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No news is not good news

5 November 2012

I’ve been reluctant to write about the Televisa-Narco scandal, first off because there’s already too much bandwidth devoted to the narcos (and most of it is crap), and because… well… you don’t want to screw with Televisa.  Anyway, Daniel Hopsicker (who describes himself as a “dissident journalist”) has written very well on the situation for MadCow Morning News.  From “Mexico’s Narco Televisa Scandal: The Impunity of the Elite”

On August 20, border guards in Nicaragua detain 18 Mexicans—17 men and one woman. They are all wearing Televisa t-shirts, and they are traveling in six satellite TV vans emblazoned with the Televisa logo.  They carry press credentials from the network.

Customs officials received a tip from a Nicaraguan official who spent the previous evening in Tegucigalpa Honduras in the same hotel as the Mexicans. He became suspicious after hearing loose talk.

The leader of the group, 39-year-old Raquel Alatorre Correa […]   tells border officials—who find her high-handed and petulant—that she and her fellow journalists are in Nicaragua to do a story.  When asked exactly where in Nicaragua they are headed, she says “I won’t tell you.”

A search of the satellite-TV vans is a foregone conclusion. What turns up is a surprise:

$9.2 million in cash, stuffed into built-in hidden compartments, as well as traces of cocaine. Prosecutors charge the group with money laundering, drug trafficking and organized crime.


Televisa emphatically and categorically denies any link to either the Mexican suspects or the six satellite TV vans.

For good measure, and perhaps to show the earnestness of their intentions, the giant network threatens to sue the 18 incarcerated Mexicans—who are already looking at doing 30 years in a squalid Nicaraguan prison—for appropriating the company’s good name.

Next Mexico’s Attorney General Marisela Morales steps into the fray, to say the suspects have falsely used Televisa’s name as a cover for criminal pursuits.


…The six vans, it turns out, were registered to Televisa.

Televisa’s response was to insist that motor vehicle personnel had been bribed. Notorized documents make this seem unlikely. Then, too, there are letters on Televisa letterhead signed by the vice president of the news division, asking border officials to expedite the vans entrance into their country.

The 18 Mexicans may not be journalists. But that doesn’t mean Televisa isn’t involved.

Televisa IS Mexican television… or about 80 to 90 percent of it.  Where I live, 3 out of the five local stations are Televisa (unlike the U.S., where a “network” has the same programming on all its outlets, Televisa owns a couple of outlets in each market, with different programming aimed at different audiences — the movie, the soap opera and the soccer game on different channels are all produced by Televisa).

Given that media in this country is expected to have political biases, it is as if FOX News controlled the airwaves.  And, one has to remember that 90 percent of Mexicans get their news from Television… meaning Televisa.  It’s open bias in the recent presidential election towards Enrique Peña Nieto (not to mention their paid support for the now president-elect’s campaign) was only one of a series of politically tinged actions.   It has successfully fought political and economic reforms that threaten its monopoly.  When Mexico City’s union-owned electric company was forceably liquidated (with army troops taking over the facilities in the middle of the night), lost in the claims that the union was “corrupt” was the interesting fact that the company owned the cable access rights  in the Capital which Televisa wanted to acquire.  You don’t mess with them.

While I don’t have too much of a problem with biased reportage (like I’m fair and balanced?) the absence of alternative sources of information is a serious problem, and — given the implications of the Nicaraguan scandal and what it suggests about Televisa’s income stream — something much more serious and worthy of attention than what particular gangster was caught or killed today.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. 5 November 2012 3:51 pm

    Wow. That is a interesting story. Thanks for sharing

  2. Allen from Mazatlan permalink
    6 November 2012 8:08 am

    Scary story. But so many news sources have reported serious concerns over Televisa, that it is not a great surprise.

    The PRI returns to power with Pinata, and Televisa there to support him.
    Does not bode well for Mexico, Lets hope that the touristas don’t notice.

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