Welfare Demanded

Two-hundred Taxi Libre taxistas descended upon the Servicio Médico Forense (forensic medical service) on Friday, October 23, to give support to the family of a taxi driver murdered while cruising for fares Wednesday afternoon. The taxi drivers also want to draw attention to their plight: they are incensed that so many of them are subject to assaults, robberies, and murder while carrying on business around town, particularly in the sprawling colonias that lie outside downtown Tijuana.

The taxistas’ complaint is that police have cut back on patrols in the outlying suburban areas and travel in heavily armed multi-vehicle convoys on main thoroughfares that are more secure. Taxi drivers say they are at the mercy of criminals. The local police force has lost more than a dozen members in shoot-outs and ambushes in the past five months. The drivers intend to demonstrate en masse until something is done to ensure their added protection.

“Besides the fact that they have killed one of us,” said one driver, “a little while ago and not far from here they have assaulted two other drivers. In other words, there is no protection for us, and we can´t work because of the ongoing attacks.”

Some taxi drivers are refusing to pick up fares in the early morning and some are refusing to service certain neighborhoods that they consider too dangerous. The orange-and-white Taxi Libres are considered the most economical free-route taxi service in the city, where a single passenger can be driven from Revolución to the border (around three miles) for two or three dollars, or about half the fare asked by other similar services.

Source: Frontera

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"The local police force has lost more than a dozen members in shoot-outs and ambushes in the past five months. The drivers intend to demonstrate en masse until something is done to ensure their added protection.:

Sounds like the police need protection even more than the cabbies! :( Random factoid: I learned this from a garrulous elderly gent running a car service in Saratoga Springs, NY: It is impolite to ask a driver if you are his last fare, or when he gets off work for the evening--they take this innocuous question as potential fishing for information on how much cash they might have on them.

This has been an issue here ever since the "taxi libre" system began in Tijuana. A few years ago, the State government considered a program where taxi libres would be able to install a camera furnished by the government, with no down payment, and slowly pay the camera off over time. It never happened. When the economy tanked, that sealed it, there was no funding. There are no "cash boxes" in the cabs, the drivers carry it, so they're vulnerable to such attacks.

Hopefully, when the economy recovers, the Baja State goverment will follow through with the program, it will definitely cut down on the crime against the taxis libres.

Why does the Reader keep publishing articles by this guy? All he is doing is picking up La Frontera and translating it into English and posting it on the website. This is not an original story. What kind of work did he do to get this information other than buy a paper? That would be like me just typing up an article that I read in the Union Tribune and expecting to get paid for it. Try doing some real work and come up with something on your own.

spooks: I wouldn't do it, and I could, every single day. But I do admit that I'm somewhat thankful that San Diego readers get to enjoy some Baja news, when otherwise perhaps they wouldn't. For me, it's a taking of the good with the bad. I totally encourage that Baja stringers get out there and get some stories on their own! But it's tough to get all over the Reader for printing stories that would otherwise go unnoticed.

I'm not saying that they aren't good stories but it doesn't seem quite fair to the rest of actual stringers who come up with our own material instead of just plagiarizing it from another newspaper.

"Plagiarize" means to pass off someone else's work as your own. In this instance, the writer identifies his source clearly -- and I seriously doubt he took whole passages from Frontera and claimed them as his own. Besides, have you taken a look at other newspapers, television news or the press services lately? How many times have you seen, "The New York Times reported," or "The Wall Street Journal reported," Just this week there was a widely re-distributed item from the AP on the dubious validity of the White House's claims about jobs saved or created by the "stimulus." Back in the day, when there was more than one major national news service, almost all news services had a "rewrite desk," where, basically, stories from all the major newspapers in a bureau's service area were, well, rewritten -- sometimes with, sometimes without attribution. So what you are seeing here is not even close to plagiarism -- and hardly a deviation from acceptable journalistic practices. Of course, originally sourced reporting is preferred, but it would certainly limit the flow of information. Just imagine if only percipient witnesses were allowed to do crime reporting. No more "according to police reports." No more news from CHP on traffic accidents. No more secondhand reports on trial results from the DA. The standard you suggest would strangle the flow of important news to readers. Again, it's always better "if you were there" when it comes to reporting. But it is not always possible and, as a standard, it's very unrealistic. One reason sources are provided, by the way, is so you can determine for yourself their credibility. I agree with refried -- better some news in the Reader about Baja, even if secondhand, than nothing at all. Look at all the comments these Baja stories generate. Certainly that give-and-take is valuable and allows for correction or clarification -- something refried has done often on stories here.

Not to mention that, as a non-Mexican, there are limitations on what I am permitted to investigate. In other words, as a non-citizen, I am not entitled to interfere. The Mexican government is generally very nice about it, but they really don't want people from foreign countries poking their noses into everything, stirring the pot, so to speak. My stringer stories are mostly innocuous in that regard, because I do prefer to do my own investigative work. But I have walked up to cops here with ski masks and big giant automatic weapons involved in some sort of an investigation, camera around my neck, politely asking them what's going on. They don't much care for it.

The critical stories, when written by non-Mexicans in Mexico, are probably more safely generated using stories in Mexican papers (which still have to be translated, so it isn't like there isn't any work involved), and by lobbing telephone calls to the authorities in charge of public information.

Be careful, refried--I'm sure you are :)

Oh, hey, SD, for sure. I'm certain of my limitations here. I enjoy this place way too much to want to make them mad enough at me to kick me out ;)

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