News from Mexico

mexico flagIt happened not so long ago. And it came in the moment we least expected.A month ago now, one of the most-famous reporters in Mexico was fired from MVS News,  a show airing on radio and TV. It is one of the largest news chain down here in Mexico, besides of the big Televisa, which takes it over the country’s media. Existing by itself without Televisa, MVS News was a respected chain, known for, as much as it could, telling the truth, before anything else. Carmen Aristegui, an acclaimed reporter, had worked for this chain for almost eight years, and her contract with the enterprise had an end that not everybody took well. But the event didn’t start here, with her being fired for the second time from her own show.

In November last year, it was discovered, or at least uncovered, that Mexico’s first Lady owns a house worth more than 7 million dollars, now known as the mexican White House. As it was expected, this made an enormous shock in mexican’s population, for such an amount of money seems illogical to be earned by a “telenovelas” actress, especially when she is not even considered as one of the greatest artists in the country. It was also speculated, that this money came from the arrangement China had with Mexico to start the building of a train connecting Mexico City and Queretaro. As outrageous as it sounds, no news TV or radio show talked about the event. But, as it was also expected, many reporters began an investigation about this case, which appeared to be a scandal in the country. Aristegui, as a famous reporter, doesn’t work on her own, and has a team, composed by a large number of reporters. As such, Daniel Lizárraga and Irving Huerta uncovered the case and made it public. But they had to go through a real struggle to reach its publication. In fact, they were blackmailed by the owners of MVS News, that if that information and the article talking about the White House and its origins came out through their emission, they would cancel it and fire everybody in the team. They had a real dilema, for, as Aristegui said to Proceso (a mexican political magazine), “they wanted to keep their radio space, but at the same time to spread that article.” (http://www.proceso.com.mx/?p=399065) The owners of the chain did not make an imperative demand, but they made a petition to the reporters to avoid publishing this article, knowing that if they did, they would not be able to come back and keep working for MVS News. As hard as the situation may have been, they managed to publish the famous article, which was censored, for the original version of it didn’t appear publicly, and was erased from all medias for a certain time. As it was expected, too, the enterprise started firing, one by one, members from Aristegui’s team. She, outraged as she was, gave the chain an ultimatum: they should hire their team again, or she would quit. This was also a big dilema for the enterprise, for Aristegui’s radio and TV show, airing since 2008, is one of the most listened and viewed show in the country, with one of the best rankings. She had been on strike for almost four months, when her firing became public, 10th March 2015.

NM1

Front page from “El Chamuco”, mexican magazine, No. 325

Censorship is well known in Mexico, and it is known that most of the news that go out are censored or, eventually, faked. But this event, made completely in front of everybody, is the perfect example of the censorship the country and its reporters face throughout their lives. And attempts towards journalists becoming so frequent lately, this was only the situation which made people explode.

As normal as things could be, and Aristegui having a large number of followers around the country, a campaign recollecting signatures in order to make MVS News to hire her again began. In less than 24 hours, their recollected more than 100 thousand signatures, showing the people’s support on her case. Her hiring, obviously, didn’t happen. Many demonstrations took place, such as one in front of the Memory and Tolerance Museum, located downtown Mexico City, where people gathered together to listen to what Aristegui had to say about this event, a speech she gave the day after being fired. A lot of offenses against MVS News, and especially towards the government began, or continued, for it is known that the owner of MVS News works now alongside the President. A hashtag took over twitter for some time, making allusion to the terrorist attack to Charlie Hebdo in Paris at the beginning of the year, “Je suis Carmen”, which was largely spread by another famous reporter, associated with Carmen Aristegui, Denise Dresser. She expressed her discontent with the situation, her support towards Aristegui, and her disassociation with MVS News. As Aristegui’s show was the most famous from the chain, and showing their support, people stopped tuning in this channel. Furthermore, people cancelled their contracts with cable companies which are owned by the same people who own MVS News. The chain is still airing everyday, and has already replaced Aristegui’s four hour show with another news anchorman and show, but it is a fact that it will never gain the same number or viewers ans listeners it had earned with Arsitegui’s presence, for, as Elena Poniatowska stated it for La Jornada, “We all know Carmen Aristegui and we all converge in one opinion: she is honest. And that, in this country, seems to have no forgiveness. The one who shall shout that the king is naked takes the risk of being killed by the bad masked hangman.” (http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2015/03/22/cultura/a03a1cul). Aristegui has begun working in another radio stations which welcomed her, so she could keep her job going on. But people still wait for her triumphal return to a larger media and public, which is, hopefully, to be seen in the coming months.

– by Wendy T.