From Mexico to Malta, attacks on journalists and publishers have proved deadly to individuals and chilling to broader freedoms. And now Covid-19 is being used as an excuse to silence more voices. By Gill Phillips
Just after 7am on the morning of 23 March 2017, journalist Miroslava Breach Velducea, a 54-year-old mother of three, was driving her 14-year-old son to school in the city of Chihuahua, Mexico, when a man walked up to her car and shot her eight times. According to reports, her son was not injured, but Breach died on the way to hospital.
The Mexican newspaper la Jornada reported that a cardboard note was found at the scene of the murder, which read: “For being a snitch. You’re next, Governor – El 80.” According to Mexican police, “El 80” was Carlos Arturo Quintana, son of the leader of an organised crime syndicate known as La Línea, which in its heyday controlled one of the lucrative smuggling routes for the supply and transfer of drugs from Colombia to the US. Three days before Breach was murdered, Quintana’s father had been killed in a confrontation between rival gangs.