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Thursday, 14 February 2013

Mexican narcos offer US$47,000 for identity of Tweeter

One of the pamphlets
Criminals in Mexico are offering 600,000 pesos (US$47,000) for information leading to positive identification of the manager of a Facebookand Twitter account.

In recent days pamphlets have appeared in several cities in the northern border state of Tamaulipas offering the money for “accurate information on the owner of the page ‘Valor por Tamaulipas’”.


Due to the self-imposed silence of the media, and even of the government and police, for many citizens to follow the Twitter account of @ValorTamaulipas is the only way for them to know if and where a shooting might be taking place, as well as what roads are secure, and in what areas people have met with violence or been “disappeared”.

“What I fear for the most is my family,” the person managing the accounts acknowledged last week by email to Mexican media. “It is not their fault that I have made the decision to openly publish sensitive information that affects the cartels and the government in my state.”

The man has received death threats, and his wife and children have had to cross the border into the United States for their own safety. So far he has managed to maintain his anonymity, despite having 20,000 followers on Twitter and over 145,000 on Facebook.

“Day and night we are immersed in a spiral of violence,” wrote @ValorTamaulipas, who also spoke of the public mistrust in Mexico’s institutions. “The government has betrayed the public. Out of fear and for convenience it has agreed to obey organized crime."

As official media outlets are silenced – Mexico is one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a journalist – and with government and police sometimes complicit in cartel activities, the Internet is one of the only sources of information citizens can use to ensure their safety. Sometimes, however, it can also be dangerous, should the information be inaccurate, or should people rush into danger to save loved ones – as happened recently when parents braved bullets in Reynosa to be with their children in school.

Back in November of last year the administrator of Valor por Tamaulipas (VxT) had a conversation with an alleged member of the Gulf Cartel, in which he asserted that there would be no need for the page if the narcos would leave the people in peace.

“Why not leave the citizens in peace?” asks VxT. “That’s all I ask.  Don’t extort money, don’t kidnap people, don’t rape, don’t kill, don’t recruit kids out of high schools. If you stopped, there would be no need for VxT.”

(TE Wilson is the author of Mezcalero, a Detective Sánchez novel.)




Twitter: @TimothyEWilson
Email: lapoliticaeslapolitica [at] gmail [dot] com

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