Colombia, Mexican journalists threatened after reporting on drug, human trafficking

Journalist Mary Luz Avendaño, corresponsdent in Medellín, Colombia, for the newspaper El Espectador, and Lydia Cacho, a Mexican investigative reporter, received death threats after publishing stories on drug trafficking and human trafficking, respectively, reported IFEX and Article 19.

Avendaño was threatened after writing about presumed alliances between police agents and criminal gangs, reported RCN Radio. One of her sources relayed the threat, received via telephone, wherein a voice said, “Tell your friend, the journalist Mary Luz, to stop publishing (stories)," according to Eje21.

The journalist has been under police protection, ever since police intelligence agents warned her she was at risk for publishing a series on drug trafficking, reported Caracol Radio.

The Foundation for Press Freedom (FLIP in Spanish) said that Avendaño covers topics few journalists would dare to touch in Medellín -- the former seat of the drug cartel of the same name -- and urged authorities to act swiftly to arrest and punish those responsible for the threats.

In the case of Cacho, the journalist said she was threatened after revealing the names of human traffickers of women and children, according to the news agency EFE.

Cacho has won awards for reporting on sexual abuse of children in México. The journalist called on authorities to investigate the threats, reminding them that various threatened journalists have been killed recently in Mexico. It once was assumed that threats would not result in death, but that has changed, she said.

Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.