Borderland Beat posted by DD Republished from Mexico Voices
For Reforma by Denise Dresser
Translated for MV by Amanda Moody
Every day, Carmen Aristegui** sat in front of the microphone and did her job. The mission of the journalist, so well described by George Orwell: "To tell others what they would rather not hear." That Father Maciel was a pedophile. That Emilio Gamboa [PRI senator] negotiated legislation in the Senate with a protector of pedophiles. That Mario Marín [former governor of Puebla] celebrated "slapping down" Lydia Cacho [jounalist who exposed his involvement in pederastry ring] with bottles of cognac.
That Cuauhtémoc Gutiérrez de la Torre [President of PRI in Mexico City] operated a prostitution ring funded with public monies. That the first lady [Angélica Rivera] "bought" a house whose title is in the name of a contractor who benefitted from multimillion dollar government contracts. So many investigations, so much rot revealed, so much corruption detected, so much professional journalism.
MV Note: Until March 1online 5, 2015, Carmen Aristgui was director of the First Edition (morning news) of MVS News (radio). She was ostensibly fired for protesting the firing of two of her investigative reporters last week. They had been fired ostensibly for linking the MVS label with Aristegui's joining a just announced news leads reporting site, Mexico Leaks. These reporters had exposed the scandal of Angélica Rivera's "White House", among others
DD Note: In 2012 Mex. govt. initiated a process to "rescue" frpm all existing concessions in the 2.5ghrtz range (which included concessions held by MVS). This legal battle has been going on for 10 years The govt. canceled the concession and refused to renew several others held by MVS. Televisa filed injunctions to stop govt. from restoring concessions. Last court battle was Nov. 2014. Rumor is that Televisa attorney had several hour meeting with MVS the day it fired Carmen. Speculation is widespread that the govt. told MVS to fire Aristegui and MVS would get it's licenses back..(Revenge of EPN?)
Every day Carmen Aristegui defended the rights many Mexicans didn't even know they had, nor do they now understand that she was working to safeguard them. The right to freedom of expression. The right to be a counterbalance to the power which is—increasingly—exercised in Mexico with impunity. The right to show the truth, walking on ground which is mined with lies. The right of Mexicans to have journalism which is independent, autonomous and critical.
There she was, every morning from 6:45 to 10:00 a.m., Monday to Friday, the archipelago of freedom. One of the few who remained. Right there was the place that millions of Mexicans tuned to in search of what they wanted to know, listen to, learn about their country, about those who govern them, about how power is being exercised. The place that informed and challenged and offended and angered. That essential place.
The defense of freedom in a country where freedom is rare is difficult, arduous and risky. It means defending the right to disseminate even what is perceived as offensive or "destabilizing" or uncomfortable for the government. Carmen leads that defense because that's how she is She is known for her work, respected for her intelligence, honored for her courage. She is brave. Stubborn. Combative. Audacious. Authentic. And because the freedom of expression she exercises is like that; that's the nature of the beast.
Sometimes she has a duty to throw fuel on the fire. Sometimes she faces the imperative to light a match in a parched landscape. Sometimes she bothers the President and the Secretary of the Treasury and the PRI and the PRD and the National Electoral Institute and the Federal
Institute for Access to Information and the Supreme Court and the Senate and the Army. And in doing so, she protects the vital place in which pluralistic discourse—increasingly under attack—can survive.
There are many who don't like her work They dismiss her as "supporter of Andrés Manual López Obrador" or "lesbian" or "biased" or "strident" or "leftist" or "politically correct". Those who didn't like the kind of journalism she promoted, had every right to change channel. What they did not have the right to do was what MVS did: put together a conflict that was a pretext to remove her from the air, along with two journalists who did the research on the [president's wife's] "White House". Using the excuse of the misuse of the "brand" as a smokescreen. Using the argument of "breach of trust" as a muzzle. Using "guidelines" developed in an untimely fashion as a form of fencing or censoring, because they would be unacceptable for any self-respecting journalist.
As explained by the MVS Ombudsman, the guidelines announced by the company unilaterally modified the terms of the contract signed by Carmen in which she was responsible for the content of her broadcast. Suddenly, and in a manner which was hostile, rude and belligerent, the company issued non-consensual terms, with probable legal implications given the contract that it had previously held with her. Suddenly, the Vargas family acted in a manner which was in total contrast to what its name had represented. We don't know if it was due to economic rewards, political pressure, petitions from Los Pinos, or simple fear when faced with the implications of the work that Carmen does and has done.
Reforma only allows subscribers to access its articles online.
*Denise Dresser is a political scientist, writer, columnist and activist. She coordinated thebook "Shouts and Whispers: Women's Untimely Experiences." She won the National Journalism Award in 2010. Her latest book is "Our Country: Reflections on understanding and changing Mexico. She is a columnist/lreporter for Reforma and Proceso. Until the day MVS fired Carmen Aristegui she was also affiliated with MVS. She quit after the firings.
**Carmen Aristegui F. is a journalist. A graduate of the UNAM, she is a radio and TV host and commentator. A lecturer and author of books, she has been awarded the National Journalism Award, the Iberoamerican Prize, the Maria Moors Cabot Prize, and the Order of the Legion of Honor by the French Government. Until March 15, 2015, she was director of the First Edition of MVS News (radio). She appears on the program "Aristegui" on CNN in Spanish and operates the web portal Aristegui News. S She is a Reforma columnist. Her grandfather had fled Spain with his family when Francisco Franco won the Spanish Civil War.