KSAT investigates information blackout in Reynosa, Mexico

Blackout keeps residents in dark about drug war


On March 10 in the border town of Reynosa, Mexico, dozens of people died in a violent shootout, according to multiple witnesses. The state government there, however, said only two people died. 

That discrepancy, critics say, is typical of the ongoing information blackout in Reynosa, where residents are kept in the dark about the facts of the drug war consuming their city.

"Local media doesn't report on the violence at all anymore," said Idelfonso Ortiz, a crime reporter for the McAllen Monitor.

Ortiz said the cartels have leveled death threats against journalists who have reported on the violence, killing six in 2010.

That, in combination with the state government's willful lying about the facts, he said, has led to the blackout.

"People have no traditional sources to go to anymore for information," said Ortiz.

So a small group of anonymous citizen journalists, have taken to Twitter to report cartel activity.

"Chuy" is one of them, a young man who does not use his real name but has amassed thousands of followers on Twitter.

He and a few others consistently alert residents to cartel roadblocks, shootouts, and police activity in an effort to help people stay safe.

"This is a great responsibility we have," said Chuy. "That said, there are a lot of risks here."

If the cartels operating in the area -- the Zetas and Gulf Cartel -- knew who Chuy was, he would be killed. That keeps him up at night.

"You have to be extremely careful and take this very seriously because you're risking your life here," said Chuy.

But he said it was worth it, because his city is dying and no one is talking about it.

The Mexican government in Reynosa declined to be interviewed for this story.

For a list of recent stories Matt Rivers has done, click here.