Media Under Attack in Tamaulipas

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News outlets in the state of Tamaulipas are under attack even though they ceased printing anything in depth about cartel violence years ago. Gunmen attacked at least two media outlets in the last week.

The latest assault happened last Friday at El Mañana newspaper in Nuevo Laredo.  Intense fighting has picked up again in the city since “El Chapo” Guzman and the Sinaloa Cartel reportedly moved in to battle the Zetas for control of the lucrative smuggling corridor, according to the Dallas Morning News.

At least six men with their faces covered opened fire on the El Mañana building and threw a grenade. Several cars outside were destroyed but there were no injuries, according to several media reports from Mexico.

A week earlier, the office of the Reynosa newspaper Hora Cero was shot up by several gunmen. No injuries were reported.

This is the second attack on El Mañana in Nuevo Laredo. In 2006, the newsroom was attacked with a grenade and riddled with bullets, leaving one reporter partially paralyzed. An editor at the publication was murdered in 2004.

On Sunday, the newspaper responded to the attack with an editorial saying that they will not publish any news related to drug violence, “because of the lack of conditions for the free exercise of journalism.”

There have been 27 armed attacks against publications in Mexico since 2010, most of them in northern Mexico where the majority of cartels are fighting for territory. At least 100 journalists have been killed in Mexico since 2000 — several in just the last month in Veracruz, including Regina Martinez from Proceso magazine.

Mexico’s journalists are the canary in the coal mine. A choice like El Mañana’s, to give up reporting on drug violence altogether, is just one of the most visible signs of Mexico’s fragile, crumbling democracy.

Melissa del Bosque joined The Texas Observer staff in 2008. She specializes in reporting on immigration and the U.S.-Mexico border. Her work has been published in national and international publications including TIME magazine and the Mexico City-based Nexos magazine. She has a master’s in public health from Texas A&M University and a master’s in journalism from the University of Texas at Austin.