Wednesday 25 January 2012

Nobel Women's Initiative hears testimony, and Human Rights Watch PR war gets into high gear

La politica es la politica will post periodic English language translations sourced from the Americas Mexico Blog.

The following come from press reports in English and Spanish:

Nobel Women´s Initiative hears testimony of indigenous women of Guerrero

La Jornada: "Militarization, organized crime, rape by soldiers and police and impunity, neglectful bureaucracy and abuse of authority, plunder, murder and extreme labor exploitation, and--as background--the custom that assumes that women, or "the old women"-to put it on their terms, are useless. Dozens of women's stories from Mepha (Tlapanecas), Na Savi (Mixteco), Sul Jaá (Amuzgo) and Nahua (Nahuatl) tumbled out in this morning's meeting of indigenous women of Guerrero with the international delegation of the Nobel Women's Initiative, organized by the Tlachinollan organization, based in the Tlapa Mountain region.

In the dialogue, which seeks to enhance the visibility of these struggles in North America, narratives of historical cases were shared.

One such is the decades-long pilgrimage of Tita Radilla to determine the whereabouts of her father, Rosendo Radilla, who disappeared in the seventies, one among more than 500 victims of the dirty war. Since their first complaint to the Attorney General's Office (PGR), then the fraudulent transfer to the military courts (where, despite the case for responsibility built against a general, he went free), contiuing with a failed Special Prosecutor for Social and Political Movements (FEMOSPP), not a single case was clarified until presented to the Interamerican Human Rights Commission. And although there is a conviction against the Mexican state from that court, there has not been compliance with any of the actions required by the government, as there is no political will to enforce it, Tita concludes

... The widows of the two leaders of the Mixteco People's Organization in Ayutla, also testified, Margarita Martin de las Nieves, wife of Manuel Ponce, and Guadalupe Castro, wife of  Raul Lopez, murdered in 2009. They spoke not only of the repressive situation behind the killings, but also of their condition as widows, so lonely, so abandoned, in a social environment that does not give them any right to govern their own lives, harassed and discriminated against by their in-laws.

Also, from Ayutla de los Libres came the story of Obdulia Eugenio Manuel. She tells how in 1994, along with the Zapatista uprising in Chiapas and a measles epidemic that filled the church in their community, Guadalupe Canyon, with piled corpses, the military arrived. Years later, in 2002, that same military violently raped the indigenous women, Valentina Rosendo and Ines Fernandez, which led to another landmark ruling of the Interamerican Court against the Mexican government. ... Being a defender of human rights in that community, such as Obdulia is, is seen as a threat to local authorities, and therefore makes one the target of systematic threats of death.

"I go and tell the Attorney General the names of those that threaten me and all they do is send me to testify again and again. And send me insulting means of security, which are nothing more than video cameras that monitor the office that we have--she is president of the organization  Mepha Women--and they don't work. The last time I spoke to them, I told them to take their fucking stuff, " she says without embarrassment.
Worth listening to

Then there are the shared experiences of personal resilience, such as the women who come from  Metlatónoc  and Cochoapa, considered the two of the poorest municipalities in the country. There young girls, in order to go to middle school have had to overcome the ancestral resistance of their  parents and siblings, and who, to express  their identity, embroider huipiles (traditional blouses). They recognize, as does Martina Sierra, head of the civil association Savi Yoko, that "we love our roots, but we also see that our ancestors had discriminatory practices against women and we rebel against it.""

HRW demands that the next Mexican government review anti-crime strategy

La Jornada: "The organization Human Rights Watch (HRW), on Monday, called on the next government of Mexico to review its strategy against organized crime and drug cartels, which, in its view, increased violence and human rights abuses in the country. "It appears that the current strategy is not working," the Americas director for the organization ... José Miguel Vivanco, told a news conference in Washington.

The future government, which will be elected ... in July, has to ask itself if it should continue using the Army, currently deployed within the strategy of the government of Felipe Calderón, "against a problem which is political and judicial." Is the Army in a position ready to continue this fight? Or is it an entity that is not subordinate to civil authority? My opinion is the latter, said Vivanco.

In its global report released on Sunday, HRW reported serious human rights violations by Mexican military, along with great impunity in the face of these facts. The Military Attorney  opened 3,671 cases regarding possible abuses between 2007 and 2011, but there have been only 15 convictions, the organization highlighted .

Mexico's government, on Monday, rejected the accusations, assuring that the 50,000 soldiers deployed to combat organized crime do their work in strict compliance with the requirements of public safety.

Vivanco regretted that Mexico continues a general attitude of inflexibility, blindly going forward with a policy that pays off according to them, but according to all the figures shows that there is increasing violence and abuse at the same time.

