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Mexican journalist, human rights activist Lydia Cacho to receive free speech award from Newhouse School

February 09, 2010

Wendy S. Loughlin
(315) 443-2785

Mexican journalist and human rights activist Lydia Cacho is the 2010 recipient of the Tully Free Speech Award from the Tully Center for Free Speech in Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. The award is given annually to a journalist who has faced obstacles to free speech.

An awards ceremony will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 16, at 7:30 p.m. in the Joyce Hergenhan Auditorium in Newhouse 3. Cacho will also visit classes during her visit to campus next week.

Cacho, who was born in Mexico City, is an award-winning journalist, author and human rights activist. Her first book, “Los Demonios del Eden: El Poder Que Protege a la Pornografía Infantil” (The Demons of Eden: The Power That Protects Child Pornography, Grijalbo Mondadori, 2006), exposed a Mexican child pornography ring operating with protection from Mexican politicians and businessmen. Following its publication in 2005, she was illegally arrested, detained, harassed and tortured, and was subjected to a year-long criminal defamation lawsuit. She was cleared of all charges in 2007 but continues to be the target of harassment and threats due to her investigative journalism, as she continues to write about sexual exploitation of children, violence against women and corruption. She has recently faced harassment by unknown armed officials near her home and death threats via her blog at http://www.lydiacacho.net.  

Cacho is also author of the books “Memorias de una Infamia” (Memoirs of a Scandal, Grijalbo Mondadori, 2008), which describes her abduction and trial; “Con mi hij@ no” (Not with my daughter/son, Grijalbo Mondadori, 2009), a guide to understand, prevent and heal child sexual abuse; and “Muerdele El Corazon” (Bite the Heart, Grijalbo Mondadori, 2006), a novel, based on a true story, about an HIV-positive woman. She is currently writing a book about international mafias that globalized the trafficking of women and children, to be published this spring by Random House.

A columnist for the Mexico City newspaper El Universal, she has written more than 300 newspaper articles on women’s rights and politics. She is founder and director of the Refuge Center for Abused Women of Cancun and president of the Center for Women’s Assistance, which aids victims of domestic violence and gender discrimination.

Cacho has won numerous awards for her work, including the Tucholsky prize from Swedish PEN (2008); the Freedom of Expression prize from Spanish Journalists’ Union in Valencia (2008); the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize (2008); the Oxfam/Novib PEN Award for Free Expression (2007); the Amnesty International Ginetta Sagan Award for Women and Children’s Rights (2007); and the Francisco Ojeda Award for Journalistic Courage (2005).

More information about Cacho is available on the International PEN website: http://www.internationalpen.org.uk.  

The original slate of nominees for the Tully Free Speech Award was put forth by a distinguished panel of professionals, including Charles N. Davis, associate professor at the Missouri School of Journalism and executive director of the National Freedom of Information Coalition; Tala Dowlatshahi, senior advisor and spokesperson for Reporters Without Borders; David Horowitz, executive director of Media Coalition; and Jane Kirtley, professor of media ethics and law at the University of Minnesota School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

Finalists were chosen by a committee of SU students and faculty, including Alexandria Blute, a Newhouse broadcast journalism graduate student and researcher for the Tully Center; Leah Goldman, a Newhouse magazine journalism student; Dona Hayes, chair of Newhouse’s broadcast journalism department; and Kevin Tully, a student in SU’s College of Law and nephew of Tully Center benefactor Joan Tully.

Endowed by the late Joan Tully ’69, the Newhouse School’s Tully Center educates students and the public about the important value of free speech through education, resources and research. For more information about the center, see http://tully.syr.edu.

For more information about the Tully Award, contact Blute at (650) 793-3669 or alblute@syr.edu.

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