By Nate Freeman, August 16, 2010
President Felipe Calderone’s crackdown on drug cartels in Mexico has claimed 28,000 lives since 2006, but the best coverage of the non-stop mob hits and government stings isn't coming from the nation’s major media outlets.
Instead, it comes from a student with a six-month-old blog. Blog del Narco began as a hobby for the highly secretive blogger, but in time he found that his facelessness allowed him get away with stories that would endanger known journalists — many of whom have been kidnapped or killed for divulging such information. Now, his site has become indispensable for its no-holds-barred coverage of the endless carnage caused by the drug trade. The AP reports that for the first time, a blog on the conflict can count its most dangerous participants among its most obsessive readers, as the kingpins and cops rely on the information just as much as the public does.
“People now demand information and if you don't publish it, they complain,” the blogger told the AP. Little is known about the person behind Blog del Narco, apart from the fact that he is a male student living in Northern Mexico. And, given that he is sharing content that would threaten the life of a public reporter — a gory video of a decapitation, the execution of a double-crossing police officer, ravaged corpses—the anonymous blogger has chosen the correct major to pursue in school: computer security. He has maintained total anonymity, and when reached by the AP, he spoke from a disguised telephone number.
“For the scanty details that they (mass media) put on television, they get grenades thrown at them and their reporters kidnapped,” the blogger said. “We publish everything. Imagine what they could do to us.”
This cloak he has built for himself allows him to withstand the government’s efforts to quell negative coverage. He encourages submissions from his formidable readership (his site receives 3 million hits per month) and maintains an active Twitter account that boasts over 8,000 followers. (Sample tweet: “Estado podrá ganar hasta 10 mil millones de dólares en impuestos. Legalizando la droga.” Translated, it’s a plea to the government to legalize drugs.)