Chiapas: In San Cristóbal de Las Casas, commemorations for Day of the Dead

November 19, 2015

Altar de la Campaña Popular contra la Violencia hacia las Mujeres y el Feminicidio en Chiapas.  Foto: cortesía.

Altar of the Popular Campaign against Violence against Women and Femicide in Chiapas. Photo credit: courtesy.

In observance of the Day of the Dead, several organizations and collectives organized commemorative events in San Cristóbal de Las Casas. For one, Melel Xojobal, a civil association that works to promote, defend, and exercise the human rights of children and youth through participatory processes, organized an act against child mortality due to discrimination, violence, and poverty. With slogans such as “they should not die” protestors marched through downtown, where they installed an altar with information regarding several cases and statistics on child mortality in Chiapas and Mexico. “We do these marches to raise our voices, so that people come to realize that the government does nothing, that when something happens to children or youth, impunity remains,” said a youth protestor.

For its part, the Popular Campaign against Violence against Women and Femicide in Chiapas also installed an altar. Using photos of femicide victims, both from the state as well as from other parts of the country, they commemorated the victims of violence against women and demanded the end of the violence against women and female human-rights defenders.

Beyond this, Roberto Paciencia Cruz, Lucio Hernández Patishtan, and Juan de la Cruz Ruiz, prisoners held in the Center for Social Readaptation (CERESO) of San Cristóbal de Las Casas, published a letter denouncing “the injustices, discrimination, and unjust incarcerations” due to which “we have not been able to visit our homes” to remember their dead. “Today and in this space we create our own altar to commemorate our families, friends, and all those who fell in 1994, as well as those killed in the Acteal massacre, tatic Samuel Ruiz García, who lamentably has left this world. Some of them died in the struggle, such that they are not present any longer as persons, but their spirits will live on in our hearts.”

For more information (in Spanish):

Día de muertos – Melel Xojobal (Vientos Culturales, 5 de noviembre de 2015)

Carta de presos en el día de muertos (Chiapas denuncia pública, 31 de octubre de 2015)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Mexico: 5 years since the massacre of 72 migrants in San Fernando, Tamaulipas (11 September 2015)

Mexico/National: Honduran migrant dies of drowning in presence of migration agents, says La 72 (22 March 2015)

Chiapas: Justice is demanded in the case of the feminicide of the youth Itzel Yanet Méndez Pérez (16 May 2012)

Chiapas: XV Aniversario de Melel Xojobal (9 February 2012)

Chiapas: “Violence and infancy in the state” (27 November 2011)

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National/Chiapas: “little to celebrate” for Children’s Day

May 16, 2014

@Agencia Cuartoscuro

@Agencia Cuartoscuro

Since 1924, 30 April has been celebrated as International Children’s Day.  In theory, the day was established to promote the rights of children.  However, the date has now become a “political festival of balloons and clowns,” as the daily newspaper El Universal charged, while Chiapas Paralelo indicated the “proselytism” of politicians who take advantage of the organized events to take pictures with children.  El Universal also mentioned the absurdity of inverting in toys and spectacles “more than in solutions to protect those who are being celebrated.”

Certainly, little can be celebrated, as these media and others have stressed: Mexico is one of the 30 countries in which children suffer conditions of slavery.  Beyond this, more than half of all children (20 million) live in poverty, with 10% of them residing in Chiapas.  The statistics regarding children in this state are equally alarming in terms of education, access to health services, and nutrition, among other things.  Melel Xojobal A.C. noted for its part that “the country has very little to celebrate when more than a half of its children and adolescents live in conditions of poverty, exclusion, and violence.”  The group observed for example that in Chiapas more than 21,000 minors live in the streets, that the state has the lowest percentage of school attendance in the country, that it has a rate of child labor higher than the national average, and that more than half of the children of the Highlands region suffer from malnutrition.

For more information (in Spanish):

Proselitismo con juguetes y despensas, en el marco del Día del Niño y la Niña (Chiapas Paralelo, 1 de mayo de 2014)

Más de dos millones de niños, niñas y adolescentes en pobreza y exclusión en Chiapas: Melel Xojobal (Chiapas Paralelo, 1 de mayo de 2014)

Día del Niño… o de los políticos? (El Universal, 30 de abril de 2014)

Día del niño con mucho que trabajar (Cuarto Poder, 30 de abril de 2014)

Día del niño, detrás de una sonrisa inocente está la pobreza y la desigualdad (Crónica de los Altos, 30 de abril de 2014)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Chiapas: Forum on “The rights of childhood and adolescence in southeastern Mexico” (15 March 2014)


Chiapas : Forum on “The rights of childhood and adolescence in southeastern Mexico”

March 15, 2014

foro-infancia

On 1 March, Melel Xojobal A.C., REDIM (Network of the Rights of the Child in Mexico), and REDIAS (Network for the Rights of Children and Adolescents in Chiapas) organized the first regional forum of NGOS on “The rights of childhood and adolescence in southeastern Mexico.”  The forum intended to create space for analysis and dialogue toward the end of joining together the work of civil organizations which labor in favor of the rights of children, so that there be greater efficiency and cooperation in this struggle.

