Oaxaca: Omar Esparza denounces group contracted to murder him; threats against lawyers in the case of Bety and Jyri

June 10, 2015

Foto @ Aristegui Noticias

Photo @ Aristegui Noticias

Omar Esparza Zárate, widower of Bety Cariño, a human-rights defender who died alongside Jyri Jaakkola for participating in a humanitarian-aid caravan to San Juan Copala in 2010, denounced the existence of an armed group that seeks to kill him, being contracted by Antonio Cruz (alias “Toño Bird), the leader of the Movement for Triqui Struggle and Unification (MULT), which is allied with the Union for Social Welfare in the Triqui Region (UBISORT). Omar Esparza holds the federal and state governments responsible for whatever attack he or his family would suffer, due to their failures to arrest all those responsible for the murders of Bety y Jyri. In an interview with Revolución Tres Punto Cero, Esparza indicated that “someone heard the conversation and told us to take the necessary security measures. It is not just a death-threat. There exists an armed group that has been hired to kill me.”

Beyond this, David Peña, lawyer from the National Association of Democratic Laywers (ANAD), declared in an interview with Aristegui CNN that the case is pending. Though three have been incarcerated, 10 arrest-orders are still open. He indicated that the “government of Finland (where Jyri Jaakkola had held citizenship) has been present and attentive to the process from the beginning. We have been accompanied by the Finnish Embassy, other embassies from the European Union, and the European Parliament itself held a special audience within the subcommittee on human rights.” He added that “this case was discussed by the Finnish president with Peña Nieto, who reiterated the Mexican State’s commitment to resolving the case. He has made this claim on three or four separate occasions. The problem is that the commitment Peña Nieto supposedy has is not translated into concrete actions.” Regardless, David Peña added that “there has been a near-total absence of the judiciary: no protection for witnesses, or investigation of those responsible. No resources for the arrest of the murderers, nor even now to guarantee the security of those who of us who are promoting the process, who in recent weeks have received death-threats and warnings to abandon the case.”

The lawyer explained the history of the Triqui region, wherein a group was created “by PRI governments with their finances. These groups have been publicly recognized, even by the Federal Attorney General’s Office, as a paramilitary group.” This group “attacked the caravan. We performed a process of documentation and investigation and succeeded in identifying who it was who attacked the caravan. Then the arrest-orders are released, but only three have been implemented, with 10 more pending. We are in an initial process of the trial against these three people, but the problem is that these put us at risk. Though we have 3 people incarcerated, 10 others are free, including two of the principal leaders. They have economic and military power, and with this protection or permissibility toward them on the part of politicians, they continue operating.”

For more information (in Spanish):

Acción Urgente: Preocupación por la seguridad de Omar Esparza, Viudo de Bety Cariño (Red Todos los Derechos para Todas y Todos, 3 de junio de 2015)

Ausencia de la Federación en el caso del asesinato de Bety Cariño y Jyri Jaakkola: David Peña en CNN (Aristegui Noticias, 1 de junio de 2015)

Entrevista de Aristegui Noticias (29 de mayo de 2015)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Oaxaca: 5 years since the murder of human rights defenders Bety Cariño and Jyri Jaakkola (28 April 2015)

Oaxaca: Two female witnesses threatened in the murder case of Bety Cariño and Jyri Jaakkola (March 1, 2015)

Oaxaca: 4 years and 7 months later, presumed murderer of human-rights defenders Bety Cariño and Jyri Jaakkola is apprehended (February 8, 2015)

Oaxaca: Parents of Jyri Jaakkola visit Mexico for fifth time to demand justice

December 7, 2014

Foto @ SIPAZ

Photo @ Cencos

Starting on 5 November, Eve y Raimo Jaakkola, parents of the Finnish activist Jyri Jaakkola, carried out their fifth visit to Mexico to meet Mexican authorities and demand punishment for those responsible for the murder of their son and of Bety Cariño, who died in an ambush in April 2010 conducted by a paramilitary group in San Juan Copala, Oaxaca.  Since then, 4 and a half years have passed, and though an agreement was made between relatives and lawyers on the one hand and the federal government on the other, impunity persists for the murders of Bety and Jyri, and the existing arrest-orders have yet to be implemented.  These agreements were made on 14 May of this year, after Omar Esparza Zárate, widower of Bety Cariño, launched a hunger strike of 16 days in front of the Federal Attorney General’s Office (PGR) to demand that the institution sign a list of agreements to guarantee justice in the case.

