The Sanjuana Martínez media tour in Chicago

Author Sanjuana Martínez was brought to Chicago by the Chicago City of Refuge. She appeared on Spanish Public Radio and WBEZ Radio (NPR), and met with the staff of the Chicago Tribune.

Her appearance on WBEZ Radio: In the U.S. The Press Are Labeled “Enemy of the People”. In Mexico, The Press Are Slaughtered

From Lucina Kathmann:

Sanjuana Martinez is a charming, vivacious little lady who talks of awful things in an upbeat way and everyone likes it and maybe they learn.

The Spanish-speaking community knows all about the problems journalists face in Mexico but they want to hear more. They fill every space in every venue, but we were also trying to get the message to the more powerful English-speaking community. I was translating all week. (Sanjuana speaks English but gets frustrated if she has to talk for a half hour in it. She is very eloquent in Spanish and I think the difference annoys her. So I translated longer speeches.)

According to Sanjuana, something like 140 journalists have been killed in Mexico in the past few years and the government does nothing because they are involved. The police do nothing because they are involved. Ditto the army and the marines.

We met Sanjuana when she was fleeing death threats. A few months ago she was investigating the marines and what they had to do with killing the 43 boys in Ayotzinapa in September 2014 and people entered her house in her absence, throwing her possessions around and defecating on them. A car was constantly outside watching, many threats came in by phone etc. She had gone into hiding and we found out about it and managed to contact her. She didn’t ask for money, she wanted us to draw more attention to the problem. Two of her colleagues had recently been killed, really outstanding ones. So San Miguel PEN has been doing events either at her instigation or, better, with her present.

Sanjuana has had to make a will and tell her children she might die, make custody arrangements… all quite terrible stuff but she says Miroslava Breach, one of her colleagues who was recently killed, had done so and she sees the wisdom in it. Right now she is out of hiding and thinks she is OK. She has moved to another area of investigation which doesn’t seem to want to silence her, at least not yet.

Most of the people who came to her talks were Spanish-speaking. That is how it always is. Trying to reach out farther is very hard. We did it but, in our opinion, not enough. There were English-speaking people especially in the audience at Loyola University and Sanjuana spoke to the Chicago Tribune newspaper. How much did it really amount to?

We are going to think about this again, the problem of outreach. It shows what poor neighbors our adjacent countries are. One side is in one world and the other side is in another, with little islands of exceptions on both sides.

Sanjuana Martínez and Lara Weber  at the Chicago Tribune officeSanjuana Martínez, Nicholas Patricca, Lara Weber at the Chicago Tribune office.Sanjuana Martínez at the Chicago Tribune office.Lucina Kathmann, Sanjuana MartínezSanjuana Martínez, Mike Lev, Lara WeberLara Weber, Lucina Kathmann, Sanjuana Martínez, Kaarin Tisue, Mike Lev, Laura Rodríguez, Nicholas PatriccaSanjuana Martínez, Viviana García-Blanco, Jerome McDonald at WBEZ RadioSanjuana Martínez talking at UNAM Campus ChicagoNicholas Patricca, Gabrielle Buckley, Sanjuana Martinez, Elisabeth Lozano, Andrea Change at a public event at Loyola University, ChicagoNicholas Patricca, Gabrielle Buckley, Sanjuana Martinez, Elisabeth Lozano, Andrea Change, Lucina Kathmann at a public event at Loyola University, Chicago