For our series on journalists’ favorite tools, we spoke to award-winning Mexican journalist Marcela Turati, co-founder of Quinto Elemento Lab, about the resources she uses to investigate disappearances in Mexico’s drug war. While information from victims’ families is paramount, she also shared insights on the value of open source tools, bank records, social media mining, and collaboration with nonprofit forensic teams in tracking the patterns behind the crisis.
Millions of people disappear every year, according to the International Commission on Missing People, and organized crime is involved in many of these cases. The violence associated with drug trafficking in particular, but also wildlife smuggling, resource theft, human trafficking, and other criminal rackets, plays a key role in many of the disappearances. Journalists act as both a deterrent to this kind of criminal conduct and as public-minded investigators, particularly where the rule of law has broken down.At its most sophisticated, organized crime is transnational, highly organized, and often systemic. It features in everyday life, infiltrating systems and groups that are essential to society. Disappearances are often a byproduct of this criminal activity.
Governments around the world, some which have sent workers home, are announcing interruptions in responding to freedom of information requests. Journalists are being told to expect delays in more than a dozen countries. But press freedom advocates warn that countries are taking big steps backward just when the free flow of information is most needed. GIJN’s Toby McIntosh rounds up some of the nations which have been affected.
Reporters Sans Frontieres published, for the first time, a list of press freedom’s 20 worst digital predators in 2020. Whether state offshoots, private-sector companies, or informal entities, they reflect a reality of power at the end of the 21st century’s second decade, in which investigative reporters and other journalists who cause displeasure risk being the targets of predatory activity by often hidden actors.
A group of independent reporters and photographers, working in different parts of Mexico, decided to come together and try to answer a fundamental question: Where do the disappeared of the drug war end up? GIJN’s Spanish editor Catalina Lobo-Guerrero spoke with the team of journalists to find out how they did it.
México es un país de muchas capas y desenterrar sus historias escondidas puede ser una tarea tan desgarradora como peligrosa. Frente a esta situación, un grupo de reporteros y fotógrafos independientes, en distintos puntos del país, decidieron formar un colectivo y arriesgarse a contestar una pregunta fundamental: ¿A dónde van los desaparecidos? Los mexicanos han estado desapareciendo desde hace décadas, pero a partir del 2006, cuando el presidente Felipe Calderón cambió su política de seguridad, invirtiendo millones en las fuerzas armadas para librar una guerra contra los carteles del narcotráfico, las cifras de asesinatos y desapariciones se dispararon. Para el final de su sexenio, la “guerra contra el narco” de Calderón había dejado un saldo de más de 47.000 muertos. Su sucesor, Enrique Peña Nieto, prometió frenar la violencia pero el desangre continuó, como lo demuestran las cifras: la tasa de homicidio en México (29 por cada 100,000 habitantes) se ha triplicado desde el 2007 y desde el 2006 se han reportado más de 40 mil casos de desaparecidos.
The award-winning Mexican journalist and author Marcela Turati was recognized with the 2019 Maria Moors Cabot Prize. In this Q&A, she talks about how Mexican journalists are organizing and collaborating to better protect themselves against threats of violence and death.
This past week, the Pen Chapter of San Miguel de Allende honored the 16 journalists murdered this year with an offering typical for Día de Muertos celebration in Mexico. In each home, those who have passed away are remembered with an altar, decorated with flowers, candles, objects, and food that those who have passed away liked when they were alive.
Mexican journalist Miroslava Breach had been investigating the alleged relationship between drug traffickers and politicians in northern Mexico for years when she was shot eight times in front of her home in 2016. However, several of her colleagues would not be silenced and, more than two years after her murder, published a series of reports on the case and the loose ends left by the official investigation of the crime.
In the run-up to the 2019 Global Investigative Journalism Conference in Hamburg this September 26 to 29, we’re featuring one Global Shining Light Award finalist per day. Check out “The Country With 2,000 Graves,” by the collective “A donde van los desaparecidos” and Quinto Elemento Lab.