The killing of women has been fast becoming a matter of routine in Mexico for the past quite some time. Criminals have been committing the crime with complete impunity. This time around, they killed and even decapitated a woman on Saturday for her postings on a social networking website. The body was found in a Mexican border city alongside a handwritten note that justified the killing for her postings on the site.
Earlier this month, two female journalists were strangulated in Mexico City and police are yet to arrest culprits behind the gruesome killings. Majority of the killings in the country are attributed to powerful and influential drug cartels and remain untraced.
Mexico's Human Rights Commission has said that eight journalists have been killed in Mexico this year and 74 since 2000. Other press groups cite lower numbers and figures differ based on the definition of who is a journalist and whether the killings appeared to involve their professional work.
While helpful, social networking posts sometimes are inaccurate and can lead to chaotic situations in cities wracked by gang confrontations. In the Gulf coast state of Veracruz, just south of Tamaulipas, the state government dropped terrorism charges last week against two Twitter users for false posts that officials said caused panic and chaos in late August.
In this recent killing, the victim was identified as Marisol Macias Castaneda, a newsroom manager for the Nuevo Laredo newspaper Primera Hora. The newspaper has not confirmed that title, and an employee of the paper said Macias Castaneda held an administrative post, not a reporting job.
The Associated Press reported the site prominently features tip hotlines for the Mexican army, navy and police, and includes a section for reporting the location of drug gang lookouts and drug sales points - possibly the information that angered the cartel.
"Nuevo Laredo en Vivo and social networking sites, I'm The Laredo Girl, and I'm here because of my reports, and yours," the message reads. "For those who don't want to believe, this happened to me because of my actions, for believing in the army and the navy. Thank you for your attention, respectfully, Laredo Girl...ZZZZ."
The letter "Z'' refers to the hyper-violent Zetas drug cartel, which is believed to be dominating the city across from Laredo, Texas. It was unclear how the killers found out her real identity.
Earlier this month, a man and a woman were found hanging dead from an overpass in Nuevo Laredo with a similar message threatening "this is what will happen" to internet users. However, it has not been clearly established whether the two had in fact ever posted any messages, or on what sites if they did.
Residents of Mexican border cities often post under nicknames to report drug gang violence, because the posts allow a certain degree of anonymity.
Local media outlets, whose journalists have been hit by killings, kidnappings and threats, are often too intimidated to report the violence. The government authorities should take stern action on the recent killing and unearth the real culprits behind the gruesome murder. The journalist community should also pressure the authorities to ensure their safety, especially for those journalists who work in conflict zones and cover crime-related stories.