October 4, 2011
The ongoing Mexican drug wars rage on and the death toll continues to climb, with at least 41,000 slain since 2006. One grisly incident after another proceeds in a gruesome parade of violence and carnage. You think you’ve heard it all, then you read another outrage.
I read of one that occurred in Boca del Rio, which is part of the Veracruz metroplex, on Mexico’s Gulf Coast. When my wife and I visited Veracruz some years back, we’d travel by bus each evening to Boca del Rio and eat shrimp in an outdoor restaurant. We felt safe.
That was then. I read of a recent incident occurring in Boca de Rio on September 20th, 2011. During rush hour, armed, masked men wearing military uniforms brazenly blocked off a busy avenue by a mall. In full sight of everybody present, they proceeded to unceremoniously offload 35 dead bodies , piling them into two trucks and upon the ground of an underpass. It appears now that the unloaders belonged to the Sinaloa Cartel, and the cadavers were of Zetas.
Just another day in the drug war.
The technological changes that have affected Mexican society also affect the Mexican drug cartel war, as social networking sites have become a new front in the war.
Local media in violent areas of Mexico are under siege. Their journalists may be threatened, kidnapped or even killed. Therefore they may not always publicize drug cartel violence.
As a result, the social media have moved in to compensate, to a certain extent, for this vacuum. In violent Mexican cities, Twitter, Facebook, local blogs and chat rooms are used to share information about the violence. Users may check such sites to attempt to find out what areas of the city are more dangerous and had better be avoided. The data can be shared quickly and, depending on the site, with a certain degree of anonymity. At least that’s what the writers are hoping. Not that such information is always accurate either, but it’s a desperate attempt to find some certainty in a climate of chaos
On September 24th, 2011, in the border city of Nuevo Laredo, the head and body of a certain Marisol Macias were found. Her decapitated body was laying by a major thoroughfare, with her severed head on a nearby stone piling.
Who was Marisol Macias? She was in the newspaper business, working in an administrative position for a Nuevo Laredo newspaper called Primera Hora.
Sadly, the killing of journalists is nothing new in Mexico. According to the country’s Human Rights Commission, since 2000, 74 Mexican journalists have been slain, with 8 killed so far this year.
However, it appears that Marisol Macias, though she was working for a newspaper, was not killed for that reason. Instead, she was slain in retaliation for what she had written on a social networking site, Nuevo Laredo en Vivo. In fact, that’s what a note left by her body said.
On the Nuevo Laredo en Vivo (“Nuevo Laredo Live”) website, readers can find tip hotlines on which they can contact the police, the Army or Navy. There is a section where information on drug gang activities (where they sell drugs, where they have their lookout positions) can be reported.
On Nuevo Laredo en Vivo, Marisol Macias used the screen name “La Nena de Laredo” (Laredo Girl). And that is precisely what the note left by her killers called her, indicating they knew exactly who she was and what she had written.
The message, written by hand, read
"Nuevo Laredo en Vivo and social networking sites, I'm The Laredo Girl, and I'm here because of my reports, and yours, For those who don't want to believe, this happened to me because of my actions, for believing in the Army and the Navy. Thank you for your attention, respectfully, Laredo Girl...ZZZZ."
The “ZZZZ” refers to the Zetas.
It appears, therefore, that “Laredo Girl’s “anonymous” reports attracted the attention of the Zetas, who somehow found out her true identity. They killed her, then left the message as a warning.
Back at the Nuevo Laredo en Vivo website, the murder of Marison Macias being discussed by late in the day. The site’s posters did not back down, reminiscing about “Laredo Girl’s frequent postings and lambasting the murderous Zetas. “Why didn’t she buy a gun?” asked another poster.
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Posting on social media sites is now being used by Mexicans to fight, or at least outmaneuver, the drug cartels. But as the Nuevo Laredo case illustrates, even the supposed anonymity of the social media is not a 100% protection against their murderous reach. A note to readers:
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Allan Wall recently returned to the U.S. after residing many years in Mexico.