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Female Founder of Mexico’s Most Controversial Blog Speaks for First Time

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Dying for the Truth: Undercover inside Mexico's violent drug war
Dying for the Truth: Undercover inside Mexico's violent drug war, a new book from Blog del Narco.

This story was produced in partnership with the Guardian, where a version of this story also appears.

The Guardian

For three years it has chronicled Mexico’s drug war with graphic images and shocking stories that few others dare show, drawing millions of readers, acclaim, denunciations – and speculation about its author’s identity.

Blog del Narco has become a must-read for authorities, drug gangs and ordinary people because it lays bare, day after day, horrific violence censored by Mexico’s mainstream media.

The anonymous author has been a source of mystery, with Mexico wondering who he is and his motivation for such risky reporting.

Now in their first major interview since launching the blog, the author has spoken to the Guardian and The Texas Observer – and revealed that she is in fact a young woman.

“I don’t think people ever imagined it was a woman doing this,” said the blogger, who asked to use pseudonym Lucy to protect her real identity.

“Who am I? I’m in my mid 20s, I live in northern Mexico, I’m a journalist. I’m a woman, I’m single, I have no children. And I love Mexico.”

The interview marks the first time Lucy has spoken directly about the motivations for running a blog thatcould cost her her life. In the early days, her male colleague who manages the technical side engaged in a few short, anonymous email exchanges with reporters, but neither has spoken out since.

She said she wanted to show the truth of what was happening to help turn the page, she said. “I’m in love with my culture, with my country, despite all that’s going on. Because we’re not all bad. We’re not all narcos. We’re not all corrupt. We’re not all murderers. We are well educated, even if many [foreign] people think otherwise.”

Both she and her colleague live in daily fear of retribution, either from the cartels or government forces, she said. She revealed that a young man and woman tortured, disemboweled and hung from a bridge in September 2011 – murders which shocked even atrocity-hardened Mexicans – were collaborators on the blog. “They used to send us photographs. That was very hard, very painful.”

Despite those fears, however, Lucy is about to publish a book that gives an inside account of the blog and provides the most gruesome, explicit account yet of the mayhem that the cartel wars have brought to Mexico. “Dying for the Truth: Undercover inside Mexico’s violent drug war,” is to be published on April 16 in English and Spanish and documents a full year of killings from 2010, a pivotal year.

“I did the book to show what was happening,” she said. “When I finished I was able to breathe because I had worried about being killed before finishing. But the book is there, it’s there on paper, a testament to what we have suffered in Mexico in these years of war.”

Adam Parfrey, head of the independent Washington State-based publisher Feral House, which specializes in taboo topics, said the book would be bound in a police tape-type band as warning of its contents. “It’s gruesome and horrible. It goes far beyond anything I’ve ever dealt with. It’s an important element of what’s happening in our southern neighbor.”

The inside account of Blog del Narco, an internet sensation dubbed a “front row seat” to Mexico’s agony, comes at a sensitive time. President Barack Obama is due to visit Mexico in early May for talks with his counterpart Enrique Peña Nieto, who since taking office last December has tamped down confrontations with the drug lords and the ensuing media attention.

Even so, drug-related violence claimed nearly 3,200 lives in his administration’s first three months, according to government figures, and in recent weeks killings have spiked along the border, and in the tourist city of Cancun. Cartels are increasingly sending agents to live and work in US cities such as Chicago, according to a recent AP investigation.

The legalization of marijuana in Colorado and Washington has intensified pressure on Washington to review its four-decade-old “war” on marijuana, cocaine and other narcotics, much trafficked through Mexico.

After President Felipe Calderon declared his own war on Mexico’s drug cartels in 2006, sparking anarchic turf battles between groups like Sinaloa, La Linea and the Zetas, and bloody interventions by the police and armed forces, who have been accused of siding with criminals. More than 70,000 people died and 27,000 disappeared by the time he finished his term last year.

Intimidation of journalists – dozens have been murdered, often sadistically – neutered news coverage by newspapers, radio and television stations. Massacres, kidnappings, corruption, even pitched battles in city centers, often went unreported.

Blog del Narco sprang up three years ago to fill the vacuum left by cowed journalistic colleagues who could not even report vital information such as narco roadblocks and kidnappings.

Over time Blog del Narco acquired multiple sources, including drug gangs, and became indispensable reading, drawing more than 3m hits monthly. It provides bulletins, pictures and video of abductions, shoot-outs, executions and the discovery of bodies as well as severed human heads, limbs and torsos. One video showed cartel members interrogating a captured rival and then decapitating him.

Critics accuse the blog of being a public relations forum for narcos, but Lucy said the material showed reality and helped families identify missing relatives. “If it wasn’t for the blog often bodies wouldn’t be identified.”

Narcos occasionally sent photos of themselves partying with pop stars but the blog refused to publish such material, she said. The blog takes advertising from car and mobile phone makers, among others. Lucy has told no friends about her clandestine activity. “My close family knows, no one else.”

The blog had come under repeated cyber-attack – the government was more aggressive than narcos in this regard, she said—but the main concern was being identified and captured, either by narcos or government forces who have been accused of multiple abuses.

