Mexico’s ambassador to the US has criticised the international media for paying excessive attention to the drug-related violence in his country.
Arturo Sarukhan said news organisations gave the impression the whole of Mexico was ablaze with violence. He said stories such as economic ties with the US and the rise of the Mexican middle class went unreported.
More than 28,000 people have died in Mexico since the government crackdown on drug cartels began in late 2006.
Ambassador Sarukhan, who was speaking at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, said international media failed to give the context or a wider vision of Mexico when reporting about the country. Returning to a theme he had addressed earlier in the week, the ambassador said the motto “if it bleeds it leads” tended to prevail when choosing which stories to cover.
“You could infer (from the coverage) that the country is burning from the Rio Grande to the border with Guatemala,” Mr Sarukhan said, adding that the media tended to overlook the less “sexy” aspects of the country.
Mr Sarukhan pointed to the increased co-operation in recent months between Mexico and the US in tackling drug-trafficking.
The US ambassador to Mexico, Carlos Pascual, who also spoke at the CFR event, also said it was necessary to keep the rise in drug-related violence in context and stressed the importance of US-Mexico ties. “Mexico is a partner and this association benefits both countries,” he was quoted as saying by the Spanish news agency Efe.
Since Mexican President Felipe Calderon began deploying troops to bolster the battle against drug gangs, the country has seen rising and frequently gruesome violence. The government has said that the violence shows that the gangs are being squeezed and fighting one another for control of drug-trafficking routes.
Some observers argue, however, that the cartels are powerful in some parts of country. Violence has been concentrated in certain regions of Mexico, including the states bordering the US. Ciudad Juarez in the border state of Chihuahua has been the scene for about a fifth of the total killings.
The Mexican authorities have highlighted the country’s lower overall murder rate compared with some other Latin American countries.
President Calderon drew attention to these figures this week, noting on Twitter that in 2009 Mexico had 15 murders per 100,000 inhabitants, while in Venezuela the rate was 48, in Colombia 37, and 25 in Brazil.