Cancun’s hidden side exposed in award-winning investigation

An investigation revealing the hidden side of Cancun, the renowned Caribbean resort town, has won a prestigious journalism award in Mexico, one of the deadliest countries in the world for journalists.

Ricardo Hernandez received the prestigious Breach-Valdez Award for human rights journalism for his in-depth report published in the magazine Gatopardo. The report unveiled the underbelly of Cancun, a city visited by millions of tourists every year, reported several news agencies.

While the white sandy beaches and tourism industry are frequently promoted, little attention is given to what happens in the shadows, Hernandez highlighted. His investigation illuminated the informal housing situated in areas without essential services inhabited by those on the lowest rungs of the city’s economic ladder.

Griselda Triana, the widow of Javier Valdez, one of the journalists in whose memory the award was founded, said…

The jury praised Hernandez’s “impeccable narration” of “testimonies that reveal exclusion and unseen aspects of Cancun.”

Wendy Selene, Paula Monaco, Luis Brito, and Maria Ruiz were awarded second place for their coverage on the trial of an ex-official accused of providing more than 45,000 genetic profiles of missing persons and their families to a private enterprise.

Manuel Ureste, from the news website Animal Politico, received the award in the new category of child and adolescent rights for his exposé on migrant children crossing Mexico to reach the United States. According to Ureste, despite Mexico having a law to protect the rights of migrant children since 2021, the system, in reality, fails to safeguard thousands of minors.

Established in 2018, the prestigious prize honours courageous journalists who risk their lives to cover human rights abuses across Mexico. The award commemorates two esteemed Mexican colleagues murdered in 2017: Valdez and Miroslava Breach.

Valdez, 50 years old and a long-time AFP contributor, was an eminent chronicler of Mexico’s deadly drug wars, known for his articles critiquing powerful cartels like the notorious Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman’s Sinaloa cartel. Breach, 54 years old and a correspondent for Mexican daily La Jornada in the northern border state of Chihuahua, was renowned for her hard-hitting reports on connections between politicians and organised crime.

Working as a journalist in Mexico is notoriously dangerous as over 150 individuals have been killed in the profession since 2000, according to Reporters Without Borders.

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With a Bachelor's Degree in English, Jenn has plenty of experience writing and editing on different topics. After spending many years teaching English in Thailand, Jenn has come to love writing about Thai culture and the experience of being an ex-pat in Thailand. During long holidays, she travels to North of Thailand just to have Khao Soi!