Posts tagged Mexico

Drawing the Line: Photographing the Drug War in Mexico

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Mexican Federal Police officers stand on top of handcuffed drug cartel assassins after arresting them in a gun battle—the assassins had gone on a killing spree in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. Mexican police are well known for corruption, human rights abuses and in many cases working in partnership with cartels. In 2008 only 38 percent of Mexican police had their high school diploma. The U.S. aid program to fight drug cartels known as the Merida Initiative supplies mostly weapons and equipment to Mexican security forces. Image by © Louie Palu/ZUMA. Mexico, 2012.

Read The Atlantic’s interview with Louie Palu, a Pulitzer Center journalist who documented the violence of the drug war along the US/Mexico border:

"I feel that organized crime groups pose a greater risk to each one of us on a daily basis than terrorists or the Taliban," Palu said. "Their daily goal is to corrupt all government and law enforcement in order to carry out their business on both sides of the border."

FJP: This reminded us of that NYT Lens piece on Shaul Schwarz we mentioned a while ago.

(via PulitzerCenter)

There is no doubt that the newspaper has increasingly become less an information source. When the newspaper reaches our doorstep every morning, we already know much of what ir reports. This is not to say that their function is already irrelevant. On the contrary, the change creates a new space for the journalistic rigor and depth that “new media” tend to despise. Yet, I think the worst temptation is to be fall for the offer of the new player, and surrender to its aesthetic code, to its pace, to its appetite.

It seems that my newspaper [Reforma] is ready to free more room for famous derrières (of either artists or politicians), and less for the long careful reportage, the serious reliable journalism, and those news pieces written with much respect for language, information, and the people. My newspaper is losing direction by gravitating toward the power of graphics, by getting rid of smart collaborations, by destroying any sense of priority, by shedding a thin-but-always-pertinent Culture section, giving in to frivolity as never before. I am saying this here because this is where it must be said.

Writer Jesús Silva-Herzog Márquez in his weekly op-ed (in Spanish) at Periódico Reforma (Mexico City), after the unveiling of a radical new visual design of its print version (paywall) in time for their 20th Anniversary. 

Background: For illustration:

Developing Latin America 2013: #DAL2013

The Developing Latin America Apps Challenge successfully took place this past week across the continent. Here, Global Voices shares an interesting summary (presented in halves: part 1 & part 2) of what happened in some of the participating countries (Guatemala, Chile, Argentina, Costa Rica, Mexico, Bolivia, Paraguay, Perú, Ecuador, Brazil, and Colombia, among others).

FJP: A really amazing project. You can follow the official hashtag on Twitter to learn more about winners and accomplishments (way too many, fortunately). 

(via Global Voices)

In a serious move, PENamerican will bring the plight of Mexican journalists to the UN Human Rights Council. 

PEN American Center will be in Geneva next week to press our concerns about free expression in Mexico, China, and Nigeria. All three countries come under scrutiny this month as part of the United Nations Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review process, which examines the human rights record of each UN member country every four years. Now in its sixth year, the UPR has become an vital mechanism for documenting and discouraging human rights violations around the world, and an important forum for PEN to focus international attention on countries where writers and journalists are especially at risk. Very high on that list is Mexico, where forty-six journalists have been killed since 2006. PEN American Center has been protesting the violence against journalists in Mexico for more than a decade, and in 2012 we joined an international delegation to call for the federalization of crimes against journalists—crimes which previously went unsolved because they fell under state jurisdiction. The Senate voted to federalize the crimes, but the Mexican government has been slow to assert its new authority to investigate and prosecute attacks, as Freedom to Write director Larry Siems noted after a follow-up visit to Mexico earlier this year.

(via PENamerican)

In a serious move, PENamerican will bring the plight of Mexican journalists to the UN Human Rights Council. 

PEN American Center will be in Geneva next week to press our concerns about free expression in Mexico, China, and Nigeria. All three countries come under scrutiny this month as part of the United Nations Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review process, which examines the human rights record of each UN member country every four years. Now in its sixth year, the UPR has become an vital mechanism for documenting and discouraging human rights violations around the world, and an important forum for PEN to focus international attention on countries where writers and journalists are especially at risk. Very high on that list is Mexico, where forty-six journalists have been killed since 2006. PEN American Center has been protesting the violence against journalists in Mexico for more than a decade, and in 2012 we joined an international delegation to call for the federalization of crimes against journalists—crimes which previously went unsolved because they fell under state jurisdiction. The Senate voted to federalize the crimes, but the Mexican government has been slow to assert its new authority to investigate and prosecute attacks, as Freedom to Write director Larry Siems noted after a follow-up visit to Mexico earlier this year.