“We change where we live every month. We’ve been in basements. It’s very difficult. We hide our equipment in different places. If the authorities get close we run.”

A sign left by the young couple disemboweled in 2011 in the state of Tamaulipas said the bloggers were next. Lucy had not met the couple but received material from them via email. A few days later another contributor was killed. A keyboard, mouse and sign mentioning the blog were strewn over the corpse. “It’s very painful. But they believed this work was necessary.”

Lucy said it was too soon to judge Peña Nieto’s administration but that she had already noted one change. In contrast to Calderon-era officials, who silenced journalists with threats and bribes, the new government appeared to want to do it through repressive laws, she said. The government denies wanting to stifle the media.

“We have thought about quitting the blog thousands of times. But we haven’t because we have to get the message out. They have stolen our tranquility, our dreams, our peace.” Lucy said she was tired of living in fear but had no plans to give up the blog. It has spawned other anonymous blogs carrying similar material.

The revelation she was female would surprise many, said Lucy. “It’s a strong blow to Mexican machismo and the idea women are weaker, more delicate. There is an expectation for women to always look pretty. But we’re much more than that.”

She tried to relax, she said, with music, coffee and cigarettes. She missed having a normal life. “My only boyfriend is the blog. A whole phase of my life, boyfriends, going to parties, hanging out with friends, I’ve missed it. Getting married, having babies, there’s not been time to think of any of that.”

She hoped the book, which focuses on 2010 and 2011, will stand as a historical record. In addition to stomach-turning photographs it includes a glossary of terms such as “encintado”—the binding of a victim with duct tape—and “encobijado”—wrapping a murdered person in a blanket or sheet. It will initially be on sale only in the U.S. but the publisher, Feral House, hopes Mexican booksellers will stock it.

Lucy said she had recently take a paying job but would continue the blog. “My plans for the future? To live. That’s my hope for the short, medium and long term.”

  • http://twitter.com/K_Mennem K. Mennem

    95% or more of Blog Del Narcos info is complete plagiarism. These are not anonymous sources. They are copy and paste jobs from news-sites and blogs across Mexico and the US border region. They give no credit to authors or other websites. They rarely post info first.

    I wish you would have done some research before this article was published.

    • http://twitter.com/creechan jim_creechan

      In my view, you’ve just lost whatever street cred you may have gained from your reports about Mexico. Hombre, this “Lucy” has cojones. It’s easy for us on this side of the Rio Bravo to insist on niceties and polite academic manners. Her life is on the line, as are the lives of numerous journalists in Mexico. When is the last time an American journalist has been executed, decapitado, decuartizado for writing a story. Don Bolles in Arizona offended the mafia and paid for it with his life – but since then?. In Mexico, journalists disappear and die regularly. For God’s sake, recognize the courage and the power of this site.

      • http://twitter.com/K_Mennem K. Mennem

        I dont think you get it Jim. This site rarely publishes its own material. It steals material from journalists, including friends of mine. Journalists across Mexico have been complaining for years that this site is taking their credit. This is not the only site that reports on crime in Mexico, numerous local reporters are doing this and not hiding their names. These are the journalists who are losing credit for their work.

        • http://twitter.com/creechan jim_creechan

          From Reforma…April 5, 2013.

        • http://twitter.com/creechan jim_creechan

          And Agression by State… from Reforma April 5 2013. Journalism in Mexico IS different

      • http://twitter.com/K_Mennem K. Mennem

        I sent you links to your Twitter for examples of their plagiarism of a friends of mine. It occurred as recent as this week. Blog del Narco stole the article and gave no credit, not even a word, to the write. They stole it word for word, even the photo.

        • http://twitter.com/nya_garrido NyaNya Kaboom!

          Well, but what’s the real important point of these blogs? To get recognition for your articles (written thousands of miles AWAY from the real deal) or people in Mexico getting to know what’s really going on in their own country?
          Blog del Narco helps a lot here in Mexico, we are the ones suffering for all of this shit, you don’t have to get your hands dirty, you only write articles and that’s it. Your lives are not in danger, hers is.
          Yeah, maybe Lucy and her team are taking articles and photos from other sites, but the point here is to gather all the information, is to inform and many of these blogs (from where the material is being taken) aren’t known in my country…

          Yup. it’s your friend’s work, but why does he/she write about that? If she/he wants people to know about all of this crap that ocurrs here in Mexico, well, people are being informed anyway, huh?

          (Sorry for my bad English, it’s been a while…)

          • http://twitter.com/K_Mennem K. Mennem

            NO, your completely wrong. These articles are written point zero. Journalists and bloggers are putting themselves on the line in MEXICO, not in the US. They are stealing from Mexican journalists who are getting no CREDIT! Stop the stealing! There is no way to justify this.

          • http://twitter.com/K_Mennem K. Mennem

            what part of Mexico do you live in that you see no others reporting on crime? Let me know and I will give you numerous outlets to follow.

          • http://narcconoticias.blogspot.com/ Andresme

            She is not in danger, the ones in real danger are the original owners of the news articles. She only copy and paste.

