this is bbc news with headlines. at least 65 people have been killed and flash floods in western europe. most were in germany. chancellor engler merkel described it as a catastrophe and linkage to climate change. the netherlands to eight netherlands were also affected. united nations has issued a stark warning about the return of the taliban in afghanistan. nato troops are preparing for the final withdrawal. the un describes the unfolding situation as a military and in one of the worst crisis in the world. the uk has recorded its highest daily figure of coronavirus daily figure of coronavirus daily cases in six months. the number of people being told to self—isolate in england and wales has also risen sharply. over half a million app users were pinned last weekjust days before restrictions could be lifted in england. thank you
for your company in last few hours bent will be here with the news at the top of the hour. let'sjoin the the news at the top of the hour. let's join the team for hardtalk. welcome to hardtalk. i'm stephen sackur. measured by the number of murders, mexico is the most dangerous country in the world to be a journalist. eight were killed last year, and countless more suffered threats, intimidation and violence. my guest, one of mexico's most prominentjournalists, lydia cacho, is, after decades of assault, death threats and at least one assassination attempt, currently in exile for her own safety. her particularfocus is the violence done to women in mexico and the failure of those in power to make good on promises of protection. so, can encourage overcome injustice?
lydia cacho in spain, welcome to hardtalk. hello, welcome, thank you, thank you so much. it's a great pleasure to have you on the show, lydia. i describe you as being in spain because you are currently living in a form of self—imposed exile from your home country, mexico, for your own personal safety. i just wonder if that situation has in any way changed your commitment to the work you do on human rights inside mexico. well, it has only made my work
a little more difficult, because i'm still doing interviews and investigating different criminal networks in latin america and here in europe, so that and covid, the pandemic, has made work a little more difficult, but it won't stop me, for sure. describe to me your mind—set. i call it a form of exile. are you absolutely determined in your own mind to go home? will you go home? yes, i hope i can go home when it's safe. i'm very aware of the real danger that i'm in right now. the dea agents that are investigating my case and different interpol agents and europol agents have told me that if i go back to mexico right now, i will be assassinated for sure, because there are hit
men waiting for me that had been paid and went into my home two years ago. so i am brave, but i'm not stupid, so i won't risk it. and i'm going to wait until it's safe to go back but i won't stop investigating and being a journalist. right. well, i do want to talk in detail about the case you refer to, perhaps the main reason why your life is under threat in mexico. but before we get to that, i just want to take you back to the beginnings of your journalistic career. what made you, as a young woman, gravitate to this work that you have done for so long now, looking into the sort of darkest corners of mexican society and culture? you must have known from the very beginning that that was going to be dangerous work. yes, idid.
it was a little more than 30 years ago that i began doing journalism in quintana roo, a mexican state south of the country. it's where cancun is and most people know it by cancun. and when i started investigating violence against women, what i wanted to talk about was violence against children, sexual violence, and not only perpetrated by their parents or their grandfathers or teachers or priests in the community, but they also wanted to talk about sexual violence perpetrated by tourists that went to cancun back then. and nobody was talking about that. and when i began this investigation, i was sort of prepared, because my mother was a feminist and she was also a psychologist and an activist, and she taught me how to get into activism on women's
rights, so you could say i was feminist since i was 15 years old. so when i began doing my investigations when i was 25, i was ready to understand the phenomena linked to tourism, what later came to be known as sexual tourism. but back then nobody was talking about that. so the first time somebody put a gun in my head because of an article i wrote was 25 years ago. that was when i knew that talking about violence against women was really dangerous. and not only were you an investigative journalist who wanted to uncover the truth, and i don't want to be intrusive about it, but you were also personally a victim, weren't you? because as a very young journalist, you've been open and frank about the fact that you were assaulted and raped. and for some people, that might have put them off digging deeper into this dark
world, but for you it didn't. well, i don't know, i have to thank my mother that really helped me, and all my family that were with me at the time. i was attacked physically and sexually back then because of some of my journalistic work. and, you know, ijust went through it, and i decided to write an article about what happened to me because i've always believed that sexual violence has a stigma on the victims, and it is time for us to say, "i do not deserve this." and it was a form of punishment for what i do. so i'm open about it because i have nothing to be ashamed of. the ones that should be ashamed are the rapists, not me. so, yes, ijust kept going. indeed. now, then, in 2004, 2005, you publicised, through a great
