5-1-2013By Christopher Plummer
A. Whitney Ellsworth Fellow
As one of the main corridors for drug trafficking between Mexico and the United States, Nuevo Laredo has long been a hotspot for drug cartel related violence. Law enforcement officials who dared to investigate and the cartels have suffered grisly deaths. The violence has also been directed at bloggers and other journalists.
In late September, 2011, the decapitated body of Maria Elizabeth Macías Castro, 39, a freelance journalist and online commentator known as “La Nena de Laredo,” was found on a roadside in Nuevo Laredo. Next to her body was a message stating she had been targeted for reporting on cartel business, and next to her head, a keyboard with a pair of headphones.
Her website, Nuevo Laredo en Vivo, provided a forum for anonymous sources to report on gang and cartel activity in Nuevo Laredo and the surrounding area of Tamaulipas. Shortly following her death, three more bloggers were found similarly murdered, accompanied by notes signed with a “Z,” the symbol for a powerful regional criminal organization known as Los Zetas.
Cartel violence in Mexico threatens both the lives and civil liberties of citizens. As long as the violence continues unabated, civil liberties of the people of Nuevo Laredo will exist only on paper.
During the planned visit to Mexico this week, Human Rights First urges President Obama to call on Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto to protect the lives and liberty of bloggers and other journalists.
This is part of a series of profiles highlighting the plight of journalists at risk for World Press Freedom Day.