1325 PeaceWomen
Design creator
Text writer
"Journalism is on parole"
MEXICO, 1963

I met Lydia in 2006 while she was preparing a trip to Mexico with the Women Artists Platform to denounce the crimes against women in Ciudad Juárez.  I had been in touch with her before this trip, and together we planned all the actions that would be taken in Mexico. I remember the first time we met in the Casa de España and will never forget Lydia’s eyes that were  so full of life and kindness, nor her energy that has united me to her and that has joined our lives together as if they had been connected for a very long time.  I felt as if she was my soul sister, and I know many other women of this country who feel that way about her. There are also countless women from her country to whom she has given the valour and courage to carry on, and she has had an especially large impact at the Refuge Shelter that she runs with a methodology based on love, respect and feminism.

As strong and as lovely as the highest mountain in my land of Asturias, Lydia was taught to never surrender. Lydia was educated by a feminist mother who, from childhood, showed her the face of violence and poverty in the most forgotten and devastated areas of Mexico. While her mother who was a psychologist talked with the damaged women, Lydia and her siblings played with their children. Very early on, she felt pain and commitment for these little boys and girls who could not even hold a pencil in their hands to draw.  They were children who did not have the energy to run after the balls that they were given, children that ate only when they could, which was once a day. When Lydia asked her mother why these children had to suffer, her mother answered, “Because of pure injustice, Lydia. That is why, since you are privileged, have an education and three meals a day, you are compelled to prepare yourselves so that you can help Mexico to be transformed to build a free and honorable country.” And that is what Lydia did.

Every day of her life she fights for the decency and self-respect of her country and she does it in the name of all the women of her country  that have faced abuse and rape as minors. She works tirelessly to denounce paedophile networks that operate through Cancun all over the whole world. She also does it in the name of all girls, but especially in the name of that 15 year old girl, who, asked Lydia while she was in refuge after she denounced the paedophile Kamel Nacif , (who later kidnapped and tried to murder Lydia), “You, Lydia, won’t let anybody harm us again, will you?”.

This was about girls who had their infancy and life stolen forever by despicable men. It was these men who, together with others from the Mexican Government, kidnapped, tortured and tried to murder Lydia. And it was Lydia’s loving, supportive sister networks that accompanied her at all times, together with the love of her people who, in the most horrific moments gave her the peace to be a survivor and not a victim.  As Lydia says, the system does not like survivors; the system wants us to be subdued and to be victims so that we always remember who is in power.

Lydia’s fight was never powered by anger or rancour, but from the true and profound belief in the necessity of those who violate the laws and human rights to be held forcibly held to account before the whole of humanity.

I lived the story of Lydia’s kidnapping as if it were my own. I cried when she recalled the time when she was beaten in a police car by four maniacs who then tried to throw her into the sea so that her body would disappear forever. In Spain, women’s networks cried with fury and indignation to know that one of our sister’s lives was worth nothing in a country that we call a ‘democracy’ and that participates in signing international agreements of respect for human rights and against violence against females. This country is Mexico. From the very beginning, we asked the Spanish Government to intervene in Mexican government, and they made every effort possible so that Lydia was still alive after 30 hours of torture.  We signed millions of letters denouncing the criminality of the Mexican Government and their violation of human rights.

I would like to end with some of Lydia’s own words: “while I live, I will continue to write, and with what I write, I will continue to live”. And with her words she will make us go on feeling that we are all worthy and alive: “I will continue to write because nobody writes about the history of those who have lost; the powerful and victorious continue record and fabricate their histories to suit their interests. So I will carry on fighting and writing because I have a responsibility to all of my male and female journalist colleagues who are murdered every day in my country.” As her life companion said, as all of us who love and admire her deeply say, the only thing we would never forgive you for, Lydia, is that, if they murder you, people will not know your true story. Thank you, sister, for filling this world with dignity and justice.

1. Biographical sketch compiled from the presentation made by Cristina del Valle in the Casa Encendida on the occasion of the participation of Lydia Cacho in a series of conferences.