Javier Valdez Cárdenas
CPJ International Press Freedom Award 2011
November 22, 2011
Waldorf-Astoria, 301 Park Avenue, New York City
Good evening. Many thanks to the Committee to Protect Journalists for this distinction, which for me is unparalleled.
I have nourished my withered soul with expressions in the streets, embraces and handshakes, and words in which I have taken shelter. This International Press Freedom Award is the finely aged and nutritious sum of all those embraces. When Carlos Lauría informed me I thought it was a cruel dream and now I don’t want to be woken up.
I have been a journalist these past 21 years and never before have I suffered or enjoyed it this intensely, nor with so many dangers. Where I work, Culiacán, in the state of Sinaloa, Mexico, it is dangerous to be alive, and to do journalism is to walk on an invisible line drawn by the bad guys–who are in drug trafficking and in the government–in a field strewn with explosives. This is what most of the country is living through. One must protect oneself from everything and everyone, and there do not seem to be options or salvation, and often there is no one to turn to.
Thus it is important to count on family and friends, journalists and media outlets like the newspaper La Jornada, for which I am a correspondent, and the weekly Ríodoce, of which I am a founder.
In my books Miss Narco and The Kids of the Drug Trade, published by Aguilar, I have told of the tragedy Mexico is living, a tragedy that should shame us. The youth will remember this as a time of war. Their DNA is tattooed with bullets and guns and blood, and this is a form of killing tomorrow. We are murderers of our own future.
This is a war, yes, but one for control by the narcos, but we the citizens are providing the deaths, and the governments of Mexico and the United States, the guns. And they, the eminent, invisible and hidden ones, within and outside of the governments, they take the profits.
I dedicate this award to the brave journalists, and to the children and youths who are living a slow death. I have preferred to give a face and a name to the victims, to create a portrait of this sad and desolate panorama, these leaps and bounds and short cuts towards the Apocalypse, instead of counting deaths and reducing them to numbers.
This award is like a lighthouse on the other side of the storm, a safe harbor beyond the tempest. At Ríodoce, we have experienced a macabre solitude because nothing that we publish has reverberations or follow-up. And that desolation makes us more vulnerable. Despite all of this, with all of you, and this award, I can say that I have somewhere to take shelter, and to feel less alone.