The Deadliest Assignment: Reporting in Mexico

CBS NewsSirens blared as a Ciudad Juarez State Police Officer raced down the street en route to the day’s latest murder. Someone had been shot and the suspect was still at large. The officer arrived at an empty field on the outskirts of “La Valle de Juarez,” an area notoriously violent and under control of the cartels. It doesn’t take long for them to discover the body.

It’s a typical Saturday night in the city of 1.3 million people, located just steps from the border with El Paso, Texas. Cd. Juarez has been plagued by violence since 2009 when President Felipe Calderon declared war on the country’s drug cartels.

While a crime scene like this would often attract many local journalists, that night there was only one photographer — from the newspaper “El Diario.” He stood behind the police tape photographing the body.

“Normally when we come here to cover to this area, we travel in groups,” said Fernando, who asked us only to use his first name for safety reasons. …

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During the last several decades, the United States has invested billions of dollars in trying to help the governments of Latin America and the Caribbean deliver better lives for their citizens. This has meant helping them increase internal security by combating the illicit growing and trafficking in narcotics and the activities of terrorist groups, as well as helping them to shore up their democratic and free market institutions.

Unfortunately, in recent years, continued progress in these areas has been threatened, not least by the elections of radical populist governments in Venezuela, Bolivia, and Ecuador. These governments have instituted retrograde agendas that include the propagation of class warfare, state domination of the economy, assaults on private property, anti-Americanism, support for such international pariahs as Iran, and lackluster support for regional counter-terrorism and counter-narcotics initiatives.

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