Mexican Journalist Says Drug Cartel Violence Forced Him to Seek Asylum in U.S.

By Edwin Mora | March 24, 2009 | 5:48 PM EDT

Forensic officers and soldiers work at a crime scene where a man was executed inside a car by unidentified gunmen in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, Wednesday, March 11, 2009. (AP Photo/Miguel Tovar)

Washington ( - A Mexican journalist from Ciudad Juarez told that he is in exile in El Paso, Texas, due to threats on his life from the drug cartels.

Jorge Luis Aguirre came to Washington, D.C., last week to testify before a U.S. Senate panel looking into drug crime in Mexico. He said the United States needs to do whatever it can to help end the violence caused by drug-trafficking in Mexico.

“I am exiled from my country and staying in El Paso with my wife and three children legally on a temporary visa because of this violence,” Aguirre said last week after testifying at a joint hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control.

Aguirre spoke to in Spanish on March 17.

A lawyer and journalist in Mexico for three decades, Aguirre said his experience includes reporting for a number of newspapers in Mexico’s Chihuahua state--including Ciudad Juarez, directly across the border from El Paso. Aguirre is the founder and director of, an online newspaper.

Aguirre said due to his work as a reporter, he received threats from the drug cartel and was forced to flee Ciudad Juarez into exile in El Paso since November 2008.

Aguirre said he left his country after a fellow journalist, Armando Rodriguez, was murdered outside his house at the hands of drug traffickers, then he himself received a call saying, “You’re next, son of a (expletive deleted)!”

Aguirre said he and his family sought asylum in the U.S.

“For obvious reasons, my return to Juarez would be a death sentence,” Aguirre said, “I would likely face fire from AK-47s upon crossing the border into Mexico.”

Aguirre told that he believes the threats came from a Mexican government official who, he said, is associated with the cartel.

The journalist said that it is difficult for Americans to understand the situation in Mexico, where drug cartel violence has “erased all authority and government from the map and replaced it with (a) dictatorship of the crime underworld.”
He reinforced that sentiment, telling “If the government and criminals are persecuting the people, what are we to do?”

Aguirre also said that the flow of guns from the U.S to Mexico is a one-way street, where criminals are the only ones armed.

“Unfortunately, the guns that come from the United States only go to the criminals, meanwhile the rest of the population is defenseless,” Aguirre told 
Aguirre appeared before a joint panel of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s crime and drugs subcommittee and the Senate caucus on international narcotics control.
According to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ National Tracing Center, 90 percent of the weapons retrieved from drug traffickers that could be traced came from the U.S. 

Aguirre said he is not offering a solution to the U.S. Congress--just pleading for help.

“I do not know exactly what needs to be done, but what I can tell you is that the situation in Mexico is a desperate one that needs to be resolved through any means, because it is impossible to live in places like Ciudad Juarez due to the current situation,” Aguirre told

According to the U.S. State Department, approximately 1,800 people were killed in 2008 in Ciudad Juarez as a result of drug cartels fighting with Mexican authorities for control of the city.

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