The Mexico Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) presented a report in Mexico City on Oct. 13 on the dangers facing human rights activists in Mexico. According to the report, “Defending Human Rights: Caught Between Commitment and Risk,” the OHCHR found 128 cases of aggression against activists from January 2006 to August 2009, including 10 murders. OHCHR staff visited 10 of Mexico’s 32 states to compile the report, interviewing non-governmental organizations (NGOs), human rights defenders, victims of aggression, journalists and government authorities.
Noemí Ramírez, head of the nongovernmental Mexican Academy for Human Rights, told the Inter Press Service (IPS) that the situation of human rights defenders is “worrying.” She laid much of the blame on the government of President Felipe Calderón of the center-right National Action Party (PAN). Violence has risen in the country since Calderón launched a massive “war on drugs” after taking office in December 2006. “The government has vilified the work of rights defenders,” she said. “There has been a serious deterioration in the situation under the present administration.”
Incidents involving violence against human rights defenders include the murder of Raúl Lucas and Manuel Ponce, leaders of the Organization for the Future of the Mixteca Indigenous Peoples, whose bodies were found Feb. 21 in the southern state of Guerrero. They had been tortured and executed; the crimes remain unpunished. In the same month, the Tlachilollan Mountain Human Rights Center closed one of its offices in Ayutla de los Libres, Guerrero, because of threats, intimidation and persecution of activists for indigenous peoples’ rights. (IPS, Oct. 14)
From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Oct. 20