Alfredo Corchado, NF ’09, Mexico bureau chief for The Dallas Morning News, testified before the House Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere on July 29, 2015 during a hearing on threats to press freedom in the Americas. He discussed his experience reporting in Mexico, one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists.
Corchado is the author of “Midnight in Mexico: A Reporter’s Journey Through a Country’s Descent into Darkness,” a memoir about his life as a Mexican immigrant to the United States and the challenges of covering events in his homeland.
Excerpts from his testimony:
- “I live in, work in, call home a country where every 26 hours a reporter is attacked – most of them by either the government, or criminal gangs. Too many journalists in my homeland of Mexico have paid the ultimate price. Today I hope to honor their memory.”
- “Drug traffickers and corrupt government officials bully reporters—harassing them if they are lucky or silencing them for good, if they are not. Today, I speak to you in the memory of more than 50—or as many 120, some organizations like Freedom House estimate—journalists who have either been killed or disappeared since Mexico’s political transition began in 2000.”
- “Today, there are regions in Mexico where reporters have elected to censor themselves. In other words, see nothing, say nothing. These are known as regions of silence.”
- “Mexico’s inability to protect its journalists and defenders of freedom of expression against criminals is beyond shameful. It is both shocking and offensive to those who believe that journalism is a powerful tool to shine the light and hold the powerful accountable.”
- “Just as outrageous, my Mexican colleagues say, in Mexico they still kill you twice: Once with a bullet, a blow to the head, or in a barrel of acid and then they kill you again through character assassination by spreading rumors about you, or even pressing criminal charges as we have seen repeatedly with journalists, especially those working in rural communities across Mexico.”
- “The cause of so much violence against journalists, not only the most extreme form, such as murder, kidnapping or beatings, but also threats, spying and harassment, is simple: impunity. Every attack against a journalist that goes unpunished invites the next one. Any politician, public official, police commander or criminal who wants to kill, kidnap, beat or threaten a journalist can do so because most of the people who have done it before got away with it.”
- “I was born in Mexico and grew up in the United States, earning along the way, a blue U.S. Passport. Today, I’m a binational citizen, holding both U.S. and Mexican citizenship. Yet, I believe that being American is the reason I report on stories that many of my colleagues don’t live long enough to tell. Those are stories about the very same people who now hold pockets of the country hostage.”
- “I am by no means more courageous or braver than any of my Mexican colleagues. I just want to believe that if something happens to me, someone, somewhere, someone in this room, will seek justice. I won’t be just another number. I won’t be a faceless victim.”