After armed men snatched her from her home, Mexican journalist Anabel Flores Salazar ended up dead, her body discarded along a highway — the latest example of the dangers facing media in parts of Mexico.
The attorney general’s office for Puebla state reported that a woman’s body had been found naked and bound, with her head wrapped in a plastic bag.
On Tuesday, the same office in neighboring Veracruz state identified Flores Salazar as the slain woman.
Around 2 a.m. the day before, the journalist — who covered crime, justice and other stories for a local newspaper — was abducted by gunmen who’d come to her house looking for her, the Veracruz attorney general’s office said.
Witnesses said that someone who lived there let the assailants in, according to the same office. Flores Salazar’s aunt, Sandra Luz Salazar, told the Committee to Protect Journalists that the eight or more armed assailants dressed in what looked like military uniforms came in. They claimed they had a warrant for the reporter’s arrest and forced her into one of three gray trucks parked outside, the aunt said.
“We pleaded with them not to take her,” the aunt said. “I told them that she recently had a baby.”
Veracruz Governor Javier Duarte later tweeted that Flores Salazar’s kidnappers got away in stolen vehicles.
Mexico’s Special Prosecutor for Crimes against Freedom of Expression will investigate her abduction and death, according to the federal attorney general’s office.
Slain journalist’s last interview: Veracruz ‘lawless state’
The Committee to Protect Journalists ranks Mexico as one of the world’s most dangerous places for journalists, a threat largely attributed to the strength of organized crime, including powerful drug cartels, in the country and government authorities’ challenge in stopping them. Since 2011, in fact, 11 journalists have been killed “in direct retaliation for their work,” according to the advocacy group.
The perils are particularly pronounced in Veracruz. CPJ says that six of Mexico’s 11 confirmed deaths over the past five years occurred in the Gulf Coast state. That number does not include the murders, for unclear motives, of at least seven other journalists and three more who have gone missing.
Last summer, photojournalist Ruben Espinosa left Veracruz because the violence targeting media there had made it “complicated to do journalism,” He said in his last recorded interview.
Espinosa sought refuge in Mexico City. He was among five found shot to death in an apartment in the nation’s capital, according to officials and press freedom advocacy groups.
“I had to leave [Veracruz] because it was not a direct threat, but I got the message,” Espinosa said in the interview, with outlet RompeViento. “It was just recently when students were attacked and brutally beaten with machetes. In these situations, we can’t do less with any type of aggression or intimidation because we don’t know what might happen. Veracruz is a lawless state.”