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4072 - When Shields become Targets: Scopes and Limitations for Human Rights Defenders in Mexico

A review of the situation of human rights defenders (HDR) in Mexico during the last 15 years reveals a paradox development. While the country at least formally experienced a (weak) democratic transition, the situation of HRDs has worsened. As compared to the time before, their work significantly increased in the mid-nineties in Chiapas in conjunctionwith the solidarity movement with the Zapatista Uprise. Since then HRDs accompany communities at risk to help protecting them against assaults by paramilitary and security forces.

Social conflicts are on the rise since the democratic transition which in the year 2000 found its expression by the presidency of Vicente Fox from the Partido Acción Nacional (PAN) and the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI) losing power. National and international HDRs were present during the Atenco resistance in 2002 and 2006, the Oaxaca uprising in 2006 and the caravan to San Juan Copala (Oaxaca). During the last decade, assaults on HRDs have been growing quantitatively as well as qualitatively. One of the most severe incidences was the murder of Bety Cariño and Juri Jaakkola in Oaxaca in April 2010.

We explain the above mentioned paradox by a diversification of state actors and a geographic expansion of the field of action of HRDs. Using exemplary cases we discuss the scopes and limitations for human rights defenders in Mexico and strategies of reducing the risk of assaults on them.

Palavras-chaves: Human Rights Defenders; Mexico; assault; social conflict

Autores: Clausing, Peter (CAREA e.V., Germany / Deutschland)
Co-Autores: Schulz, Christiane

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