Nov 24, 2008

UTEP sponsors panel on dangers that journalists face in Mexico

By Kelly McKenzie
Nov. 27, 2008

(EL PASO, TEXAS) - A panel of journalists discussed the hazards of working in Mexico during a panel Nov. 26 at the University of Texas at El Paso.
Diana Washington Valdez, author of The Killing Fields: Harvest of Women, was among the panelists invited to participate. The others were U.S. television journalist Angela Corchega, Dallas Morning News reporter Alfredo Corchado and former Diario assignments editor Ruben Olague and Diario reporter Sandra Rodriguez.
The Prospector, a panel sponsor, organized the event, which took place at the UTEP Union Building.
Rodriguez said it has become hazardous to report on crime in Juarez, and that at one time, Diario members were accused of being part of "la linea," a term that refers to the drug cartel led by the Carrillo Fuentes organization. (Actually, "la linea" is any network at the border that helps smuggle drugs, people and arms.)
Corchado, Corchega and Olague also agreed it is dangerous to work as a journalist in Mexico under current conditions.
"The issue of safety for journalists in Mexico has come up before, but the violence that has taken place over the past two years is the worst ever," Washington Valdez said before the panel. "The unpunished violence against journalists, human rights activists and politicians reflects what is going on in the society. Mexico deserves better.
"I can't help but think of the courage the late Jesus Blancornelas demonstrated throughout his editorship at Zeta in Tijuana. Two of his staff members were killed, and he survived a couple of attempts on his life.
"Zeta still does original hard-hitting investigations that target the connections between organized crime, politicians and law enforcement. Adela Navarro, the publisher, continues to build on the Blancornelas legacy of integrity and unblinking courage."
After the lively discussion by the panelists, Washington Valdez said "the college journalism students and Prospector staff are to be congratulated for organizing an event on such a timely subject."
One thing the panelists agreed on was that students should not venture into Juarez at the present time, and anyone wishing to conduct research there should travel in groups and stick to beaten paths.
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