Rarely has a publication been so close to the front lines of Mexico's ongoing turmoil than El Diario, the 35-year-old daily newspaper published in one of the hubs of the violence, Ciudad Juárez. Three journalists have so far been murdered, their cases unsolved. On Dec. 7, the publication's editor and publisher, Osvaldo Rodríguez Borunda, released this letter. Excerpts are published below, edited for space and clarity.
Thirty-five years ago, El Diario de Ciudad Juárez printed its first issues out of very modest facilities and with an initial distribution of just 200 copies.
Twenty-five years ago, we began to notice the beginnings of what at that time was known as the Juárez cartel, a phenomenon that we considered a huge threat to our borderlands even though the drug-trafficking industry already had a strong presence in our state. El Diario began investigating and publishing on its own, at the local level, assuming all risks associated with reporting on the growing drug-trafficking industry -- an industry which was neither removed from, nor isolated from, the greater socioeconomic situation that was evolving along the border with the United States.
When El Diario was born at the start of 1976, the maquiladora industry, export assembly factories designed to give jobs to thousands of unemployed men who ended up in these borderlands, had already been growing for ten years. Originally conceived as a transitory part of the productive sector, which would eventually give way to the development of a national industrial sector, the maquiladora industry never made that qualitative jump. And, unfortunately for Juárez, it never progressed past being an industry of assembly for large U.S. companies. The maquiladora industry became a gold mine for a small number of local businessmen and unethical politicians who took advantage of its existence not only for their own monetary enrichment, but also in order to steer the growth of the city toward large tracts of land that they owned, leading to the disorderly and corrupt expansion of the city.
Certainly, the maquila sector brought an economic boom to the city, but this turned into a treasure for only a few and did not favor human and social development crucial for harmonious growth. Therefore, a number of social conflicts emerged, exacerbated by a lack of infrastructure which, together, boiled over into the generalized problems that we are living with today. Each year, thousands of immigrants arrived to these borderlands, attracted by the promise of employment in the maquila industry, to live instead with all the city's deficiencies and inequalities, to take over the [economic and social] periphery, to expand the informal sector … to expand the nest that served to incubate a drug-trafficking industry as it continued to grow stronger.
The Juárez cartel got part of its nourishment from the social and economic ailments of the city, but even more so from its infiltration into the police forces and the Army. When Mexican President Álvaro Obregón stated almost a hundred years ago that "There is not a General who can resist a canon shot of fifty thousand pesos," he knew what he was talking about. We are not accusing the military institution as such, but rather pointing out that for years, we in the media have publicized cases of military personnel, including officers, accused of collaborating with organized crime.
What is certain is that in México, and in particular in Ciudad Juárez, we are facing a situation that is so complicated that, over the last four years since President Felipe Calderón declared war on organized crime, both the police force and the military have demonstrated that they are not prepared to confront an enemy whose size and strength they knew little about.
It is for these reasons, too, that the joint operations carried out against delinquent groups -- operations that suffered from a lack of coordination, negligence, and corruption of those who were heading them -- also failed. El Diario has grown tired from the numerous times it has questioned such joint operations in its pages.
Unfortunately, the current war in Ciudad Juárez, which is covered extensively in the pages of our newspaper, has taken its quota of blood from us through the deaths of three of our colleagues.
The first was Dr. Víctor Manuel Oropeza, murdered in 1991 because of the content of one of his editorials. He continues to be listed in the directory of our newspaper because the crime which resulted in his death has never been resolved.
The murder of Armando Rodríguez Carreón, a reporter who worked the organized crime beat, followed on November 13, 2008. In the two years since his murder, we have received an infinite number of promises from both the state and the federal governments that the case will be resolved soon, but that has not yet happened. His murderer or murderers continue to enjoy impunity.