Mexico. Woman journalist gunned down in Mexico’s Vera Cruz state
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls for an exhaustive investigation into Mexican reporter Maria Elena Ferral Hernández’s murder yesterday in the eastern state of Veracruz and for better protection for journalists in this state, one of the dangerous in Mexico for the media. Ferral was the first journalist to be murdered in Mexico this year.
She was gunned down on a street in Papantla, the town in the north of the state where she lived and worked. She had just emerged from a meeting with her lawyer when masked men on a motorcycle fired eight shots at her. She was rushed to the nearest hospital where she died a few hours later.
The Papantla correspondent for the regional newspapers Diario de Xalapa and El Heraldo de Poza Rica and founder of the Quinto Poder de Veracruz news website, Ferral often covered kidnappings and enforced disappearances, some of which were blamed on the local police.
She told the Veracruz State Commission for the Attention and Protection of Journalists (CEAPP) several times in 2016 that she had been threatened and subjected to intimidation attempts by regional politicians. The Commission granted her protection (a bodyguard and a GPS device) but the Veracruz secretary for public security withdrew the protection in 2017 without consulting the Commission on the grounds that she was not making “good use” of it.
“The Veracruz authorities must conduct an exhaustive investigation into this shocking murder, prioritizing the hypothesis that she was killed in connection with her work, and must ensure that her family and her colleagues are protected,” said Emmanuel Colombié, the head of RSF’s Latin America bureau. “This latest murder is yet further evidence of the urgent need for Mexico’s federal authorities to completely overhaul the system for protecting journalists throughout the country.”
Ferral was the 18th woman journalist to be murdered in Mexico since 2005. Mireya Ulloa, the editorial director of the newspaper La Opinión de Poza Rica, narrowly survived a murder attempt on 11 March outside her home in Poza Rica, a city 25 km west of Papantla.
Ten journalists were murdered in connection with their work last year in Mexico, which is one of the world’s most dangerous countries for the media and is ranked 144th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2019 World Press Freedom Index.