Mexico

23 human rights defenders were killed in Mexico in 2019. President Lopez Obrador’s commitment to fighting poverty has so far entailed investment in extractive projects. Defenders opposing them face enormous risks due to the high-powered corporate interests and potential profits involved.

On 20 November 2019, the body of Arnulfo Cerón Soriano was found buried under several tons of soil in Tlapa, Guerrero. Arnulfo Cerón Soriano was a lawyer and human rights defender from the Naua community of the region of La Montaña, Guerrero. He had been missing for six weeks. As a member of the Popular Front of the Mountain (FPM), he organized the communities of the region to defend human rights. He previously collaborated with the Tlachinollan Mountain Human Rights Centre (accompanied by PBI), and assisted the parents of the 43 Ayotzinapa students disappeared in Iguala in 2014. Since Arnulfo’s disappearance, members of the Human Rights Centre have received threatening phone calls - “if you don't want to end up like Arnulfo stop what you are doing”.

 

The Mexico Project opened in 1998. Requests for an international presence had initially been received from organisations in Chiapas following the Zapatista uprising in 1994, but PBI began work in the states of Oaxaca and Guerrero, where the presence of international organisations was much more limited.

In Guerrero, we first accompanied “The Voice for Those Without a Voice” Human Rights Committee, which had launched the conversation on human rights issues in Mexico. Since then, we have accompanied numerous organisations in Guerrero and several organisations in Oaxaca and Mexico City.

The conflicts in Mexico are complex and long lasting, and there are profound social and regional inequalities. Many of these conflicts are due to disputes over land and natural resources, often involving multinational companies and state-sponsored businesses.

Over the last few years we have been following cases before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR), including those of Inés Fernández Ortega and Valentina Rosendo Cantú, indigenous Me`phaa women who were raped and tortured by Mexican soldiers in 2002.

Before the courts it was argued that these women’s cases demonstrated endemic problems in Mexico, such as the lack of access to justice for female victims of violence, abuses due to the lack of public control over the Mexican army and the systematic persecution of those who organise themselves to defend indigenous rights.

The Mexico project has 13 volunteers accompanying human rights organisations in Guerrero and Oaxaca, as well as a field team in Chihuahua and a coordination office in Mexico City.

Visit the Mexico Project's website

 

Who we protect in Mexico

Fighting impunity

Women human rights defenders and defending women's rights

Defenders of land rights, culture and natural resources