Fliers offer a reward for information on the identify of a Mexican blogger
The blogger is the administrator of a Facebook page about local violence
The blogger vows to continue posting news on his Facebook page
The name of the Facebook page matches the personality of its administrator: Courage for Tamaulipas.
Tamaulipas is the northeastern Mexican state that borders Texas, a diverse place whose reputation is overshadowed by violence carried out by rival drug cartels. Under threats from the drug gangs, many media outlets make the choice to self-censor and not cover the violence.
But reporting violence is precisely what Courage for Tamaulipas does.
The Facebook page, which has reported on the region’s violence for more than a year, will remain active despite a bounty put on the administrator, presumably by a cartel.
In an interview with CNNMexico, the blogger says he will continue to post complaints, even though there is now a price for uncovering his identity: 600,000 pesos, or about $46,000.
The threat surfaced in recent weeks with fliers offering a reward for information on the identity of the administrator or his family.
“I think what is happening to me is the least relevant thing that is happening in my state,” the blogger said. “There are hundreds of families waiting for their missing ones, who at their moment of filing complaints were filled with fear by authorities who told them to assume they are dead.”
Tamaulipas has one of the highest levels of violence in Mexico. It is among the states with the highest levels of homicide, extortion and kidnapping, according to official statistics.
“The criminals truly think that they are in the right and that everyone else should obey them,” the blogger said. “They think that crime is a job and causing damage is a right.”
Criminals lower their profile
The violence in Tamaulipas persists, despite the reduction in the intensity of shootouts between groups, the administrator said.
“(Organized crime) has only lowered its profile. It carries out its activities like always, kidnapping, executing, disappearing people, terrorizing,” he said. “What has declined in the past years are the illegal roadblocks and the very large shootouts, but the criminal control remains the same, or stronger.”
The administration of former President Felipe Calderon, who left office in 2012, attributed the violence in Tamaulipas to a turf war between the Gulf cartel and the Zetas cartel over control of drug smuggling routes to the United States.
To combat them, in 2010 he launched an operation that sent additional security forces to Tamaulipas and the neighboring Nuevo Leon state.
The offers of reward money in exchange for information about Courage for Tamaulipas first surfaced between February 8 and 10. During those days, anonymous fliers began to circulate in Ciudad Victoria – the capital – and the border cities of Reynosa, Matamoros and Nuevo Laredo.
The administrator published a photo of one of the fliers and affirmed that he would not be stopped because the public values his work.
“As long as I have collaborators, even if it is only one person, I will continue doing what is in my reach to provide evidence of the situation we are living,” he said.
The government’s response
It was not until this week that the blogger received support from local and federal authorities, though some officials had expressed their support for him individually.
The state general attorney’s office said it does not have any information about the fliers threatening Courage for Tamaulipas.
The agency added that it does not have a protocol for protecting residents in situations like this because it is the first of its kind.
A survey by Freedom House of Mexican journalists and bloggers showed that 96% of respondents know a colleague who has been attacked. The organization surveyed 102 journalists in 20 Mexican states.
Freedom House published a report, Digital and Mobile Security for Mexican Journalists and Bloggers, which cites a September 2011 incident where two people were found hanging from a bridge in Nuevo Laredo.
“A message left near the bodies warned that the same thing could happen to any internet user who crossed that criminal organization. Those murders were followed by the killing of a journalist using the nickname “la Nena de Laredo” who had posted entries against criminal activity on Nuevo Laredo en Vivo, a social media forum,” the report said.
Following these crimes, the administrator of Courage for Tamaulipas published a message condemning the incidents and affirming that “innumerable” citizens continue to resist against organized crime’s grip.