Furthermore, Jyri’s parents reported that they would newly request that the European Parliamentary Subcommittee on Human Rights demand the Mexican government to provide a report on the case.  “For me it is impossible to understand that in the first few weeks, we already knew who were the probable suspects, and they still have yet to be arrested […].  There are municipal authorities who are possibly responsible.  They go to Oaxaca to work, and there are arrest orders against them, but nothing happens,” noted Jyri’s mother.  She added that “the Eurodeputies see a connection between our case and that of Ayotzinapa.  They know that impunity exists behind these acts, and that this makes it likely that things like this will recur.”

Regarding the delay in arrests, Karla Michel Salas, lawyer with the National Association of Democratic Lawyers (ANAD), noted that the authorities have claimed that those responsible live in San Juan Copala and environs, where the group Unity and Social Welfare for the Triqui Region (UBISORT) holds power and “has arms and is dangerous.”  She added: “With this, the federal authorities accept that there is a region where the State cannot intervene, and where extra-legal groups terrorize the people.”

For more information (in Spanish):

Padres de Jyri Jaakkola exigen justicia por asesinato de su hijo y Bety Cariño (Cencos, 20 de noviembre de 2014)

Ningún avance para dar justicia por el asesinato de Bety Cariño (Revolución Tres Punto Cero, 21 de noviembre de 2014)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

National/Oaxaca: Mothers of the disappeared express solidarity with Omar Esparza and his family on hunger strike (18 May 2014)

Oaxaca: In response to 4 years of impunity, hunger strikes and protests taken to resist murders of Bety Cariño y Jyri Jaakkola (2 May 2014)

Oaxaca: Three-year impunity continues in the case of the murders of Bety Cariño y Jyri Jaakkola (17 May 2013)

Oaxaca: 12 arrest-orders released against presumed material authors of the murder of the Mexican defender Bety Cariño and the Finnish observer Jyri Jaakkola (12 October 2012)

Guerrero: Update in the Iguala case: former Iguala mayor is arrested; governor of Guerrero resigns; European Parliament divided over Ayotzinapa

November 3, 2014


Mobilization “A light for Ayotzinapa” in San Cristóbal de Las Casas. Photo@SIPAZ

On 22 October, the protest-day “A light for Ayotzinapa” was held in dozens of cities in Mexico and abroad.  In Mexico City itself, 50,000 participated in the march, according to city authorities.  In Iguala, protestors marched the same route taken by the normalist students before they were attacked by police.  In Chiapas, the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) carried out a prayer and protest.  Furthermore, thousands of citizens, including students and teachers, participated in the mobilizations in several cities of the state.  Students from different educational centers throughout the world joined the action, manifesting themselves in their countries for the disappearances of the 43 students.

On 23 October, Navy units arrested José Luis Abarca, former mayor of Iguala, and his wife Maria de Los Ángeles Pineda Villa, who have been indicated by the Federal Attorney General’s Office (PGR) as those who ordered the disappearance of the 43 students on 26 September.  Following their arrest, they were required to declare themselves before the Specialized Subprosecutorial Office for Investigations into Organized Crime (SEIDO).  The arrest was executed by the Navy with support from the PGR in a hotel in the capital of Veracruz state.

