Sarabia, 46, was a correspondent in Huimanguillo, a small town in Tabasco near the border with Guatemala, for newspapers Diario Presente and Tabasco HOY. According to the news reports, unknown assailants shot and killed her at the front door of her residence. The Tabasco state attorney general’s office said in a statement released on Twitter June 12, 2019, that it had opened an investigation into the murder.
Sarabia primarily reported on crime and violence in Huimanguillo and the town’s surrounding area, according to a review by CPJ of recent articles published by the reporter on the websites of Tabasco HOY and Diario Presente.
In 2014, she reported to state authorities that she had received threats from local police officers, according to a news report at the time, after she covered the alleged involvement of police in kidnappings. On June 13, Diario Presente reported that Sarabia received constant death threats and that she feared for her life, although the paper did not specify the nature of the threats.
Tabasco HOY and Diario Presente did not reply to a request for comment, and CPJ was not able to establish contact with Sarabia’s family as of June 13, 2019.
A spokesperson for the Federal Mechanism for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and Journalists, which operates under the auspices of the federal Interior Secretariat, told CPJ on June 12 that Sarabia was not incorporated in a federal protection program and had not reported threats to the institution. He asked to remain anonymous to be able to discuss the matter.
Ricardo Sánchez Pérez del Pozo, who heads the office of the Federal Special Prosecutor for Attention to Crimes Committed against Freedom of Expression (FEADLE), told CPJ on June 12 that his office was gathering information about the case.