. There are a number of other blogs which do as good a job as Blog del Narco. I have used some of the information contained in them to fill in the blanks. El Blog del Terror is one and Nota Roja is another. As with Blog del Narco, they use open sources of information. It seems, however, the Blog del Narco is a little better informed that the others.

Originally, when I first discovered Blog del Narco, a disclaimer was on the site saying the proprietor was a journalist. Now the AP reports the proprietor is a student. I guess he could be both, and it is possible the student is up to his eyeballs in criminal connections, and it is also likely, very, very likely, the AP was simply lied to.

Two other problems I have with AP's venture into reporting on blogs. One is a comment from a woman in Nuevo Laredo who claimed she read Blog del Narco to get an idea of where shootout are taking place.

I did too, but I understand, as many of the commenters do on Blog del Narco that you read government Twitter feeds, which are sometimes rebroadcast by other associated Twitter feeds in Blog del Narco for the latest news. The shootout in Reynosa, Tamaulipas, for example, was only reported on through government Twtter feeds and private youtube videos which recorded for several minutes the sounds of gunfire from afar. Even days later other than the Mexican Army reporting on its actions we still know little to nothing about the gun battles in the city.

Blog del Narco was as much a victim of the dearth of information as the rest of us reporting on events in Reynosa.

The other problem is this passage:

Blog del Narco in less than six months has become Mexico's go-to Internet site at a time when mainstream media are feeling pressure and threats to stay away from the story.

That is from a cutline of a photo posted at Blog del Narco which showed photos of the assassination of Tamaulipas gubernatorial candidate Torres Cantu.

For those who do follow Mexican news, this must have been a "Huh?" moment. No one shied away from the story. No one. At Rantburg, the story of the assassination was posted within hours of the event and from Mexican sources, the only ones who do report on this news, and the additional information posted was gleaned from Nota Roja. We didn't post the photos because, frankly, they weren't ours to post.

This was a deliberately ignorant concept fostered by the AP that somehow Mexican press is blacking out its news on the war on drugs. They're not. Mexican press generally does a very, very good job, considering just how dangerous things are. They are diligent and critical as well as vigorous, everything an American press should be and often isn't.

One final example:

In May an armed group broke into a church wedding in Juarez and abducted four victims. We find out later from Juarez press that a New Mexico newspaper reported the victims were American, as did the El Paso times. That was day one.

On day two, two of the victims were found dead, dutifully reported by Juarez press. I saw the El paso Times report on the story. But nothing on any other news outlet. Day six ( going from memory ) a third victim was found dead. I am not sure if the El Paso Times reported on the find, but if they did, none of it got picked up by the AP. And then on day nine, the last victim was rescued by Mexican Federal agents. Finally, a regional wire story appeared on the Brownsville Herald about the rescue, but nothing else about the entire story. When I read the wire account, it appeared that this was the only wire story that was written about the entire crime.

Consider that four American citizens were abducted in Juarez, and the El Paso Times is reporting the story but the AP fails on numerous occasions to pickup the story until the last element of the crime takes place.

Yeah, there's a blackout in Mexican drug war news. Its maintained by the Associated Press.

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