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Paper asks Mexican drug cartels: What can we do?

 |  NCR Today

The situation in Juarez, Mexico is getting so bad that one local paper asked the drug cartels: What do you want us to do?

More details can be found here, and below are snippets from the story about the paper's rather unusual editorial.

MEXICO CITY — A newspaper's stunning, front-page editorial of seeming surrender to drug capos has set off a national debate from the presidential palace to Mexico's equivalent of the water cooler — its ubiquitous town squares.

"What do you want from us?" El Diario de Juarez asked the cartels whose war for control of the border city across from El Paso, Texas, has killed nearly 5,000 people — including two El Diario journalists — in less than two years. "You are currently the de facto authorities in this city. ... Tell us what you expect from us as a newspaper?"

For many Mexicans, it was a voice that finally exposed in a very public and unusual way the intimidation felt across the country.

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"We weren't speaking directly to (drug gangs). It was an open message," El Diario director Pedro Torres said in one of dozens of interviews since the editorial appeared Sunday. "We wanted to provoke a reaction that would call attention to what's happening in Juarez, and in the end, I think we met our objective."

The editorial dominated headlines and talk shows for two days, and Torres said he received calls from as far as Russia and Japan.

It also brought a volley of accusations of collusion and incompetence between government and media, whose adversarial relationship is still evolving a decade after the end of tight controls under Mexico's single-party rule.

And it exposed the dissonance between Mexicans who must deal with violence daily and those who live in quieter parts of the country for whom little has changed since President Felipe Calderon launched an offensive against the cartels in late 2006.

"There are many parts of the republic that don't want to understand that things have changed a lot for some people ... into a state where they've lost control," said Jose Carreno Carlon, a journalist and professor who headed media relations for former President Carlos Salinas de Gortari. "There are cases of journalists who are pressured by criminals — who have to consider that in their work, who have to address the de facto authorities every day."

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April 11-24, 2014

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