Effects of Physical Abuse

Case Study: The Lydia Cacho Story - Journalism as a watchdog


lydia cachoMexican journalist Lydia Cacho lived to tell about the repression and abuse she was subjected to by local Mexican authorities. Her story has become one of the most shocking in Mexican journalism history. 

In 2006, Cacho published her book Demons of the Eden in which she alleged that several businessmen in the Mexican province of Cancún had links to both child pornography and prostitution, claiming also that they were protected by the Mexican government. Entrepreneur Jean Succar Kuri was identified as one of the pedophiles and José Kamel Nacif, a businessman (also know as The King of Denim) in Puebla, was pointed to as his protector.

After receiving several life threats by Succar Kuri, Lydia Cacho was sued by Kamel Nacif for defamation in the state of Puebla. On December 16, the same year, the journalist was illegally extradited from Cancún to Puebla by order of the governor of Puebla. Hand-cuffed on a trip of more than 1,500 kilometres, she was denied food, water and even the bathroom.

When the media found out about the “legal abduction” (as Cacho would describe it), the Puebla authorities were forced to release her, but the charges of defamation were not dropped. Two months after the abduction, an anonymous source gave to La Jornada, a Mexican newspaper, and to W Radio Station a recording of a telephone conversation between Kamel Nacif and the Governor of Puebla, Mario Marín. In the telephone conversation, Kamel Nacif expresses his gratitude to the Puebla Governor for the actions taken against Cacho, revealing a close friendship between Kamel Nacif and Mario Marín.
man and cacho
The transcripts of the phone calls appeared in the Mexican newspaper La Jornada on 14 February 2006, and the audio was broadcasted that night in Noticieros Televisa, the news bulletin with the highest ratings in Mexico. In the recording it is possible to hear how the governor reassures Kamel Nacif that the journalist was incarcerated. There were also other phone calls between Kamel Nacif and his advisors in which he reassures them he has paid money to several inmates to rape the journalist while she was detained, in order to “teach her how to write”.

man wavingIn April 2006, The Supreme Court of Justice appointed a commission to investigate whether Marín, Kamel Nacif and other members of the government of Puebla did in fact violate the human rights of the journalist. However, and despite popular expectations, the legislators absolved Marín due to a lack of evidence.

Nonetheless, it is important to point out that although Marín remained governor, the incident is credited for causing Marín 's political party, the PRI (Institutional Revolutionary Party), for losing votes in the Presidential elections that were taking place. The PRI ended up losing the elections, in part due to this and other scandals brought to public attention by the press. Marín’s case became a popular joke among the Mexican population, costing the politician his credibility.

Journalist Cacho's story illustrates how journalists can have a direct impact on the world they cover. Her case demonstrate the critical importance of freedom of expression in order to do so. Journalists need freedom of expression in order to inform the citizens of the truth. The public must have a free press in order to obtain the information necessary to their decision-making about state matters.