Mexico: Growing insecurity for the work of human-rights defenders – denunciations from Washington DC, Brussels, and Chiapas

March 31, 2011

On 29 March, 23 human-rights organizations from 11 countries that were meeting in Washington D.C. for the 141st session of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) denounced more than 2000 rights-violations against human-rights defenders in the Americas.  They described an alarming situation that finds its basis in “the persistence of attacks on the part of state actors or those who act with its support or tolerance, such as paramilitaries, and the appearance of new forms of harassment on the part of organized crime and extractive firms with economic interests in the region.”  They explained that according to the UN, the countries in which the m ost denunciations are produced are Colombia, Mexico, Guatemala, Brazil, and Peru (in this order).

In other news, the civil organizations requested that the IACHR create a spokeperson’s office or specific unit charged with the protection of rights-defenders.  They also demanded that states implement effective means of protection and better public policies that guarantee the work of rights-defenders as well as the investigation of acts of violence and death-threats carried out against persons who risk their lives to denounce situations of social injustice.

Also on 29 March, in the European Parliament in Brussels, Mexican rights-defenders participated in a conference regarding the human-rights sitution in Mexico.  These defenders denounced that “the Mexican State pretends to be concerned with the attacks and harassment directed against rights-defenders before the international community, but in daily reality things are not so; on the contrary, there is lived a continuous situation of risk.”  They stressed the necessity of having protection-mechanisms for rights-defenders and journalists, with the effective participation of civil society in the design and implementation of such.  They also discussed how to effectively implement the guidelines of the European Union on the Protection of Human-Rights Defenders.

Finally, the Digna Ochoa, Fray Matías de Córdova, and Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas human-rights centers expressed their preoccupation in Chiapas regarding the judicial harassment of the members of the Digna Ochoa Center (Tonala, coast of Chiapas) “specifically with regard to its director Nataniel Hernández Núñez and other lawyers of the same institution.”  They manifested concern “for the utilization of legal actions targeting rights-defenders toward the end of harassing them judicially and discrediting their work.”  They demanded that the federal government observe its obligation “to put an end to all types of aggression or obstruction of the work of human-rights defenders in Chiapas.”

For more information (in Spanish):

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

México: Pronunciations and actions as regards the situation of human-rights defenders in the country and southeastern Mexico (25 March 2011)

Chiapas: director of Digna Ochoa Center for Human Rights detained once again (20 March 2011)

Chiapas: 3 human-rights defenders from the Digna Ochoa Center for Human Rights released from El Amate (8 March 2011)


Mexico: Peaceful occupation of the Zapotillo dam in Jalisco demands cancellation of construction

March 31, 2011

At 10:30am on 28 March  some 200 persons who are residents of the Temecapulín, Acasisco, and Palmarejo communities that would be inundated by the construction of the Zapotillo dam together with members of different groups from other states (including Chiapas) who are also organizing against the construction of dams entered the construction-site for the dam.  The previous day the protestors had agreed to take this action due a court-ruling demanding that the construction of the dam be suspended–a demand that has gone unobserved by the National Commission on Water (Conagua) and the governments of the states of Jalisco and Guanajuato.  It was further informed that the project lacks the necessary permits for change of land-use as well as permission from the mayor’s office for the construction of a 105-meter long curtain.

In a communiqué, the demonstrators explained that the objective of their action is to “definitively and indefinitely arrest the projects given that the authorities involved in the case do not respect judicial orders.  The well-established opposition of the peoples threatened by the flooding that would follow from the project desire that there be held a dialogue between our people and the authorities in question.”  They added that “It is important to show to you, the media and public opinion, that this vigorous and definitive action constitutes a high-risk response taken because of the despair felt by those communities that are affected by anti-democratic dams and mass-projects in Mexico.”

According to demonstrators, at approximately 12:30 the same day, three municipal police patrols established themselves close to their gathering.  At approximately 5:30pm 54 state police agents and an official from the Public Ministry concentrated themselves in the areas surrounding the protest-site.  In light of the risk of forced eviction, the Network All Rights for All launched an Urgent Action campaign of preventative logic.

