In December 2013, Anabel Hernández’s home was broken into by a group of masked men. Hernández and her family were away but the men ransacked her home, rifled through her bedroom and threatened her neighbors. After that, it became clear to the journalist of 22 years that she could no longer remain in Mexico.

“I wanted a dignified exit from Mexico, one where I could continue to work in journalism,” Hernández said last week before giving a talk on political violence in Mexico.

Photo by Dylan Foster.
Photo by Dylan Foster.

Hernández explained that the Mexican government has been working with drug cartels, specifically the Sinaloa Cartel, for years. Her extensive investigations into the corruption of the Mexican government and its deep collusion with the drug cartels has put her in significant danger.

After investigating corruption within Mexico’s federal police in 2008, Hernández began to receive death threats. She traced most back to Genaro García Luna, the federal chief of police, who had put a hit out on her. The home invasion was the last straw for her, prompting her to move to California for a yearlong fellowship with the UC Berkeley Investigative Reporting Program (IRP).

Third-year graduate student Michael Wilson invited Hernández to speak about the mass kidnapping of 43 Mexican students last September. With the help of another IRP fellow, Hernández released a report last December proving federal police worked with municipal police to carry out the kidnapping.

“The government remains static in its lie,” Hernández said. “The more it lies, the less likely it is going to want to move forward because moving would mean recognizing everything else was a lie.”

Wilson felt it was appropriate to bring more discussion to UC Santa Cruz in light of recent student-organized actions to stand in solidarity with Mexican people, as well as the formation of California Students for Ayotzinapa – UCSC Collective.

“We’re U.S. citizens and ostensibly we live in a democratic society,” Wilson said. “We have a lot of people who are conscious — politically and socially — in this school and there is a lot of potential in universities in general across the world for social change. These are factories for revolution.”