In 2009, the bruised body of crime reporter Bladimir Antuna was recovered in the city of Durango, Mexico, with a note: “This happened to me for… writing too much.” Local gangs now dictate what Mexican reporters write: in Reynosa, for example, the Gulf Cartel forbids reporting on kidnappings and extortion, while, after a severed head was left outside its offices, El Correo de Tabasco simply stopped covering cartel business.
With the Mexican media mostly silenced, locals may find it hard to get reliable information on the open war between Mexico’s government and its powerful rival drug syndicates. Gangs like Los Mazatlecos, Los Zetas and the Gulf Cartel spread news in their own way. Of the more than 40,000 gang members, soldiers and civilians killed in crossfire or executed since 2006, many have ended up as public messages: a sackful of human heads dumped onto a dance floor in Michoacán; 35 corpses piled at a busy intersection in Veracruz.
To show “what many media organizations have been trying to hide,” the anonymous authors of El Blog del Narco compile and publish user-submitted photos of found bodies. Launched in 2010, the blog is followed by hundreds of thousands of monthly viewers, including gang members who claim credit for corpses in the comments section. El Blog del Narco may now be Mexico’s most complete record of gang atrocities, which is why some question its source and motives. “I’ve never used its information,” says Daniela Pastrana, a Mexican journalist with 20 years’ experience. “This website is almost a press office, perhaps designed to cause terror, to immobilize.”
From the pages of COLORS #86 - Making the News.