"Very prone to demand
explanations, the New York Times owes an explanation to the Mexican
people about the replacement of Dillon and Preston."
Top Mexican Journalist
Challenges NY Times
June 7, 2000
National Freedom of the Press Day
On Wednesday morning,
June 7th, every journalist in Mexico will be talking about the
following column, which The Narco News Bulletin has obtained
and translated for our Bulldog Edition on the night of June 6th.
The nation's leading journalists
will gather in Mexico City. The President of the Republic and
all six presidential candidates will speak on "Freedom of
the Press." And the National Prize in Journalism will be
And in El Universal, Mexico's largest daily, and 25
other newspapers, will appear the Indicador Político column of Carlos Ramírez
with his bold challenge to the New York Times.
Who is Carlos Ramírez
to criticize the mighty New York Times?
Two-time winner of the
National Prize in Journalism: On June 7, 1999 and on June 7,
1995, chosen by a rotating committee of leading Mexican journalists
Journalism Professor at
the National Autonomous University and the Ibero-American University.
The most widely-read newspaper
columnist in Mexico, reaching more than 25 percent of all readers
in the country six days a week.
Winner of the Manuel Buendía
prize in journalism (chosen by professors from 25 journalism
schools in the name of our assassinated colleague)
Winner of the Ricardo
Flores Magón Journalist's Medal of Honor in his home state
Author of nine books on
Mexican politics and finance
Publisher of the respected
national newsweekly La
In other words, Carlos
Ramírez is ten times the journalist that the soon to be
ex-Times bureau chief ever was.
Here, with its simultaneous
publication in English, The Narco News Bulletin presents
the work of an Authentic Journalist who knows what it means to
win journalistic prizes, and who clearly understands the treason
to our profession when somebody -- this time it was Sam Dillon
-- breaks the trust placed in them by colleagues and readers.
Today, on Freedom of the
Press Day 2000, The Narco News Bulletin congratulates
Carlos Ramírez for keeping alive the unconquerable spirit
of his fellow Oaxaqueño, the giant of Authentic
Journalism, Ricardo Flores Magón.
June 7, 2000
NYT Stumbles in México
Errors damaged the daily's
By Carlos Ramírez
having won the Pulitzer prize in journalism for reports on the
investigations of the DEA against two Mexican politicians, the
correspondent Sam Dillon has just been removed. One month before
the Mexican presidential elections that are of great concern
in the US, the New York Times newspaper will have to settle
on the reports of two new correspondents who will confront, for
the first time, the Mexican political struggle.
The story of the exit by Dillon and his
wife Julia Preston, also a New York Times correspondent
in México, has attracted public attention. The justification
by Dillon was to ask for special permission from the Times to
leave his reporting of the unprecedented Mexican electoral process
because he's going to write a book.
But this story is about the loud fall
of a correspondent who had achieved the heights of having been
given a Pulitzer prize. And a revealing fact is that this year,
for the first time in 14 years, the New York Times, considered
the Cathedral of journalism, did not receive a single Pulitzer.
The journalist Cynthia Cotts, in her "Press Clips" column of the Village
Voice in New York, revealed,
on May 24th, the change for Dillon. Replacing Dillon and Preston
will come to México, to the bureau of the NYT,
Ginger Thompson and Tim Weiner. Thompson is a journalist who
worked for the Baltimore Sun and Weiner for the Philadelphia
Enquirer. The two were chosen personally by Joe Lelyved, executive
director of the New York daily, in the newspaper's duty to the
North American interests in the Mexican electoral process.
The exit of Dillon was preceded by many
rumors. But above all those regarding the stories about his mercenary
coverage of some Mexican affairs. The North American journalist
Al Giordano, executive editor of the internet publication www.narconews.com, and specialist
in themes of drug trafficking, revealed last week the story of
a threatening phone call that he received from Dillon.
Giordano investigated the governmental
threats against Mario Menéndez
Rodríguez, director of the newspaper Por
Esto! Of Yucatán, for his critical coverage against
Roberto Hernández Ramírez, owner of Banamex (The
National Bank of México). Menéndez denounced, with
photographs, the use of Hernández properties to receive
shipments of drugs in the Mexican Caribbean.
Giordano recounted in his report, Times Dumps Dillon, that he
received a "dark message" from Dillon: "Dillon
made various threats of what he would do to discredit me if I
published the story of Menéndez and Hernández."
The Por Esto! Report about Hernández
was expanded upon by Giordano and published in the Boston
Phoenix of Massachusetts, for which he has written in
México. But Giordano sent a memorandum of complaint to
the leadership of the New York Times to denounce the threats
of Dillon that sought to protect Hernández from the accusations
of drug trafficking. Still, he did not receive any response.
