Tijuana Journalist Among Newsweek's 'Fearless Women'
March 07, 2012

Though 69 of her colleagues have been murdered during Mexico’s drug war, Adela Navarro Bello continues to publish investigative news stories about drug trafficking and corruption in Baja California. Navarro is co-director of the Tijuana-based weekly Zeta.

For her courageous reporting, Navarro was included in Newsweek's 150 "Women Who Shake the World," published in conjunction with International Women's Day.

Navarro shares the distinction with the likes of Hillary Clinton and Oprah Winfrey, along with human rights activists from Africa and the Middle East.

Navarro works in what the Committee to Protect Journalists considers one of the most dangerous work environments in the world. Two of Navarro's co-workers at Zeta have been murdered — one in 1988 and another in 2004 — and Navarro and her co-workers at the magazine have received dozens of threats throughout the years. The most recent one came just last week.

Photo courtesy Adela Navarro Bello.
Adela Navarro Bello is co-director of the Tijuana-based weekly "Zeta."

The magazine received an anonymous call warning that the editorial staff was being pursued, and that someone wanted to rough them up. The anonymous caller said that “someone” was Melvin Gutiérrez Quiroz, an alleged Tijuana drug trafficker.

Following the threats, a coalition of media outlets in Mexico called on authorities to guarantee the safety of their Zeta colleagues.

Navarro has received a number of awards in recent years for her fearless reporting and editorial policy, including an International Press Freedom award from the Committee to Protect Journalists in 2007 and a Courage in Journalism award from the International Women’s Media Foundation in 2011.

Navarro said she respects the decision of other publications in Mexico to self-censor in order to protect their staff, but she doesn’t share that path.

"To censor ourselves, to not publish information about our daily reality, is to become accomplices of the illegal activities that are harming us," she said.