The immense power of the state

Reportero began as a short documentary centred around a youth centre for deported children. As Ruiz documented his subjects’ lives, a pattern of narcotic-related violence emerged. When put in contact with Sergio Haro, Ruiz describes their initial encounter as “a good first date, within half an hour I knew I wanted to reframe my film around Sergio and his work”.

Ruiz explained that despite the financial challenges faced by the print media worldwide, Zeta is managing to stay afloat thanks to a loyal following of readers, with 25-30,000 issues imported from California each week. The paper’s younger journalists are also “confronting the reality of social media and . . . are chomping at the bit to recreate Zeta in this digital universe”, and Ruiz hoped that this film has “put the dialogue of their safety on the map”.

Violence continues to move and reek destruction across parts of the country. Whilst the public may resist narcotics, “the immense power of the state is not as powerful as the organised distraction of the cartels”.

Ruiz described the relationship between public officials and organised crime as “a messy and difficult situation”. The filmmaker talked about the series of entanglements linking the police to crime and to violence against journalists. He said: “Many perpetrators of violence come from the police and are former public officials.”

The Q&A explored the need for deeper reporting and an international narrative on the economics of the narcotics trade. Whilst consumer culture questions where iPhones are produced, the same questions aren’t asked of narcotics “through wilful neglect or blindness”. But journalists in Mexico are probing the assets of these cartels.

“International coverage of cash flow where narcotic revenue is being spent and banked . . . this story hasn’t yet been broken,” said Ruiz.

Visit the Reportero website to find out more about this film and what has happened since. This is an update from the co-director of Semanario Zeta, Adela Navarro, on the film’s influence on their work:

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