Adela Navarro Bello

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Adela Navarro Bello
Born 1968
Tijuana, Baja California
Nationality Mexican
Occupation journalist
Organization Zeta
Awards CPJ International Press Freedom Award (2007)
Courage in Journalism Award (2011)

Adela Navarro Bello (born 1968 in Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico)[1] is a Mexican journalist and the general director of the Tijuana weekly magazine Zeta.[2] Zeta, which was founded in 1980, is one of the few publications that frequently reports on organized crime, drug trafficking, and corruption in Mexico's border cities. Multiple editors and reporters working for Zeta have been murdered, including Héctor Félix Miranda, co-founder of Zeta, and co-editor Francisco Ortiz Franco.[2]

Early life[edit]

Navarro's passion for writing dated to her childhood, spent in a house filled with books.[3] Her father, a rug seller, read at least four newspapers a day.[4]

In college, she majored in communications. During her time there, Jesús Blancornelas, a well-known Tijuana investigative journalist, came to lecture, and Navarro asked him for a job covering politics for his magazine Zeta.[3] Navarro was hired in 1990,[4] and Blancornelas became her mentor.[3]

Navarro is married to Carlos Mora, another Tijuana native and an executive with the hotel chain Mayan Resorts; the two met in 1998 while Mora was running for the Tijuana City Council. She declines to confirm whether she has children for safety reasons.[3]

Journalism career[edit]

Prior to assuming the directorship of Zeta, Navarro worked as a reporter for the magazine, covering the Chiapas conflict in 1994. She also contributed a column to the magazine, "Sortilegioz" ("Charms").[2][5] Though her early reporting focused on Mexico's long-time ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), she also began to report on corruption in the National Action Party (PAN) after its members assumed office.[3] In 1994, Navarro became the first woman on the paper's five-person editing staff.[4]

Blancornelas died of cancer in 2006, leaving control of the magazine to Navarro and his son, César René Blanco Villalón.[3] Wearied by the deaths of several of his editors, Blancornelas had begun to doubt Zeta's ability to foster change, and had considered closing the magazine with his death, but Navarro and Blanco persuaded him to let the magazine continue.[6]

As the magazine's new director, Navarro continued Blancornelas' tradition of high-risk reporting on organized crime, stating that "Every time a journalist self-censors, the whole society loses".[4] She oversaw an investigation of former Tijuana mayor Jorge Hank Rhon, whose guards had murdered Zeta columnist and co-founder Héctor Félix Miranda.[7][8] Following Hank's arrest in 2011 on illegal weapons charges, the magazine published the details and serial numbers of the 88 guns found in his home; the issue sold out, and the number of page views caused the magazine's website to crash. Though Hank was released for lack of evidence, Navarro continued to press for his arrest for involvement in the Félix murder.[8]

Zeta was criticized in 2009 and 2010 for being too sympathetic to the Mexican Army and failing to cover its alleged human rights abuses; the magazine named an army general its "person of the year" in each year.[3][9]

In January 2010, US law enforcement notified Navarro of death threats from the Tijuana Cartel, causing the Mexican government to assign her seven soldiers as bodyguards.[3] One month later, ten people were arrested for plotting a grenade attack against Zeta's offices.[8]

Awards and recognition[edit]

In 2007, Navarro won an International Press Freedom Award from the Committee to Protect Journalists. The award is given for journalists who show courage in defending press freedom in the face of attacks, threats or imprisonment. CPJ also produced a short video about Navarro Bello and Zeta.[2][10] She is also the recipient of a 2011 International Women's Media Foundation Courage in Journalism award.[8]

In 1999, Navarro was commissioned by the U.S. Department of State to undertake a six-city U.S. tour with the theme of "migration".[5] She has also been awarded the 2008 Prize Ortega y Gasset, given by the country of Spain; the 2009 International Prize of Freedom of the Press, given by Editorial Perfil, Argentina; and the Anna Politkovskaja Prize, Festival Internazionale a Ferrara, Italia in 2009.[11] In 2010, the Missouri School of Journalism awarded her its Missouri Honor Medal for Distinguished Service in Journalism.[3]

In 2012, she was named by Foreign Policy magazine to the FP Top 100 Global Thinkers.[12] The following year, she was listed among the "50 Most Powerful Women in Mexico" by Forbes magazine.[13]

Navarro and Zeta are profiled in the Bernardo Ruiz documentary Reportero.[14]


  1. ^ "Adela Navarro Bello". Internazionale (in Italian). 2009. Archived from the original on 26 August 2012. Retrieved 26 August 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c d "CPJ to Honor Five Journalists". The Committee to Protect Journalists. 2007. Archived from the original on 26 August 2012. Retrieved 26 August 2012. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i Peter Rowe (26 August 2012). "A Mexican journalist in the crosshairs". U-T San Diego. Archived from the original on 26 August 2012. Retrieved 26 August 2012. 
  4. ^ a b c d Anne-Marie O'Connor (26 October 2011). "In treacherous Tijuana, editor Adela Navarro Bello's risks are life-or-death". Washington Post. Retrieved 10 February 2012. 
  5. ^ a b Bill Manson (23 September 1999). "Adela Does America". The San Diego Reader. Retrieved 10 April 2012. 
  6. ^ Adrian Florido (16 March 2012). "'Reportero' Film Highlights Dangers For Journalists In Mexico". Fronteras. Archived from the original on 26 August 2012. Retrieved 26 August 2012. 
  7. ^ Hector Tobar (24 November 2006). "Jesus Blancornelas, 70; writer exposed actions of drug cartels". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 25 August 2012. 
  8. ^ a b c d "International Women's Media Foundation Courage in Journalism Awards". 2011. Archived from the original on 26 August 2012. Retrieved 26 August 2012. 
  9. ^ "Tijuana newspaper uncowed by drug cartels". MSN News. 4 March 2012. Archived from the original on 26 August 2012. Retrieved 27 August 2012. 
  10. ^ "Benefit Videos – Adela Navarro Bello". Committee to Protect Journalists. Retrieved 10 April 2012. 
  11. ^ "Adela Navarro Bello". World Justice Forum. Retrieved 10 April 2012. 
  12. ^ "The FP Top 100 Global Thinkers". Foreign Policy. 28 November 2012. Archived from the original on 28 November 2012. Retrieved 28 November 2012. 
  13. ^ "Adela Navarro, entre las 50 mujeres más poderosas de México". Zeta (magazine) (in Spanish). 25 September 2013. Archived from the original on 10 October 2013. Retrieved 10 October 2013. 
  14. ^ "Reportero". PBS. 2012. Archived from the original on August 25, 2012. Retrieved August 25, 2012. 

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