Members of the press stand by their working tools as they protest violence against journalists at the border by a sign that reads in Spanish "Limit of the Mexican Republic" in Tijuana, Mexico, 7 Aug 2010
Members of the press stand by their working tools as they protest violence against journalists at the border by a sign that reads in Spanish "Limit of the Mexican Republic" in Tijuana, Mexico, Aug. 7, 2010.

Prosecutors in Mexico are vowing to punish the person or persons who gunned down a newspaper journalist earlier this week. 

Maria Elena Ferral, a correspondent for the Diario de Xalapa in the eastern state of Veracruz, was shot several times Monday in the city of Papantla. She died several hours later.  

Police say a group of gunmen on motorbikes shot the journalist as she was getting into her car. 

Ferral had complained in the past that she had received death threats and been harassed on numerous occasions.  

The journalist had previously been enrolled in a state protection program after receiving threats from a politician, Jan-Albert Hootsen, the Mexico representative for the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists, said. The protection measures ended in 2017. 

Hootsen told VOA that Ferral had received threats recently, but it was unclear who made the threats or the reason for them.  

Veracruz state is plagued by drug violence and police corruption, and is one of the most violent states in Mexico.  

At least 23 journalists have been killed in Veracruz state since CPJ began keeping records in 1992. Of those, at least seven were killed in direct retaliation for their reporting.  

“Journalists reporting on corruption, crime and violence are extremely vulnerable,” Hootsen told VOA.  

“Despite the existence of the CEAPP and a state prosecutor for crimes against the press, the state government has done little in terms of policies to solve the press freedom crisis in the state,” he said, referring to the Veracruz State Commission for Attention and Protection of Journalists (CEAPP). 

The Veracruz attorney general issued a statement saying it would investigate the murder and paying tribute to Ferral, who it said “sought to give [a] voice to vulnerable groups” and was devoted to social causes and fighting injustice.   

 

 

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