jueves, 12 de mayo de 2016

Journalism in Mexico

-How long are you going to wait?
-I have a bottle of water, a book and I know where the restroom is. I can stay here the whole day.

That was the first talk I had with the editor in chief, David, after waiting for him almost two hours after his morning meeting with the newspaper reporters. Maybe I like him or he felt sorry for me, because a day before I got dumped from a digital media because he called me that afternoon to get into words two days after that. His first request was to make an investigation about the holy dead (a female folk saint venerated primarily in Mexico, associated with healing, protection, and safe delivery to the afterlife by her devotees) with people at the downtown markets. It was November the 2nd when we celebrate the Day of the Dead (multi-day holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died, and help support their spiritual journey).

Outside the building I worked for more than three years looks it was like this fortress of a castle when you never stop meeting all the people who work on the inside. There's always a new face, the schedule, it's a simple formality (leaving work at five, everyone's dream, and no one’s reality) and so, the press room became your home, where the tapping sounds of the computers never end and your coworkers are a second family.

For many years, I did Investigative journalism about drug dealers and cartel mafias. I saw things that no one should ever even imagine, at the end of the day, you impose yourself to the ugly part of humanity, but that doesn't mean that it doesn't hurt anymore; you can't avoid feeling bad for looking a corpse of someone you never knew. You ended up writing with that gunpowder smell, the shell casings on the floor, the sound of the patrols, the yellow crime scene tape, looking everything so close, even that, I still can't understand two things: how is possible that a person has the guts to take away someone's life in such a coward way, but also, how society got used to all this, how family gets together -small children at the front road- to see all this, like a creepy circus funeral where you don't need a ticket for the show.

They're so many stories from my work that are unforgettable, but I think that one that shocked me most was the time the killed a woman a block away from my home. I saw her in agony and it was a big impact to me while I was her black bag on the pavement, next to her, all open, with a lipstick, a broken mirror, and other daily objects, things that women we take care of them as treasures now all reduced to scum. When her body was removed, they put some dirt over the blood and that was it. Here nothing happened.

Working as a writer sometimes can be as similar as a courtesan, both are some of the oldest works in the world (with terrible pay I will say) but I guess life isn't always being fair; you finish college dreaming about changing the world, and at the end of the day, you just ask to yourself that the world doesn’t change you, don’t take away what makes you human, but you must admit that so much pain can make your heart a little cold.

I get sad when something bad happens. No one should get used to other’s suffering because our first obligation as is to be happy. However, dealing with drug dealing and crime makes you see the dark side of people, the one we get ashamed to look, but we can’t stop, look at it, like when there’s a crime scene on the street and you just look askance at. But I still get home with my hopes on the floor and I just want to sleep and forget everything I saw. Even though, I don’t see myself doing anything else.
We can’t make invisible the victims of violence, everyone deserves to have a name, to be remembered, but I agree that sometimes the media can go a Little over the top regarding to human rights. But on the other side, we all need somebody who writes our story.

Journalism is one of the sweetest drug that you always wanted more from, you get so passionate, you want to tell everything you see, what will happen or to discover a big case of something that the government hides from the population, but seem your name printed is one of the few rewards, even that high ego can make harder to admit when we make mistakes, when we hurt someone with our paragraphs or we didn’t a good job in our assignment.

It’s been over three years in the Mexican printed newspaper El Heraldo, and close to 9 years as a journalist. So many experiences, a lot of histories, trips, bad moments and scary ones, a lot laughs and tears. I just can say that this is a constant learning, a trip that you don’t know where will end, I’m grateful for being part of this wonderful, lovely and with so much pressure on this communication world, where every day there’s something new to learn. I am still here. 

They were “alone”

Some months ago, two young women were murdered in Ecuador. They were “traveling alone”, according to many international media headers. After that, people from social media started to ask questions, regarding their gender like: “what will they be doing to die like that?”, “maybe they had drugs”, “what were they wearing?”, and many other interrogations, where the victims were hardly judged because they decided to have an adventure and travel without male company.

After all the euphoria, fights, arguments on the internet with many postures and after some weeks (or even days), Marina Menegazzo and Maria José Coni, started to be part of that collective “discrete forget”, synonym of this cold society, the one who's always waiting for a fresh news. Without going further, 20 days before a female journalist was kidnapped and killed in Mexico. Her body was found it without life on February 9th. After this, authorities of the State of Veracruz (where the woman disappeared), said that “probably she will be related to drug dealers”, because is much easier to make someone a criminal before done a proper investigation, and it's been going on like this since many years ago.

The situation for us women continued being risky: choosing some type of clothes will make me look cheap or like a prude, going out with a guy -or many- will make me easy (or not going out a spinster), being a working mom will make me someone who doesn't care for their own children, but if I become a stay-at-home mom will make me a conformist, so, how can I make a society happy if they ask me to be myself, but then they will not be ok with that?
Sometimes, you just need to get out to the street at night, when you need to walk thru a dark street or maybe not a very friendly one, you think about all those bad news you read on your laptop or walking in front of a construction, will help you to increase your “collection of flattering words” (said no one), getting a promotion at work will make your colleagues what you did to deserve “such an honor”, and the never-ending list can go on until my fingers get numb...

The first article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights says that: "All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood”, but I believe that they forgot to add a phrase explaining why being a woman doesn't make you a felon or a victim, you're just a person who's trying to find, like anybody else, your place in this world.