In 2010, the birth year of the popular and controversial website Blog del Narco, Mexico's tumultuous drug war reached a turning point. Monterrey, an economic engine of the country and once famously known as the safest city in Latin America, was engulfed by narco blockades and gun battles. In the neighboring state of Tamaulipas, the leading gubernatorial candidate was assassinated, and the border cities of Camargo and Mier became ghost towns.
In the first two months of 2010, eight journalists were kidnapped in the border city of Reynosa. The offices of news organizations across northern Mexico were attacked with grenades and strafed with gunfire. Only two of the kidnapped reporters survived. When the reporters returned to their newsroom at El Milenio in Mexico City, their editor, Ciro Gomez Lleyva, wrote what was essentially the obituary for press freedom in his country. "In more and more regions of Mexico, it is impossible to do journalism. Journalism is dead in Reynosa, and I have nothing more to say."
As Mexico's media outlets stopped reporting on the cartels and the government remained silent, Blog del Narco, launched in March 2010, began to fill the void. The blog featured raw photos and videos of executions, and gun battles uploaded by anonymous contributors. Within months, Blog del Narco was one of the most visited websites in Mexico with 3m monthly visitors. The blog documented the drug war in all its horror: photos of decapitated heads, mutilated torsos and other stomach-jarring acts of violence committed by organized crime to induce terror among the population.
Frightened and curious Mexicans read Blog del Narco to understand what was happening to their country. "We were living in some kind of low-intensity war," said Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera, an associate professor at the University of Texas at Brownsville who studies organized crime in her native Mexico. "We had never seen houses burnt, people massacred like this before. It was deeply frightening."
Anonymity became the only safeguard for freedom of expression. Blog del Narco posted every grim corpse photo and every gory account of assassination without attribution. It was unclear whether the stories were ripped from other websites or were original reporting. And it seemed like no moderator existed. "The site was a mess," Correa-Cabrera said.
But everyone read it anyway. It was gruesome, but the violence needed to be documented, because it was happening. "If anything, Blog del Narco is an account of the facts. Proof that it happened. Because if we do not acknowledge what is happening in our country, then we can never change it," Correa-Cabrera said.
The cartels tried to dispatch Blog del Narco much like they had Mexico's other media outlets. The blog suffered hundreds of cyber-attacks. Anonymous and unsubstantiated rumors began to circulate that the site favored one cartel over another. In 2011, the website suffered a debilitating cyber-attack and was offline several days before it switched servers. Then a man and a woman were killed and hung from a bridge in the border city of Nuevo Laredo, with a sign warning that they had been killed for working on anonymous websites like Blog del Narco. "This is what will happen to all the internet snitches. Be warned: we are watching you. Sincerely Z [Los Zetas]."
Since the dark days of 2011 and the crippling cyber-attack, Blog del Narco has redoubled its efforts. The authors' first book, Dying for the Truth: Undercover Inside the Mexican Drug War, published by Feral House, is now on sale. In the book, written in Spanish and English, the anonymous authors of the blog document the dissolution of their country in 2010 by starting with an apology: "We are well educated and don't tend to curse, but we're going to say this because it's the way it is: our country is fucked. It has been for a long time."
The book is divided into short chapters that report month by month the bloody battle for territory by organized crime during 2010 and the first two months of 2011. The photos are as gruesome, and as graphic, as they are on the website. The text gives concise explanations of events, including transcriptions of narco messages left behind on the bodies.
Nothing in the book is attributed. Some of the chapters are remarkably detailed. In one chapter titled Gubernatorial Candidate is Murdered with His Team Members, the authors explain how Rodolfo Torre Cantú, Tamaulipas's leading gubernatorial candidate for the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, was ambushed in June 2010 by Los Zetas cartel outside the state's capital. The chapter describes how the hitmen slept in a motel near the ambush site, and how the cartel's leader at the time, Heriberto Lazcano Lazcano, personally supervised the massacre of Torre and his campaign team. Three graphic photographs in the book document the massacre.
