Hacking the gangs

Going online to fight the Mexican gangsters

The wing of the hacking group Anonymous based in the Mexican city of Veracruz recently threatened to expose names and activities of Los Zetas criminal organisation which it accused of being involved in the disappearance of one of its members.

In the video below (in Spanish), Anonymous warned that on Saturday 5 November, if their colleague still had not been freed, they would name taxi-drivers, police officers and local authorities who had “dedicated themselves to being the eyes and ears” of the gangsters. The word “polizeta” is also used; it combines ‘policeman’ and ‘Zeta’ to demonstrate the proximity between the law and the lawless.

Source: MrAnonymousguyfawkes, YouTube, 2 November 2011

The video’s defiance – “You made a big mistake taking one of us. Let him go. If anything happens to him then you sons of bitches will remember the 5th November” – is laudable in a world where the gangs have developed spiders’ webs of fear and violence across Mexican society.

However, just 24 hours after posting the video the Veracruz ‘hactivists’ seemingly backtracked on their threat due to the overwhelming risk they were placing on their lives. We have seen how the gangs have intimidated and murdered reporters and they have the capacity to terrify anyone reporting the conflict differently from how they would like with torture, rape and extortion.

Nevertheless, it seems that that the wider hacking community considered and dismissed the Veracruz decision. The larger wing of the global Anonymous group, ‘Anonymous Iberoamerica’ posted this belligerent and daring blogpost on Wednesday 2 November, restating their repudiation of the criminals and their refusal to be dominated. The Twitter hashtag #OpCartel has remained in use and there is incessant online activity and discussion over this bold challenge, despite the past reactions of the authorities to Internet debate of the drugs problems.

The violence carried out by the gangsters is often of a nearly unspeakable brutality but Mexico would quickly lurch a hundred paces backward into serious problems if the media never reported and disputed the problems. The freedom of the press must not be privatised and restricted. As a leading Latin American nation and a member of the G20, if Mexico were to lose this pillar of democracy its stumble towards lawlessness and political default would be more acute. The politicians are hesitating and treading water ahead of the presidential elections on 1 July 2012. It seems that Anonymous is not prepared to wait that long and is ready to risk death rather than to continue to be subordinated by the fast-moving, well-connected and devastatingly violent criminal gangs.

This blog will cover the Mexican general and presidential elections live from the country in June and July 2012.

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