Mexico City, November 17, 2021 – Mexican authorities must immediately and transparently investigate the threats against journalist Beatriz Flores and the shooting attack on her car in Tepeji del Río, in the central Mexican state of Hidalgo, and federal authorities must provide her with protection, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
Flores told CPJ via telephone call that on November 9, a woman who did not identify herself called her in response to an article she wrote for the Facebook-based news site Flores founded and edits, Presencia Hidalguense, which counts some 67,000 followers, about the arrest of a man who allegedly transported stolen horses in La Colmena, in Hidalgo.
According to Flores, the caller insisted that Flores did not have permission to publish photos accompanying the article, which were provided to her by local police, of a truck allegedly used to transport the stolen horses. Flores said the woman also insisted that local gang Los Rábanos was not responsible for the alleged theft, even though the article did not blame the gang. Flores said the woman ended the conversation by threatening that there “would be consequences” if she did not delete the article.
Hours later, in the early morning of November 10, unknown attackers shot several rounds into Flores’ car, according to Flores and news reports. A photo published on Presencia Hidalguense shows at least eight bullet casings on the ground. The shooter or shooters fled the scene immediately, according to Flores, who reported the attack the same day to state authorities. Police arrived on the scene shortly afterward and, according to Flores, began an investigation. The journalist told CPJ that she has been assigned police protection for at least two months by Hidalgo state authorities. CPJ called the office of the state prosecutor’s office several times but the calls rang unanswered.
“After a string of brutal killings of journalists in Mexico in recent months, the threats against Beatriz Flores are yet another reminder that the press is a constant target in a country where such crimes are rarely punished,” said Jan-Albert Hootsen, CPJ’s Mexico representative. “Mexican authorities must do everything in their power to protect Flores, including elevating her security to federal protection, while they investigate those who threatened her and bring them to justice.”
The journalist told CPJ that she had also been in touch with the Federal Mechanism for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and Journalists, which operates under the auspices of the federal Interior Secretariat and coordinates protection programs for journalists and rights defenders at risk.
An official with the mechanism confirmed to CPJ that his office had been in touch with Flores in the wake of the attack. He asked to remain anonymous, as he is not authorized to speak on the matter.
Mexico is tied with India as the deadliest country for journalists in the world in 2021, according to CPJ research. At least three reporters have been killed in direct relation to their work this year, while CPJ is investigating six other killings to determine the motive, as well as the disappearance of a journalist on March 10 in the northern state of Sonora.