Jenni Rivera had a secret she hoped would never be revealed.
The Mexican-American superstar of banda music, who died seven years ago at age 43, was getting death threats before the plane crash that took her life and that of several others on Dec. 9, 2012.
In a chilling, never-before-aired interview with Mexican radio personality Pepe Garza, the California-born Rivera opened up about that experience and how it haunted her.
The 35-minute video, titled “Jenni Rivera’s Goodbye, The Interview Never Published,” was posted on Garza’s YouTube channel, “Pepe’s Office,” on Monday. It shows Rivera’s children, Chiquis and Johnny, sitting across from the radio personality, waiting to hear for the first time the audio interview, which was recorded July 27, 2012.
Garza recalls that day when Rivera, who was visiting the studio, asked him to interview her immediately. She was clear that she wanted the private conversation to be between only the two of them.
“It’s an interview where she reveals many things that are not very clear yet. ... She asked me to interview her because she had received death threats and she wanted to leave a testimony that this was happening in case something happened to her,” Garza said in Spanish. “I’ve let many years go by since Jenni’s death, and something in my heart told me this was the year to reveal and share this.”
In the interview, Rivera talked about multiple death threats she received via email, phone calls and message boards. She recounted in detail a specific instance where the FBI got involved because of threats that she’d be kidnapped and killed if she attended a concert in Reynosa, Tamaulipas, Mexico.
“It’s a risk that you’re taking, and you ask yourself, ‘Why do you keep doing this?’ And in reality, one thing leads to the next and you never stop doing it, but I do it because I love what I do and the love I have for the public,” Rivera is heard saying, also in Spanish.
During a pause, Chiquis recalled how her mother was warned not to go to a certain city in Mexico because they’d kill her. “But she said, ‘Too bad. I’m going. I believe in God,’” she said.
Despite the threats, their mother was never visibly nervous, said Johnny. “She always tried to be strong for us,” he said. Though Rivera almost never talked to her family about the death threats, she’d remind them to take care of themselves and to remember “where the money’s at.”
Reflecting on her career, Rivera talked about shifting her attention away from singing and her dream of having her own TV and radio shows in Los Angeles so she could be closer to her fans. Rivera was born and raised in Long Beach.
In an emotional closing statement, Rivera sent a final goodbye to her fans, family and friends.
“What I do is so important to me, Pepe, and I’m a very brave and determined woman,” Rivera said. “That’s why I’m here. Nobody knows. Not even my family knows ... not my friends or companions. And that’s how I want it to be because I don’t want to scare more people.
“We don’t need more chaos in the world. ... I believe in an almighty God who has carried me forward in many aspects of my life, and I trust that he’ll take me out of this, too.”