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Rosarito Beach mayor lashes out against 'slanted' media reports

March 19, 2009 | 11:48 am


Rosarito Beach Mayor Hugo Torres has penned an article entitled "Murder by Media: What Misleading News Coverage Is Doing to Mexico."

Torres, who is in the difficult position of guiding a city through exceedingly hard times because tourists have all but stopped visiting, has lashed out against the U.S. media for its largely "slanted" and "misleading" coverage.

He states that Rosarito Beach, a once-popular tourist destination in Baja California not far from the U.S.-Mexico border, is fighting two battles: one against organized crime (drug cartels) and another against "misleading media coverage that wrongly implies that much of Mexico is unsafe for visitors and residents, and which is devastating our economy."

While not singling out specific newspapers or TV news stations (click here for my story on CNN implying just that), Torres himself implies that many of the reports are "because sensationalism sells" or "from individuals or media outlets that have an agenda against Mexico and will publish anything to promote it."

The mayor clearly is frustrated and understandably so. Tourists have not been murdered by drug lords in his city, and they've not been targeted in other tourist destinations in Mexico. Yet all are suffering to some degree because of drug-related violence, occurring mostly in border towns and involving mostly rival cartel members.

Says Torres, "The reports often don't mention that while some law enforcement personnel have been killed, cartel members primarily are killing each other as it becomes harder for them to do business, as they fight each other for shrinking territories."


Interestingly, in a story in Wednesday's Los Angeles Times, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's chief of intelligence, Anthony P. Placido, said the increased violence during the past year is actually a sign of success. Placido described the cartels as "wounded, vulnerable and dangerous."

The headline on that story was a quote from Illinois Sen. Richard J. Durbin: "Mexico and America are in this together," which referred to the insatiable demand for illegal drugs in the U.S., and the flow of weapons from the U.S. into Mexico and into the hands of the cartels.

In closing Torres makes what seems a reasonable request of reporters and prospective visitors: "Please talk to those who know the area firsthand--or visit yourself--to get an accurate picture."

--Pete Thomas

Photos: A deserted Rosarito Beach as photographed last month by Ricardo DeAratanha /
Los Angeles Times. In second photo the city's mayor, Hugo Torres, shakes hands with a citizen in  2008. Credit: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times