Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Mayor of Juarez Threatens to Kill Journalist - Long-Term Trend of Impunity Against Journalists in Latin America

Two weeks ago, the mayor of Cuidad Juarez, Armando Cabada Alvídrez, threatened to kill a prominent local journalist, Hector Gonzalez. The mayor was brazen enough that he made these threats in public and threw a punch at one of Gonzalez’s companions. 

This was nothing new for Gonzalez. As a matter of fact, this type of intimidation against reporters is widespread throughout Mexico. Also, the crimes against journalist are rarely punished. Of the 426 reported instances of violence against journalists in 2016, only 0.25% of those cases resulted in a conviction! (My free ebook, “America’s Drug War is Devastating Mexico,” goes into full detail explaining the severity of the problem.) 

This is an issue in which the worlds of organized crime and politics intermingle. It’s well known that reporting on crime in Mexico is a dangerous occupation because the cartels enforce a brutal form of censorship. However, in many instances, reporting on politics can be just as, if not more, dangerous. The reason is that the cartels have deeply corrupted politics and the government provides little to no protection for journalists.

My last book focused on Mexico, but this is a problem throughout Latin America and one of the primary causes of this violence is the war on drugs. Last month, a Guatemalan newspaper reporter, Laurent Ángel Castillo Cifuentes, and radio station worker, Luis Alfredo de León Miranda, were murdered. 

Their bodies were discovered in Suchitepéquez with clear signs of torture. This coastal-region state is a major transshipment point for South American cocaine. Consequently, the area is overrun with organized crime and reporters have faced extreme violence in this region. The Associated Press had previously reported that 10 journalists had been killed in this one state over the last ten years.

Nonetheless, the U.S. government has a complicit role in this wave of violence. Clearly, the prohibition of drugs in the U.S. has created a culture of black market violence throughout Latin America. Worst of all, the U.S. has aided, supported, armed, and financed some of the most corrupt governments throughout Latin America as long as these countries have been geopolitical allies.
There are too many examples of this hypocrisy to list in a blog post. However, since Guatemala is the current focus, we’ll examine the U.S. government’s relationship with the last President of Guatemala, Otto Perez Molina.

Molina received training at the infamous School of the Americas (now WHINSEC) in Fort Benning, GA. This former general was involved with numerous human rights abuses during the U.S.-supported Civil War in Guatemala, including the Ixil massacre. As a matter of fact, many historians identify this Civil War as a genocide because the vast majority of victims of government death squads were indigenous civilians.

Nonetheless, a 2007 WikiLeaks document during his presidential campaign shows that U.S. officials were aware of information connecting Molina with the country’s top drug cartel. However, they weren’t highly concerned based on this quote from the document. 

“Given that Guatemala is awash in narco-money, it is improbable that none of it has found its way into Perez Molina's campaign, but we currently have no grounds to suspect that Perez Molina knowingly accepted narco-funds.”

Ultimately, it turned out that the rumors were well substantiated. Molina is currently in jail on charges of corruption. His Vice President, Roxana Baldetti, is also in jail awaiting trial for drug and corruption charges. She reportedly accepted a $250,000 bribe from Los Zetas. Likewise, the Minister of Interior, Mauricio Lopez Bonilla, reportedly received a $1.5 million bribe from Los Zetas.

This same destructive political dynamic with U.S. complicity is visible throughout Latin American. Much of my work has focused on exposing these truths, particularly in El Salvador, Honduras, Peru, Colombia, etc. (Please read and share the articles from the links in the previous sentence. However, for a more thorough explanation, grab a copy of my book, The Drug War: A Trillion Dollar Con Game, which will make it abundantly clear that the drug war is often nothing more than a geopolitical bargaining chip.)

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