Mexico: activist stages mock crucifixion to demand child's return

After 15 days on hunger strike, on April 10 Antonia López Cruz sewed her lips together and had herself tied to the fence outside the federal Senate building in Mexico City in a mock crucifixion to demand the return of her six-year-old daughter, Concepción ("Cuco") Antonia Fernández López. Puebla state Public Ministry coordinator Leticia Villaraldo took the child from her parents on March 21 and turned her over to the state Integral Family Development (DIF) service, claiming she was an abuse victim because of an injury to her arm.

The father, Antonio Fernández Sánchez, who was encamped with López Cruz and their two sons outside the Senate, told reporters that the girl's arm was hurt while she was playing with her little brother. "They took our daughter Concepción Antonia as a reprisal because my wife and I defend indigenous people and campesinos against arbitrary acts by the Puebla government, which is headed by [Gov.] Rafael Moreno Valle," he said. "Villaraldo told us we should abandon the defense of indigenous and campesino human rights and then she'll return our daughter." Fernández Sánchez said he and López Cruz are members of an organization called the Supreme Mexican Fraternal Alliance in Defense of Human Rights.

Sen. Rosario Ibarra de Piedra, a longtime activist who heads the Senate Human Rights Commission, came out to meet with López Cruz. Ibarra then sent a request to the Puebla state attorney general for a report on the case, and spoke with the state governance under secretary, asking him to meet with the family. (La Jornada, Mexico, April 11)

On April 5 activist José Luis Castillo Carreón and his son were put in preventive detention in the northern state of Chihuahua on charges of armed robbery of a Ciudad Juárez massage parlor in August 2008. Castillo became politically active after his 14-year-old daughter Esmeralda Castillo Rincón disappeared in May 2009. He and his son participated in protests demanding government action to end the wave of violence that has left more than 500 women and girls dead in the Juárez area since 1993. The police said the owner of the massage parlor identified the two men from photos in media coverage of the demonstrations. (Vanguardia, Mexico, April 6; EFE, April 11)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, April 15.

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