Authorities found the mutilated body of yet another blogger, the fourth in the past three months, who was executed by a drug cartel in the Mexican city of Nuevo Laredo. Robert Beckhusen at Wired describes the gruesome scene:
Nicknamed "Rascatripas" or "Scraper" (literally "Fiddler") on the network Nuevo Laredo en Vivo, the 35-year-old appears to have been handcuffed, tortured, decapitated and dumped beside a statue of Christopher Columbus one mile from the Texas border. Below the man's body was a partially obscured and blood-stained blanket. Written on the blanket in black ink: "Hi I'm 'Rascatripas' and this happened to me because I didn't understand I shouldn't post things on social networks." …
Next to his headless body was a scrawled message: "With this, I say goodbye to 'Nuevo Laredo Live' … always remember, never forget, my handle, 'Rascatripas.'"
Rascatripas was a moderator for Nuevo Laredo en Vivo, which specifically warns against the Zetas cartel. The execution comes nearly two months after the disfigured bodies of a man and woman were found hanging from an highway overpass with a similar warning about using social network to talk about cartels, and six weeks after the body of Rascatripas' co-moderator was found next to the Christopher Columbus statue. In response to those killings, the Mexican government has encouraged citizens to tip off authorities online rather than shy away from talking about the violence. Beckhusen explains that Mexican citizens have turned to forums like Nuevo Laredo en Vivo as well as Twitter to report on cartel activity in real-time, in part to help unsuspecting civilians from crossing paths with the gangs but also as a way "to strike back at the cartels." It's not going well.
Though the first three killings were widely covered, the American media has been slow to report on the latest death. At the time of this posting, only Wired and the Houston Chronicle had covered the stories, despite Mexican papers having published their reports on Wednesday morning. It would seem that the shock factor of messages posted online leading to gruesome murders has worn off a bit or at least blended in with the broader horror of the tens of thousands of deaths linked the Mexican drug wars over the past few years. However as Al Jazeera recently reported, a media blackout is exactly what the cartels want:
A 2010 analysis of drug war coverage from the Fundacion MEPI, and investigate journalism center, found that regional newspapers in Mexico are failing to report most execution style killings linked to cartels. Journalists interviewed for the study said threats, bribes and other forms of pressure influenced their decisions not to cover killings or name the suspected cartels involved.
"Organised crime members have tried to bribe or influence traditional media [and] that is the importance of social media," says Raul Trejo Delabre, an independent media analyst in Mexico City.
The story will eventually receive more coverage, but the news inevitably serves as a reminder of the chaotically violent situation at the border. Meanwhile, everyone from the U.S. government to the hactivists at Anonymous are redoubling their efforts to help. We're going to keep covering the story.