Despite representing 35% of the national population (more than 40 million persons), children control only 6% of the country’s budget, with only a small portion of this going toward their protection. Juan Martín Pérez García, director of Redim, recalled that the rights of the child “are human rights and not small rights,” adding that adolescents comprise a full 50% of all femicides committed in the country.  The doctor denounced that Mexico “is not implementing conditions to observe the rights of children.”  It should be noted that, among the 176 recommendations made to Mexico by the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), just 7 refer to children and adolescents.

Children make up a third of Mexico’s population and 40% of the population of Chiapas.  Lamentably, the situation of children in the latter context is very difficult: Chiapas is one of the places with the fewest legal tools enshrined into public policy, and the statistics for children in the state are among the worst in the country, always below the national average.  Chiapas has the least percentage of school attendance in Mexico and the lowest average number of years spent in formal education, but the majority of the population aged 12-17 is economically active.  Chiapas occupied third place in the number of adolescent pregnancies (15-19 years), and it is retrograde in terms of health-care access (42% of children lack such access, vs. 32% nationally); infant mortality reaches 19.5/1000 in the state, with 14.2/1000 being the national ratio.

In November, for the first time, Mexico will attend the VI Global Congress for the Rights of Children and Adolescents, which will coincide with the twenty-fifth anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, ratified by Mexico in 1990.  This may be an opportunity to make visible the rights of youth, and to make them a reality….

For more information (in Spanish):

Llaman a trabajar por derechos de los niños (La Jornada, 2 de marzo de 2014)

Foro regional en atención a los derechos de niños y niñas (Cuarto Poder, 1 de marzo de 2014)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Chiapas: denunciation of acts of “social cleansing” in San Cristóbal de Las Casas (16 November 2012)

Chiapas: Justice is demanded in the case of the feminicide of the youth Itzel Yanet Méndez Pérez (16 May 2012)

Chiapas: XV Aniversario de Melel Xojobal (9 February 2012)

Chiapas: “Violence and infancy in the state” (27 November 2011)

Chiapas: Fourteenth anniversary of Melel Xojobal, organization for the defense of the rights of children and adolescents (7 February 2011)


Chiapas: denunciation of acts of “social cleansing” in San Cristóbal de Las Casas

November 16, 2012

In a public communique released on 7 November, several organizations that work for the promotion and defense of the rights of infants and adolescents, including Melel Xojobal A.C. and Save The Children, demonstrated their concern over “numerous acts of social cleansing that have affected hundreds of child workers and their families” in San Cristóbal de Las Casas.  They detail several examples of this which have been registered since 1 October.  Affirming that though at least 1481 children and adolescents work or accompany their parents to work in this city, “there do not exist public policies at the municipal level designed for infants, in particular for indigenous infants.”

These organizations note that “for more than five years, City Hall has in turn implemented different acts of social cleansing, such as banning the sale of handcrafts in the streets, the relocation of merchants who sell popular and necessary products to the periphery of the city, the creation of a touristic police that ‘invites’ ambulatory merchants to abandon their places so as not to bother visitors.”  They claim that “far from opening links of understanding among the citizenry, the aforementioned generates a climate of social discrimination and criminalizes the poverty of those who work in the streets, thus perpetuating exclusion, marginalization, and the violation of their human rights.”  Further, they added that “the desire to maintain the city as secure and attractive and orderly for tourists should not imply social costs for the local population, much less for the infants and adolescents who work in public spaces.”

For more information (in Spanish):

Es necesario garantizar el respeto de los DH de las niñas, niños y adolescentes trabajadores de San Cristóbal de Las Casas (Boletín de prensa, OSC de DH, 7 de noviembre de 2012)

Trabajan más de 2 mil infantes (Cuarto Poder, 8 de noviembre de 2012)

Limpieza social en México (La Jornada, artículo de opinión de Miguel Concha, 10 de noviembre de 2012)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Chiapas: “Violence and infancy in the state” (27 November 2011)


Chiapas: XV Anniversary of Melel Xojobal

February 9, 2012


On 2 February, the organization Melel Xojobal celebrated its 15th anniversary with the presentation of the report “Infancy counts in Mexico 2011, Use of public data to take decisions in favor of the rights of children and adolescents” as well as the essay regarding “Adolescents in Mexico: regional observations on their rights.”

Melel Xojobal was founded in 1997 in San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas, and was born in the diocese before becoming a proper organization.  During its first years of existence, the work of the organization centered around educational programs for street children.  Later, its work evolved, broadening its scope so as to contribute more effectively to the observation of the rights of indigenous children and youth who are socially excluded.  The organization works with indigenous children and youth in the state of Chiapas to promote the defense and exercise of their rights by means of participatory processes aimed at improving their lives through cultural diversity.

