Mexico compensates indigenous men for forced sterilizations

State authorities in Guerrero, Mexico, have agreed to pay 490,000 pesos (US$48,000) in compensation to 14 indigenous men coerced into having vasectomies. The men will each be paid 35,000 pesos (US$3,400) and given water storage tanks and cement to build homes, said state health secretary Luis Barrera Rios. The men agreed to the deal, despite initial demands of 200,000 pesos (US$19,000) each.

The men, represented by the Tlachinollan Center for Human Rights, say that state health workers showed up in the village of El Camalote in 1998 and demanded that men with more than four children have vasectomies. The plaintiffs said they were promised a clinic, medicine, clothes, scholarships for their children and new homes for submitting to the procedure—while those who refused were threatened with removal from government aid programs. The claims were investigated by the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH).

The government earlier refused to pay compensation, saying the men signed consent forms and denying that they had been offered any benefits. After an investigation, the CNDH called on the Guerrero government to compensate the men, finding that health officials made no effort to counsel them on the implications of vasectomies or on alternative birth control methods. (AP, June 26)

Government investigations have noted the existence of a “genocide plan” in Guerrero during the guerilla insurgency there in the late ’60s and ’70s—even as such abuses as coercive sterilization re-emerged there in the ’90s, along with new waves of peasant unrest.

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