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Marcos Vizcarra

Culiacán, Mexico, August 22, 2017
Marcos Vizcarra

Marcos Vizcarra, 29, reports for Noroeste whose founder, Javier Valdez, was assassinated in broad daylight last May.

Marcos Vizcarra, the 2017 winner of the Peter Mackler Award, is a journalist for the publication Noroeste in his native Sinaloa region of Mexico, which is widely viewed as one of the most dangerous places in the world to practice journalism. After the brutal, daylight murder of his colleague, Javier Valdez, in the streets of Culiacan, Sinaloa, Mr. Vizcarra, 29, publicy called on the government to investigate and prosecute the killers. To date, no arrest has been made and Mr. Vizcarra’s repeated reporting and public denunciation of the government’s inaction, at great risk to himself, have made him an example for other journalists in the region to follow.

Upon learning of the award, Marcos Vizcarra said “In Mexico, we have a greater awareness of our role in society: that of journalism that serves to combat corruption and impunity. This award is a wake-up call to our authorities. If it is true that we are trying to do better journalism, it is also true that it is more difficult due to violence. I am very grateful to the Mackler family. This is a recognition of Mexican journalism that is striving to improve things.”

Last year, Mr. Vizcarra brought international attention to the Sinaloa state government’s complicity in drug trafficking and human rights abuses with the publication of a lenghthy investigation, “Torture: The ‘Method’ of Investigation” (Tortura: El ‘método’ de investigación). The project began in September, 2015 when Mr. Vizcarra was selected by the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) as one of the recipients of the Mike O’Connor Scholarship for Investigative Journalism to carry out an investigative project on human rights violations in Mexico. Over the course of eight months he investigated 11 cases where people had been tortured by police officers and members of the Sinaloa state prosecutor’s office in connection with investigations of the Mazatlecos Cartel. While

Marcos Vizcarra receives the PM Award from Camille and Lauren Mackler during a ceremony at the National Press Club, Washington DC, Oct. 26, 2017 Credit: Jose Galvez/Double R Productions

Marcos Vizcarra receives the PM Award from Camille and Lauren Mackler during a ceremony at the National Press Club, Washington DC, Oct. 26, 2017 Credit: Jose Galvez/Double R Productions

investigating these cases, Mr. Vizcarra discovered that the Sinaloa state government was in fact attempting to help the Sinaloa Cartel by dismantling the rival Mazatlecos Cartel and disrupting their drug trafficking to the United States. In at least six of the 11 cases, Mr. Vizcarra found that the suspects were exonerated because of a lack of evidence connecting them to drug trafficking. The investigation was published by the International Center for Journalists, the newspaper Noroeste, and the Mexican journalism network Periodistas de a Pie.

“Marcos Vizcarra is a rising voice for truth in a part of the world known for frequent use of violence to silence journalists,” said Camille Mackler, Peter Mackler Award project director at the Global Media Forum Training Group. “More than ever, we need journalists like Mr. Vizcarra, who are willing to stand up to governments and criminals and uphold principles of ethical journalism. By doing so, Mr. Vizcarra has become a guiding example to all other journalists in that region and beyond. We are thrilled to recognize him as the 9th winner of the Peter Mackler Award and show him and other journalists like him that their work – and the contributions they make to our global society – do not go unnoticed.”

Mr. Vizcarra began his career in 2011 at a local radio station in Culiacán, Sinaloa. In 2013 he began to focus on investigative journalism and in 2014 joined the publication Noroeste, where he covers issues related to corruption, violence, justice, and human rights. Mr. Vizcarra has focused his work on the enforced disappearances of Mexican civilians, including the government’s failure to address the problem in a meaningful way. Sinaloa ranks fourth in number of disappearances per state, with about 3,000 documented cases. In many cases, the family members of the disappeared have pointed to both state officials and members of organized crime as the people who carried out these crimes.

In 2016, Mr. Vizcarra was a fellow in the Press and Democracy Program (PRENDE) at the Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City. Following the completion of this fellowship, Mr. Viczarra returned to Culiacán to continue his work as a journalist on issues related to corruption, violence, justice, and human rights. After the May 2017 murder of Mr. Valdez, Mr. Vizcarra has continued his work exposing the violence in Sinaloa and the government’s complicity and corruption.

Mexico is ranked 147th out of 180 countries in the Reporters Without Borders’ 2017 World Press Freedom Index.


Read Marcos Vizcarra powerful and emotional acceptance speech (English translation.)

Read the acceptance speech in Spanish.

Read Camille Mackler’s introductory remarks.

Read Agence France-Presse coverage of the award ceremony.