Carmen Aristegui, the renowned Mexican journalist behind blockbuster public corruption investigations into top government officials, will speak at the University of Texas on Tuesday.
Aristegui is the featured speaker for the Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latino Studies’ annual “Austin Lecture on Contemporary Mexico,” which invites public figures from that country to speak about current issues. Past speakers have included prominent historian Lorenzo Meyer, human rights activist Sergio Aguayo, political activist Marcela Lagarde and writer Javier Sicilia.
Aristegui is widely regarded as one of the top journalists in Mexico and is the leader of an investigative team that has broken the biggest stories on public corruption in the country in recent years. In March 2015, she and her team were fired from MVS Noticias after the radio station said the team used its logo on a whistle-blowing effort called MexicoLeaks without authorization.
The fired journalists were responsible for breaking the “White House scandal” that implicated the Mexican first lady in buying a house from a government contractor. The story, and subsequent follow-ups, raised questions about conflicts of interest involving the presidential family, and the journalists’ firing was seen by many as a reprisal for their aggressive coverage.
Aristegui and her news team, who now broadcast on CNN en Español and continue to write on their website and in some major Mexican newspapers, have given extensive coverage to the case of 43 students who vanished in the southern Mexican city of Iguala two years ago and are believed to have been attacked and arrested by local and federal police working with drug gangs and are presumed dead.
This year, Aristegui’s team published a story showing that Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto had plagiarized parts of his thesis project at the Universidad Panamericana in Mexico City.
Ariel Dulitzky, a human rights lawyer with extensive experience in Mexico and a UT law professor, nominated Aristegui as the speaker for the annual series.
“When I nominated Carmen, I was asking who in Mexico is a public figure who contributes to the public debate and is also making contributions to strengthen democracy and the rule of law,” Dulitzky said. “Carmen is that person. … She creates the space to have critical reflection on what is happening in Mexico, what the problems are and what the potential solutions are to those problems.”
Dulitzky, who has been interviewed by Aristegui for his human rights work, said she represents “independent journalists who are willing to investigate and show corruption, human rights abuses and the failure of the government.”
“Because of her work, she suffered some reprisals,” Dulitzky said. “It’s very important to recognize independent voices and Carmen is the best example of that.”
The lecture will begin at 5 p.m. in the Texas Union Theater room UNB 2.228. The event is free and open to the public. Seating will be given on a first-come, first-served basis.