In the theme of drug trafficking, Dillon
obtained, together with Craig Pyes, the Pulitzer in journalism
for his reports on corruption in high Mexican political spheres.
Above all, for a text published on the first page of the New
York Times on February 23, 1997, against Manlio Fabio Beltrones
and Jorge Carrillo Olea, identifying them as protectors of drug
traffickers. Beltrones filed a legal complaint against the correspondent
and the newspaper and provoked an investigation by the Attorney
General who ruled that there was no evidence that linked Beltrones
with the narco. Still, Dillon never presented the documents attributed
to the DEA that he included in his investigation.
Giordano documented a little-known story
about drug trafficking in the Caribbean: How the New York
Times and Dillon broke the first pressures against Mario
Villanueva in December of 1998 to accuse him of being a drug
trafficker. That served as the opening salvo in the investigation
by the Attorney General, launched a few days later, against the
then-governor of Quintana Roo.
The strange part of the matter was that
the texts of Dillon never included the confirmed story about
the origin of Villanueva's disgrace: That it had been his conflict
with Banamex owner Roberto Hernández over real estate.
Hernández was, then and now, the
main scuba-diving companion of President Zedillo. And Villanueva
has declared that he lost the support of President Zedillo when
he opposed business plans of his brother Rodolfo Zedillo Ponce
de León in Cancún.
In the coverage of information about drug
trafficking in the Carribean, Dillon evaded all reference to
Hernández and Banamex, even when Hernández was
host on the Peninsula of a meeting between Zedillo and President
Clinton in February 1999, in spite of the fact that the New
York Times correspondent knew of that information. Giordano
wrote in his text about Dillon that the NYT correspondent had
to confess, after this meeting, that, yes, he did have information
against Hernández for drug trafficking on his properties.
"I decided," said Dillon in the report by Giordano,
"that it would be a cheap shot."
The mercenary role of Dillon in favor of Hernández
was revealed on February 23 by
Cynthia Cotts in her Village Voice column. The report
implied an accusation against Dillon. "In México,
untouchables are people who are protected by the power that they
excersize. Such is the case of Sam Dillon, bureau chief of the
New York Times in México, and Roberto Hernández,
owner of Banamex." The columnist reported that Dillon had
facts and evidence that involved Hernández in drug trafficking
but avoided reporting them.
On Mexican politics, Dillon always accepted
the official version of free elections but neglected the evidences
of irregularities. His wife, Julia Preston, who also worked for
the NYT, was Boston Globe correspondent in Nicaragua
and had a tendency that was intentionally anti-Sandinista. According
to the late United States radical Abbie Hoffman, Preston egged-on
foreign correspondents against the Sandinistas in 1985.
The exit of Dillon and Preston from the
office of the New York Times in México marks a political
act because it occurs a few weeks before the most important elections
of the country in 71 years of the PRI era. International press
coverage presents a possibility of sensitizing important sectors
of US public opinión in favor of the Mexican political
transition. The new correspondents will arrive very late to open
sources and understand the Mexican reality, something that without
a doubt will benefit the Zedillo government that is very committed
to the triumph of Francisco Labastida.
In the past, the New York Times
correspondents in México were irrelevant. Gay Talese recounts
in The Kingdom and the Power: The History of the New York
Times how in the 60s the correspondent of the New York daily
lived in Cuernavaca and spent his days at the racetrack. The
exit of Dillon in middle of an important political process is
a humiliating matter for Dillon but also a difficult one for
the Times. After having received a Pulitzer prize in journalism,
Dillon appears to have lost the confidence of his editors and
they conceded him "permission" to retire to write a
Very prone to demand explanations, the
New York Times owes an explanation to the Mexican people
about the replacement of Dillon and Preston. According to Giordano,
it would be difficult for the Times to fire him because
he belonged to a team that won the Pulitzer. But a few years
ago, the Washington Post fired the journalist Janet Cooke
who won a Pulitzer for a report that turned out to be fiction.
Without a detailed explanation about the
exit of Dillon, the reports of the Times about drug trafficking
will lack credibility. And, in the same manner, the reports that
won Dillon the Pulitzer will have lost the confidence of the
by Carlos Ramírez in Spanish:
E-mail of Carlos
...the magazine he publishes:
Daily that started this fireball of Authentic Journalism rolling:
The Sam Dillon
Rodríguez: May 2000 Drug War Hero of the Month
Legalize," by Mario Menéndez Rodríguez
Village Voice Press Clips column February
Village Voice Press Clips column May
Boston Phoenix story on Banamex and
the Clinton-Zedillo summit:
And our Flagship
Journalism enters the 21st Century