08/02/12 – The media in the city of Monterrey suffered more attacks on both July 30 and 31 this week. In the assault on Tuesday, employees of the magazine Dipsa were held hostage by armed gunmen while accomplices burned the paper’s inventory. According to El Economista, the masked gunmen, thought to be members of either the Gulf Cartel or Los Zetas, painted a large “B” and “S” on the building’s walls before departing, although it is unclear at this point what the letters stand for. Dipsa produces both independent news and also acts as the sole distributor for papers and magazines in the region, including one which addresses drug trafficking. No employees were physically injured in the attack. The day before the strike against Dipsa, the paper El Norte was the victim of a similar assault. Gunmen held employees at gunpoint while burning the El Norte building and inventory. This is the third crime perpetrated against El Norte within the last six weeks; earlier attacks caused one of it’s subsidiaries, El Mañana, to publicly announce that they will no long cover cartel related or drug violence stories.
El Universal reports that military officials believe the attacks, in conjunction with other related incidences of intimidation and vandalism, are an attempt by the Gulf Cartel to “heat up” the cost of operations in Monterrey for their rivals, Los Zetas. Monterrey, and Nuevo Leon more broadly, is the site of a deadly power struggle between the two groups and has resulted in frightening incidents of violence including the deadly attack on Casino Royale last year as well as the mutilated bodies found along the local highway in May.
Mexico has long been struggling with how to protect the press in an increasingly hostile and dangerous environment. As TBI discussed in March of this year, both domestic and international organizations pressured the government to pass an amendment making violence against journalists a federal crime. Despite this significant step forward, Mexico is still considered to be the second most dangerous country in the world for journalists with eight confirmed murders since January. Only Syria is more dangerous, as reports the Press Emblem Campaign.