deal of investigative work, a shocking story in cancun, this tourist resort on the mexican coast. it involved a paedophile ring, the suffering of a large number of children who were being sexually abused, and at the heart of it was a local businessman who ultimately was locked up for a very long time. but when you started uncovering that case, and ultimately you wrote a book about it in 2005, did you appreciate just how many powerful interests you were going to upset? yes, actually, i did, because when i began covering this case, i had a tv programme back then, and i talked about it and then the very next day this man, jean succar kuri, who's now paying a sentence of 112 years in prison, he called me using his own name
and told me that he was going to kill me if i pursued the case, if i kept on investigating and talking about him. so i did know, and while i investigated him, ifound out there were senators, priests, bankers and very, very powerful businessmen from different countries that were involved in this international ring of child pornography. they were buying the children for $3,000 to be brought to cancun and be sexually abused and make pornography with them. so i knew it was an international network, and i kept talking about it, and i talked to my family and i told them this is going to be really dangerous, and i told my husband back then, my ex—husband, and, you know, ijust knew i had to do it. because it is actually the biggest criminal network ever investigated in mexico regarding child pornography
and child abuse, and that is something that had to be done. and your book caused a real stir inside mexico. and as you say, the businessman at the heart of this ring, mr succar kuri, was ultimately locked up for more than 100 years. but then, afterwards, other parts of the story started to unfold. for example, there was the tapes of phone calls involving a governor of a state in mexico, farfrom cancun, and a powerful businessman in mexico, who on these tapes appeared to be discussing you and the fact that you were to be detained and, well, let's say physically assaulted, for your work on this case. and that became a very crucial part of the story, and it affected your life for many years afterwards. absolutely.
before the tapes came out, i was kidnapped by the police, by a group of policemen. they accused me of libel, and after one year after being injail and tortured by them, i was able to prove that i was innocent, that there was no libel at all. and then i sued them back, there was a criminal case against them. and that is why right now they are arrested, they have been arrested, my torturers have been arrested, so i've been fighting them for 16 years for torturing me and persecuting me because of my journalistic work. now, it's interesting you say you've been fighting this fight for more than 15 years. what does that tell us about mexico's system?
the fact that we had powerful evidence from these phone tapes of important people who appeared to be implicated in a plot to detain you and physically assault you, and yet for many, many years, nothing happened. and at the same time, we were seeing journalists being threatened, intimidated and murdered every month, every year, inside mexico. what conclusions were you drawing at that time about the inability of the state to protect journalists like you? well, the fact that the inability of the state to protect anyone from crime, or a journalist, in particular, has a lot to do with the high level of impunity. in mexico, 98% of all crimes go unpunished. and what my case had demonstrated for everyone to understand is how these criminal networks are really linked to political power.
but maybe, lydia cacho, things are changing in mexico because the two individuals you have been talking about, the big businessman, mr nacif, and the former governor, mr marin, are both now facing charges for their alleged involvement in you being detained and tortured, as you put it. they vehemently deny those charges and those charges are going to be tested in court. so, maybe, that is one indication that, in the last couple of years, mexico has begun to change and to take these issues seriously. yes, yes, it certainly is. although it took a big effort on the part of article 19 organisation from london, in mexico, that helped
me bring my case to international courts... ..and to the inter—american court in washington, in orderfor the mexican government to react. so the international pressure has been key to solving this case and to getting these men arrested by interpol, because we have enough evidence to prove them guilty and, of course, they will have to defend themselves, but i'm sure i'm going to win. mm—hm. well, we obviously can't say whether you're going to win or not, but what does seem clear is that your story is emblematic of something much deeper in mexico. at the beginning, i referred to mexico being the world's most dangerous country for journalists. i believe last year eight journalists were murdered. do you think that many of your fellow journalists, in your home country, are simply too frightened to continue the sort of investigative work that you have been doing over the past two decade? absolutely.