For more information (in Spanish):


Toman habitantes obras de presa El Zapotillo; hay un amparo, dicen afectados (La Jornada, 28 March 2011)

ALERTA PREVENTIVA“Riesgo de que integrantes del Comité Salvemos Temacapulín y organizaciones solidarias sean objeto de represión policiaca estatal” (Red Todos los Derechos para Todas y Todos, 28 March)

El plantón continúa: ¡Hasta que pare la construcción de El Zapotillo!(Comité Salvemos Temacapulín / MAPDER / OSC, 29 March)

For more information from SIPAZ:

Oaxaca: COPUDEVER mobilizes in defense of the Río Verde (20 March 2011)

Chiapas: National Meeting of the Mexican Movement of those Affected by Dams in Defense of Rivers (20 March 2011)

Mexico: Visit by the UN Work Group on forced disappearances (18-31 March)

March 28, 2011


On 21 March, in response to the visit by the UN Work Group on forced disappearances from 18 to 31 March, member-organizations of the National Campaign against Forced Disappearance presented a brief report regarding the situation of persons disappeared forcibly or involuntarily.  The report is divided into four parts: “1. The normative Mexican status of the forced disappearance of persons: urgency to harmonize the situation with international standards; 2. The historical context of forced disappearance in Mexico: the need for a clear recognition by the State regarding past crimes; 3. The present context of forced disappearance in Mexico: the need to investigate cases of disappearance; 4. The paradigmatic case of Mr. Rosendo Radilla and the status of the sentence handed down by the Inter-American Court on Human Rights on this subject.”

Before the beginning of its official mission, the Work Group celebrated its 93rd session in Mexico City where it examined more than 190 cases of disappearances in more than 25 countries.  The official visit by the Work Group, which began on 18 March and will end on the 31st, has the goal of interviewing family-members of victims of forced disappearance, non-governmental organizations, and federal government officials, as well as of identifying the strengths of the country with regard to the management of this problem.  The organization will examine the investigations that have been had regarding cases of forced disappearances both past and recent as well as the measures that have been taken against impunity, in addition to other subjects, including those related to historical truth, justice, and reparations for victims of forced disappearances.

Civil organizations have pointed up the lack of will on the part of the Supreme Court for Justice in the Nation (SCJN) to dedicate adequate time to the question, as noted in the change in time with the Court’s meeting with the Work Group, going from an hour and a half to 20 minutes.  The affair is alarming given that the SCJN indefinitely postponed its position regarding the resolution made by the Inter-American Court on Human Rights (IACHR) in the case of Rosendo Radilla (disappeared in 1974 at a military checkpoint in Atoyác, Guerrero) which demanded that the judiciary give courses to its judges and magistrates regarding the crime of forced disappearance before December 2010.  In the end, though, it seems that the “scheduling problems” were resolved.

The Work Group has also met with senators from the commissions of Constitutional Law and Justice, to whom it stressed the necessity of having a specific law and expressed its alarm on the project to reform the military courts, especially as it considers such proposals to be incomplete.  This meeting was a private one lasting more than 2 hours.  The president of the Senate Commission of Human Rights, Rosario Ibarra, stated that the number of forced disappearance has increased “scandalously” during the government of Felipe Calderón, given that, even in light of the fact that relatives fear presenting denunciations, there are an estimated three thousand new such cases.

In other news, the director of the National Commission on Human Rights (CNDH), Raúl Plascencia Villanueva, also met with members of the Work Group, with whom he shared a report that refers to 240 cases of this crime in Mexico.  Who it was that was disappeared remained unclear from the report.

The Work Group will visit Atoyac, Guerrero, where, according to information released by the Association of Relative of the Detained and Disappeared in Mexico, over 500 forced disappearances were registered during the epoch of the “dirty war” in the 1970s and beginning of the 1980s.  The Workshop for Communal Development (TADECO), headquartered in Chilpancingo, demanded that the government of Zeferino Torreblanca Galindo reopen the files of 28 cases of forced disappearance during his administration (2005-2011) and warned that the Guerrero State Attorney General’s Office seeks to link it to organized crime.

At the close of the visit, on 31 March, the Work Group will hold a press conference in Mexico City.  A final report regarding the visit will presented to the UN Human Rights Council in 2012.

