Mexico City (AFP) – Daniela Rea, a Mexican journalist known for her searing chronicles of the violence gripping her country, was awarded the first edition of the Breach-Valdez Prize in journalism and human rights on Thursday.
Launched in March, the prize honors journalists who risk their lives to cover human rights abuses in Mexico, following in the footsteps of two Mexican colleagues murdered last year: Miroslava Breach and Javier Valdez.
Its sponsors — the United Nations, UNESCO, Agence France-Presse, the French embassy in Mexico and the Ibero-American University — praised Rea for her heartrending articles, books and a documentary film telling the stories of missing and murdered Mexicans and the toll the violence takes on the country.
Journalists are both chroniclers and victims of that violence: at least 12 were murdered in Mexico last year, and more than 100 have been killed since 2000.
“Freedom of speech and of the press are under attack. Our journalist colleagues… are attacked, threatened, tried, jailed and murdered every day, around the world,” said Giancarlo Summa, director of the United Nations Information Center in Mexico, awarding the prize on World Press Freedom Day.
Rea, 35, a former staff reporter for the Mexican newspaper Reforma, has written for many of Mexico’s top magazines, authored or contributed to several books and directed the award-winning documentary film “Eternity Never Surrendered.”
Much of her work focuses on the consequences of the Mexican government’s decision in 2006 to deploy the military to fight drug trafficking.
Since then, Mexico has been hit by a wave of violence that has left more than 200,000 people murdered. Another 30,000 are missing.
“I didn’t make a conscious choice and say, ‘I’m going to write about human rights.’ It was the natural result of writing about Mexican life,” Rea told AFP.
Breach, a respected investigative journalist for Mexican daily La Jornada in the state of Chihuahua, on the US border, was shot dead in broad daylight on March 23, 2017 as she drove her son to school.
Valdez, a long-time AFP collaborator and prominent chronicler of Mexico’s drug wars, was shot dead in broad daylight on May 15, 2017 outside the offices of Riodoce, the newspaper he co-founded in his native Sinaloa state.