In some northern Mexican cities, shootouts and dumped cadavers have been relatively common occurrences since President Felipe Calderón declared war on drug trafficking in late 2006. However, in mid-2009, drug war mayhem took a new twist: narco-blockades. In Monterrey and Reynosa, two northern cities notoriously replete with organized crime, drug traffickers began to organize blockades that paralyzed entire sections of those cities. The blockades are sometimes in retaliation for the detention of important organized crime figures. In other cases, they are organized to prevent the police and military from acting against drug traffickers.
Often, during the blockades gunmen order civilians out of their vehicles. The gunmen then use the vehicles to block key roads or intersections, and sometimes they set the vehicles on fire. Shootouts with automatic assault rifles are common occurrences at the blockades.
In Reynosa and Monterrey, citizens have begun to use the online social networking service Twitter to alert fellow residents of potentially dangerous situations such as shootouts and blockades. Twitter allows users to send out 140-character messages to their “followers.” It also allows users to create topics called “hash tags” by preceding words with a hash symbol (#). The way in which Twitter organizes information allows users to communicate and disseminate very short messages very quickly. Continue reading “Mexicans “Tweeting” for their Lives in Violent Cities”
Mexicans returning home after Easter vacation were greeted with horrifying news: Mexican soldiers opened fire on a vehicle full of children as their family headed to the beach for Easter Sunday.
According to Mexican press, the soldiers indiscriminately opened fire on the vehicle, and even threw fragmentation grenades. La Jornada reports:
According to the victims’ complaint, the seven children and four adults were traveling in a Tahoe truck, driven by Carlos Alfredo Rangel, early Sunday morning. When the vehicle passed the military checkpoint, Rangel observed that the soldiers were alongside the highway. Rangel slowed down, but the soldiers did not signal for him to stop.
After passing the checkpoint, the soldiers began to shoot indiscriminately at the vehicle; the adults say that they even threw multiple fragmentation grenades.
They recount that they experienced moments of terror and confusion as they got out of the truck and tried to run for the brush. Martín Almanza carried his sons Bryan and Michel, but at that moment he felt a bullet graze him. His son Bryan was covered in blood. He died in his arms. Despite the fact that the civilians were screaming at the soldiers to stop shooting at them because there were children present, the soldiers ignored them and injured the other youngster, who died at the scene.”