For more information (in Spanish):

Necesaria, una ley específica contra la desaparición forzada: misión de la ONU (La Jornada, 24 March)

Entrega CNDH informe con 240 casos de retenciones ilegales de personas (La Jornada, 24 March)

Falta protección contra la desaparición forzada en México: Informe a la ONU (CENCOS, 22 March)

Se disparan casos de tortura en México, informan a grupo de trabajo de la ONU (La Jornada, 22 March)

Recibirán Juan N. Silva y 5 ministros más a la misión de Naciones Unidas (La Jornada, 22 March)

Informe sobre la desaparición forzada en México 2011 (21 March)

Relega la Corte visita de grupo de la ONU sobre desapariciones forzada s(La Jornada, 16 March)

Demandan reabrir pesquisas sobre 28 desapariciones forzadas en Guerrero (La Jornada, 15 March)

La ONU investigará las desapariciones ocurridas en México en la guerra sucia (La Jornada, 15 March)

Desapariciones Forzadas: Grupo de expertos de la ONU inicia misión oficial en México (CENCOS, 14 March)

desapariciones forzadas – folleto informativo (OACNUDH)

Información práctica: el Grupo de Trabajo sobreInformación práctica: el Grupo de Trabajo sobre Desapariciones Forzadas e Involuntarias

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Guerrero – Briefs: Prodh Center sends amicus curiae in the case of Radio Nomndaa; Union of Peoples and Social Organizations mobilizes to demand preferential rates for electricity; “1,289 murders, 289 disappeared and 25 kidnapped in 4 years”: TADECO (27 March)

Chiapas: in Masojá Shucjá, memory and demand for justice for the victims of paramilitaries in 1995 and 1996 (7 October 2010)

Chiapas: 14 years after the forced disappearance of Minerva Pérez Torres by Paz y Justicia paramilitaries (30 June 2010)

Guerrero: Wounds of conflict over water access in Tecoanapa (Costa Chica)

March 27, 2011


Photo @ Guerrerense Network of Civil Society and Human Rights Organizations

On March 17, the lack of intervention by the state and municipal governments in Tecoanapa, in the Costa Chica region of Guerrero, resulted in a clash between the inhabitants of five villages belonging to the municipality, and the inhabitants of the county seat. The clash was due to the decision of residents from the five villages Mecatepec, Tepintepec, El Guayabo, Barrio Nuevo and El Carrizo to finish establishing a drinking water system by themselves.

The aformentioned communities lack access to water because, in spite of having a concession to the liquid, there is no infrastructure to get it into the communities. At the same time, there is discharge of drainage from the head municipality, Tecoanapa, flowing into the only river accessible to the communities, causing contamination, as well as skin, gastrointestinal, eye and ear diseases. Since 2005, in the face of increasing pollution of the river, the five communities formed the “Council of Authorities of the Five Towns of Tecoanapa” to make arrangements for access to water, and in 2006, this resulted in the adoption of the project called the “Tecoanapa Multiple Drinking Water System”.

However, to date, the project has not been completed. The work has been slowed by a group of the municipal seat, calling itself the Tecoanapa Water Committee, a body composed of individuals who manage the water, without having legal authority to do so. This committee has also been exploiting the water by selling it to ranches, ponds and purification companies in the area. The “Multiple Water System”, to be completed, would affect the economic interests of the members of this Committee.

The clash between the two groups on March 17 left at least 20 injured – 15 of the community group and 5 of the municipal seat. Present at the confrontation were members of the State Preventative Police, but they did not intervene to prevent violence. The standoff ended when roughly 50 soldiers arrived, which calmed the people. At night, the technical secretary of the Guerrerense Network of Civil Society and Human Rights Organizations, Manuel Olivares Hernández, reported that the inhabitants of the towns spoke of the possibility of continuing with the laying of the pipeline. The chairman of the Committee for the Defense of Human Rights (CODDEHUM), Juan Alarcón Hernández, asked the state government to take protective measures for the five communities in the municipality of Tecoanapa. The request was accepted but not fulfilled so far.

Given the unwillingness of the authorities to take responsibility for complying with the construction of the potable water pipeline, the Five Communities ask civil society to send urgent appeals to the Mexican authorities (see release of the Five Communities below).