Also on 23 October, following weeks of calls to this end from all standpoints, Ángel Aguirre Rivero, governor of Guerrero, publicly announced his resignation before the state congress over the Iguala case.  He began the announcement by summarizing the advances his administration had made in the Iguala case, though he did not provide any information regarding the actual whereabouts of the disappeared.  In fact, the administration of Ángel Aguirre Rivero began with the murder of two other normalist students from Ayotzinapa: Gabriel Echeverría de Jesús and Jorge Alexis Herrera Pino were shot dead by federal and ministerial police on the Sol Highway on 12 December as they were clearing a blockade. This case continues in impunity.

The same day, nine new mass-gravesites were located in the La Parota zone near Iguala by communards who are members of the Union of Peoples and Organizations from Guerrero State (UPOEG).  They referred their findings to the federal police for investigation.

In other news, the European Parliament on 23 October approved a resolution condemning the events in Iguala that calls for the European Union (EU) to restrengthen its cooperation with Mexico in terms of human rights.  The resolution demands the continuation of investigations “until the students [are found to be] safe,” lamenting the “apparent infiltration of organized crime in local police and administrative organizations.”  The resolution presented the government of Enrique Peña Nieto as a victim of organized crime, and not as a principally responsible party in the acts.  In this sense, the European Green Party and the Unified European Left/Nordic Greens decided to distance themselves from this declaration and instead released their own proposal for resolution.  Both groups support the intervention in Mexico of the International Criminal Court (ICC) located in the Hague, as well as the suspension of the bilateral Global Mexico-EU accord, security agreements, and the arms trade with Mexico.  This alternative resolution interprets the events of Ayotzinapa as a spiral of violence that originates in years of impunity and broken promises by Mexican authorities.

For more information (in Spanish):

Detiene a exedil de Iguala y a su esposa (Eje Central, 24 de cotubre de 2014)

Parlamento Europeo condena desaparición de normalistas (El Universal, 23 de octubre de 2014)

Rechaza Parlamento Europeo condenar a México (El Universal, 22 de octubre de 2014)

Se divide Parlamento Europeo por desapariciones en Ayotzinapa(Proceso, 22 de octubre de 2014)
Tomó por sorpresa a diputados decisión de Aguirre de renunciar: Campos Aburto (La Jornada de Guerrero, 24 de octubre de 2014)

Hallazgo de 9 fosas más en Iguala; “había mochilas y lapiceros”: UPOEG(Aristegui Noticias, 24 de octubre de 2014)

Cobertura de marcha por Ayotzinapa: padres dan plazo de 2 días a autoridades (La Jornada, 22 de octubre de 2014)

“Nuestra luz es una forma de abrazar a quienes hoy hacen falta”: EZLN (Chiapas Paralelo, 23 de octubre de 2014)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Chiapas: New actions by the EZLN to support Ayotzinapa (26 October 2014)

Guerrero: Contradictory versions regarding findings from graves in Iguala three weeks after the forced disappearance of 43 students from Ayotzinapa – Protests are radicalized (26 October 2014)

National/International: Multiple mobilizations and marches for the “Pain” and “Rage” of Ayotzinapa (12 October 2014)

Guerrero: municipal police of Iguala fire on students of the Rural Normal School of Ayotzinapa. Six have died (11 October 2014)

Guerrero: Impunity continues in the Ayotzinapa case (17 May 2013)

Guerrero: Extrajudicial execution of students from the Rural Normal of Ayotzinapa (21 December 2011)

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: The UN, US and the EU Point Out Failure to Respect Human Rights and Recent Serious Violations

March 22, 2010

In the last few weeks, the Mexican government has received severe questioning at the international level regarding human rights.

