Journalism can be dangerous – especially if you live and work in Mexico. Since 2006, more than 80 Mexican journalists have been shot, stabbed, blugeoned to death or decapitated for covering stories on drug trafficking. Whilst many have been scared away, Lydia Cacho and Anabel Hernández have surrendered their personal safety for the sake of the human rights movement.
Image: Marco Ugarte/AP
Meet Mexico’s most famous investigative journalists – Lydia Cacho and Anabel Hernández.
Cacho and Hernandéz aren’t relatively well known in the UK – but back over in Mexico, their groundbreaking work is all too familiar. Between them they’ve delved into the backstreets of Mexico to uncover the grim realities of the country’s paedophile rings, abuse on women, slave labour and political corruption.
Achieving national recognition for her pursuit of truth and justice, Cacho is the owner of multiple international awards including the Civil Courage Prize, the Wallenberg Medal and the Olof Palme Prize, and was honoured the title of World Press Freedom Hero of the International Press Institute in 2010. Hernández joins her with an impressive collection of awards of her own, boasting the 2012 Golden Pen of Freedom Award and the 2002 Mexican National Journalism Award. But achieving such groundbreaking journalism hasn’t been easy.
Anabel Hernández’s investigative journalism career grew after her father’s murder in 2000 and after leaving several newspapers due to being heavily restricted on what she could write about. But it was only a short matter of time before her first investigative discovery reached national headlines. By uncovering President Vicente Fox’s use of public funds to furnish personal accommodation – while running a campaign for economic austerity – Hernández found herself at the centre of ‘Toallgate’, which earnt her the 2002 Mexican National Journalism Award.
‘This issue of my father made me change my outlook on life. For me, investigative journalism was a refuge’ – Hernández (Global Post)
Turning her journalism skills to authorship, Hernández next made the headlines with her book Los Señores del Narco (Narcoland: The Mexican Drug Lords and their Godfathers). The culmination of five years’ worth of investigating, Hernández wrote to show the role of authority figures in the power of drug cartels and the illegal drugs trade. Furthering this, she exposed the relationship between the Mexican government and the United States, exploring its impacts on the Mexican Drug War and the creation of the methamphetamine trade by the Sinaloa. The book has sold more than 200,000 copies, making it one of Mexico’s best-selling nonfiction works in recent years. No stranger to criticism, Hernández has since been met with numerous death threats for her groundbreaking investigations.
Joining her in uncovering the dirty truths hiding in Mexico is Lydia Cacho, whose work focuses on violence against women. Her 2003 book Los Demonios del Edén (Demons of Eden) found police and politicians to be members of a paedophile ring a scandal which saw Cacho arrested and driven 900 miles away from her house, the Puebla police hinting at a plan to rape her. Whilst her imprisonment was brief and Cacho was eventually released on bail, the police’s actions weren’t over. In 2006, governor of Puebla, Mario Marín, and Nacif Borge revealed Cacho’s arrest as a ‘favour’, intending to silence her. Cacho took the case to the Supreme Court – becoming Mexico’s first woman to testify there. With the court ruling there was no valid case, the United Nations Human Rights Council advised Cacho leave the country and seek political asylum. It was during this time she received the Francisco Ojeda Award for Journalistic Courage. Shortly after, Cacho was almost murdered when her car wheels were tampered with. A fearless, determined and relentless journalist, Cacho has gained a multitude of awards recognising her dedication to honest, powerful journalism.
‘Really good journalists are so badly needed. […] I want to be there to see the change’ – Cacho (The Guardian)
Despite the ongoing threats to their safety, Cacho and Hernández’s aren’t finished with exposing the truths and lies of their country. Speaking at this summer’s Norfolk & Norwich Festival, they’ll be addressing the shocking corruption and violence that lies within the Mexican government, giving the answers to the questions you didn’t know you had.
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