Border Brutality: A look through eyes of those who know it best

Brutality at the Border

AUSTIN - In a conference room in South Texas College, a group of journalists - Mexican and American - went through a training course together.

All the chairs in the room were cleared and a line was formed. Each journalist pulled out their phone and held it like a larger camera - as their instructor, a former member of the Mexican military taught them how to stay alive.

"Some years back," freelance journalist Victor Castillo said, "we didn't have a need to have these kind of workshops and have this type of physical training to cover news. But now we're forced to."

Castillo is the founder of the Border Center for Journalists and Bloggers in McAllan. He's spent years as a local and freelance reporter in the area and says in recent years, both sides of the border have become hostile towards reporters.

"Between 2010 and 2015, 103 journalists in Mexico have been either threatened, killed, or kidnapped," Castillo said. "Mexico is the most dangerous place in the world to cover news."

According to the "Committee to Protect Journalists", Mexico is the 12th deadliest country for journalists based on numbers kept since 2012. 

They confirm 89 journalists have been killed in Mexico in that time - 37 of which were confirmed to have been killed because of their work. 

It's a danger that the journalists like Castillo knew well.

"One of the experiences that I recall... I was covering and filming these three inflatable rafts that were crossing migrants," Castillo said. "That's what we believe was going on. The bad guys started threatening us. For example, I remember one of them said 'I know who you are, know who you are with, know where you live and were going to burn your house if you don't stop recording."

"There's two realities of Mexico on the border," Reporter Ildefonso Ortiz said. "One is what people want you to see - 'things are great, commerce, tourism'. The other is fear. People living in fear, people being targeted by organized crime. Innocent people being extorted."

Ortiz and Castillo were training with that group because they want to continue covering these types of stories. 

They worry that the governments on both sides of the border aren't accurately reporting the truth and that's why they will continue shooting 

"If we as journalists stop communicating, stop telling the news the society is going to also lose," Castillo said. "So we go out even if there's conflicts in Reinosa, Matamoros...anywhere in Mexico any type of incidents, we need to continue...The minute that we stop, we lose."

(© 2016 KVUE)


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