Reporting on press freedom issues in China, Russia, South Africa, Sudan or elsewhere, we are accustomed to thinking of censorship as the work of the government and the judiciary. But according to a Los Angeles Times report, newspapers in Mexico are subject to an altogether different kind of restriction – “narco-censorship”.
It’s when reporters and editors, out of fear or caution, are forced to write what the traffickers want them to write, or to simply refrain from publishing the whole truth in a country where members of the press have been intimidated, kidnapped and killed.
Drug traffickers are reportedly co-opting the country’s journalists, who fear for their life following the murder or disappearance of more than 30 reporters since a drug-war was declared on the cartels by President Felipe Calderon in December 2006.
From the border states of Tamaulipas and Chihuahua and into the central and southern states of Durango and Guerrero, reporters say they are acutely aware that traffickers do not want the local news to “heat the plaza” — to draw attention to their drug production and smuggling and efforts to subjugate the population. Such attention would invite the government to send troops and curtail their business.
And so the journalists pull their punches.