one of the...effects of impunity in mexico, after all this violence, against journalists in particular, and human rights activists, has a lot to do with self—censorship. some of my colleagues, which i admire, have survived violence and kidnapping and other crimes. theyjust stop investigating because they cannot cope with it. it's not easy to do it. you really need a big network in order for you to feel safe and you need mental health... ..and many things in order to, you know, survive this pressure. it's a lot of pressure. manyjournalists might look at you and think, "my god, lydia cacho is crazy. "to go public in the way that she has "actually just increases the risk that she lives under" and of course, in the end, you had to flee the country. do you in any way regret
embracing publicity? some would even say embracing celebrity in the way you have? no, i do not, because when you fight the powers that be, that i've been fighting, you really have to be open and talk about it because some of my best friends, five have them have been assassinated in mexico. and before they were killed, they told me they had all these death threats, and they did amazing work as journalists, and they didn't want to go out in the open because they kept saying thatjournalists should not be the news, you know? we should cover them. and i understand that and i wish i could do that because it's more important to me, but in this case, i am sure i wouldn't be alive if i didn't go out and... ..tell the world what was happening and who were after me and selling little girls and boys in mexico.
so, you know, the celebrity thing, ifind it ridiculous, but it is the result of what happens when you go out in the open. on the other hand, what i do, as a journalist, has inspired a lot of young journalists, so i think that itjust... it'sjust important to keep on going... yes. but how much do you feel the loss, lydia, the loss of the ability to go deep... you know, undercover, in a sense, to expose the stories that you have exposed in the past? now, if you're in mexico, you have to travel with protection, with armed guards, you can't be the journalist that you once were, any more, can you? no, no, ican�*t, right now, especially, i can't. but two years, two and a half years ago, even when i had armed guards protecting me, i would escape them a couple of times in order to go investigate.
and yes, certainly, i had to dress up in certain cases when i'm investigating organised crime, but i keep doing it, i have my...ways. i'm a very good reporter, in that case. let's talk a little bit, if we may, about mexico's political leadership and president andres manuel lopez obrador, amlo, as many people call him. he came to power pledging to do more to protectjournalists, to protect human rights and to take on organised crime. i just wonder how you would judge him because, in recent months, he's actually been quite critical of some human rights groups for being anti—mexican and being in cahoots with the opposition to him, inside the country. do you believe he is making good on his promises? i don't, i do not believe he is making good. i think that he's the most honest president that we have ever had in mexico, for sure,
but he is attacking journalists every day, every day he does that publicly and he's attacking human rights activists. he has a sense of self that is enormous and he's so worried about any criticism and if a journalist investigates and criticises the system or any specific group of corrupted politicians that are linked to him, he immediately decides to defend them, and accuses everyone to try to organise a coup against him. in that sense, amlo has a lot of good things, for sure, but he also is acting like one of these presidents from the �*70s and he's absolutely convinced that america and... ..some international organisations are after him and trying to organise a coup against his government. i think he's absolutely wrong
about that, and he's making a lot of mistakes because of that fear that he has. i'm just looking at the arc of your career, lydia, and i'm wondering if you've changed your mind about the best way to engineer change in mexico, because, obviously, for decades, you were front and centre, you were a journalist, but in recent years, you've spent an awful lot of time on more human rights campaigning and activism. you're involved with various different human rights groups in mexico, you were a very strong and loud supporter, for example, of the decision by women's groups in mexico to undertake a strike, not so very long ago, a strike to publicise violence against women. do you think that kind of direct action, at the moment, in mexico, is more powerful than your investigative journalism? well, i don't. what i think... i've been a feminist since i was a teenager, as i told you before,
so being a human rights activist is my way of being a citizen in mexico, of being active about it, and then, journalism is my profession and i think they work pretty well together, and you know... ..because being an activist allows me to get in contact with many people, to understand different social movements, to learn more about human rights, then i bring that knowledge to myjournalistic work and the same way round, because when i write books and they translate them, and i travel around the world with them, and i talk about the cases i investigate, i find out how my books are affecting, possibly, a lot of people, helping them understand certain phenomena, like violence against women and femicide and child pornography or human trafficking.
