Tere Montaño is a reporter with 30 years of experience working in the State of Mexico. She has distinguished herself by investigating political corruption in her state like few others. At the same time, she has also lived first-hand the violence Mexican journalists are exposed to.
She has been kidnapped; she has suffered harassment, threats, job insecurity and censorship. Her state is a reflection of the criminality prevailing at the national level with complex circles of violence, including femicides.
“I have been a fixer without knowing I was one. The first time they came looking for me it was some journalists from Spain, from El País (newspaper). I helped them several times. I don’t remember who gave them my number, but with all good intentions I helped them with the contacts I had at hand,” she recalls.
Tere remembers the exact date foreign journalists started looking for her more frequently. It was on June 30, 2014 when a group of soldiers murdered 22 civilians in San Pedro Limón, Tlatlaya, State of Mexico, near the border with the state of Guerrero.
“I put the compañeros in contact with other compañeros so that they could go together to the most dangerous areas of the state,” she says.
Tere did not know the term fixer at first. Like many other local journalists, she has shared generously with other colleagues what she has learned over many years of experience.
In her career as a local journalist she has encountered obstacles—lawsuits and other legal issues—that have kept her from publishing in national outlets. Early on in her fixer career she understood that her work as such must be fairly compensated.
Unable to find work in publications in the State of Mexico, she maintains her portal, The Observer, a bilingual medium that verifies and qualifies the statements of government officials. But this work is insufficient to cover her expenses. So, along with her journalistic work, she runs a lunch shop.
For Tere, the COVID-19 pandemic worsened job insecurity in the State of Mexico. Violence continues, but in her opinion, seeking other sources of income is a matter of survival.