By Johnny Hernandez
SAN ANTONIO -- "The most dangerous place in the world is not in Pakistan, Afghanistan or Iran, it is on the border...Juarez...the most dangerous city in the world," said Alejandro Junco, owner of Grupo Reforma, at Thursday's World Affairs Council of San Antonio luncheon.
As the high profile owner of the largest newspaper conglomerate in Mexico, publishing three of the country's most powerful newspapers--El Norte, Reforma and Mural--Junco has dedicated his life to freedom of speech and professional journalism.
Junco currently lives in Texas with his family, but remembers growing up in a tumultuous country settled in fear and lawless intimidation by drug cartel rivalries.
"The Mexico in which I grew up was shackled and muzzled," Junco recalls. "It was shackled by a one-party system, lack of accountability, and muzzled by vested interests. Powerful people stopped newspapers from printing the truth and sweetheart deals lined the pockets of the privileged."
In his teens, Junco came to the United States to study, where he learned much about freedom of speech and journalism. He took what he learned and returned home, surrounding himself with like-minded people who believed that Mexico could become a better place to live and work with freedom of speech and democracy.
"We started by remaking our own newsroom, turning our reporters into professional journalists--no bribes, no kickbacks-- just the truth, printed without fear or favor," said Junco.
As a matter of fact, journalism teachers from Texas traveled to Mexico to train Junco's rookie reporters and transformed them into journalists of Woodward and Bernstein caliber. Many supporters have even volunteered to sell Junco's newspapers out on the streets, knowing that the dangers are always near.