MADRID – Mexican journalist Lydia Cacho, a well-known activist against people trafficking, was honored Monday with the 1st Manuel Leguineche International Journalism Prize, which is awarded by the Spanish Federation of Journalists Associations, or FAPE.
The award, with a cash prize of 20,000 euros (about $25,000), acknowledges the work of reporters and media committed to the defense of human rights, and in particular, to freedom of speech, as is the Spanish journalist Manuel Leguineche, for whom the prize is named.
Cacho received a majority vote due to her gift for practicing journalism in a “courageous and determined” way, even in situations of harassment and defenselessness “promoted in some cases by government institutions,” the jury said.
The jury met Monday morning headed by the president of the Guadalajara delegation from central Spain, Maria Antonia Perez-Leon, with Leguineche as honorary president.
Cacho sets “an excellent standard in the defense of human rights” and perfectly represents the meaning of this prize, which is the defense of freedom of speech in aid of social justice, Perez-Leon told Efe.
Cacho has worked for the defense of gender equality, an activity she has pursued while “putting her own life in danger,” Perez-Leon said.
“The winner has brought to light real mafias of corruption for the prostitution of women and children, even implicating some who hold political office, which has meant putting her life in danger for the defense of rights and social justice,” Perez-Leon said.
Lydia Cacho, known in the world of journalism and human rights for her activism on behalf of women and against organized crime groups that deal in child exploitation and pornography, recently published the book “Esclavas del Poder” (Slaves of Power), her latest journalistic work on the trafficking of women and girls.
In this work, Cacho reported that 1.4 million people are bought and sold around the world, with most of them destined for prostitution.
Cacho is the founder of a shelter to help women who are the victims of violence.
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 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