Human rights worker arrested in Matamoros

Attorney Luz María González Armenta, founder of the local group Defense and Promotion of Human Rights-Emiliano Zapata (DEPRODHEZAC), was arbitrarily arrested March 30 at a protest vigil she was leading outside the municipal presidency office in Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico.

According to an account from the Lucio Blanco Collective in Ciudad Victoria, capital of Tamaulipas state, González was at a protest vigil demanding the return alive of JosĂ© Rafael Sánchez MartĂ­nez, a local man who has been “disappeared” since being accosted by the city police Jan. 30, when witnesses say he was taken away in a patrol car. During the vigil, a municipal official surrounded by police approached and asked them to disperse, saying their protest was disrespectful. González responded that “the law permits us to protest freely in any part of our country.” The police reacted by attacking the vigil, tearing down the banners, and arresting González.

The mother of the “disappeared” Sánchez MartĂ­nez collapsed during the fracas, and was hospitalized.

According to members of the local group JĂłvenes Libertarios who inquired with the authorities, González has been charged with “physical and verbal aggression against authority.” They were reportedly told by Matamoros municipal president Baltazar Hinojosa, “she has been erased, the rebel and false accuser” (la tachĂł de revoltosa y mala litigante).

The Lucio Blanco Collective says González was targeted for “attending to the demands of the people the municipal government does not listen to” in Matamoros—migrants, sex workers, persecuted activists, fishermen and maquiladora laborers. Another case she had been involved in was that of JosĂ© Ernesto Leal, a leader of the city’s gay community, who was found dead of multiple knife wounds in January after years of being harassed and threatened by the police. The murder was dismissed by the state police as a “crime of passion.”

González is also the key Matamoros contact for the Zapatista rebels’ “Other Campaign” civil initiative, and hosted Subcommander Marcos on his tour stop in the border city last year.

The Lucio Blanco Collective is waiting for further information of González, and is prepared to call protests demanding her release. (Hermann Bellinghausen for La Jornada, April 1; En Linea Directa, Tamaulipas, March 31)

See our last posts on Mexico and the struggle for the border.

  1. Alarmist translation?
    David Wilson of Weekly News Update on the Americas writes:

    Tachar also means “discredit” (a witness) or “accuse someone of having a fault,” which I assume is what Baltazar Hinojosa meant (they accused her of being a revoltosa y mal litigante). Serious, but not as bad as “erased.”

  2. González free
    Luz MarĂ­a González reports via e-mail that she was released after ten hours in the “pestilential cells” of Barandilla Municipal jail. It is uncertain if she is still facing charges. We will post updates as they come in.

    Meanwhile, more information is available on the website of La Otra Campaña en Tamaulipas.