“We want you to explain to us what you want from us,” asked Sunday’s front-page editorial in El Diario in the Mexican city of Ciudad Juárez asked the leaders of organized crime, the New York Times reports. “What are we supposed to publish or not publish, so we know what to abide by. You are at this time the de facto authorities in this city because the legal authorities have not been able to stop our colleagues from falling.” In Ciudad Juárez, with thousands killed each year and the exodus of tens of thousands of residents, the biggest national holiday was observed last week in a square virtually devoid of anybody but the police and soldiers, and the ever-present fear of random death.
The question is whether anyone there will dare to continue documenting the turmoil in Ciudad Juárez, a smuggling crossroads across from El Paso that is battled over by at least two major criminal organizations. El Diario’s open letter to the city’s drug lords and the authorities it believes have failed to protect the public ran the day after the funeral of Luis Carlos Santiago, 21, a photography intern at the paper who was shot dead leaving a shopping mall after lunch. A car drove up. A barrage of bullets. Santiago, shot in the head, died instantly while another intern, who was wounded, stumbled and dragged himself to safety in the mall and is recuperating. Along the border, news organizations have silenced themselves for fear of intimidation from drug trafficking organizations. El Diario had a reputation for carrying on — and paying a price. One of its reporters was gunned down two years ago.