Just Americas: A Blog by LAWG

Human Rights Challenges in Mexico, Part 1: The Use of Torture

Since 2006, the deterioration of Mexico’s security situation due to the Mexican government’s “war on organized crime” has made international headlines. The violence has affected tens of thousands of citizens and exacerbated long-standing issues of corruption and institutional weakness. During the administration of former President Felipe Calderón, Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission (Comisión Nacional de Derechos Humanos, CNDH) saw a five-fold increase in complaints of human rights violations by Mexican soldiers and federal police, including torture, rape, extrajudicial execution, arbitrary detention, and enforced disappearance.  At the same time, human rights defenders have found it increasingly difficult to carry out their work due to threats to their safety. Recently elected president Enrique Peña Nieto has firmly expressed his commitment to making sure that “rights established on paper become reality,” but his government has yet to make concrete changes that would reflect this commitment.

During the "Human Rights Challenges in Mexico" event, co-hosted by the Latin America Working Group Education Fund, the Washington Office on Latin America, the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, and Just AssociatesStephanie Brewer (Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez Human Rights Center) discussed the use of torture as it relates to Mexico's criminal justice system. The following is a translation...

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Human Rights Challenges in Mexico, Part 2: Attacks on Human Rights Defenders

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Why the U.S. Should be Paying Attention to Cuba

One of the biggest complaints about the Cuban government from the exile community is that it “lacks transparency.” During a presentation given at American University by Dr. Jose R. Cabañas, the current Cuban Chief of the Cuban Interests Section (aka Ambassador) to the United States, it is clear that this new blueprint for economic reform in Cuba is quite the contrary, and actually very transparent. The “Proyecto de lineamientos de la política económica y social del partido y la revolución, (Communist Party’s Policy Guidelines for Social and Economic Reform) simply referenced as the “lineamientos” (policy guidelines), is essentially a rubric of reforms that have been proposed and approved by the Cuban National Assembly. There are over 300 reforms that have been approved and are now in the implementation phases. Some of these significant changes include the expansion of the private business sector, legalizing the sale of homes and automobiles and a implementing a less bureaucratic migration policy...

cabanasCuban Ambassador Jose R. Cabañas Photo Credit: American University

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Until We Find Them, Part 1: The Disappeared in Mexico

The 1994 Inter-American Convention on Forced Disappearance of Persons defines forced disappearance as “the act of depriving a person or persons of his or their freedom, in whatever way, perpetrated by agents of the state or by persons or groups of persons acting with the authorization, support, or acquiescence of the state, followed by an absence of information or a refusal to acknowledge that deprivation of freedom or to give information on the whereabouts of that person, thereby impeding his or her recourse to the applicable legal remedies and procedural guarantees.” On Monday, March 18, 2013 the Latin America Working Group Education Fund together with the Washington Office on Latin Americathe Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, the US Office on Colombia, and the Guatemala Human Rights Commissionhosted a panel event entitled “Until We Find Them: The Disappeared in Colombia, Guatemala, Mexico, and Peru” to discuss the situation of forced disappearances in each country.

Nadín Reyes Maldonado is the daughter of Edmundo Reyes Amaya, who was detained and disappeared on May 25, 2007 in Oaxaca, Mexico. She founded the Committee of Relatives of the Disappeared “Until We Find Them” (Comité de Familiares de Detenidos Desaparecidos "Hasta Encontrarlos"). Nadín shared the following testimony about the current situation of the disappeared in Mexico during the March 18th panel.The following testimony is a translation..

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