viernes, 18 de noviembre de 2011

Social Media Users in Mexico demand safety against violence for expressing themselves - Manifesto

Fear of Tweeting the Truth in Tamaulipas, Mexico

John Reed

REPORTING FROM MEXICO:  I have been living in Mexico since 2004 and honestly, in the last 3-years, I realize that I have taken a lot of things for granted from my life back home in the U.S. When I arrived here things were so different, somewhat picturesque. Foreign tourism was everywhere, especially from back home in the states.  In my city there was a vibrant downtown where people could walk safely till late hours of the night even with their children - then 2005 arrived and with them the Zetas.

The Zetas are like locust, they ravish everything the touch.

They consumed the merchant class, then the business class, and later any class they could get their hands on. Easily 30% of our downtown simply ceased to exist. The kidnappings began, at first people we did not know, later, people that were close to us.

I took for granted the freedom to walk down the street, the freedom to prosper without fear of being kidnapped and the last one which I hold dear - the freedom of speech. 

The Zetas either kill or place on payroll, through fear, media and reporters; thus, they have converted the mainstream news media into their own public relations firm.

Through their news system they make sure that the government is spoken about badly.  They make sure the military is blamed for the environment of fear the country faces.  The one that is not spoken badly about are the Zetas, nothing ill can be printed about them, you can report once in a while but you cannot go any further for fear of death.


In the last couple of months twitter users in several Mexican states have faced fear of death for tweeting the basic truth, in once case in particular – there was a confirmed death in Nuevo Laredo of a young couple who dared speak out:

My anger is two-fold: the climate of fear the Zetas have created thus damping freedom of expression.  The second manifestation of my anger is those that have the freedom of speech and not using it to speak out for those that cannot like American reporters in Mexico.  I could not believe how a writer for the LA Times recently stated in an article that there were not enough facts to substantiate the deaths of some citizens of the state of Tamaulipas, due to tweeting or voicing their opinions on Mexican chat rooms, by the Zetas.

I can overlook the Mexican reporters for not writing the truth - they die. But for an American newspaper reporter in Mexico to sit in a cozy office and never go out to the real Mexico and report the truth, in my opinion, should simply be sent back home to cover celebrities and dog shows.

An American investigative reporter that does not believe that Mexicans could face death for tweeting should simply go to Nuevo Laredo and spend a week tweeting about crime under tweet trends #Zeta, #NuevoLaredo, #Tamaulipas. Let's see the final outcome.

Last night a Twitter group in Tamaulipas sent us an email concerning a simple "Freedom Manifesto" where they seek the basic rights to express themselves without fear of dying.  They explain the climate of fear in which they live.
Twitter User Manifesto Against the Violence to Users of Social Media in Mexico

To the international community, users of social media, bloggers of the world,
communications media, and global multilateral organizations.

We the twitterers and hashtag users of Northeastern Mexico (#reynosafollow,
#nuevolaredo, #matamoros, #tamaulipas, #mier, and others) release this manifesto
in response to the murder of our companion, a social media user attacked by a
group of drug traffickers, that occurred early this morning in the city of Nuevo
Laredo, in the state of Tamaulipas. We repudiate and condemn this criminal act that
has provoked a state of terror, and we demand justice in the face of the national
silence it is meant to impose, and the stage of amnesia and impunity it portends.
This murder is the fourth against twitterers and bloggers that has occurred in less
than two months. The first two occurred on September 13th and involved a couple
whose bodies were hung from a pedestrian overpass, and who were accused of
posting denunciations against
organized crime on social media. The third murder
occurred on September 25th, when a female journalist was decapitated and left in a
public area with a message threatening social media users for denouncing Mexican
traffickers of death.
The absence of information that derives from the silence of local newspapers and
media and municipal authorities at all levels, as well as the constant abuses and
violations of human rights by police forces, has led many citizens to inform
themselves and take precautions thru the use of social media (Twitter, Facebook,
etc.), chats and citizen’s blogs. These new forms of communication differ greatly
from the diversity and freedom of expression enjoyed in other countries. In
Northeastern Mexico this new social media has evolved into a form of self defense,
conducted by citizens to broadcast and denounce violent acts resulting from the
conflict between diverse groups of criminals and diverse national institutions in
charge of our security.
In this context we want to make evident that:
1. The climate of violence, censorship and abuses by the authorities continue in
the northeast border zone of our country, in locations such as Reynosa,
Laredo, Matamoros and Mier, and there exists a high risk of life for every
resident citizen in these parts of the Mexican nation.
2. That this so called “war against drug trafficking” or “fight against the narcos”,
launched in 2006, is a military and police offensive that has been unable to
the wave of violence that is shattering our nation and has cost the lives of
than fifty thousand persons, many with no links to drug trafficking activity.
3. That the deployment of the military in these zones is evidence that the
police forces in Mexico have been unable to control these “zones of conflict”.
4. That it is clear there is no intelligence mechanism, strategy or political
support to
wage this fight. At least, not through the direct use of the military for
providing security and combating drug trafficking activity.
5. That the communications media (local, state and national) have been
silenced in the face of diverse interests or threats from criminal groups
6. That a justice system does not exist that can offer the ability to respond to
citizen’s complaints in a clear and appropriate manner, to generate the
necessary investigations, to expose the crimes that are committed and to
bring the perpetrators to justice in a court of law and reach a just sentence,
and bring compensation to the victims.
7. That, ultimately, we feel unprotected in the face such atrocities and we are
fearful, because this war has now cost the lives of victims in cyperspace,
which is our element.
The fight for territorial control of the border zone is also waged in a new
battleground: the internet and its social media. The criminal groups attempt to
restrain our voice that speaks out through the invasion of our accounts and servers,
to kidnap us and carry out criminal atrocities or to make direct threats against our
companions. This constitutes a flagrant threat against the only freedom left to us,
now that the local, state and federal governments are indifferent to our demands,
and without even bothering to verify they ignore the facts that we report on our
social networks. In summary, we have been abandoned to our fate in this unequal
fight of free citizens against the drug traffickers.
We need guarantees and security for ourselves, our families and honest working
society in general. Therefore, we ask from each of you:
1. Your full solidarity with the Mexican people that at this moment is immersed
in chaos, violence without limits and violations of the most elemental
human rights, as pointed out by Human Rights Watch in its special report
presented on this same day.
2. That you demand from the Mexican Government investigations to solve the
contemptible murders of our brother and sister twitterers and social media
users, as this violates freedom of expression and the free use of social media
3. That the Mexican press demand from the national government guarantees of
freedom of information, expression and the press, especially now that crime,
violence and corruption are putting an end to not only journalism, but also
our journalists and critical thought.
4. That cyber security be guaranteed so that our citizens can freely express
themselves on social networks and online communication media.
5. That a commission composed of the media (news agencies, journalists) and
non governmental institutions be formed that can function as international
observers to guarantee access to the internet and the security of users.
6. Do not abandon us. We need you, now more than ever. We have opened a
special e‐mail account so that you can communicate with us.
In the face of the killers and groups that threaten us from the shadows of impunity
we answer that we will not allow our voices to be silenced or censured by the
crimes against our fellow twitterers and bloggers. Neither are we prepared to live
under the rules established by the violence, corruption and impunity.
With heads held high, our computers and our native pride we declare to those
murderous and unpunished groups that the internet and social networks are ours:
those are our spaces, these spaces are us. That is why you cannot silence or restrain
us. We will honor our dead, we will obtain international help for our denunciations
and we will work everyday of our lives for a better Mexico.
Given for worldwide distribution in Tamaulipas, Mexico, November 9, 2011.

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