The Mexican investigative journalist Anabel Hernández is recognized worldwide as one of the most important reporters on the War on Drugs. Over two decades, she has received numerous awards for her work, including the 2012 Golden Pen of Freedom Award from the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers. And just over a week ago, Reporters Without Borders placed Hernández on its list of “100 Information Heroes,” created to pay tribute to “the courage of the journalists and bloggers who constantly sacrifice their safety and sometimes their lives to their vocation.”
Hernández’s life has been at risk since she published Los Señores del Narco in 2010. The book—released in English last fall as Narcoland—breaks with conventional narratives of the “drug war,” which pit the Mexican government against drug traffickers. With unprecedented access to sources and tireless study of documents, Hernández instead makes the ironclad case that the war is a sham, its aims “limited to protecting the Sinaloa cartel.” The book exposes the intricate ties between Mexico’s leading drug traffickers and the leadership of the Mexican state. Published in 2010 to explosive effect, Narcoland remains one of the most widely read books in Mexico.
Since 2011, Hernández and her family have been the target of an escalating series of violent assaults. She has found decapitated animals on her doorstep. Gunmen attacked a family gathering. Last December about a dozen unidentified men armed with AK-47s invaded her house in Mexico City, terrorizing neighbors and injuring one of her bodyguards. She was lucky not to be home then, but the threats against Mexican journalists are deadly serious: Scores have been killed with impunity since 2000. Hernández’s courage, and her deep understanding—the product of years of relentless reporting—of the “drug war,” make hers an essential voice, one we ignore at our peril.
By Nick Alexandrov
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