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Carmen Aristegui: Fired up

You can fire her. You can try to isolate her. But you can't keep the journalist who helped found MexicoLeaks from being a thorn on Mexico's ruling class.

Eneas De Troya via flickr

On 13 March 2015, during what would become her last broadcast on MVS, Carmen Aristegui had this to say about the current climate for the press in Mexico:

It is not time to submit. It is not time to accept backsliding. It is not time for Mexican society, which has taken time to open space for freedom of expression, public debate, social presence, awareness, and fundamental rights, to move backwards.

Carmen Aristegui was born on 18 January 1964 in Mexico City and studied Communication Sciences at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). She is well known for investigating corruption and cases involving high-level officials in Mexico, bringing to the public's attention some of the more questionable actions of their elected representatives. Aristegui hosts a weekday programme on CNN México that regularly covers politically charged topics, such as the September 2014 disappearance and suspected murder of 43 student teachers in Ayotzinapa. In November 2014, it was her special investigations team, Primera Emisión MVS, which revealed that Mexico's First Lady had bought a mansion from a government contractor, a story that brought up issues of conflict of interest within the administration of President Enrique Peña Nieto. She also helped to found the whistleblower website Mexicoleaks in early March 2015.

Five days after the site's launch on 10 March, Aristegui was fired from MVS Radio 102.5 FM in Mexico City, after fighting to reinstate colleagues who had been dismissed for connecting MVS to the site. In February the show had been ranked the third most-listened-to news talk show in the country. There were protests in Mexico City the day after her dismissal, and on 23 March the hashtag #MexicoWantsAristeguiBack was used over 130,000 times. Mexican celebrities even reacted by producing a video explaining why Aristegui should be allowed back on air. She was previously fired from MVS in 2011 after she called on then President Felipe Calderón to answer allegations that he had a drinking problem. At the time, MVS admitted that political pressure had played a part in their decision. In April 2015 a federal judge ordered MVS to meet with Aristegui with the goal of resuming her radio programme. In July a court rejected a protection request filed by Aristegui, ending her legal battle to get her job back.

But the legal battle has not ended there, as MVS president Joaquín Vargas filed a case against Aristegui, alleging that his honour had been damaged in her book La Casa Blanca de Peña Nieto (Peña Nieto's White House).

Despite the confrontations, threats and legal actions, Aristegui has continued to be highly involved in investigative reporting on corruption in Mexico, in addition to writing for several media outlets and maintaining her own news platform, Aristegui Noticias.

Moreover, on 21 August 2016, she published an investigation entitled Peña Nieto, from plagiarist to president, in which she revealed that nearly 30 percent of the content of the president's law degree thesis was taken from other texts, without citing the sources.

Aristegui has received a number of awards and recognition for her work. Among the most recent were the 2015 Gabriel García Márquez Journalism Award and the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany. In 2016, she received the prestigious Knight International Journalism Award.

Last Updated: 30 August 2017

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