A group dedicated to protecting journalists across the globe from violence is speaking out against the murder of a newspaper editor from Nuevo Laredo.
Authorities discovered the decapitated body of Primera Hora news editor Maria Elizabeth Macias-Castro early Saturday morning.
No suspects have been identified or arrested in the case but her alleged murderers left a note signed Z presumably from the Zetas drug cartel, which controls Nuevo Laredo.
Carlos Lauria with the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) condemned the attack in a statement released Monday.
CPJ is calling for a full investigation by Mexican federal officials.
Macias-Castro worked at Primera Hora but posted about drug cartel violence on Twitter and used the pseudonym LaNenaDLaredo on Nuevo Laredo En Vivo website.
It's not clear how Macias-Castro's murderer learned her identity but she is the seven media professional to be killed in Mexico in 2011.
According to CPJ statistics, a total of 63 media professionals have been killed in Mexico since 1992 making it one of the deadliest nations in the world for journalists.
The mutilated bodies of young man and woman were found hanging from a pedestrian bridge in Nuevo Laredo back on September 13th.
Their bodies were left with a message against using blogs to report about organized crime.
Lauria with CPJ said drug cartels have silenced traditional media in northern Mexico but now it appears that they now appear to be going after social media users.
As Mexican citizens, including journalists and media, are increasingly turning to new technology in the face of rampant censorship, drug cartels are using violence to control information on the Internet," said Laura. "The stability of Mexico's democracy will ultimately depend on the restoration of the media's ability to report the news without fear of reprisal."Committee to Protect Journalists Statement
New York, September 26, 2011--The decapitated body of Mexican journalist Maria Elizabeth Macas Castro was found on a road near the city of Nuevo Laredo on Saturday, news reports said.
The news editor of local daily Primera Hora, Macas Castro, 39, wrote negatively about criminal groups and minor corruption or mismanagement in city affairs, journalists told CPJ. A note found with her body said she had been killed for writing on social media websites and attributed the murder to a criminal group, news reports said.
"We condemn the brutal killing of Maria Elizabeth Macas Castro and call on the federal government to conduct a thorough investigation to bring all those responsible to justice," said Carlos Laura, CPJ's Americas senior program coordinator. "This wave of unprecedented violence is endangering the constitutional rights of all Mexicans to freedom of expression and access to information."
Sources told CPJ that Macas Castro posted on Twitter and wrote under the pseudonym "La NenaDLaredo" (The girl from Laredo) on the website Nuevo Laredo en vivo (Nuevo Laredo Live). It is not known whether there was a particular story, or her uncensored reporting in general, that angered the journalist's killers. It is also not known how they discovered her identity.
In areas like northern Mexico where organized crime groups have terrorized the local press into silence, citizens have begun reporting on websites and social media, using false names and trying to stay anonymous. But even professional journalists told CPJ that they sometimes secretly report stories on social media websites that they wouldn't cover under their own name through their traditional outlets.
Facebook, Twitter, and other such websites are filling the void of coverage of issues such as drug violence, CPJ research showed.
Reflecting this new reality, criminal groups have turned to targeting web and social media users in recent weeks. On September 13, the bodies of two young people, who were not identified, were hung from a pedestrian overpass in Nuevo Laredo. Press accounts said notes left with the bodies warned against writing on websites.
"As Mexican citizens, including journalists and media, are increasingly turning to new technology in the face of rampant censorship, drug cartels are using violence to control information on the Internet," said Laura. "The stability of Mexico's democracy will ultimately depend on the restoration of the media's ability to report the news without fear of reprisal."
Drug-related violence now makes Mexico one of the world's most dangerous countries for the press, according to CPJ research. Seven journalists, including Macas Castro, have been killed this year alone, at least one in direct reprisal for their work. CPJ is investigating whether the other six deaths were related to the journalists' work.