TIJUANA (Border Report) — Journalist Lourdes Maldonado was shot and killed earlier this year outside her home in Tijuana.
She had won a large court settlement against a former boss who would go on to become the governor of Baja California from 2019 to 2021.
Before her death, Maldonado complained about harassment and threats against her life as she tried to collect on the settlement and for filing the lawsuit.
Her attorney was Eduardo Perez, who briefly continued working on Maldonado’s behalf after she died, trying to make sure the people behind her death were brought to justice.
Perez is no longer practicing law in Mexico and is hoping the U.S. will grant him asylum.
“Lawyers are having to leave dangerous cases or flee the country as they feel vulnerable by the lack of security and protection from the authorities,” said Catalina Salas Bravo, president of the Bar Association of Baja California. “Maldonado’s lawyer asked for asylum in the United States almost immediately after she was killed.”
Salas Bravo says Perez is an example of what is happening to many lawyers in Mexico who feel defenseless and are forced to abandon cases by leaving Mexico altogether.
She also stated the bar association’s entire membership feels in danger just like journalists and all citizens in cities such as Tijuana.
During the “Day of the Lawyer” on Tuesday, Salas Bravo made these concerns public.
“Unfortunately, we are in these conditions and wish for a time when we could celebrate this day out in the open without fear of reprisal with protection from public safety,” she said.
Salas Bravo said there has been no movement in investigations involving attorneys who have been murdered.
“We don’t get any tangible results nor advances in the investigations, that is a concern because impunity keeps growing,” she said.
Salas Bravo says there have been a number of attorneys killed throughout Northern Baja California and no one has been arrested in connection with the murders.
She listed several examples, including the death of a young lawyer named Tania Pizarro, who was shot and killed inside her office in Mexicali.
“In Tijuana, there was an attorney who got kidnapped by armed suspects as she was filing court documents, it was recorded by security cameras and you can hear her screaming for help,” Salas Bravo said.
Salas Bravo cited another case that happened last month in Ensenada when a lawyer named Ernesto Kennedy was killed by gang members he was defending.
“No one feels safe,” she said.