<i>"The Name of Our Country is América" - Simon Bolivar</i> The Narco News Bulletin<br><small>Reporting on the War on Drugs and Democracy from Latin America
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On-Going Violations of Human Rights Elicits Call for Honoring Mexico's Treaty Commitment

Pressure for Justice Growing in Oaxaca


By Nancy Davies
Commentary from Oaxaca

February 28, 2010

The Mexican Protectorate for Human Rights, a new human rights group, demands that Oaxaca and Mexico honor the UN treaty Mexico signed which extends individual human rights to everyone regardless of nationality, sex, religion, or political persuasion. The International Bill of Human Rights consists of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and its two Optional Protocols. In 1966 the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted the two detailed Covenants, which completed the International Bill of Human Rights. Mexico served on the human rights council in 2009 with much fanfare on the part of President Felipe Calderón, who since his assumption of power in 2006 has protected Oaxaca governor Ulises Ruiz Ortiz (URO).


Jesús Alfredo Lopez Garcia, President of the Mexican Protectorate of Human Rights
Photo: D.R. 2010 George Salzman
Ironically, URO now calls Calderón a liar. It seems that URO made a bargain with the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI in its Spanish abbreviation) to assist Calderón’s National Action Part (PAN in its Spanish abbreviation) in a vote to raise taxes. In return, Calderon’s Secretary of Government pledged that the PAN would not enter into a political alliance with the electoral opposition shaping up in Oaxaca against the PRI. Now that opposition coalition is up and running PAN has joined it.

The Protectorate’s campaign was introduced at a press conference on February 25, 2010 by the human rights lawyer and president of the Protectorate, Jesús Alfredo Lopez Garcia, who points out that at least eight foreigners have been arrested, harassed and abused in Oaxaca for indicating opposition to URO. Reporters, radio and TV broadcasters, artists, video makers, writers and international tourists have repeatedly suffered at the hands of this administration. Under the international treaty which Mexico signed, the right to express one’s views cannot be limited for being a non-citizen.

The most recent case in Oaxaca involved four foreign women, three of them Americans and one Uruguayan. The four, legally residing in Oaxaca with tourist visas, were arrested shortly after seeing URO in the Zócalo on the evening of Thursday, January 28, around 9 p.m.

One of the young women spoke to URO, asking why Juan Manuel Martínez Moreno was still in prison for the October 2006 murder of Brad Will, a case which has become internationally famous because no evidence exists linking Martinez Moreno, the scapegoated APPO activist, to Will’s death. Five minutes after the governor walked away from them the four women were arrested, driven around, threatened and imprisoned overnight in a cell, sleeping on the cement floor. In the morning López García obtained the release of the women who presented their visas to immigration authorities. The US consular agent, Mark Leyes, also intervened on behalf of the US government.

López García said that shortly he will once again solicit the Executive to declare “his position in regard to the abuses which foreign citizens endure.”

Although many of us are familiar with the murders, disappearances, detentions, torture and more committed in 2006, some aspects of those statewide events have yet to be revealed. For example, the assassination of Oaxacan José Colmenares on August 10 was committed by snipers stationed on rooftops along the APPO march route. López García told me that Colmenares, who was struck by nine bullets, clearly must have been individually targeted. Why? According to López García’s conversation with Colmenares’ widow, on voting day July 4, 2006 Colmenares met up with URO at the polling place they both use. Colmenares remarked, with a thumbs down sign in URO’s presence, “Ya cayó, ya cayó!” (APPO slogan “He’s out!”), referring to the presumed forcing from office of the governor. Colmenares was killed five weeks later. No emergency medical treatment was administered, although he was shot in front of a medical clinic and taken inside.

Evidently, this governor brooks no opposition or criticism, regardless of nationality. López García suffered an act of aggression himself on February 15 which “was carried out by an individual who claimed to work in the Secretary of Government. He identified himself as Mario Narvaez Cruz, and he was carrying a knife. He told me they sent him to talk with me and give me a warning.” López García solicited the Executive Power “to ratify or amend the message of the aggressor who said his name is Mario Narváez.” Thus far there has been no response.

The Mexican Protectorate of Human Rights, which will defend the human rights of foreigners in Mexico as well as those of Mexican citizens, will seek criminal charges against URO personally. According to López García, the executive branch of the state government could prosecute, assuming the incoming governor is not a PRI successor to URO. Efforts to achieve any legal actions in Oaxaca routinely fail if they involve government officials, all of whom are controlled by the PRI.

A candle of hope has now been lit in Oaxaca by the political opposition coalition, which hopes to wrest power from the PRI by electoral means on July 4, 2010 when a new governor, local deputies and mayors will be chosen. The possible cleansing by peaceful means of the 80-year reign of PRI caciques depends on whether disillusioned citizenry will bother to vote. The possible prosecution of Ulises Ruiz Ortiz and his cabinet of 2006 depends on that same electoral outcome. One might affirm that peace in Oaxaca depends on the 2010 electoral outcome, and many point to the presence of the federal police on the streets: not a hopeful sign.

#

Footnote: According to the official page of the United Nations Office of the High Commission for Human Rights (OHCHR): Following an official invitation of the Mexican Government, the United Nations Office of the High Commission for Human Rights signed an Agreement in July 2002 in order to establish an OHCHR Office in the country. Later on that year, Mexico ’s Senate ratified the Agreement and the Office was formally established. In 2003, OHCHR conducted an in-depth assessment and diagnosis of the country’s human rights situation, identifying the main obstacles to the full integration of international human rights standards into domestic legislation, and to the implementation of recommendations made by international human rights mechanisms. OHCHR, then, assisted the Government in elaborating a new National Program on Human Rights largely based on the results of the assessment…

The Office is developing a thematic focus on the situation of human rights of women, indigenous peoples, journalists and human rights defenders in general. At the normative level, the Office supports the debate about a constitutional reform in Mexico to ensure that international human rights norms are duly incorporated into national legislation. Compliance with recommendations made by the various United Nations bodies and special mechanisms to Mexico will be encouraged and supported, and so will be the harmonization of state-level legislation with international standards…

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The Narco News Bulletin: Reporting on the Drug War and Democracy from Latin America