Photo: Flickr: Manoso
The Web site Frontera List tracks the violence of Mexico’s drug war as part of a wider mission to document events and trends in the U.S.-Mexican borderlands.
“The Internet site is a continuation of a project that began during the era of the (19)90s as a list of a social group who shared news,” Frontera List creator Molly Molloy told Efe by telephone.
Molloy, a research librarian at New Mexico State University, said the original list mainly comprised journalists and academics.
The list’s initial focus was on issues such as the impact of the North American Free Trade Agreement, but shifted in 2005-2006 to growing drug-related violence in the Mexican city of Nuevo Laredo, neighboring Laredo, Texas.
But it was after the explosion of violence in Ciudad Juarez in 2008 that Frontera List came to be dominated by posts about the drug war, Molloy said.
“So many things were happening that I began to send more and more information, many people began to be interested in what happened in Ciudad Juarez,” she said.
Frontera List became a daily chronicle of the mayhem in Juarez, a metropolis of more than 1 million people just across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas, that for several years bore the sad distinction of being the most dangerous city in the Americas.
A multi-front conflict pitting rival drug cartels against each other and the security forces has claimed more than 50,000 lives in Mexico since December 2006, when newly inaugurated President Felipe Calderon gave the armed forces the leading role in the struggle with organized crime.
The Web site Fronteralist.org was launched in February, along with a Facebook page and a Twitter account.
Anyone who reads every day what happens in Mexico and learns about the victims would find it increasingly difficult to believe the claims of U.S. and Mexican officials that roughly 90 percent of the fatalities are linked to organized crime, Molloy said.
U.S. media, she said, fail to “ask the right questions” about the violence in Mexico, while journalists south of the border have been intimidated by the murder of dozens of their colleagues.
Political interests and the money Mexico gets from Washington for the war on drugs lead Mexican authorities to exaggerate the success of their efforts against organized crime, according to Molloy.
“Fewer than 2 percent of these murders in Mexico are investigated. How can they say that 90 percent of the victims are linked to the cartels?,” she demands. “There’s no way to know what time of relationship really existed if there’s no investigation.”
Accounts in the Mexican press show that many of drug-war dead were victims of extortionists or simply people who were in the wrong place at the wrong time, Molloy points out.
She also suspects there is an element of “social cleansing” in the killings, with gunmen’s eliminating “undesirables” on behalf of cartels or even the authorities.
Despite the mayhem south of the border, Molloy says she has no fear for her personal safety and that she continues to travel to Mexico when necessary for her work.