For more information (in Spanish):

La infancia cuenta 2011

Melel Xojobal

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Chiapas: “Violence and infancy in the state” (27 November 2011)

Chiapas: Fourteenth anniversary of Melel Xojobal, organization for the defense of the rights of children and adolescents (7 February 2011)


Chiapas: “Violence and infancy in the state”

November 27, 2011

On 22 November, in commemoration of the XXII anniversary of the Convention of the Rights of the Child, the organization Melel Xojobal indicated that Chiapas is a state in which the rights of children are frequently violated, both in rural and urban zones.  In general terms, they note that “Mexico occupies the first place in physical violence, sexual violence, and homicides directed against minors younger than 14 years of age among the countries belonging to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.  Linked to this scenario, since the federal government launched its ‘war’ against organized crime in 2006, violence has taken the lives of thousands of children and has been incorporated as a ‘normal’ aspect of the lives of millions of these.”

In urban zones in Chiapas, the organization details that the types of violence most identified are physical, very common above all within families and in schools, as well as cases of sexual exploitation of infants, above all in border towns.  Melel affirms also that “another expression of violence against children in the cities is social cleansing, or systematic action that consists in assaulting, harassing, and threatening the population that lives and works in the streets, pressing them to leave these public spaces.”

In rural zones, beyond child labor, the organization indicates that “the structural violence suffered by children and adolescents results in deaths from preventable diseases.”  It refers to the “communal conflicts [which] are also a source of violence, be it due to religious intolerance or political confrontations among parties or organizations,” giving the example of this problem in the case of Guaquitepec, municipality of Chilón, where due to communal conflict there were invaded school spaces and some furniture destroyed.

Regarding migration, the organization notes that children and adolescents in Chiapas “have their reasons to flee beatings at home, to stop being a burden on the family and instead find a job or a mother or father who before leaving for the United States promised to return but never did.”

In the case of Zapatista autonomous communities, Melel notes “that the panorama is violent, given that there exist cases of forced displacement due to the harassment of groups opposed to the autonomous organization,” as in the case of San Marcos Avilés, official municipality of Chilón.  The organization denounces also that the war of low intensity and the creation of so-called paramilitary groups “constitute a constant threat to the security, life, and integrity of the communities in resistance and of the children and youth who in part constitute these.”

For more information (in Spanish):

Pide ONG protección a infantes trabajadores (Cuarto Poder, 22 November 2011)

Comunicado de prensa completo (Melel Xolobal, 22 November 2011)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Chiapas: Fourteenth anniversary of Melel Xojobal, organization for the defense of the rights of children and adolescents (7 February 2011)


Chiapas: Fourteenth anniversary of the Melel Xojobal, organization for the defense of rights of children and adolescents

February 7, 2011

In observation of its fourteenth anniversary the social organization Melel Xojobal A.C. organized the forum “Violence against children and adolescents in Mexico: Education, society, and media.”

During the event held in San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas, Nashieli Ramírez from the program Infancy in Movement presented a panorama of violence from infancy to adolescence in Mexico.  She presented alarming statistics regarding the so-called “war on organized crime” and the violence that as a consequence has gripped the country.  “The impact that this has had on infancy and adolescence has resulted in 40000 orphaned children, more than 30000 children kidnapped by organized crime, and finally 34 million Mexican children and adolescents who every day watch the news and participated in games that naturalize violence.”

For her part, Lourdes Almada from the Network of the Rights of Infancy in Ciudad Juárez spoke to the impact that the “war on organized crime” has had on infancy and adolescence in that city.  Almada observed that between 2008 and 2010 were killed close to 7000 people, of which more than 400 were minors of age; it is estimated that 13000 children have been made orphans.

In the third intervention, Patricia Carmona from Mexican Agency of News for the Rights of Infancy (AMNDI) presented data from her editorial analysis of media published in the country regarding the rights of children and adolescents that was published in alliance with the program Infancy and Movement.

The types of violence most reported in the state daily newspapers were domestic violence in the first place; violence in the community and school in second and third place; violence perpetrated by organized crime in fourth place; and sexual violence and commercial sexual exploitation in last place.

To close the event Rosa Poiré Castañeda, from the organization Save the Children Mexico, spoke on the challenges of building spaces free of violence with children and adolescents.

For more information (in Spanish):

Violence against children and adolescents in Mexico (Cencos, 3 February 2011)

Melel Xojobal A.C

Infancia in Movement
Mexican Agency of News for the Rights of Infancy
(AMNDI)

Save the Children México

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Chiapas: Melel Xojobal debuts the book “Infancy Matters in Mexico 2007” (5 February 2008)