He issued a challenge to the government of Mexico to explain how it can say that 95 percent of the nearly 50,000 people who have died from the violence of organized crime in the past five years are drug dealers, even though it has opened investigations in less than a thousand cases. The figure is minimal in relation to the severity and number of violations or abuses or murders that have occurred in the context of the fight against drug trafficking.

Nevertheless, he acknowledged that Mexico is a country open to human rights organizations, and related that recently he had a positive meeting with Calderon, who said he expects real and concrete changes in regard to human rights in the time that remains for his government."
They have the Mexican government's attention

The Army adheres to the law in the fight against crime: military prosecutor responds to HRW

La Jornada: "The Army's commitment to strictly adhere to the law in the war on drugs has cost soldiers and the institution itself, as more than 100 soldiers have been "disappeared or seized" after appearing in federal or local courts to testify regarding their intervention in matters which resulted in criminal proceedings in civil matters, according to the military prosecutor, Gen. Jesus Gabriel López Benítez.

After rejecting categorically the contents of the report by Human Rights Watch (HRW), which states that there is impunity for soldiers who violate human rights, General López Benítez said yesterday in an interview with La Jornada that the situation is so delicate that he has requested the Judiciary of the Federation to allow military personnel involved in criminal proceedings--because of their being involved in shootings, arrests and searches involving organized crime--to appear via video conference or to testify before judges in their own locality.

He revealed that soldiers who took part in high-impact operations, such as in Tamaulipas, Nuevo Leon and Chihuahua, ... are cited then to appear as witnesses after they returned to their headquarters in other states. Months later, when trials are underway, federal judges subpoena them and the Ministry of National Defense (SEDENA), in accordance with the law, sends the soldiers to their court appearance.

However, he said, is that the vast majority of the 123 soldiers "disappeared or seized" so far in this administration, never returned home after testifying or afer they had left their barracks. There is evidence that when the soldiers were heading to the bus station, after having testified, they were loaded onto trucks by armed men and, after that, nothing was heard of them. Organized crime solicits the appearance of soldiers who served in operations against organized crime and make them appear for revenge. That would not happen if soldiers acted with impunity, he said.

After disqualifying the latest HRW report, the military regretted that for the preparation of that document the organization did not take into account even the data that the Department of Defense publishes at its website.

The prosecutor also said that in every incident involving civilians, two criminal investigations are immediately opened, one by the Military Office, and one by the local attorney General's Office, as appropriate. Once the process is moving forward, the military judge decides whether to decline jurisdiction, but that does not mean impunity.

The officer reiterated the military's interest in demonstrating its commitment to legality and respect for human rights."

HRW report does not reflect real situation in Mexico: Interior Ministry

Milenio: "The federal government said that the report by Human Rights Watch (HRW) on the status of Human Rights in the World, contains categorical and generalized statements about the country that do not reflect the real situation in Mexico. The Secretary of the Interior (Interior Ministry) said in a statement that "the number of complaints (in the HRW annual report) does not represent in any way the number of acts that violate human rights."

In response to the HRW report content, the agency said that of the 98 recommendations issued by the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) and the Ministry of National Defense (SEDENA), 266 soldiers have been indicted or subject to legal process and  29 convictions have been issued.

The statement further highlighted that on December 9, 2011, President Felipe Calderón instructed the Federal Executive Counsel and Secretary of the Interior, Alejandro Poire, to coordinate efforts with the legislature to move forward an initiative by the President that seeks to amend the Code of Military Justice, in order to meet the criteria of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) and the Mexican Supreme Court of Justice (SCJN).

In addition, both the armed forces and the Attorney General's Office (PGR) are exploring mechanisms for find ing a way--without violating the law--to transfer jurisdiction from military prosecutors in favor the Public Ministry and civil judges when military personnel participate in human rights violations.

... The statement clarified that Alejandro Poire sent a formal response to the HRW report regarding Mexico, which was presented on the November 9, 2011, and that "for various methodological reasons discussed at length there, (the report) does not reflect the real situation in Mexico."

He said that only in this administration, the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) has received 6,065 complaints about operations of the Department of Defense, of which only 98, i.e., 1.61 percent of the total resulted in recommendations. One hundred percent of the recommendations have been adopted by the National Defense and are in process of being fulfilled.

The statement also referred to the President´s commitment to freedom of expression and ensuring protection of journalists who have reported threats to the Committee to Protect Journalists. He said that in 100 percent of the cases of which the Committee is aware, security measures have been implemented  that ensure the security and integrity of journalists."

'El Chapo' aide killed in gunfight

AP/NPR: "Members of a Mexican army special forces unit fatally shot a high-ranking aide to the country's most-wanted drug dealer in a gunfight in the northern state of Durango, officials said Monday. Luis Alberto Cabrera Sarabia was responsible for the operations of Guzman's Sinaloa Cartel in Durango and part of the neighboring state of Chihuahua."

Twitter: @TimothyEWilson
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