Judith Torrea, 10 Quotes on Covering Drug Trafficking

by Sampsonia Way    /  June 8, 2011  / No comments



Spanish-born journalist Judith Torrea has reported for 15 years on Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, a city she once said is being “blown off the face of the earth.” Juárez has been devastated by the battles between drug cartels and the “war” that President Felipe Calderon declared against them in 2008.

When Torrea worked for the Texas Observer in Austin covering death-penalty policies of then-Governor George W. Bush, she visited Juárez several times. After a few years of reporting on New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, she became senior writer for the Spanish edition of People Magazine and visited Juárez every other month to do work as an independent journalist.

In 2009, she finally moved to Juárez and started her award-winning blog, Ciudad Juárez en la Sombra del Narcotráfico (“City of Juárez, in the Shadow of Drug Trafficking”).

The following quotes summarize Torrea’s views on the subjects she has covered:

If you are rich, you can avoid the death penalty in the United States. If you don’t have the money, you can’t save yourself from lethal injection.

In New York I used to go to celebrities’ parties, where people consumed the cocaine trafficked on the Mexican border. The United States produces the most consumers –and guns–and Juárez the most corpses.

I couldn’t continue living in the United States and watch from a distance, while the truth was not told about what was happening in Ciudad Juárez. I’m a journalist who believes that her mission is to give a voice back to those who are voiceless.

In Ciudad Juarez the danger is to be alive.

My blog came out of a need to tell the victims’ stories without censorship because in Juárez there is no freedom of speech.

The queerest fact was that the police scanner was so easy to access and the drug traffickers used it as well. If one cartel wanted to celebrate a killing, it interrupted the scanner signal with narcocorridos—songs lauding the drug traffickers that evolved out of the traditional folk ballads.

I know about the murders thanks to my sources, but sometimes I’ll just discover another dead body is in the road while I’m driving.

I’m not afraid. If I was afraid I would not live in Juárez. I know I’m in danger and that the risks increase when you don’t sell yourself to the drug traffickers or the authorities.

The Mexican President, Felipe Calderon, and the army are not fighting a war against drug trafficking. They are supporting the Sinaloa Cartel and its head, ‘El Chapo’ Guzman, to defeat the Juárez Cartel.

Have you ever asked yourself why the president Felipe Calderon never tracked the money laundering in his so-called ’war against drug trafficking’?

Read Sampsonia Way’s profile of Torrea

About the Author

Sampsonia Way is an online magazine sponsored by City of Asylum/Pittsburgh that seeks to protect and advocate for writers who may be endangered, to educate the public about threats to writers and literary expression, and to create a community in which endangered writers thrive and literary culture is a valued part of life.

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