In an interview about his latest book of essays, ‘Languages of Truth’, Salman rushdie said that the great literary phenomenon of the last 50 years is the narrative journalism that wants to tell the truth. Although the novelist is often said to be a liar, Rushdie said, in reality he also seeks to get closer to the truth, but he does so with imagination. The best journalism uses the same arts, and it dazzles us, but instead of imagination work with the facts, the data, the interview.
The United States, by tradition, is the place where this form of journalism has found a fertile field to grow, but for reasons of necessity and survival, surely, the other great tradition is in Latin America. Corruption, social inequality, authoritarian regimes, migration, poverty or drug trafficking, in addition to the natural and cultural wealth of the continent, are aspects that allow us to describe the reality of each country. Names like Martin Caparrós, Juan Pablo Meneses, Leila guerriero or Julio Villanueva Chang are references of this type of chronicle, as well as Carlos Dada, a journalist from El Salvador who recently was in Barcelona to collect on behalf of ‘El Faro’ the Antoni Traveria Prize for Freedom of Expression in Latin America, awarded by Casa América.
Carlos Dada is the founder of ‘El Faro’, a leading digital newspaper that since 1998 has been practicing investigation journalism, and that has given voice to dozens of collaborators. Read, for example, the recent ‘The Dead and the Journalist’ (Anagrama) by Óscar Martínez, also from El Salvador, who questions the limits of his work investigating a murder. Also look for the report ‘Frontera Sur’, on the conflicts that grow on the borders between Mexico, Guatemala and Belize.
In ‘El Faro’ they work daily information and, in turn, the chronicle and the background report. Right now, because of this incisive and critical gaze, they are in the eye of the president of El Salvador, Nayib bukele. For a year and a half, the populist Bukele has dedicated himself to dismantling the country’s institutions and subjecting them to his authoritarian gesture. A year ago, ‘El Faro’ exposed the president’s secret negotiations with the Maras’, criminal gangs that terrorize the population and control the drug market, to reduce murders. Since then, the journalists of ‘El Faro’ have not stopped receiving threats, inspections for false accusations, spying with drones, all with the intention of seeing them disappear. Carlos Dada has not entered his country for five months and live in exile, like so many other journalists from Central America.
Days ago, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to two journalists who experience conflicts and threats similar to those of ‘El Faro’, perhaps only one degree higher on the scale of fear: Maria Ressa, in the Philippines, and Dmitri Muratov from ‘Novaya Gazeta’, in Russia. The message seems clear: free and risky journalism is often the only way to guarantee peace for citizens.
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Between risk and peace, by Jordi Puntí