Mexican journalist Adela Navarro Bello’s message to global leaders is: “Don’t detach yourself from society! As a journalist, I must listen to society, particularly when it is voiceless, when it is victim to governments or criminals. The political, economic and social actors sometimes forget about the societies in which they live. May they never."
How did you become a journalist?
At first, I wanted to become a lawyer. But in the 1980s, lawyers in Mexico, my country, had a very poor reputation. I always liked to write. I discovered that journalism could provide me with the best of both worlds. Through journalism, I could work towards social justice, open a window for those who are victims of injustice and publicly denounce what was happening to them. When I decided to study journalism at university, I had finished my first semester and I started to look for a job. I analyzed the various media in the state where I lived, Baja California. Zeta was the one which offered me most freedom and independence to be the journalist I sought to be – that is, one who contributes to social justice.
Why an interest in drug trafficking? Was it imposed on you by Zeta’s work or was it a choice of investigation?
The question of drug trafficking came only after I started at Baja California. In the 1980s, there was much social injustice, caused by members of the government. They were all part of the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (Institutional Revolutionary Party), and were the only ones who ever won the elections in Mexico. People were abused and pressured to do what the party wanted. But I perceived social justice as respect for human dignity and the everyday lives and work of citizens. Drug trafficking became an issue in the first part of the 1990s. That was when we started to recognize the structures of organized crime. It was the role of journalists – and therefore my task as a journalist for the weekly Zeta – to go from writing about abuse and corruption in the government, to the direct connection between governmental corruption and drug trafficking. We started off through investigative journalism into the causes of governmental corruption. Unfortunately, the phenomenon is still present; if anything, it has increased.
What is, according to you, the role of an investigative journalist, particularly at a time of free and global access to information?
Actually, in the case of my country, Mexico, there is no transparency in the exercise of power, and there is no access to information for civilians. Thus, the role of the investigative journalist is precisely this: to bring information to the citizens, the governed, especially the information that the government is concealing because it is corrupt, abusive, inefficient or incompetent. We are the messengers of society.
By Julie Mandoyan