Why Univision Rejected ‘El Chapo’ Interview

By Mark Joyella 

When Rolling Stone announced it would publish Sean Penn‘s interview of drug kingpin Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, Univision journalist Gerardo Reyes says he felt “as if I had lost a long and grueling obstacle race.”

Reyes, director of the network’s investigative unit, had worked for years to secure an interview with Guzmán, a process that began in 2013 when a confidential source delivered a message: Guzmán had agreed to an on-camera sit down interview. With a catch. “In accepting our interview request, Guzmán had made a request of his own: everything that made it to air would have to be approved by him,” Reyes writes in The Washington Post.

Ultimately, Univision rejected the interview:


In Miami, we discussed Guzmán’s offer and quickly came to the conclusion that we could not subject our work to revisions by the subject of our reporting. We sent that message to Guzmán and essentially turned down an interview with the world’s most wanted and perhaps powerful fugitive.

A month after El Chapo escaped from prison last year, he again offered to do a television interview–recorded, he told Univision, on his own cameras. Again, Univision declined. Reyes writes he was stung by news of the Rolling Stone interview, but he wouldn’t change his decisions. “I never regretted rejecting Guzman’s conditions because I knew the capo would omit so much, especially his role in Mexico’s violent drug wars.”