For more than three years, a unique Mexican blog provided a window to the extreme brutality of the country’s drug war and was hailed as an example of brave citizen journalism. Now, “Blog del Narco” is at the center of an angry debate over accusations that it plagiarized news reports and gave criminals a public platform.
At the center of the dispute is “Lucy,” supposedly the young woman in charge of the blog, who says she had to run for her life for fear of being killed by drug traffickers. Her real name is not known — she has said wants to stay anonymous, again, fearing for her life. But Lucy gave some details of herself in interviews with media outlets before she fled from her home in northern Mexico: She is a single woman in her mid-20s who loves her country but could no longer remain in it.
Once out of Mexico, Lucy and her collaborators published a book with a title that speaks volumes about the hazards of delving into the violent world of drug trafficking: Dying for the Truth: Undercover Inside the Mexican Drug War by the Fugitive Reporters of Blog del Narco.
In the introduction, Lucy says the Blog del Narco — which has not been updated since early May but remains active in Twitter, where it has more than 81,000 followers — was founded because Mexican reporters were unwilling or unable to cover the drug war, a conflict that by most estimates has left at least 80,000 dead since former President Felipe Calderon launched an all-out offensive against the cartels immediately upon taking power in December 2006.
“These were the events that print journalists and TV news anchors should have been reporting to citizens, but their voices had largely been silenced,” according to the book’s introduction. “Then came defamation.”
That is a reference to critics of the blog, which featured scores of videos of gut-wrenching brutality — beheadings, amputations of limbs by chain saw, cruel torture, point-blank executions. The videos, supposedly sent anonymously to the blog, were the cartels’ way to demonstrate how they deal with rivals.
“Blog del Narco created a forum, a switchboard any group could use to post videos, photos and messages,” said Ioan Grillo, the Mexico-based author of “El Narco: Inside Mexico’s Criminal Insurgency”, an account of the illicit drug business based on years of reporting.
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