"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 awarded.

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 of Oaxaca.

Author of nine books on Mexican politics and finance

Publisher of the respected national newsweekly La Crisis.

In other words, Carlos Ramírez is ten times the journalist that the soon to be ex-Times bureau chief ever was.

This June 7th also marks one year from the assassination of TV Azteca personality Paco Stanley in Mexico City; a somber reminder of narco-corruption in journalism.

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.

Carlos Ramírez

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

Indicador Político

NYT Stumbles in México

Dillon, KOed

Errors damaged the daily's credibility

By Carlos Ramírez

After 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 book.

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 readers.


Related News Links

This Just In: Dillon Responds

Original Column by Carlos Ramírez in Spanish:


E-mail of Carlos Ramírez:


...the magazine he publishes:


...the Yucatán Daily that started this fireball of Authentic Journalism rolling:

http://www.poresto.net/ (New address as of June 5th)

The Sam Dillon Story:


Mario Menéndez Rodríguez: May 2000 Drug War Hero of the Month


"Dare To Legalize," by Mario Menéndez Rodríguez


Village Voice Press Clips column February 23, 2000:


Village Voice Press Clips column May 24, 2000:


Boston Phoenix story on Banamex and the Clinton-Zedillo summit:


And our Flagship Station:


Authentic Journalism enters the 21st Century