Anonymous blogger vows to expose Mexico’s drug cartel violence

A police officer holds up a yellow police tape at a crime scene where six people were strangled to death and one decapitated in a shack in the outskirts of Cancun. Credit: Reuters
A police officer holds up yellow police tape at a crime scene where six people were strangled to death and one decapitated in a shack on the outskirts of Cancun, Mexico.
Credit: Reuters

In one of Mexico’s most dangerous states, bravery is trending. Valor Por Tamaulipas (Courage for Tamaulipas) is a Facebook and Twitter account that reports on violence in Tamaulipas, the northeastern Mexican state that borders Texas stricken by violence carried out by rival drug cartels. Launched in January last year, the crime watchdog posts citizen complaints and so-called “risk situations” related to organized crime in the region.

Last month, the anonymous administrator of the watchdog project reportedly shut down its site after flyers offering a reward of 600,000 pesos ($46,000) for information on his identity were distributed in Ciudad Victoria, the capital of Tamaulipas. Undeterred, the blogger vowed to keep tweeting to his thousands of followers “to the very end,” he tells Metro Mexico.

How did you get the idea for this project?
I am just continuing the work of a Facebook page called Un grito de ayuda por Tamaulipas (A cry for help for Tamaulipas), but that page decided to discontinue publishing risk situations after the administrator of a similar site in Nuevo Laredo (in Tamaulipas state) was killed. I first decided to make a page reporting missing people, and then I started to publish risk situations and expose impunity and injustice.

Why did you create the account?
To be honest, I think that I made the account because I was powerless at not being able to help in another way, to see how organized crime chooses who will live and can inculcate fear in everybody.

Recently you announced that you would close your account. Why did you decide not to do it?
Yes, I did announce it. I thought I could create a new account, a safer one with less focus on organized crime, but it was not possible. I had to keep it open to answer questions from my followers on Twitter. I knew that if I stopped it completely, that would be a victory for the criminals. Organized crime with or without VxT keeps causing violence, but at least with VxT it’s likely that some crimes are reported.

Do you see any changes in the pipeline?
Besides having my trusted partners make some adjustments, I need to control every action I have on Twitter. I think what has changed in me is the decision to stay with VxT to the end. I never thought about giving up but I thought I could change my platform. Now I see that my platform is VxT, and I must defend it.

Who or what could shut down your social media accounts?
I can’t answer that because it would only give ideas to the criminals. I can just say that I’ll be here to the very end.

Are you afraid of being found out?
Always. I have faced it in the best way that I could. The gangs would have to live in the area where we live, and know how to end the lives of those who decide not to follow crime’s rules, to know how to have those who have refused to obey murdered. But how can we not be afraid if we know what awaits us the day we get caught?

Criminals offered 600,000 pesos for uncovering your identity. How did this make you feel?
They constantly make threats. I have always faced them. The answer has been the same as with previous threats and it would continue in one or another way, though. When the flyer [offering a price on the blogger's head] was released in different media, I was concerned that the risks for my followers would increase.

Do social media accounts do the job of police authorities in your region?
It seems that the existing authorities in the region only make us cling to a hope that the Army or Navy could regain control of the state – so far this has not happened. Social networks are no substitute for the authorities and the government has to enforce the rule of law, but at least we can expose this situation. But it’s sad to see that the government itself is part of the corruption and criminal groups. And while the government has its own battles, people are still suffering criminal control.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Drive charged in fatal hit and run, police…

The NYPD has arrested a man they say is responsible for a fatal hit and run in Manhattan last weekend. Doohee Cho, 33, was hit…

Local

Mayor de Blasio raises minimum wage for some…

Mayor Bill de Blasio signed an executive order Tuesday morning that will raise the minimum wage for workers employed by private companies that receive more…

National

3 myths about the working poor

Linda Tirado works to debunk some common stereotypes about the working poor in her new book, "Hand to Mouth."

Money

Lawsuit funding advances: friend or foe?

Reporter was commissioned to write this in-depth article Many plaintiffs awaiting resolution of their lawsuit or legal claim often find themselves in a tricky financial…

Going Out

Which NYC restaurant lost its three-star Michelin rating?

A record 73 restaurants in New York City collected coveted Michelin stars on Tuesday as a mix of trendy spots and fine-dining stalwarts underscored the…

Entertainment

Interview: Metro chats with filmmaker Meir Kalmanson, man…

A New York filmmaker hands out smiles to its residents.

Television

TV watch list, Tuesday, Sept. 30: 'Selfie,' 'Utopia'…

'Selfie' This modern day take on the "My Fair Lady" story stars John Cho in the Henry Higgins role. Perhaps instead of "the rain in…

Music

Can't-miss weekend events continue to attract the masses

Reporter was commissioned to write this in-depth article Earlier this summer, the Firefly Music Festival drew crowds of tens of thousands of people to Dover, Delaware.…

MLB

Mets 2014 report card

The Mets wrapped up their eight straight season without a playoff appearance last weekend. Needless to say, they fell a bit short of general manager…

NFL

NFL Power Rankings: Cowboys, Packers, Ravens, Chargers climb

NFL Power Rankings: Cowboys, Packers, Ravens, Chargers climb

NFL

Ryan Quigley making a big impact for Jets…

Ryan Quigley, now in his second year as the Jets punter, had an exceptional afternoon with six punts for an average of 51.7 yards per punt.

NFL

3 positives to take from Jets loss to…

The Jets suffered another loss Sunday — 24-17 to the Lions — but the reason why it hurts so much for Jets fans is that…

Style

Products that support breast cancer awareness and research

Asics GT-1000, $100 Asics’ third pink collection in collaboration with Christina Applegate’s Right Action for Women includes this pink-accented version of its best-selling GT-1000 3…

Wellbeing

Dr. Marisa Weiss: Where we stand on breast…

As an oncologist and a survivor herself, Dr. Marisa Weiss knows the urgency felt by those diagnosed with breast cancer. Genetic testing has accelerated the…

Wellbeing

Bees' stingers hold new hope for cancer cure

A promising new lead in the search for a cancer cure has turned up in a place that most people naturally avoid. A team from…

Home

Emily Henderson on small space design

Design expert Emily Henderson shows us how to upgrade our cramped quarters.