Mexico: rights office raided in Coahuila

Two masked men forced their way into the Catholic diocese’s Human Rights Center in Saltillo, in the northern Mexican state of Coahuila, on the evening of Dec. 20. The men struck Mariana Villarreal, who works in the center’s legal and educational programs, and kept her locked in a bathroom while they rummaged through the center’s files, according to Bishop Raul Vera, who was in the southeastern state of Chiapas at the time, attending commemorations of the 10th anniversary of the massacre of 45 campesinos in the community of Acteal by rightwing paramilitaries. Two weeks earlier Villarreal received an anonymous phone call saying her sister, who heads the center’s legal department, had been killed in an accident. The sister hadn’t been harmed; Vera called the message “psychological warfare.”

The center has assisted in a case where soldiers and officers are accused of raping 13 or 14 women in dance halls in Castaños, Coahuila, on July 11, 2006, and in a lawsuit against Grupo Minera Mexico on behalf of the families of 65 miners who died in a methane explosion in the Pasta de Conchos coal mine on Feb. 19, 2006. (La Jornada, Dec. 22, 23)

[Bishop Vera was adjunct bishop to liberation theology supporter Samuel Ruiz Garcia in San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, before being transferred to Saltillo in 2000.]

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Dec. 30

See our last posts on Mexico and the human rights crisis.