Rocío Gallegos and Sandra Rodríguez on Mexican Drug Violence

"Good evening.

It is for us an incredible honor to be surrounded by so many distinguished colleagues, and to receive this recognition along with outstanding journalist and filmmaker Thet Sambath.

Tonight, we want to say thank you to the International Center for Journalists, Knight Foundation and to all those who recognize the dangerous state of journalism in Mexico.

The violence is overwhelming, especially in our city. There have been 8,000 killings in less than four years.

Still, we show up every day to report because as journalists it is our duty. We have a responsibility to investigate this violence.

It has been a challenge in many ways. The situation is hard to understand, to measure and to expose. It also is difficult for us to carry on – and survive.

Journalists are killed with impunity in our country. Two of our colleagues were shot and killed. Many Mexican reporters are asking for political asylum in the U.S.

Most of the time, we don’t even know where the threat is coming from. Sometimes it is from drug traffickers. Other times it is from police officers, soldiers or politicians with links to organized crime.

One of the most difficult parts of our job has been to report on the killings of two reporters: Luis Carlos Santiago and our friend Armando Rodríguez.

We all are unprotected in a city where killers have no fear of being punished. And we have been scared many times.

It also has been hard to protect our hearts. The collective pain sometimes is unbearable in our city.

But we keep reporting because this is the most important story of our lives.

We also feel that we – the local reporters – understand Juárez. We understand the specific problems of the border. We see how immigration, free trade, drugs, corruption, poverty and a weak judicial system – together have caused this extreme violence.

We hold the keys to explaining all of this. So it is our job to keep reporting on what has made Juárez the deadliest city in North America – and probably in the world.

Again, thanks so much to the International Center for Journalists for helping us bring the trauma of our community to a broader audience, and for giving us the opportunity to celebrate this meaningful work. This award is a symbol of international support to keep reporting the story with a thoughtful mind and a committed heart. It has turned our days of tension into a life-changing experience.

We want to thank our beloved families. They sustain us with their unconditional love and understanding. They pray for us and show pride in what we do.

We also want to thank our comrades at El Diario. They share this heavy load and give us perspective.

Finally, we must express the great love we have for our community of Juárez. Its people only want to work and live in safety and dignity.

To them, with all of our hearts, we want to say thank you very much. Muchas gracias."