It is an arcane website, something reminiscent of about 2005. When I first checked out Borderland Beat I paused, sneering at the ugly beige tone of its homepage, no interactive menu obeys the whims of my hovering mouse, poor enough.
Then I read some of the posts, Borderland Beat is something of a pinboard or a newspaper scrapbook, anonymous writers contribute the content, excerpts from a drug war which rages on in Mexico.
That anonymity is what makes Borderland Beat so arresting, its contributors are talking about the kingpins of Mexico’s multi-billion dollar drug industry.
These are men who don’t have limits, murder is not a consideration for them but a gut reaction. Exposing them online without the barrier of anonymity could mean death for the writers, death has been doled out to thousands in the region for far less.
The evidence is splattered all over the walls of the website, you could pick a page at random and you’ll see some post with a *WARNING EXTREME FOOTAGE*. That post could feature pictures of a gang member shot to bits, or a school teacher with her head cut off or a whole excruciating video of a poor soul being beaten to death with baseball bats in a torture room.
Like the crack cocaine pedalled by these gangs, the effect of Borderland Beat is scarily addictive. The blunt depiction of graphic violence draws you in but you’re eventually hooked by the stories.
They tell the tale of Mexico’s slow death. Border cities like Juarez were the first to go, thousands die there now each year directly as a result of the gang violence, some hope exists there now. They tell the tale of the brave who try to sever the limbs of the gangs, that seems an impossibility though.
Right now the tireless resistor of the Cartels, Doctor Mireles lies in a hospital with heart arrhythmia, under the current corrupt administration he is being refused treatment. That corruption is endemic, it’s what makes the situation so frustrating from an outsider’s point of view and so demoralising from that of the Mexicans. Mireles spoke about the lack of treatment last week-
for some time I have denounced that the authorities have harassed me in many ways and now the coronary blockage is from the lack of adequate professional attention that I need due to the cardiac problem that I suffer.
The media have largely failed also, and those who have tried were swatted away. In 1996 Gary Webb published a series of articles, “Dark Alliance”, criticising the CIA for their role in the drug crisis with Mexico. He was immediately labelled a fraud and was vilified by all mainstream American media outlets, culminating in Webb’s own suicide.
Borderland Beat rises above this, it feels like something more than news, it is a diary. The contributors cannot be attacked because they are many and they are largely anonymous, or because they do not fear it.
While the stories of mass grave discoveries and corrupt officials are endless, the fact that the locals continue to publish en masse documentation of their collapsed country and the bandits who rule it offers some respite. These people are defying the torturers, they just need an audience.