International Press Freedom Awards

Javier Valdez Cárdenas, Mexico


2011 CPJ International Press Freedom Awardee

In 2003, together with reporters from the daily Noroeste, Javier Valdez Cárdenas founded Ríodoce, a weekly publication covering crime and corruption in Sinaloa, one of Mexico's most violent states. Valdez is known for his prolific coverage of drug trafficking and organized crime.

Early one morning in September 2009, unidentified assailants hurled a grenade into Ríodoce's facilities, causing substantial damage to the building but no injuries. Days before the attack, Ríodoce had published a series on drug trafficking titled, "Hitman: Confession of an Assassin in Ciudad Juárez." An investigation into the attack produced no results. 

Valdez also works as the Sinaloa correspondent of the Mexico City-based daily La Jornada. In his most recent book, Los Morros del Narco, he describes the lives of young people who find themselves involved in drug trafficking.

Dozens of killings and disappearances, bomb attacks, and multiple threats have led Mexican reporters and news outlets to abandon not only investigative reporting but basic coverage of crime as well. But Valdez believes they have no other option than to report what's going on. "Living in Sinaloa is a threat, and being a journalist is an additional threat. We learned how to live in times when bullets are flying around us," he said in a recent interview. 

To watch Javier Valdez Cárdenas's acceptance speech, click here.

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