so, i combine them. do you think there is any danger that you could be portrayed, by some, in mexico, as becoming anti—mexican? it's interesting that president obrador criticised the us state department report which asked... well, demanded that mexico do more to protectjournalists and he implied that this was, in some ways, becoming a nationalist battle to protect mexico's honour. you support the us when it demands more protection for human rights in mexico. is there a danger that some might see you as becoming anti—mexican? well, they might, they are entitled to their opinion, but i am nothing but pro—mexican in the sense that i defy... spend all my life defending mexican people, with my work, so i really don't mind. i don't worry about that. i don't worry about criticism.
and it's a big final thought to have, but how do you go about changing culture and society in mexico? and i'm thinking here about the degree to which you and many others point to statistics, the violence against women, the so—called femicide which is a shocking phenomenon in mexico, with 1,000 women per year, roughly, being killed simply for their gender. how do you go about changing that? we have created shelters for women, so before they are attacked, when they know they're in danger, they have a safe place to go because the state is not protecting women at all. they're not investing into protection and education on gender issues, and they're not persecuting the violent men and women that are attacking them or selling them. so it's a lot of things —
it's education on one hand, justice, persecuting justice, you know, every time we... ..are able to make... ..to win a case on violence against women or children, what we do is we show the way to deal with it. we know there are a lot of civil servants that are good people that are doing the right thing in a very corrupted environment, so we talk about corruption. we explain how it works. and i thinkjournalism is a great lantern to shed light into all these issues. just before we end, you said to me quite clearly you want to go back to mexico, you intend to when it's safe. do you think it ever will be, for you? well, i can only hope so, because all my family lives there and i really miss my family, so i wish i can go there. but i will be clever about it and i want to be safe.
i don't want to be a martyr or a victim. i am just a survivor of violence as many, many people in my country. lydia cacho, we thank you very much for joining us on hardtalk. thank you. thank you so much, stephen. our sunshine that we see believe it or not is linked to the extreme weather we've seen across other parts of europe. the flooding in germany for example. the flooding in germany for example. it's linked by the jet stream. this is the pattern that we've seen. a very undulating jet stream.
we've had low pressure bringing the rain across europe. eventually taking the rain away from germany. high—pressure will broiled in stop high—pressure will broiled in with the sunshine we had on thursday, temperatures in northern ireland reached 26 degrees, making it the warmest day of the year so far. it's going to be a warm start across belfast, temperatures at 16 degrees. we start with cloud across east anglia, but it will break up more readily. it's going to feel warmer. sunshine across england and wales. there will be spells of sunshine for northern ireland, but across scotland, more of a breeze and more cloud. sunnier skies and warmer weather for eastern parts of scotland and across england and wales, 26—27 degrees. it'll be a warmer day for the eastern side of england. high pressure in charge in the weekend. around the top of the area of high pressure, winds are coming in from the atlantic.
stronger winds of scotland again on saturday, and that will drag in more cloud and a little more drizzle. the cloud in northern ireland will tend to break up and will get sunshine coming in across other parts of scotland. lots of sunshine and light winds across england and wales. temperatures continuing to climb up to around 27 or 28 degrees. temperatures in scotland and northern ireland probably not changing too much at this stage. as we head into that second half of the weekend, we see more cloud coming down across scotland and northern ireland, perhaps into northern england. a change of air mass which will drop the temperatures. lots of sunshine for the southern half of the uk. temperatures could reach 29 or 30 degrees. you can see those lower temperatures as you had further north. as we head into the beginning next week, maybe one or two showers. but that cooler air in the north will be pushing its way further south.
this is bbc news with the latest headlines for viewers in the uk and around the world. i'm ben boulos. flash floods kill at least 70 people in western europe, thousands across germany, the netherlands and belgium have been forced to leave their homes. be more heavy rain is on the way. the united nations has warned fighting and hunger has made afghanistan one of the worst crises in the world. in afghanistan one of the worst crises in the world.— crises in the world. in recent weeks, crises in the world. in recent weeks. this _ crises in the world. in recent weeks, this has _ crises in the world. in recent weeks, this has become - crises in the world. in recent weeks, this has become a i weeks, this has become a frontline. the spaces that people can run two for safety are shrinking every day here. south africa's deadly unrest enters a second week. 25,000