      • http://narcconoticias.blogspot.com/ Andresme

        She is a coward for taking other people’s work.

      • bitrat

        Yes…..Exactamente Jimenez…..it’s a sad story that has to be told….Gracias por su “post”

  • http://www.facebook.com/adam.parfrey Adam Parfrey

    Few if any of the articles and gruesome images in Blog del Narco or the book Dying for the Truth were ever published in the Mexican or American press. How could they have been plagiarized? Speaking authoritatively from your rear end.

    • http://twitter.com/K_Mennem K. Mennem

      Not in mainstream press, your just not looking in the right places. Dozens of Mexicans sites report on the drug war. Want me to post them for you?

      • http://twitter.com/K_Mennem K. Mennem

        Plagiarism at its best. Here is an example

        blogdelnarco.com/2013/04/taxista-es-ejecutado-en-morelos/#more-18490 <on the 4th

        oem.com.mx/elsoldecuernavaca/notas/n2934104.htm <on the 2nd.. ^Blog del Narco stole this and gave them no credit!

        • http://twitter.com/K_Mennem K. Mennem

          It wouldnt let me post the links but you can contact my twitter as we are discussing this now

  • http://help-matrix.ning.com/ Peter S Lopez

    We need to deal with the failed Drug War and stop all these senseless killings. It is complicated because it involves the demand for drugs on both sides of the border. U.S. citizens are the biggest dope fiends in the world. Money is at the bottom of it, or rather, the love of money. @Peta_de_Aztlan c/s

  • disqus_TAirE14KdR

    I am the administrator of the Forum page on Borderland Beat, a website which reports for the English speaking audience on the Mexican cartel wars. Blog del narco regularly takes stories, photos, and videos from our website and posts them as their stories. Even putting their watermark on photos and videos that we had previously published. We do not object to our material being republished. We don’t like other sites taking our material and claiming it as theirs. Many of us spend many hours every day volunteering our time and are not happy when someone else takes our work without crediting us. That is stealing.

    • http://twitter.com/K_Mennem K. Mennem

      Thank you. I have also have info stolen from Blog del Narco without any credit given whatsoever. They are making money from cheap advertisements. My site is non-profit.

  • Narco Trafico
  • Narco Trafico

    Even the name is plagiarized from elblogdelnarco.com founded on 2008. Secret identity? i can tell you names and address, this is just bad reporting…

    • http://twitter.com/K_Mennem K. Mennem

      thank you. I myself have had original posts stolen from Blog del Narco. This is horrible reporting.

  • http://twitter.com/K_Mennem K. Mennem

    @borderreporter wrote in 2010 about the blatant plagiarism by Blog del Narco @MundoNarco @lnfoNarco @rorycarroll72 http://borderreporter.com/2010/08/blogueros-no-periodista/

  • geminiiboy1

    Borderlandbeat are a bunch of frauds. They claim to have “contacts” but do nothing but rewrite other peoples work. They censor anything they feel does not leave a positive light on the page. DD you are just n Buela’s jock. She is the worst of the bunch. Claims to be a millionaire. Claims to have charities all over the world. Everything with her is bigger, stronger, faster, and you are washing her dirty panties. Buela can’t even speak spanish. She uses a translator to understand the mexican pieces she reads for her rewrites and copy and pastes. You guys are nothing but the pot calling the kettle black.

    • disqus_TAirE14KdR

      Hi Chivo

  • http://twitter.com/RafaelNorma Rafael Norma

    Poor #Mexico; so near from the United States of amnesia and so far from god!

    [url]http://i548.photobucket.com/albums/ii350/RAFAELNORMAM/CARICATURAS8/DrugconsumptionbyUSersofdrugs-2.png[/url]

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Pancho-Villista/100003242271338 Pancho Villista

    THIS LUCY IS DOING A GREAT JOB. KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK. I WISH I CAN MEET HER. I DON’T DRINK BEER,I DON’T SMOKE, I DON’T PARTY AND I AM SINGLE TOO, AND I LIVE ABOUT 15 MILES FROM THE MEXICAN BORDER ON THE USA SIDE. HEY LUCY IF YOU NEED ANYTHING I CAN HELP YOU. TAKE CARE MY FRIEND.

  • http://narcconoticias.blogspot.com/ Andresme

    This book is pure plagiarism and not anonymous sources like she said. She said that she is the only one who tells the truth and she claims to be brave, but it is all a big fat lie. the only brave people here are the real journalist that happened to be in the field collecting information to write their news articles.

    She is a coward who take the work of others and call it her own.

  • http://twitter.com/tonyzama tony zama

    blog del narco is dead, maybe lucy too, watch out guys, the new PRI has a different tactic to stop bad news about mexico.

  • macbroadcast

    So you talking about “plagiatism” ? Are the people on the videos plagiate ?

  • bitrat

    What a woman! I would be proud to call her my daughter….un abrazo fuerte a “Lucy” y su familia….Vale!

  • cee

    a true journalist dont look for credit, they do it for the love they have of getting the story right.there are plenty of american journalist in mexico working with other getting the story,there just being very careful , if they get kill for them so be it, thats not going to stop them from getting the truth.