Mexican journalist María Elena Ferral died on March 30 after being shot in the eastern state of Veracruz, according to police sources.
Today, Mexican journalist and DW laureate Anabel Hernández said in a DW interview: "Like other murdered journalists María Elena had previously reported threats against her. The authorities failed to guarantee her the possibility of doing her job and staying alive. It cannot be tolerated that they also fail to quickly find those responsible."
The attack on Ferral took place shortly after 2 p.m. local time in the municipality of Papantla, in the north of the state. According to reports, it was a direct attack on the correspondent of the Diario de Xalapa, belonging to the Organización Editorial Mexicana, one of the most established media in the state.
Witnesses reported that the journalist was walking through the city center to her vehicle when she was stopped by a person on a motorcycle and fired at at least six times. Ferral was hit by three bullets: in the arm, the leg and the abdomen. She was taken to a local hospital, where she died hours later.
Press freedom in times of the coronavirus
Anabel Hernández, who had to leave her country several years ago following death threats and now lives in Europe, said: "In the midst of the health emergency in Mexico caused by the coronavirus, the cowardly murder of fellow journalist María Elena Ferral in Veracruz should trigger a red alert to the Mexican government, and particularly to the mechanisms for protecting journalists and human rights defenders that exist in Mexico."
Hernández: "It's dangerous enough to practice journalism in Mexico. The government must send a clear message that it will not allow this health crisis to become an unpunished field for killing or disappearing journalists who question power through their work."
Newspaper journalist attacked earlier this month
On March 11, the editorial director of the newspaper La Opinión de Poza Rica, Mireya Ulloa Valencia, was slightly injured with a knife. The newspaper, which circulates in the northern part of Veracruz, reported that its editor was attacked outside her home.
According to institutions such as Reporters Without Borders (RSF), the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPI) and the NGO Article 19, 131 journalists have been murdered in Mexico since the year 2000 and in 2019 more journalists were killed than in any other country. Ten people lost their lives while nobody has been punished. In Veracruz, 23 journalists have been killed since 2010, the State Commission for the Attention and Protection of Journalists reports.
In regard to Mexico currently struggling to fight the coronavirus, Hernández said that "in addition to the government's already habitual indifference and insensitivity to the killing of journalists, the situation is worse when those who want to silence journalists know that at this moment the public attention is elsewhere and not in the defense of freedom of expression and the right to information."