Opinion / Corruption

To the Courageous Voices


Friday, March 24, 2023
Julia Gavarrete

Leer en español

Acceptance speech given in Valencia, Spain, on March 22, upon receiving the Ortega y Gasset Award for Best Story.

Many thanks to El País for this prize. Being here reaffirms our role as journalists. Lorena, Norma, and Gustavo exemplify the historical criminalization and abuse of power committed by the Salvadoran state.

In 2017, their family was accused of belonging to a gang. They were jailed without evidence, but were able to demonstrate their innocence. But after they did so, the state offered them no compensation for the harms they endured, like the days they spent in jail or the psychological trauma from being branded as gang members.

Today, under a state of exception now one year old, this family is reopening each and every one of their wounds from the past. In these times, which are no longer exceptional, they flee. They hide. They hide out of fear. They fear that they will be detained.

Why run if they have nothing to hide? Herein lies the title of this story: In today’s El Salvador governed by Nayib Bukele, there is no way to defend their innocence, let alone demonstrate it.

Anyone detained in this context is destined to begin a long, winding judicial process. Under the state of exception, more than 62,000 people have been incarcerated, accused by the government of belonging to terrorist groups.

This recognition reaffirms our commitment to telling the stories of a country that shows no mercy to its most vulnerable populations. The system fails them time and again; they have always been criminalized for the simple fact of being poor.

But none of this would be possible without the voices who dare to speak out, despite the hostile, tiresome context facing journalists in El Salvador.

Despite the fear, attacks, threats, intimidation, drones sent to our homes, or Pegasus spyware, we continue our work as journalists thanks to the courageous voices who grant us the privilege of telling their stories. I dedicate this recognition to each and every one of them. It is thanks to them that I am here this afternoon, resisting.

Many thanks for this Ortega y Gasset Award.

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