(via PENamerican)

In Mexico City, a journalism workshop empowers sex workers
It’s been three years already since Gloria Muñoz started a workshop on journalism and storytelling specially designed for sex workers (10 enrolled thus far).
The ‘Aquiles Baeza' workshop (a formal name that doubles as a funny macho wordplay according to local slang), is “an attempt to both dignify their work and claim their rights as part of the urban working-class sector,” says Muñoz.
Mérida, a sex worker from the La Marced neighborhood, declared in a recent episode of the Desinformémonos podcast (in Spanish) that they "want to inform what is really going on behind the street corners."
The Colombian newspaper El Tiempo has more:

Muñoz says that these women “do not believe in the media, because of the discriminatory way in which they’re constantly portrayed.” This is the reason why Muñoz was prompted to teach them how to tell their own stories and empower them with the right tools and all the resources they might need.

Krishna, one of the students, easily remembers what they have learned so far: “They taught us how to identify what constitutes a newspaper, what is a briefing note, an article, an editorial piece, and several other journalistic genres. We are also learning good writing and editing techniques, as well as how to find a neutral tone in our narratives, in spite of us being the sex workers.”

Muñoz told us that spelling and reporting skills are also included in the syllabus of the workshop; all this in intensive weekly sessions that run at least for four hours straight. Moreover, since the education level of each sex worker is different, workshop sessions are being adapted in order to fit them individually.

[It’s interesting that] When they go out looking for stories, they usually end up in places where none of us could ever get to; once there, they can speak their own language and use their own personal context in order to quickly grasp the drama, the joy and the daily life of their peers. Upon returning to the workshop with the gathered material, they process it, they transcribe the interviews and assemble the final draft of their stories.


For Muñoz, these women are no longer the same since they decided to get into journalism; they all got new viewpoints, new perspectives, and a new conceptual balance of love and hate. “They now have two identities, one being a sex worker and the other, a journalist. Take to the streets to defend their rights, they carry a banner in one hand and a tape recorder in the other.” 

FJP: It is always amazing the way journalism can change individual lives and possitively affect our societies at large. 
Image: Tesoro, a transgender sex worker who attended the workshop, via DesInformémonos.  

In Mexico City, a journalism workshop empowers sex workers

It’s been three years already since Gloria Muñoz started a workshop on journalism and storytelling specially designed for sex workers (10 enrolled thus far).

The ‘Aquiles Baeza' workshop (a formal name that doubles as a funny macho wordplay according to local slang), is “an attempt to both dignify their work and claim their rights as part of the urban working-class sector,” says Muñoz.

Mérida, a sex worker from the La Marced neighborhood, declared in a recent episode of the Desinformémonos podcast (in Spanish) that they "want to inform what is really going on behind the street corners."

The Colombian newspaper El Tiempo has more:

Muñoz says that these women “do not believe in the media, because of the discriminatory way in which they’re constantly portrayed.” This is the reason why Muñoz was prompted to teach them how to tell their own stories and empower them with the right tools and all the resources they might need.

Krishna, one of the students, easily remembers what they have learned so far: “They taught us how to identify what constitutes a newspaper, what is a briefing note, an article, an editorial piece, and several other journalistic genres. We are also learning good writing and editing techniques, as well as how to find a neutral tone in our narratives, in spite of us being the sex workers.”

Muñoz told us that spelling and reporting skills are also included in the syllabus of the workshop; all this in intensive weekly sessions that run at least for four hours straight. Moreover, since the education level of each sex worker is different, workshop sessions are being adapted in order to fit them individually.

[It’s interesting that] When they go out looking for stories, they usually end up in places where none of us could ever get to; once there, they can speak their own language and use their own personal context in order to quickly grasp the drama, the joy and the daily life of their peers. Upon returning to the workshop with the gathered material, they process it, they transcribe the interviews and assemble the final draft of their stories.

