Mexican Journalist Discusses Struggle In Drug War Reporting
She says she was forced to become a war correspondent inside her own country. Journalist Marcela Turati has reported on the drug-related violence in her native Mexico for many years. It's one of the most dangerous assignments in the world for an investigative journalist and she has done it by telling the intimate stories of the Dems. Marcela Turati will be the featured speaker at the University of San Diego tonight talking about the struggle to report the truth in Mexico with an emphasis on the experiences of female journalists in honor of International Women's Day. Joining me is Marcela Turati correspondent for the magazine Proceso and welcome to the program. Thank you. Ev Meade is here he is the director of the transport Institute X You have specialized in telling your story victims of violence. Was that something you chose to do or was there something you thought you just could not ignore X I did not choose to do it. One day I have 30 mothers who were seeking for their sons who disappeared. For their children. They asked me for interview. In that moment I realized that I have to do it. There were not many journalists doing that. I have to cover the big -- I was unprepared but I have to do it. Something that shows you. Yes. How dangerous is this work? It depends. It depends where you live. If you live in places like Veracruz, it is more dangerous. Or if you live in Utah waters -- it was really dangerous. I live in Mexico City. I can travel and go and report something in return to my home. Many other journalists cannot do it. It's like being in quicksand. You don't know who you're interviewing, you don't know if the police you are talking with is colluded with a criminal organization. It's really difficult. How many of your colleagues have been hurt covering the violence in Mexico? We have different statistics. The governmental and the NGO and they are really -- we know that more than 125 journalists have been killed in the last -- since 2000. We have more than 20 who have been disappeared in the last eight years. Now the violence that we usually refer to as the drug war, you say is really a battle over turf and power. You just mentioned the fact that you don't know if you go into the city, if indeed the powers that be, the mayor, the chief of police are actually controlling this area for a cartel. Is that really prevalent? Is that something that is part of what we call the drug war? Yes. First we journalists, we don't know who is involved. This is like a war for the territory. Everybody wants to control the roots -- not just to track thick -- traffic jugs -- drugs but to traffic human beings and traffic dish or control the the natural resources. The beaches and many -- the minerals and many things. We know that everybody is colluded. You don't know if they -- the Army works for which cartel or if the police work for other and the mayor. It's really difficult because everybody is all corrupted. It's difficult to know who is involved and who is not involved. And the crimes against journalists, it's the same. You don't know -- many people think that the organized crime is the one that is killing journalists. But the majority of the [ Indiscernible ] came from the same government. People from the government so it's difficult to see who is behind them. Who is responsible. One of the ways that the transporting Institute is trying to protect journalists is with the freedom expression project. Can you tell us about that? This is project the start with a couple of colleagues and the idea was that part of the danger particularly to local journalists and Mexico, people who are in the provinces or in places where organized crime has a lot of influence is that I have a very small audience. That means of the price of persecuting them is very low. It does across the powers that be and it's not particularly visible. Our idea was to translate their work and disseminated and try to get it to a much broader audience one of the ways of doing that is just getting it into English and onto the Internet. Also building relationships with them so that we publish interviews with journalists in the field. Such that we also deal with photojournalists. Who have also been targeted mercilessly and probably get less attention than some of their colleagues in broadcast media. If they gets a broader audience and it means that those are people who follow them. It's a community of support. The persecutor would have to think twice about crossing a broader community. We publish them and put them on our blog. It's a transporter freedom of expression blog. We find -- with that translations of great journalists like Marcela Turati who is sitting here with me. Photographs and lots of exclusive energies. Your lunch a book project? We have launched a successful kickstart a campaign. It's the first time that we've done that we are going to publish a book link original allow assists and particularly a number of photo essays. To celebrate the work but also do it in something I think it is very constant with Marcella's work. We're going to put it into a book that shows the beauty and challenges and the humanity of the work. Marcella, the protect perception here is the has been the worst part of the drug-related violence is over? Is that how you see it? No. I think the violence is like moving. First it was in the north, more the border. In Tijuana we have a very strong upset of violence. It's always moving. Now in the South, there are places where we are leaving the same that we did a few years before and we are living the same episodes that we lived in plotters for example. Many people have been killing, many people disappearing. We have many, many people displaced that they are forced to flee. Now many are looking for asylum in the United States or in other countries. We can't say that is stopped. This is the governmental idea or this is the governmental propaganda that the war is over. We daily have to cover a new tragedy and things really difficult like the disappearance of the 43 students a few years ago. 1 1/2 years ago. What are we going to do with these kinds of things. There has been a lot made about the capture or the recapture of L Chabot. What kind of impact did that have -- that has on the drug trade in Mexico? Nothing. He was like a faith. -- Face. He was representing -- in the media he represented cartel but we know that he has not the whole power. If he goes to jail, always there is another one who will replace him. The business continues and it continues like as if nothing happened. Maybe more violence because they will fight to see who was the traitor or who the trade him or things like that. But nothing happened. He has the same houses and the same business and everything is not [ Indiscernible ] by the government. The economic power that he has. Marcella, a particular what you think female journalist have added to the understanding of what is going on in Mexico? I think we detail -- we do a good job. Because we do different things first. First it was visible and it was really important because you can see like the male way to cover was more numbers and maybe more cool and not to close with the people and the women. We start like talking about the victims and the orphans, widows and the displaced people. And be with them. Another thing that we did is we created organizations, local organizations or networks of journalists to protect ourselves and to try to save lives. We start looking for trainings and looking for different strategies to help other journalists. If you check, I think we almost -- we are all our women who made these kind of jobs and the men were like disappear. I don't know where are the men. Marcella to Roddy will be speaking tonight at 7 PM at the Kroc Institute for peace and justice on the University of San Diego campus. I've been speaking with Marcela Turati and Ev Meade as director of the transporter Institute thank you both very much.
The Struggle to Report the Truth in Mexico with Marcela Turati
When: 7-8:30 p.m. Tuesday
Where: USD's Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice Theatre, 5998 Alcala Park, San Diego
More than 100 journalists have been killed covering the drug war in Mexico in the past decade. Dozens more have disappeared.
But that hasn’t stopped investigative journalist Marcela Turati from seeking the truth.
It is a reporting assignment she didn't choose.
"One day I had like 30 mothers who were looking for their sons who disappeared. And they asked me to interview them," Turati said. "At that moment I realized that I have to do it."
She said there were not many journalists covering the situation at the time. She thought she was unprepared for the job but also felt the need to find out what was happening to the victims of drug violence.
She lives in Mexico City and that makes it easier to report on the drug violence. Turati said she can cover an event and then return home. Other journalists who live in areas where violence occurs have to be more careful.
Turati said covering the drug war is like being in quicksand.
"You don't know who you are interviewing," she said. "You don't know if the mayor or police chief you are talking to is colluding with criminal organizations."
Turati reports for Proceso, and is founder of Periodistas a Pie, or Journalists on Foot. The organization aims to raise the quality of journalism in Mexico.
As part of International Women’s Day, Turati will speak Tuesday at the University of San Diego about the ongoing struggle facing journalists in Mexico, with an emphasis on female journalists.