On March 8 and 9, the UN Human Rights Committee held a session in New York. Ten years after presenting its last report on the advances made in compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Mexican government—which signed on to the agreement in 1981—presented its fifth periodic report to the UN Human Rights Committee some five years late. The experts that make up the committee questioned the Mexican State on its implementation of the measures laid out by the Covenant including different aspects such as: militarization, military tribunals, arraigo (pre-charge detentions), passed crimes and the disappearance of the Special Prosecutors Office for Passed Social Movements (FEMOSSP, Fiscalía Especial para los Movimientos Sociales del Pasado), torture, prison conditions, international treaty hierarchies, violence against women, a framework regulating abortion, protections for journalists and human rights defenders, rights for gays, lesbians and transgendered people (LGBT), as well as the situation concerning indigenous peoples’ rights and the application of Article 33.

In addition, on March 11, the US State Department published their “2009 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices.” The section on Mexico confirms that, in general, the government has respected human rights, however it also recognizes a deterioration of the human rights situation in the country sighting cases of arbitrary executions, impunity within the penal system, confessions obtained under torture, attacks on journalists, as well as complaints of forced disappearance carried out by the military.

Finally, on the same day, the European Parliament in Strasburg adopted a resolution titled “The Escalation of Violence in Mexico” by a vote 53 in favor, 2 opposed and 3 abstentions. In the resolution the European Parliament expressed its concern for the current level of violence in Mexico, the climate of impunity within the country as well as attacks against human rights defenders, journalists and women. The resolution called for the Mexican government to adopt policies that guarantee freedom of the press, protections for human rights defenders, security for women and put an end to the impunity enjoyed by security forces and abuses of power.

For More Information:

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

2009 Human Rights Report: Mexico (US State Department, 11/3/2010)

European Parliament resolution on the escalation of violence in Mexico (11/3/2010)

For More Information in Spanish:

Aumentaron los casos de violaciones a los derechos humanos en México, afirma EU (Jornada, 12/3/2010)

Preocupa al Parlamento Europeo la escalada de violencia en México (Jornada, 12/3/2010)

Condena UE creciente violencia en México (Reforma, 12/3/2010)

Eurocámara llama a frenar violencia en México (Universal, 12/3/2010)

Preocupa a Parlamento Europeo violencia e impunidad en México (Revista Proceso, 11/3/2010)

Critica Parlamento Europeo falta de compromiso para defender DH de las mujeres (CIMAC Noticias, 10/3/2010)

Mexico: European Parliament approves the Strategic Partnership between the European Union and Mexico

March 13, 2009

On March 12 the European Parliament approved, by 463 in favor, 20 against, and 52 abstaining, a report by the Spanish representative José Ignacio Salafranca (PPE-DE) which supports the establishment of a Strategic Partnership between the European Union (EU) and Mexico. The European representatives stated as priorities the fight against drug-trafficking, international terrorism, organized crime, as well as cooperation on issues of immigration. The report also requested the inclusion of Mexico as “a permanent member of the new financial and international economic structure of the G-20”. In 2000, the EU and Mexico had signed an “agreement of global partnership”, increasing commerce between the two by more than 100%, and in light of these “positive results”, the European Parliament decided to move forward towards “a qualitative step forward in relations between Mexico and the European Union”.

In the parliamentary discussion regarding the strategic partnership before the voting, the representative of the Green Party Raul Romeva i Rueda stated that instead of developing benefits, this type of agreement has “created a dependence” of Mexico on the EU, and a commercial deficit to Europe. According to him, the “most concerning” without question is the “liberalizing obsession” towards the economy of this country, especially in sectors like banking in which 90% is in foreign hands, a good part of them European. He also stated that “the bulk of the exports from the EU are import-export goods, for example European goods are not consumed in Mexico. To the contrary, they are reassembled and exported. I am referring to the famous maquiladoras (sweatshops). Mexico has become a trampoline for goods from the EU to the United States.”

The Spanish representative also called a resolution to “the problem of impunity, which according to official data, is between 97 and 99 percent”.

For More Information (In Spanish):

La Eurocámara aprueba apoya el establecimiento de una Asociación Estratégica entre la UE y México, Parlamento Europeo (12/03/2009)

UE-México: La Comisión propone una Asociación Estratégica, RMALC (15/07/2008)