For Muñoz, these women are no longer the same since they decided to get into journalism; they all got new viewpoints, new perspectives, and a new conceptual balance of love and hate. “They now have two identities, one being a sex worker and the other, a journalist. Take to the streets to defend their rights, they carry a banner in one hand and a tape recorder in the other.” 

FJP: It is always amazing the way journalism can change individual lives and possitively affect our societies at large. 

Image: Tesoro, a transgender sex worker who attended the workshop, via DesInformémonos.  

Univisión takes home an IRE award

Univisión, the US Spanish-speaking broadcasting company, recently won an IRE award in the Broadcast Video category for their in-depth investigation on the Fast and Furious scandal, carried out by journalists Gerardo Reyes, Tomás Ocaña, Mariana Atencio, María Antonieta Collins, Tifani Roberts, Vytenis Didziulis, Margarita Rabin. 

After giving the award, the IRE judges had this to say:

In a yearlong investigation, hundreds of classified Mexican documents were obtained with great difficulty under the Mexican public access law. A database of 60,000 entries was combined with US government documents to find 57 previously unreported lost weapons under the “Fast and Furious” program and to show the depth in human cost.

Univision detailed previously unknown crimes committed with those weapons - including the shooting of 14 teens at a birthday party – and uncovered similar U.S. programs in Colombia, Honduras and Puerto Rico that also went awry.

As a result of Univision’s diligence, the Mexican Congress asked for economic compensation for the victims of massacres in which guns from the “Fast and Furious” operation were used.

A public debate erupted in Mexico on how much the Mexican government knew. Congress pressed the U.S. Justice Department for more information, and one U..S Congressman called “Rápido y Furioso” the “Holy Grail” that broke the case.

And this is a fragment of Univisión’s original submission:

Although the hundreds of classified us and Mexican government documents weren’t obtained through a FOI request, we believe our process of gathering and comparing comprehensive information from two different governments, resulted in a story that did “open records and open government” in a unique and revealing way that could not be achieved by simply filing a FOI request.

Bonus: The eight-country collaborative investigative effort Plunder in the Pacific was a runner-up in the Multiplatform category, after revealing how Asian, European and Latin American fleets have devastated what was once one of the world’s great fish stocks (jack mackerel). The project was led by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, in synergy with Latin American journalists from IDL-Reporteros (Perú) and CIPER (Chile).

Video: Courtesy of Univisión’s news show Aquí y Ahora

Swallow Mag on Mexico City: flabbergasting!

Swallow has devoted its third issue to our beloved Mexico City, as reported by The New York Times’s Maria Newman in a short introductory blog post

What is remarkable about this issue, though, apart from the stunning and jaw-dropping photography, is a strange new feature that, in our view, exponentiates the scope of basic written storytelling:

"A scratch-and-sniff feature that brings you the smells of the sprawling metropolis”.

Delicious, or maybe not, depending on your sensibility towards all things chilangoYet, we kind of wonder if this trend-setting feature will eventually embody the future of travel writing/reporting for print publications; a disruptive device hard impossible to find in digital publications.

Here is the rationale behind that editorial decision:

This time, said James Casey, the magazine’s editor, they decided to include the ambitious olfactory project, put together by Sissel Tolaas, a fragrance expert and artist. Mr. Casey had reached out to Ms. Tolaas after he heard of a project she had done that reproduced the smells from 200 Mexico City neighborhoods.

This issue of Swallow includes 20 scratch-and-sniff stickers throughout that are imbued with the aromas of one of the city’s many colonias, or neighborhoods. (Reproducing the smells in the magazine was a complex undertaking for their printers in Singapore, and is partly the reason it took more than a year to publish.) Not all of the odors are pleasant.

FJP: We can only hope that our fellow Chilanga-in-Portland is not the only one left awestruck:

Images: Assorted local snacks, candies, and pastries. Partial screenshots of Swallow Magazine’s piece on Mexico City’s supermarkets.

