In defense of the facts

A few days from the end of 2021, marked by the manipulation of public opinion in Mexico and in the world, the defense of facts as a necessary condition for democracy and peace, enunciated by María Ressa and Dimitri Muratov when receiving the Nobel Prize de la Paz, inspires to reflect and imagine ways to a better future

In announcing the recognition of two journalists who founded independent media, persecuted by authoritarian governments, the Norwegian Nobel Committee highlighted “their efforts to safeguard freedom of expression, which is a necessary condition for democracy and lasting peace” and recognized through them to all journalists who practice their profession in increasingly difficult conditions.

The importance of documenting the facts to preserve democracy and the possibility of working for a “fairer, more egalitarian and more compassionate world” (Ressa), and of stopping “progress without freedom” and the exaltation of war (Muratov) , recall the reflections of Hannah Arendt on the political uses of the fallacy, the lie and the silences imposed around the Vietnam War revealed by the Pentagon Papers. If the philosopher had already lucidly warned of the dire effects of collusion between the media and politics to justify war, military spending and the useless death of thousands of people, Ressa and Muratov alluded in their speeches to current circumstances that make it more urgent, and difficult, today the investigation and dissemination of the facts, freedom of expression and the defense of independent media against digital manipulation and the continuous exaltation of war and conflict.

María Ressa, founder of the news portal Rappler, a leader in the media resistance to the criminal government of Duterte in the Philippines, denounced the political repression against journalists, human rights defenders and ethical jurists, who threatens herself with judicial accusations that They could sentence her to a hundred years in prison. He especially criticized the promotion of false news, hatred and polarization that, for profit, are carried out by digital companies that control social networks, Facebook in particular, to “reduce human will” and modify behavior. Against this conjunction of corporations that dehumanize and governments that kill and imprison, Ressa maintains a hope in the good that human beings do and can do if they distinguish good from evil and choose the right side. His forceful argument that “without facts there can be no truth, without truth there can be no trust, without trust there is no shared reality, no democracy” and that without these we will not be able to face climate change or maintain “the fight for truth”, can synthesize the urgency of imagining individual and collective actions to preserve or build a common base from shared verifiable knowledge. Having to explain in the 21st century that vaccines protect or that mega-projects destroy biodiversity or that war kills seems ridiculous, but today it is an ethical act in the face of systematic misinformation.

Freedom of expression, thought and information are also essential in the defense of peace, as explained by Dimitri Muratov, founder of Novaya Gazeta (1993), an agency that has already lost several colleagues at the hands of the Russian regime. Although he alluded above all to the Russian imperial-patriotic discourse, in particular to Russia’s warlike threat against Ukraine, his denunciation that “today’s ideologues promote the idea of ​​dying for your country, not living for your country” reveals barbarism that hides the exaltation of the “heroic sacrifice” for the Fatherland, the Cause or the Leader.

Telling the facts, seeking the truth, showing the reality of torture, clandestine graves, femicidal misogyny, environmental devastation, has cost the lives of many journalists in Mexico. By exercising freedom of the press they defend democracy.


Lucia Melgar

Cultural criticism


She is a professor of literature and gender and cultural criticism. Doctor in Latin American literature from the University of Chicago (1996), with a master’s degree in history from the same University (1988) and a bachelor’s degree in social sciences (ITAM, 1986).

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