- A Path with Heart: Why Whitman Lost (the Latino Vote)
- A PATH WITH HEART: The Perils of Reporting on Drug Trafficking
- A PATH WITH HEART: What a relief!
- A path with heart: The Kissing Disparity
- A PATH WITH HEART: The Kindest Neighbor
- Los que se quedan
- A PATH WITH HEART: Not an easy job
- A PATH WITH HEART: Bipartisan Shmipartisan
- A PATH WITH HEART: Four years at the Capitol
- A PATH WITH HEART: The Nation’s Capital
- A PATH WITH HEART: Two dissapointing candidates
- A PATH WITH HEART: A Hard Decision
- A PATH WITH HEART: The crash
- Through a glass wall: a visit in jail
- Vote or you Don’t Count
- A PATH WITH HEART: Sand from Acapulco
- The Mummies of Guanajuato Stole my Hat
- A Path with Heart: La Peña de Bernal
- Un Pan de Dulce (A Sweet Bread)
- A Path with Heart: The courage of Adriana
- A Path with Heart: A Great Daughter
- A Path with Heart: Bus Robbery
- A Fat Man in a Plane (A Path with Heart)
- A Path with Heart: Not One Crooked Tooth
- A Path with Heart: Attack Against Journalist is no Surprise
- A Path with Heart: A Real Treasure
- A Path with Heart: A Tsunami that Never Arrived
- A Path with Heart: 17 amazing things about Singapore
- A Path with Heart: The woman in black
- A path with heart: Passionate defense
- A Path with Heart: Corpse flower
This week, I had the opportunity to answer questions from students from CSU Los Angeles. I was in Sacramento; they were in LA, but we were connected through Skype. This group has a special characteristic: all the students were Latinos from México, Central America and Argentina who were currently living in the LA área. They were taking a class called Journalism in Spanish.
All the questions were really interesting to me but there was one that I couldn’t answer: what can reporters in Mexico do to write about drug trafficking without running the risk of being killed?
In Mexico, reporting about drug trafficking is practically equivalent to a death sentence. In the 90’s, when I was a reporter for El Imparcial, the most important newspaper in Sonora, a border state, I received a visit from a minion of Hector Luis “El Guero” Palma, a powerful drug trafficker, now in jail. At the time, I was writing about how El Guero and his friends were taking control of Ciudad Obregon, a city on South Sonora.
His emissary asked me very politely to let El Guero do his job. At the same time, I received calls from friends asking me to do the same thing. One of my friends said to me: Is the newspaper going to support your children if they killed you? Are they going to pay for their college? I decided to stop. El Guero Palma never sent me another messenger.
A few years later, another drug dealer whose name I’d rather omit, sent me a messenger with a special offer —a new car. I told him that I would think about it. I wanted to find the best way to say no. This drug trafficker was buying cars for reporters as a way to compromise bribe them into silence.
Some of them accepted. I did not have time to say no.
Esperanza Mota holds a graduation photo of her son, reporter Alfredo Jimenez Mota, who vanished in 2005.Weeks later, this drug trafficker had a horrible death. A coworker, who was a photographer, showed me pictures of the dealer’s naked body in the morgue. It had dozens of bullet holes. The drug trafficker had been a strong and very handsome man. Many people loved him because he was very generous. Who wouldn’t be with so much money from drugs? Looking at the pictures, I wondered how different his life could have been if he had not been involved in drugs. When did he lose his path? In the past, he had been a regional chief of police.
Since 2005, 26 journalists have been killed in Mexico while covering crime, according to the New York based Committee to Protect Journalists. One of them was a former co-worker of mine. In 2005, Alfredo Jimenez Mota, a reporter from El Imparcial, where I worked for nine years, disappeared. His father said that all he wrote about was drug trafficking.
So based on all that, I sadly answered the students that my only hope is that one day things will change and that reporters in Mexico will be able to write openly about every issue.
Thanks to my friend, Pablo Baler, the teacher of the group, for the invitation. Those students made me to wonder if I did the right thing.