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14 September 2011

Social media retribution killings in Mexico


Alarming reports have surfaced of a gruesome double murder in Mexico that saw a man and a woman mutilated, disembowelled and left to hang from a bridge in the town of Laredo in apparent retribution for their activities on social media platforms denouncing the activities of drug cartels operating in the region.

Handwritten posters left near the bodies carried the warning, “This is going to happen to all of those posting funny things on the internet”

Laredo killings

Such is the power of the cartels that a lot of the media choose to self-censor its coverage of the Mexican government’s war on drugs. As a result, locals have turned to social networks like Twitter and blog platforms to stay aware of potential trouble in their communities. Bloggers who specialise in covering action against the drug cartels have been threatened before, but this incident in Laredo is thought to be the first time that individuals using social networks have been attacked. Two blogs were named in the warning posters, Al Rojo Vivo and Blog del Narco.

The victims were left hanging for 35 hours before they were discovered, and as yet remain unidentified.  The style of the killings is in-keeping with other narcotics related violence, although the local public prosecutor’s office admits it will be a “nearly impossible task” to identify those responsible.

It was nearly a year ago today that Vicente Fox, former President of Mexico, called upon the Latin American media industry to support his calls for the decriminalisation of drugs in Mexico. During his speech at the Festival of Media Latam in October 2010, Fox cited the 28,000 lives that had been lost so far in the Mexican drugs gang war, which had achieved little in curbing the power of the cartels. Fox reasons that decriminalisation will disrupt the illegal narcotics market.

It’s a bold move, but perhaps bold moves are required in a situation that has reached a bloody stalemate. 



Part of Fox's presentation from Festival of Media Latam 2010 can be seen here: 



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