Review: Tijuana

Netflix original Tijuana is a reflective Spanish drama that shines a light on the corruption of Mexican politics and journalism. Released on April 5, 2019, Tijuana has received respectable praise and a 7.7/10 rating on IMDB. Split across 11 episodes, the series is portrayed as a standard crime thriller, but it becomes exceptionally powerful with the reality of life in current-day Mexico as a journalist as a backdrop.  

The opening shot of Tijuana begins with a vintage-style interview with a serious man who speaks about how it is crucial to have a conservation about how journalism’s credibility has declined over the years. Before the man’s identity is revealed, the camera pans away to a scene filled with grief, anger, and rebellion.

Protesters march up to confront a squad of armed officers holding signs, candles, and black tape over their mouths. When only a short distance away facing the officers, the people pause and a speaker begins to list the names of the journalists who have been murdered over the years solely for doing their jobs. The speaker calls out the names of the journalists including the man in the previous interview, Iván Rosa (played by Roberto Sosa), as the crowd all says “Présente” in unison.  

Before the protest continues further, the camera cuts to modern day Tijuana, Mexico while a news voice drops an appalling statistic; from 2000 to 2018, 115 reporters have been killed in Mexico.

Despite the fictional plot in Tijuana, the real life numbers are just as devastating. In recent years, Mexico has become one of the world’s most dangerous places for journalists being silenced by either drug cartels or corrupt politicians.

According to the New York Times, Mexico falls in between Afghanistan and Somalia on the list of world’s deadliest places to be a reporter. At least 104-plus journalists have been murdered around Mexico since 2000, while 25 others have disappeared, presumed dead. Last year, at least 53 journalists and 7 media workers lost their lives in Mexico, according to the Committee for the Protection of Journalists (CPJ).

Shockingly, out of the 800-plus serious cases of harassment, assault, or homicide committed against journalists in the past six years, the federal office created to prosecute crimes against freedom of expression in Mexico only has convicted suspects in only two.

In response to the backlash, the Mexican government scoffs at the criticism, stating that it has passed laws to protect journalists, giving them panic buttons, surveillance equipment, and even armed guards if the threats are severe enough.

The story of Tijuana continues with a promising mayoral candidate for Baja, California, Eugenio Robles (Roberto Mateos), stepping forward as a sign of hope for the people and becoming a surprise front-runner in the polls. Unfortunately, his campaign is short lived as Robles is assassinated in broad daylight. The Frente Tijuana newspaper staff crosses the path of danger in order to uncover the truth behind the motive of assassination.

Frente Tijuana reporters had been following Robles’ campaign with interest, especially the newspaper owner Antonio Borja (Damián Alcázar), who co-owns the company with his partner, Federica (Claudette Maille). Tijuana also focuses on a young journalist, Gaberiella Cisneros (Tamara Vallarta), an independent journalist who wants to write articles for the ‘Frente Tijuana’.

With a slow pace, Tijuana still delivers a profound and eye opening message. The show works to raise awareness and understanding of the risks that journalists take in order to deliver nothing but the truth to its audience.