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International recognition offers a degree of protection to investigative reporters. But, writes Lydia Cacho, being in the limelight presents a new set of dilemmas

The first call is the one you never forget. The person uttering the death threat has spent days preparing for this moment – to let you know that your fate is sealed. Up until this phone call, or email, threats were something ethereal and alien, something that happened to other people.

Over time, I learned what many journalists and writers have learned before me: that becoming the news is a double-edged sword. It can weaken and wound; it unsettles us and sets us apart from our colleagues and loved ones. The threats somehow become as important as the original story.

This dilemma dominates the rest of our lives, because for us to come through safely we need to be out there, in public, and never be silenced. At the same time, we have to always remain on guard, watching our backs, alert whenever we see a police or military patrol, reacting instantly to any sound resembling a shot, tensing every time a motorcycle accelerates or approaches, permanently on the lookout for a weapon in case the rider is a hit man. And on and on, we have to proclaim to the four winds, until we’re fed up with doing so – and everyone else is fed up with us too – the name of the mafioso, the politician, the policeman or the corrupt businessman who


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