Founder of Blog del Narco (MX) breaks silence
The Texas Observer (in collaboration with The Guardian) has a story on the admin of one of the most famous anonymous blogs nowadays: Blog del Narco, a must-read for authorities, drug gangs and ordinary people in Mexico mainly because it lays bare, day after day, horrific violence censored by mainstream media.   
Their most breathtaking find? Yes, the blog is operated by a young, brave woman (kind of a big deal for Mexico’s traditional machismo establishment).
The rest of the story is fascinating and provides a much larger context on how the blog works, it is definitely worth your time. Yet, these are our main takeaways:

I don’t think people ever imagined it was a woman doing this. Who am I? I’m in my mid 20s, I live in northern Mexico, I’m a journalist. I’m a woman, I’m single, I have no children. And I love Mexico.
I’m in love with my culture, with my country, despite all that’s going on. Because we’re not all bad. We’re not all narcos. We’re not all corrupt. We’re not all murderers. We are well educated, even if many [foreign] people think otherwise.
We have thought about quitting the blog thousands of times. But we haven’t because we have to get the message out. They have stolen our tranquility, our dreams, our peace.
Only my close family knows, no one else. We change where we live every month. We’ve been in basements. It’s very difficult. We hide our equipment in different places. If the authorities get close we run.

FJP: Follow our Mexico tag for more coverage of the Drug War.
Image: Partial screenshot of Blog del Narco’s first published book Dying for the Truth: Undercover Inside the Mexican Drug War, via Feral House. 

Founder of Blog del Narco (MX) breaks silence

The Texas Observer (in collaboration with The Guardian) has a story on the admin of one of the most famous anonymous blogs nowadays: Blog del Narco, a must-read for authorities, drug gangs and ordinary people in Mexico mainly because it lays bare, day after day, horrific violence censored by mainstream media.   

Their most breathtaking find? Yes, the blog is operated by a young, brave woman (kind of a big deal for Mexico’s traditional machismo establishment).

The rest of the story is fascinating and provides a much larger context on how the blog works, it is definitely worth your time. Yet, these are our main takeaways:

I don’t think people ever imagined it was a woman doing this. Who am I? I’m in my mid 20s, I live in northern Mexico, I’m a journalist. I’m a woman, I’m single, I have no children. And I love Mexico.

I’m in love with my culture, with my country, despite all that’s going on. Because we’re not all bad. We’re not all narcos. We’re not all corrupt. We’re not all murderers. We are well educated, even if many [foreign] people think otherwise.

We have thought about quitting the blog thousands of times. But we haven’t because we have to get the message out. They have stolen our tranquility, our dreams, our peace.

Only my close family knows, no one else. We change where we live every month. We’ve been in basements. It’s very difficult. We hide our equipment in different places. If the authorities get close we run.

FJP: Follow our Mexico tag for more coverage of the Drug War.

Image: Partial screenshot of Blog del Narco’s first published book Dying for the Truth: Undercover Inside the Mexican Drug War, via Feral House

Readers Capture the Complexity of the U.S.-Mexican Border

What does life look like along the 2,000 miles of the US-Mexico border? The New York Times crowdsourced reader photos, from the intimate to the aerial, to tell the visual story. 

FJP: One of the best crowdsourced interactive features we’ve seen in a long time. Yet, you will need more than a thousand pictures to really grasp what exactly is going on along the US-Mexico border, one of the busiest in the world. And, as you most certainly know, it is not only about Tijuana anymore, but about a long series of bordertowns than span all the way East until the Rio Grande Valley.

H/T: Propublica.

PEN Ups Pressure in Mexico as Another Journalist Is Murdered

penamerican:

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The murder this week of Jaime Guadalupe González Dominguez, who edited and reported for the community news web site Ojinaga Noticiasin Ojinaga, Chihuahua, is the first killing of a colleague in Mexico since President Enrique Peña Nieto took office in December, but at least the 47th murder of a Mexican journalist since 2006. It comes as the United Nations is beginning its triennial review of the human rights situation in Mexico and as representatives of the global PEN community are preparing to return to Mexico City to assess progress in protecting journalists over the past year.

As our Rapid Action alert details, González was shot 18 times by a group of armed men with large-caliber firearms in the center of Ojinaga. He was reportedly working on the second in a series of stories about issues affecting people who work on the streets, and the web site he edited had just posted a story about recent arrests and murders in Ojinaga. González reportedly established the web site after being forced to resign as a journalist for the newspaper Contacto because of threats.