Masked men claiming to be from Mexico’s most powerful drug cartel have threatened to murder a television journalist over her “unfair” coverage of the gang in an extraordinary video message posted online.
The Jalisco New Generation group says that Milenio anchor Azucena Uresti has been biased in her reporting of the ongoing battle between the cartel and so-called “self-defense” vigilante groups in Michoacán and promised to make her “eat her words.”
The threat has sent shockwaves through Mexican media. More than 120 journalists have been killed in the last 20 years and it is the most dangerous place in the world to be a reporter outside war zones.
On Tuesday, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said: “We are going to protect Azucena and we are going to protect all Mexicans. It is our responsibility so that they are not intimidated or threatened by anyone.”
Uresti is one of Mexico’s top television reporters, chairing presidential election debates and hosting an evening news program.
The Jalisco New Generation cartel has surpassed ‘El Chapo’ Guzman’s Sinaloa gang to become the most powerful in Mexico. It has blazed a bloody trail, killing judges, congressmen, dozens of police officers, and thousands of civilians. Its members once shot down a military helicopter with a rocket-propelled grenade.
In a video shared on social media, a spokesperson for the group is surrounded by heavily armed men and says he is speaking on behalf of their leader, Rubén Oseguera Cervantes, known as El Mencho.
“I address this message directly to Milenio. I am not against freedom of expression, but I am against whoever attacks me directly,
“Azucena Uresti, wherever you are, I’ll get you, and I will make you eat your words, even if they accuse me of femicide because you do not know me: Rubén Oseguera Cervantes.
“I am not a debt collector or extortionist, nor am I a kidnapper.”
The cartel spokesperson said that the vigilante groups were drug traffickers, kidnappers, and extortionists and that only a criminal organization could afford the military equipment those forces had at their disposal.
Azucena’s recent reporting focused on the astonishing rise of armed vigilante groups who say they have taken up arms to defend themselves against the cartel.
One vigilante told Ms Azucena that the cartel would “kill everyone” in the town if they managed to defeat those defending it.
Samuel D. Henkin, a professor at the University of Maryland and expert on Mexican cartels, told The Telegraph that the Jalisco group is known for the spectacular.
“It uses the media to its advantage, whether it is posting videos of militarised members to drum up attention or making threats online.”
Miss Uresti’s report was “a blow to the cartel” because she legitimized the growing number of vigilante self-defense groups, he added, so they had to come out with a strong response.
On the rise of vigilante defenders, Mr Henkin said: “Community policing has been traditional, particularly in southern Mexico, for centuries.
“But we are seeing an increase in the paramilitarisation of these groups.
“There is evidence showing that other criminal groups will supply so-called ‘auto-defensas’ with weaponry if it is advantageous to their overall positioning and competition in the space.”
Source: Telegraph UK