For more information:

Enfrentamiento por el agua en Tecoanapa; reportan 12 heridos (La Jornada, 17 March)

Dejan 20 lesionados enfrentamientos por el agua en Tecoanapa (Sur Acapulco, 18 March)

Cumplen el emplazamiento y retoman cinco pueblos la obra del agua potable (Sur Acapulco, 18 March)

No cumplió el gobierno las medidas cautelares a favor de los cinco pueblos de Tecoanapa: Codehum (Sur Acapulco, 18 March)

Ficha tecnica-agua-caso tecoanapa dic2010


Guerrero – briefs: Prodh Center sends Amicus Curiae in the case of Radio Ñomndaa; Union of Peoples and Social Organizations mobilizes to demand preferential rates for electricity; “1,289 murders, 289 disappeared and 25 kidknapped in 4 years”: TADECO

March 27, 2011

On March 15, the Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez Center for Human Rights (Centro Prodh) presented an amicus curiae to the High Court of Justice of the state of Guerrero to provide elements to the case of David Valtierra Arango, Genaro Cruz Apóstol y Silverio Matías Domínguez, members of the Committee of Radio Ñomndaa in Xochistlahuaca. Through the amicus curiae, they expressed concerns that called attention to relevant aspects for consideration in the case. The amicus curiae makes a “strong appeal to the Judiciary of the State of Guerrero to be a guarantor of justice.” Also mentioning that “[t]he reasoning of the Judge of the First Instance showed profound lack of consideration for cultural and ethnic diversity, which are  recognized in the Constitution” and that “taking a determination of the Amuzgo regulatory system to the field of criminal law, reflects a lack of recognition for the self-determination of indigenous peoples and their authorities”.

Additionally, the Union of Peoples and Social Organizations of the Montaña, Costa Chica and Central regions of the state of Guerrero, will mobilize on March 21, to demand the application of preferential rates on lighting, in Guerrero, from the Federal Commission of Electricity (CFE). Leaders of the group reported that its motion is seeking that federal and local deputies undertake a bill for the application of the preferential rates, which would take into account socio-economic factors in stead of climatological ones, as has happened in states such as Chiapas and Tabasco.

Lastly, during the Fifth Day for Life, Liberty, Justice and Citizen Rights, on Monday, March 14, the director of the Workshop of Community Development (TADECO), Javier Monroy, denounced that in the last four years, the TADECO and the Committee of Family and Friends of the Kidknapped, Disappeared and Murdered in Guerrero, registered “1,289 murders, 289 disappeared and 25 kidknapped” with no connection to organized crime. The event was held on the fourth anniversary of the disappearance of Jorge Gabriel Cerón Silva, leader of TADECO.

For more information:

Centro Prodh entrega amicus al Tribunal Superior de Justicia de Guerrero en el caso de indígenas defensores de DH de Xochistlahuaca (16 March)

Ante la falta de resultados en la CFE, indígenas se movilizarán para bajar tarifas (Sur Acapulco, 15 March)

En cuatro años, más de mil asesinatos de ciudadanos ajenos al crimen, insiste Tadeco (Sur Acapulco, 15 March)

For more information from SIPAZ:

Guerrero – briefs: Tlachinollan requests support inthe case of Radio Ñomndaa; Invitation to a workshop against mining in the Montaña and Costa Chica regions (18 March)

Mexico: Pronunciations and actions as regards the situation of human-rights defenders in the country and southeastern Mexico

March 25, 2011

On 14 March in the Senate of the Republic was presented a point of agreement directed to the executive branch indicating the urgency of approving a mechanism for the protection of journalists and rights-defenders. In this document, the adverse conditions for the practice of liberty of expression and the right to defend human rights “in light of the increasing violence registered in our country and the impunity in which governmental authorities and organized crime act, there have been registered violent attacks against journalists and activists as a deliberate and organized response to their work.”

In a similar sense, on 15 March, civil organizations for the defense and promotion of human rights denounced in a press conference that aggressions against defenders continue to increase in the state of Chihuahua and are maintained in Guerrero and Oaxaca; the case is similar for journalists in Chihuahua, Coahuila, and Morelos. These organizations claim that in Mexico the State mechanisms charged with protecting and guaranteeing the security of threatened journalists and defenders are ineffective, referring in particular to international precautionary measures. They stressed that the government must “publicly recognize the importance of the work of defenders and journalists and the vulnerability to which they are exposed, create mechanisms of protection, and install a worktable to attend to the problem of aggressions and death-threats.”

