Granted Asylum in U.S., Mexican Reporter Talks of Corruption

By Jerry Kammer and Jerry Kammer on August 15, 2011

The former Juarez crime reporter who received political asylum in the United States after claiming that his life had been threatened says Mexican police, not drug traffickers, are the greatest threat to Mexican reporters.

"The narcos don't care (about reporters)," Jorge Luis Aguirre said on Univision's Sunday Spanish-language news program, Al Punto. "How does a reporter concern them if they control the government and control the police?"

Speaking with host Jorge Ramos, Aguirre pointed a finger at local and state officials in Mexico, accusing them of corruption and complicity in the violence that has shaken Mexico. He did not blame the federal government, which has been waging a bloody battle against drug traffickers, even as drug trafficking organizations fight among themselves to control access to smuggling corridors to the United States.

On Al Punto, Aguirre said police corruption creates a dilemma for reporters and others concerned about crime. "Who can you turn to? Because if you report (a crime) to the police, the police is your principal enemy. You don't have anyone to turn to."

Ramos, surprised by Aguirre's statement, asked: "The police is your principal enemy?"

Responded Aguirre: "Of course, because they're working for organized crime."

In 2009, before receiving asylum, Aguirre testified at a U.S. Senate hearing. There he claimed that "those who persecuted me are still in their government positions, using public money to try to attain their objectives of becoming a representative, mayor of Juarez or governor of Chihuahua State."

Aguirre fled with his family across the border to El Paso in 2008, shortly after another Juarez crime reporter was gunned down. Aguirre says that he then received a phone call in which he was told "You're next."

Last year Aguirre received political asylum, after documenting his case with e-mail messages and the file of stories he had written in recent years. He acknowledged that he does not feel safe from possible assassination attempts in the U.S. Then he added, "The only hope I have is that if they try to kill me (in the United States), it will be investigated. There no – in Mexico, no."

The attacks on journalists in Juarez were not isolated, according to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists. The organization reports that 13 journalists have been killed in Mexico since the beginning of 2010.

"The corrupting influence of criminal groups on all aspects of Mexican society, including government, law enforcement, and news media, make it difficult to clearly establish motives in many cases," CPJ says on its website.

Topics: Mexico