“Silence or Death”


Journalism in the Context of Mexico’s Drug War




BYU had the privilege of hearing the Mexican journalist Luis Najera this past week.  He has an epic story of covering the drug wars and even had to flee in order to be safe.  I loved hearing his story and his perspective on the journalist side.  He truly embodies his work and his passion.

I have never personally known a serious journalist, so I loved listening to Mr. Najera and the passion he had. His story was intriguing, but the way he told it was what hit me.  The look on his face and the seriousness in his voice is what told the true story of crisis he witnessed. He would have been killed if he had not fled. 

Luis Najera separated his presentation into the main problems of Mexico: criminal, governance, and society. He has close friends killed by these serious issues, and witnessed many other journalists injured and innocent civilians murdered.

Americans do not know what is going on in these countries with the drug deals unless they are directly involved.  All of Mexico is a war zone.  Thousands of people have been displaced because of violence, Mr. Najera included. The biggest problem is that the world considers problems in the southern hemisphere as an “us” and “them” problem.  It should be an “our” problem. People unfortunately don’t think that way.

Not only does Mr. Najera know about these problems, but he has first hand experience.  He is a journalist who risked his life numerous times, being only feet away from the drug dealers and dead men lying on the street. First hand, he has seen the police with these drug dealers.  If crime and drugs weren’t enough of the problem, the government cannot even be relied on.  When Mr. Najera showed the shocking pictures of a drug deal going down in common streets, all he got was a tiny picture in the paper–risking your life for an inch in the paper; is it worth it?

My favorite part of his presentation, was when he tied it together to the bigger message at the end.  Why did Mr. Najera leave the risk journalists must take for the truth?  If he is such a dedicated journalist why did he flee to Canada?  He flatly said as a journalist you must be willing to die.  Yet, he fled. Why?  The answer to these questions were answered with two simple pictures: the temple, and Luis Najera’s family.





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