MADRID – A muckraking Mexican journalist known for exposes of pedophile rings and child prostitution said on Monday that President Felipe Calderon’s bloody campaign against Mexico’s drug cartels is “not a battle for justice and social peace.”
Lydia Cacho, who has faced death threats and judicial persecution for her writings, told a press conference in Madrid that Mexico’s justice system is “impregnated with corruption and impunity.”
Accompanied by the head of the Lydia Cacho Foundation, Spanish screenwriter Alicia Luna; and Madrid Press Association President Fernando Gonzalez Urbaneja, the author said the nearly three years since Calderon took office have seen increased “authoritarianism” and harassment of journalists and human rights advocates.
The period has also witnessed “15,000 documented killings,” Cacho said, exceeding the carnage in Colombia at the height of that country’s drug wars.
“Specialists are beginning to investigate if those 15,000 killings are linked with intentional social cleansing on the part of the Mexican state,” she said.
Calderon, she noted, “insists on saying that many of those deaths are collateral effects and that the rest are criminals who kill one another.”
“It is a war among the powerful and not a battle for justice and social peace,” she said of the military-led effort against drug cartels, which has drawn widespread criticism for human rights abuses.
Cacho also lamented “self-censorship” in the highly concentrated Mexican media, saying that many outlets color their reporting to avoid trouble with the government and other powerful interests.
A long-time newspaper columnist and crusader for women’s rights, Lydia Cacho became famous thanks to the furor over her 2005 book “Los demonios del Eden” (The Demons of Eden), which exposed wealthy pedophiles and their associates in the Mexican establishment.
In the book, she identified textile magnate Kamel Nacif as a friend and protector of accused pedophile Jean Succar Kuri, who has since been sent back to Mexico from the United States to face charges.
Nacif, whose business is based in the central state of Puebla, accused Cacho of defamation – a criminal offense – in Mexico and arranged to have her arrested for allegedly for ignoring a summons to appear in court for the case.
In February 2006, Mexican dailies published transcripts of intercepted phone conversations in which Nacif was heard conspiring with Puebla Gov. Mario Marin and other state officials to have Cacho taken into custody and then assaulted behind bars.
The transcripts indicated that Nacif, known as the “denim king” for his dominance of the blue-jeans business, engineered the author’s arrest by bribing court personnel not to send her the requisite summonses.
Cacho was subsequently released on bail and the case against her was ultimately dismissed. EFE