by *Sanjuana Martínez
My name is Anabel Flores Salazar and I am 32 years old. I am a journalist. I cover the police beat in Cordoba and Orizaba in the state of Veracruz. Or rather, I used to cover. I am dead. I was assassinated last night.
I observe the scene. I see my body, still and lifeless. I have been thrown into the ditch on the side of the road around 1,580th kilometre of the Cuacnopalan-Oaxaca highway. My trousers are around my ankles. I am missing a sock and a plastic bag covers my head. I don’t understand why they have thrown me aside like a piece of rubbish, as if my life was worthless. Even though I know this is Mexico. Here a woman’s life is worth next to nothing.
Last night they tortured me to death. It was terrifying. I don’t want to give you too much detail, but what they did to me was inhumane. No one deserves to die like me. No one.
They took me from my house. It was two in the morning. I was sleeping with my children: my baby only a few days old and my little one, four years old. They were very scared. My aunt, Sandra Luz Morales, was also very scared. It was a commando. They broke in, shouting. Eight to ten men wearing military uniforms with helmets, bullet-proof vests, masked and heavily armed. My uncle was getting home and he ran into them. When he unlocked the door, they forced their way in, screaming and shouting insults. This is the house where I live with my aunties and my mother. They help to look after my children while I am at work.
A group of men break into my room. I hear noises. One of them says: “That’s her”. They grab my foot. They pull me to the floor. What is happening? Are they kidnapping me? My aunt screams at them. Why are you taking her? One of them responds: “it is a warranted arrest”. My aunt demands to see the warrant. The answer is a barked order: “Get on the floor”. My aunt refuses to do it. They point their guns at her. And they drag me out, barefoot.
I see three vans and they load me into one of them. I don’t know where I am going. A shiver runs through my body. In a faltering voice I ask: where are you taking me? No one responds. Silence can also be an answer. I think of my children, of my little ones. What is going to become of them if something happens to me? Who is going to raise them? I think of them. Yesterday my baby was running a temperature; I stayed in bed with him all day looking after him. He is so beautiful. Being a mother is a privilege, a blessing. I am moved to tears.
The van in which they are transporting me is going very fast. They have taken the motorway. I don’t know where they are taking me. I shudder. My hands shake. The convoy stops. They unload me from the car. They hit me. I know I am going to die. I want to see the faces of my tormentors but they are masked. They cover my head with a plastic bag until I stop breathing.
I am dead. Dead like my 14 journalist colleagues murdered during Javier Duarte’s term in government, dead like my colleague Regina Martinez, like Yolanda Ordaz de la Cruz. I am the fifteenth. I refuse to be a number, a statistic. Since 2002, 14 women journalists have been murdered. They killed us for our work, because we are journalists, for our writing, they killed us to silence our voices.
I see myself tossed aside in this ditch on the side of the road. Cars go by, they don’t stop. Nobody seems to care, until they find me in the morning. They have covered me with a blue blanket. Javier Duarte’s government slanders me. The attorney general of Veracruz, Luis Angel Bravo Contreras, says that I am involved with organized crime. Lies! How can they slander a dead person who can no longer defend herself? It’s always the same. So much impunity!
Suddenly I see myself on a slab of stainless steel in an amphitheater. I see my relatives. They identify me. I see myself in the coffin. I see my wake. I watch my friends, my colleagues. I listen to what they say, they defend me, there are organizations demanding justice. But I know my murder will become another unresolved crime. Justice for the 120 murdered journalists in Mexico is a dream. Impunity is our reality.
I never thought I would end up like this. I say my goodbyes. I don’t want to go. I see my children far from everything. They are playing. One day my mother will explain to them what happened to me. I hope that they will grow to feel proud of their mother, that they won’t believe the government’s lies, that they will know how much I loved my job as a journalist, that I loved to write, that I was committed to the truth and that they were the most beautiful things in my life, my treasures.
My sons, I ask you for forgiveness. I will miss your birthdays. I won’t see you finish primary school, nor will I attend your school concerts or dance recitals, I won’t teach you to ride a bike, nor will I be there on the day of your first communion, nor will I knot your tie when you get married…
I ask you for forgiveness. This wasn’t my plan, I promise you. They have wrenched me from my life, beloved sons, they have wrenched me from your life, from our life as a family, but I will be forever in your hearts.
Farewell my sons, I love you.
Sanjuana Martínez is a freelance journalist. She has written 12 books. PEN International campaigned on her behalf for International Women’s Day in 2015.
Facebook: Sanjuana Martinez