Brave Thinkers 2011 November 2011

Lydia Cacho Ribeiro

More
What's Your Take?  Rate this Brave Thinker:
1 star = Not taking much risk | 5 stars = Risking it all

Journalist; author
Cancún, Mexico

Attacked and arrested for investigating a Mexican crime ring, an undeterred reporter goes after another syndicate.

In 1999, Lydia Cacho Ribeiro learned what it means to be an activist journalist in Mexico. In the bathroom of a bus station, as what she believes was retaliation for her journalism and advocacy for women, she says she was raped and beaten by a stranger and left for dead. Undeterred, she continued to agitate in newspaper columns and on the radio, and in 2005 published a book exposing a child-pornography ring lurking beneath the luxurious hedonism of Cancún, her home city.* Cacho accused Jean Succar Kuri, a prominent hotel magnate, of abusing more than 100 underage girls, and various politicians and businessmen of using their influence to protect him.

Cacho was accused of defamation by an associate of Kuri’s. Police officers threw her in a van, she claims, and drove her more than 20 hours from Cancún to Puebla, where her accuser was based. The charges never stuck. Still, in a country where some 40 journalists have been killed in the past five years, Cacho had ample reason to quiet down.

Brave Thinkers 2011She hasn’t. Last year, Cacho published an explosive new book exposing a sex-trafficking operation and again naming alleged participants. In June she received what she described as “very specific” threats against her life. She alerted the Mexican authorities—and then, unshaken in her commitment to exposing the thugs terrorizing her country, she alerted the press.


*The original version of this article stated that Cancún is Cacho's home state. Cancún is a city in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo.


Image: Alexandre Meneghini/Associated Press

Nicole Allan is an Atlantic associate editor
Jump to comments
Presented by

Nicole Allan is a former senior editor at The Atlantic.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

The Time JFK Called the Air Force to Complain About a 'Silly Bastard'

51 years ago, President John F. Kennedy made a very angry phone call.


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.

Video

What Makes a Story Great?

The storytellers behind House of CardsandThis American Life reflect on the creative process.

Video

Tracing Sriracha's Origin to Thailand

Ever wonder how the wildly popular hot sauce got its name? It all started in Si Racha.

Video

Where Confiscated Wildlife Ends Up

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.

Video

Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.

Video

The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air

Writers

Up
Down

More in Global

More back issues, Sept 1995 to present.

Just In