Lydia Cacho | 2007 Courage in Journalism Award

journalist, author and activist, Mexico.

Cacho, 44, is also a human rights advocate. She is the founder and director of the Centro Integral de Atención a las Mujeres in Cancún, a crisis center and shelter for victims of sex crimes, gender-based violence and trafficking.

Cacho began her career in the mid-1980s, when she worked for the cultural section of the newspaper Novedades de Cancún. In the 1990s she wrote articles about the prostitution of Cuban and Argentine girls in Cancún. From 1994-1999, Cacho hosted a public radio program called Estas Mujeres [These Women], and she anchored the television program Esta Boca es Mía [This Mouth is Mine] from 2000-2005. During this time, Cacho also wrote a political analysis column called Interludio [Interlude], which ran for 12 years in various magazines and newspapers in Mexico.

Cacho’s books include Mujer Delfin [Dolphin Woman], a poetry book published in 1997, and Muerdele El Corazon [Bite the Heart], a novel published in 2005 about a woman who is HIV positive.

In 2004, Cacho published Los Demonios del Edén [The Demons of Eden], a book based on her research on child pornography among Mexican politicians and businessmen. A year later, she was arrested on libel charges and driven to a jail 20 hours from her home in Cancún, with officers hinting that there was a plan to rape her. Cacho paid a fine and was freed; she later filed a successful counter-suit for corruption and violation of human rights.

In recent years, Cacho has written extensively about pedophiles. In February 2006, a recording of a conversation between a businessman and a Mexican governor discussing a plan to have her arrested and raped was obtained by the media. Several years earlier, in 1998, Cacho was raped and beaten in the bathroom of a bus station. She suspects the attack was related to her work.

On May 8, Cacho alleged that her car was tampered with in an attempt to cause an accident. Her bodyguards discovered that the nuts had been loosened on one of the wheels, nearly causing the car to crash. The attack came just days after Cacho testified at the trial of accused pedophile Jean Succar Kuri, one of men she wrote about in her book. During the trial, Kuri’s lawyer attacked Cacho for writing her book. Kuri complained that he was in jail because of Cacho and that he would do away with her.

In her acceptance speech for the Courage in Journalism Award Cacho said: “Journalists are their mirrors to the world, so that the world can see them and hear their stories. And that is why I cannot be silenced.”

Cacho was born in Mexico City on April 12, 1963.

Lydia Cacho is the second Courage in Journalism Award winner from Mexico, following Maribel Gutierrez Moreno (1997). Adela Navarro Bello from Mexico won the award in 2011.

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Maribel Gutierrez Moreno, Mexico | 1997 Courage in Journalism Award
Adela Navarro Bello, Mexico | 2011 Courage in Journalism Award