Since a long-simmering dispute erupted into open warfare between the Gulf drug cartel and its former enforcers, the Zetas, censorship of news has reached unprecedented dimensions along much of Mexico’s border with Texas, reports the Dallas Morning News. A virtual news blackout has been imposed, enforced by threats, abductions, and attacks against journalists.
In the past 14 days, at least eight Mexican journalists have been abducted in the Reynosa area, which is across the border from McAllen. One reportedly died after a severe beating. Two were released by their captors. The rest are missing. Even by the vicious standards of Mexico’s drug cartels, the intimidation campaign is more far-reaching effective than other attempts to squelch media coverage of cartel activities. It is virtually impossible to report safely or even ask questions. “We are under a virtual gag order,” said Jorge Luís Sierra, a freelance journalist and researcher who lives in McAllen. “We live in silence.”