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Credit: Argentina – Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP/Getty Images

Anabel Flores Salazar

The journalist Anabel Flores Salazar was 32 years old when she was abducted by armed men in police uniforms from her apartment in Veracruz, Mexico, on the night of 9 February 2016. The next morning, the young woman’s half-naked body was found in a ditch on the highway, around half an hour’s drive from her apartment. She had been strangled. Anabel Flores Salazar worked as a journalist for the local newspaper El Sol de Orizaba. Uncomfortable topics were her speciality in a country that is anything but comfortable for journalists.

Six years previously she had started out as an intern, and had worked as a journalist ever since. Before Anabel Flores Salazar joined El Sol de Orizaba, she wrote for various different papers as a freelancer. She reported on car accidents, police work and homicides, and in doing so, she often found connections between violent crimes involving young girls and the drug cartels in the surrounding area. She used the word “femicide” in her articles here, often used in English to refer to violence against girls and women resulting in death. Up until her own death, the journalist had frequently reported on the mysterious deaths of teenage girls in Veracruz.

It was assumed that Anabel Flores Salazar’s murder was connected with the local drug trade.

Two other bodies were found on the same day.

Both were in connection with a story that she was researching before her death, reports the American website The Daily Beast. 

The police investigated all avenues and examined possible correlations. They believed she had had contact with the gangster boss of a drug cartel, but Anabel Flores Salazar was merely sitting with her family in the same restaurant when he was arrested in 2014. Her aunt stated that she would not have had contact with this man.

Anabel Flores Salazar wrote about topics that many Mexican journalists avoid and for which they impose a kind of self-censorship out of fear and for their own protection. The east Mexican province from which Anabel Flores Salazar came is considered to be the “most dangerous place in the western hemisphere” for journalists according to a statement by the Director of RWB Germany Christian Mihr. In the past six years alone, 17 journalists have been killed in the Mexican federal state.

The journalists live in a repressive state with a corrupt justice system, surrounded by violent drug dealers. It is primarily the geographical location of Veracruz that is responsible for this: the federal state lies between the capital Mexico City and the Gulf of Mexico and contains the most important port in the country, making it a transshipment point for organised crime, with the drug trade flourishing in particular. State protection programmes are almost entirely ineffective, and often the authorities and organised crime work together. Time and again, journalists and human rights activists are caught in the crossfire.

According to research by Reporters Without Borders, since 2000 more than 80 media representatives have been murdered in Mexico, and many others have been abducted or have disappeared.

In 2016 ten people were killed for doing their jobs.

They researched, wrote, reported: about the drug trade, corruption, the amalgamation of politics and organised crime. Only in Syria are the numbers higher, with eleven journalists killed.

Mexico is currently 147th – out of 180 – in the Press Freedom Index. This year too, three journalists have already been killed in Mexico and their deaths are evidently directly linked to their work.

Anabel Flores Salazar left behind a husband, a two-week-old baby and a four-year-old son. On her Facebook page, which remains active, there is a quote in Spanish: “When I wanted to give up, you came into my life.” In the background a couple stands against the light.

 

written by Melanie Reinsch, editor of the DuMont-Hauptstadtredaktion 

 

  • Credit : Ronaldo Schemidt/ AFP/ Getty Images

    Anabel Flores Salazar

    Mexico has the second largest number of murdered journalists after Syria. One of them was the Mexican and mom of two Anabel Flores Salazar. She worked as a journalist for six years, one of her main focuses being criminal acts, murder included. Before she got killed she worked for the local newspaper “El Sol de Orizaba”. Orizaba is based in the state of Veracruz, which used to be a secure state, but now it is the second most dangerous in Mexico due to massive drug-related crimes.