>> Tuesday, March 24, 2009
From a commentary on Mexidata.com by Hugo Torres, mayor of Rosarito Beach (Playas de Rosarito), Baja California, Mexico:
Rosarito Beach, Baja California – In Rosarito Beach, as in much of Mexico, we are fighting two battles these days.
One is against organized crime. The other is against misleading media coverage that wrongly implies that much of Mexico is unsafe for visitors and residents – which is devastating our economy.
Some reporters, stories and outlets have been responsible and balanced, including some of those who know this area best. Many, perhaps most, have not.
The war that Mexico’s President Felipe Calderon has launched against drug cartels (which are fed in part by a US$38 billion yearly U.S. drug market) is indeed a serious one, one of vital concern for both our countries.
We welcome and invite serious and analytical coverage of this struggle. Such coverage can be of significant help to both countries, which have much at stake.
What we don’t welcome is inaccurate, sensationalized, unbalanced and unfair coverage, which provides no insight but only promotes fear and misunderstanding. There has been far too much of this and it continues largely unabated.
Some media reports are simply biased and inaccurate. They are from individuals or media outlets that have an agenda against Mexico and will publish anything to promote it, whether or not it is true.
What is more troubling are reports from mainstream media that present an unbalanced, superficial and worrisome portrait of what life is like in Mexico, including Baja California.
This is sometimes done because sensationalism sells; other times because of lack of understanding: many reporters never even visit. At other times, the situation in one city is presented as if it represents all of Mexico, a vast country. . . .
What the reports also don’t mention is that in 2008, according to MSNBC, the murder rate in New Orleans was much higher than that of Tijuana. (Yet you will not see many if any stories warning people not to go to New Orleans. Much of the U.S. media uses far different standards when reporting stories outside the U.S.)
More troubling, the reports seldom state clearly that 90 percent or more of the killings in Mexico are drug-related. The typical resident is not targeted, nor is the visitor. As in New Orleans – as in gang wars in Los Angeles – the tourist is not the target.