Chiapas: Indigenous Tzeltal women raped by the Mexican Army accept “compensation” with conditions

On 4 June 1994, four sisters, aged 12, 13, and 14, were arrested together with their mother, Delia Pérez de González, by a group of soldiers at a checkpoint in the municipality of Altamirano.  They were beaten and raped on various occasions by soldiers whiletheir mother was tortured and forced to witness the sexual violence committed against her daughters.

On 30 June 1994, the sisters presented a denunciation before the Federal Attorney General’s Office, which rejected their standing and subsequently send the case to a military tribunal (PGJM).  The Secretary of National Defense denied the events, and the case was archived in 1996 under the pretext that the necessary investigations had not been carried out to continue with the case.

Two years later the case was presented to the Inter-American Court on Human Rights (IACHR), which took it on in November 1999.  In April 2001 the IACHR found the Mexican State guilty and recommended that the events be investigated comprehensively, impartially, and effectively within the common Mexican court-system (civil), to determine the responsibility of the soldiers as well as compensation for suffered losses.  As was explained by Mercedes Olivera Bustamante, founder of and adviser to the Center for Women’s Rights in Chiapas, during the press-conference, the IACHR did not send the Mexican State an order but rather a recommendation, given that Mexico had accepted the IACHR’s jurisdiction beginning in 1998, 2 years before the presentaiton of the complaint.  9 years later, the recommendation in question has not been carried out.

16 years after the events, the governor of Chiapas, Juan Sabines Guerrero, offered 500,000 pesos to each one of the sisters as compensation, in addition to permanent medical insurance, education-scholarships for their children, and other projects.

The González Pérez sisters responded to the proposal thusly: “We accept this proposal as being the sole evidence that demonstrates that the Mexican government publicly recognizes its responsibility in light of the rape of our bodies, our rights, and our dignity.  Regardless, we also request that the damages suffered by our mother also be recognized.” They added that they “will not accept to be present in any public act so that the gobernment use our word in its favor.  Neither will we accept the programs that are offered because they do not resolve the actual problems of the people; we ourselves are now organized in our communities to resolve [these problems] […].  We demand and will always demand that the soldiers who hurt us be punished, that their responsibility be investigated and determined by common-law trials and not soldiers, as has been the case to date […].  We also demand the immediate withdrawal of soldiers from our communiites in Chiapas, because they continue to rape women, bring prostitutition, cause terror, and hurt people.”

They concluded thusly: “Now, as in 1994, we strongly condemn the actions taken by the Army against our bodies and our hearts, when we pass through the counter-insurgent checkpoint in Altamirano, Chiapas.  These acts, which violate our rights, demonstrate the politics of terror that has been employed by the army against the people of Chiapas, using women as an objective of war.  For the same reason we continue and will continue to struggle against the actions of the government that seek to silence the just demands of our comrades.  We will not stop demanding that the acts of the army against hte rights of the people be judged by civil authorities, because this is the only way that will recognize their responsibility.  We demand that they be punished according to the law, and that their blame not be covered-up with the pretext of national security.  This is necessary to avoid the continuation of the army’s violation of the rights of our people and their autonomy.”

For more information (in Spanish):

Press release (letter signed by the González Pérez sisters and their mother, 20 October 2010)

Indigenous accept government’s offer (Cuarto Poder, 21 October)

The story of three indigenous girls raped by soldiers (Proceso, 20 October 2010)

Web-site of the González Pérez Sisters Committee: https://hermanasgonzalez.org/

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