Award-winning Mexican journalist and now whistleblower Karla Berenice García Ramírez, who writes under the penname Karla Lottini, fears for the safety of herself and her family – including her two young Canadian born daughters – as she awaits deportation orders. In a packed press conference on Thursday January 19, 2012 she made the following statement to the press:
I am here, in Canada, in front of you, Canadian, Latin American, and Multicultural journalists. I want to tell you that if I’ll be forced back to Mexico, my life and my family’s lives are at risk: we can be killed, harassed and even go to jail “for moral damage”.
Why? Because I had the “bad luck” to discover corruption in the most important cultural institution within the federal government that controls 49 cultural institutions and hundreds of programs in the whole country.
How? Through one of the most classic ways – I found out that they steal money from the public budget by paying ghost workers for jobs while diverting the funds to their pockets. I also found out that they were illegal hiring employees as part-time freelancers while making them work as journalists and photographers work for 8 hours per day without medical benefits.
And then why I am at risk? Because I got the evidence and I tried to complain and denounce them publicly. I found some of the fake payments, fake labor contracts involving prestigious journalists, intellectuals and federal employees that are still in power. I ended up exposing all of this and all their names in my book The talent of charlatans, which was actually published here in Canada and launched at SFU and UBC.
This is not only a corruption story, this is a story of many journalists suffering because of the lack of labor rights; this is the story of how a country is dying thanks to impunity while the “president of employment” says he’s “fighting against drug dealers”. He lies, like many media outlets. The truth is that things are not well in Mexico! Sadly, it is not a safe place for us citizens including journalists. As a whistleblower I have been threatened, and also my family was threatened and received death threats.
This is why I came to Canada in 2008. My refugee application has been denied even when I have offered enough evidence to the Immigration and Refugee Board. I am one of the thousands of Mexicans whose cases have been denied by the immigration system: just around 10% have been accepted because the Canadian authorities consider Mexico as a safe and democratic country. Now I know they just listen to Felipe Calderon, when they should listen to Mexicans citizens.
I am here in Canada now. My husband and I have been working and we have been involved with the community volunteering for the Children’s Festival, Surrey Parks Recreation and Culture, the Vancouver South Cultural Project, and the radio program Latino Soy.
I am afraid for my life and my family’s life, including my two Canadian babies. But all I would like is to be in your position, you as journalists asking the questions, working with passion, and having safety. But the fact is that I am here far from my family, my roots, my profession and the dream. I am afraid I will not be able to say bye to my parents if they are sick or dying because I am fearful the people I have denounced will act on their threats.
I am here, because I can’t keep silent. Because this humble testimonial means a purification act for myself, because the truth, the voice, the story, the pen (and of course the evidence) is all I have to protect myself and my family. I am here because I believe in a better world. After almost four years living in Surrey, I’m sure it is possible: I don’t walk on the streets looking behind me to be sure it is not a killer who is coming. I am not finding dead bodies or severed heads on the road.
I am here to say that if something bad happens to me or my family it is because of I what I wrote and who I name in this book. I am here to say thanks to Canadians and Latin American friends to give us a safe land to put down roots and who support us and we still fight. Thanks to No one is illegal for their efforts and solidarity. Thank you all for coming and I hope we get to stay.
MEDIA ROUNDUP FROM THE PRESS CONFERENCE
Vancouver Observer indepth interview – Mexican whistleblower Karla Lottini fights corruption, death threats and deportation
CBC – Journalist in B.C. fears deportation to Mexico
Georgia Straight – Mexican journalist facing deportation fears for safety
Canadian Press – Mexican journalist in B.C. fears for life if deported after exposing corruption
24 Hours – Mexican journalist fights to stay, fears for life
Global News National – Mexican journalist in B.C. fears for life if deported after exposing corruption
Sun News Network: Mexican journalist seeking asylum
Tyee – Mexican journalist in B.C. fears for life if deported after exposing corruption