Three years later, the gubernatorial candidate's murder, like thousands of others in the past six years, has yet to be investigated by Mexican authorities. The country's new president Enrique Peña Nieto, anxious to suppress the growing conflict, is increasingly adopting a policy of silence. Gone are the press conferences touting the deployment of more troops or the capture of a drug kingpin that were common under the previous president, Felipe Calderón. Attacks against the press are once again on the rise, and recent gun battles raging across northern Mexico are scarcely reported by the media.
Someday, when the violence ends, historians won't have much information to help explain the bloodiest era in the country's history since the Mexican Revolution. What they will have is Blog del Narco.
@AJ. I am not sure everyone would agree with your description of Blog del narco (especially Chivis), but I couldn't help from breaking out in laughter when I read "Blog del narco is the GOP of narco blogsites."
Words are powerful weapons, be careful how you use them.
I have never read Blog del Narco.... but I STRONGLY disagree with this statement from the article:
"It was gruesome, but the violence needed to be documented, because it was happening. "
As I wrote on the post Blood on the bush and on the tracks...
Publishing links to these gruesome videos does nothing buy glorify the evil and the deranged minds of the sicarios.
Then they feel the need to "one up" the previous murders, further escalating the unbelievable violence and torture.
I was speaking to a friend yesterday and we were wondering how the normally friendly, happy Mexicans could have turned into such abject evil.
My personal opinion is that the BdN websites that publish the videos (and even BB does this, altho I have not watched them.... reading the intro text is too much for me).... are the cause of the escalating torture, often of innocents. Pure evil.
To me, the book they have published is beyond disgusting.... they are profiting from the slaughter and torture of people.... many of whom were innocents. How can they sleep at night.
This type of crap people do NOT need to see.... it results in glorification of the killing cult of cartels.
Choco, i know you may have a hard time imagining this.. but. how the F)(@$ do you know what has been happening in the past if it was never documented or recorded? For all we know families have been cut to pieces and boiled in acid or turned into guiso long before people had handycams to record it. think on that for a moment before you go off on something you seem to lack insight into.
Also do some research and educate yourself on forms of torture, can be done without looking at graphic photos, learn about the chinese and ''death by a thousand cuts". was being done hundreds of years before any type of photographic instrument was ever conceived, Who exactly do you think they were trynna one up?
Patriotism is a propaganda tool used to make people blind to the lies of their government through unquestioning devotion.
Good for them, they were among the first to begin showing what was really happening in Mexico and it all began with the woman showing the video in Camargo Tamaulipas. They have been in the lead since day one and although their quality has dropped they still provide good information.
"The Tea Bag Party has a 10-15% approval rating. Depending on who you ask. ja ja ja" The wise Ajulio.
Regio, Have you not read Chivis comment below or any of her previous comments about Blog del narco cloning BB stories. If I understand what she has said, they didn't just copy and paste our stories, they had software that would clone our stories as they were posted. In other words it automatically copied our stories and forwarded them to their site without any credit to BB and/or the author of the story.
I don't mind someone republishing something i have posted here on BB, but especially if I wrote it, I don't appreciate them claiming authorship of it. I don't remember you writing any stories for BB, but if you had you probably would not appreciate either and you would not be saying "good for them".
Words are powerful weapons, be careful how you use them.
his name was published along with his whereabouts b an irate reporter tired of them stealing his work. no matter how disgusted I am with BDN/Mundo/Historias etc all the same ppl, I would never divulge his name. zetas are after him. he works for 3 letters is the going story.
hey dd have you posted what a commenter said?.
The way I see it.... the more people that don't like me, the less people I have to please
A commentator on the Texas Observer website who as far as |I know is not related to BB posted the following on the Observer's website. The Observer was a partner with the Guardian on this story.
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.
K. Mennem K. Mennem • 5 hours ago
Plagiarism at its best. Here is an example; blogdelnarco.com/2013/04/taxis... <on 2nd..="" 4th="" <on="" ^blog="" and="" credit!="" del="" elsoldecuernavaca="" gave="" n2934104.htm="" narco="" no="" notas="" oem.com.mx="" stole="" the="" them="" this=""></on>
K. Mennem jim_creechan • 2 hours ago
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.
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.