The same day, in Mexico City, Urgent Action for Human-Rights Defenders (Acuddeh) presented the organization Protection Desk Mexico which will seek to “remove from invisibility the violence and risks involved in defending human rights” and to contribute to “the development of security plans in the organizations, to help defenders and organizations to overcome obstacles to obtain security, diminish difficulties in work, stress the importance of governmental protectipon mechanisms, and make the UN declaration on rights-defenders be respected.”

Finally, in observation of the 41st National Assembly realized in San Cristóbal de Las Casas, the National Network of Civil Human-Rights Organizations “All Rights for All” pronounced itself on the situation of human-rights defenders as regards the context experienced in southeastern Mexico, denouncing that “the generalized violence in the country and the deepening of impunity exacerbate the present context of repression, poverty, criminalization, migration, territorial looting, and attacks against those who promote, defend, and exercise all rights for all.”

For more information (in Spanish):

Punto de Acuerdo del Senado de la República sobre mecanismo de protección a periodistas y defensores de derechos humanos (14 March 2011)

Aumentan agresiones contra activistas y comunicadores (La Jornada, 15 March)

Ante el riesgo de defender los derechos humanos, Protection Desk trabajará desde la sociedad civil en seguridad y registro de agresiones(CENCOS, 15 March 2011)

Ola de violencia afecta a defensores de los derechos humanos en el sureste del país (La Jornada, 21 March 2011)

Pronunciamiento de la Red Nacional de Organismos Civiles de Derechos Humanos“Todos los Derechos para Todas y Todos” sobre el contexto en el Sureste de México (20 March 2011)

Saludo del Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos a la 41 Asamblea Nacional de la Red Nacional de Organismos Civiles “Todos los Derechos para Todas y Todos.” (March 2011)

Chiapas: Road-blocks and denunciations of relocated community of Nuevo Montes Azules

March 25, 2011

On 21 March, residents of the new population center “Montes Azules,” municipality of Palenque, carried out a road-block on the federal highway that goes from Benemérito de las Américas to Palenque to demand that their rights be respected and that the commitments made by the state government during the community’s relocation in 2005 be observed.

As noted by the civil organization Enlace, Capacitación y Comunicación in a call to support the struggle of the community: “On 4 February 2005, seven communities that were located in the Montes Azules Biosphere Reserve (REBIMA) of the Lacandon Jungle were relocated to a location in the municipality of Palenque. The communities accepted the relocation on the condition that, during the negotiation-process, the federal and state governments promised them that the lands to which they would be moved would be in a perfect state, that they would be regularized, that the houses were well-made, that electricity would be subsidized, that they would have quality educational and health services, potable water, as well as a modern system of drainage and treatement of waste. They were offered a dream, but they were given a nightmare. During the relocation to the new center of population, the persons left under the threat that if they returned to the jungle they would be incarcerated. Those who decided to stay were removed forcibly.”

The demands of the community Nuevo Montes Azules include being attended by the three levels of government to assure its deed to the land on which it finds itself, something that has yet to be done, in addition to the “immediate cessation of the threats on the part of the Federal Commission of Electricity to suspend services to the population,” a controlled price for the community, and the cancellation of accumulated debts, together with the construction of the classrooms for the high school and of a clinic and pharmacy. The community has denounced in particular that “in the three months of this year 48 persons have come down with malaria, and people have died. The majority of the sick have to buy our medicine. When Agrarian Reform brought us here it promised us a clinic and a permanent doctor. These promises were false. We are 117 families who are affected. We ask the National Commission on Human Rights to intervene soon, and we request that the three levels of government engage in a dialogue with officials, given that the functionaries have not exhibited the capacity to solve these problems during the past seven years.”

For more information (in Spanish):

Pronunciamiento público de las y los reubicad@s de Nuevo Montes Azules (21 March)

Llamamiento al apoyo en la lucha del poblado de reubicados Nuevo Montes Azules-1 (Enlace, Comunicación y Capacitación, 21 March)

Bloquean vía; piden acuerdos (Cuarto Poder, 22 March)



For more information from SIPAZ (in English):



Chiapas: La Realidad JBG claims more evictions to come in Zapatista territories (5 May 2010)

Chiapas: Montes Azules Social Forum (17 March 2010)

Chiapas: Montes Azules evictions jeopardize peace in Chiapas (9 February 2010)

Chiapas: New evictions in Montes Azules (3 February 2010)