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Wilfrid Laurier University Office of Research Services
October 28, 2016
Canadian Excellence


International Migration Research Centre

Mexican Human Rights Tour

Media Coverage on Mexican Human Rights Tour

Mar 16/12

The International Migration Research Centre was a contributing sponsor to this tour.
Toronto Star link - Article and video on the Mexican Human Rights tour. The article was written by by Linda Diebel.

Mexican human rights activists appeal to Ottawa to recognize persecution of civilians

Yolanda Moran Isais last saw her son, an insurance agent and father of four, just before Christmas in 2008 in the northern Mexican city of Torreon. Then Dan Jeremeel, 32, disappeared.

A month later, a Mexican soldier was apprehended with his car and possessions but, in the subsequent tangle of events, military intelligence officers allegedly involved in the disappearance died in jail. Nobody was ever found guilty and his body was never found.

“Where is my son?” Moran Isais asked during a two-week visit to Canada with other Mexican human rights activists. “I am still searching and I have no answers.”

Her experience is hardly unique, a fact the group made clear here. Their speaking tour, arranged by Amnesty International and several Canadian universities, comes at a critical time for human rights groups dealing with Ottawa.

The Conservative government is on the verge of passing Bill C-31, legislation that gives the immigration minister the sole right to declare a country “safe” — thereby making it virtually impossible for its citizens to gain refugee status in Canada.

“Mexico is a perfect example of why this legislation is so troubling,” NDP immigration critic Don Davies told the Star. “Thousands of people in Mexico face persecution by the authorities and yet Mexico is Canada’s friend and NAFTA partner. Does that mean political partisanship will enter into decisions of state?”

Added Davies: “We are adamantly opposed to giving that kind of power to an elected official without independent oversight or right to appeal. We’d be just kicking people into the dustbin.”

Federal officials did not provide details on whether a list of “safe” countries would be published or whether the minister, Jason Kenney, would decide extemporaneously.

Activists fear Mexico would be near the top of the safe-country list because Kenney has criticized “bogus” claims from democratic nations.

In a recent report, the United Nations Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances compared impunity for those responsible for systemic rights violations (rape, kidnapping, torture and murder) to Mexico’s “Dirty War” decades of the 1970s and ’80s.

The UN report says: “The refusal of the authorities to recognize the true dimensions of this phenomenon and the involvement of public officials in these crimes — whether by commission, omission, or collusion with organized crime groups — has enabled this crime to spread to many parts of the country.”

Moran Isais and her colleagues met with a parliamentary committee on human rights, various NGOs and several MPs. During events at the University of Toronto, York, Ryerson, Wilfrid Laurier, Carleton and the University of New Brunswick, they were delighted with questions from students, and talked of a kinship with Canadians.

They believe Canadians will pressure their government, which in turn will urge Mexican authorities to put an end to impunity and live up to commitments on human rights, including ensuring access to justice for relatives.

“Amnesty International recognizes that the Mexican government has a clear responsibility to combat organized crime and drug cartels by all legal means,” said Kathy Price, Amnesty’s Canadian coordinator. “However, we are gravely concerned about a disturbing pattern of escalating human rights abuses perpetrated by the Mexican military” in the context of fighting crime.

Price referred to Bill C-31 as a “dangerous and disappointing bill which goes directly against Canada’s history as a country of safety and refuge for individuals who face persecution.”

Vidulfo Rosales is a lawyer with the Tlachinollan Human Rights Centre in the mountains of Guerrero state, a group whose members have been internationally cited for courage. He sees ever-increasing violations and says: “This is just not a ‘safe’ country and we hope Canadians will recognize that.”

When there is justice, it’s too often partial. In 2002, indigenous women Valentina Rosendo and Ines Fernandez were raped by soldiers in Guerrero. Rights lawyers ultimately won their case at Inter-American Court of Human Rights in Costa Rica and, last December, Mexican Interior Minister Alejandro Poire publically apologized to them.

But the soldiers who raped them have never been brought to justice.

Dolores Gonzalez, a veteran rights worker based in Mexico City, has been fighting for years to learn what happened to some of her own relatives who disappeared in Durango. “We must recognize the dimensions of this humanitarian crisis,” she said.

Alberto Xicotencalt heads a centre for undocumented migrants in northeastern Mexico, where the recent increase in abductions has been called a humanitarian tragedy by the Washington-based Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

Before they flew home late Wednesday, the four contemplated their own futures.

Asked if his Canadian tour would make his life more dangerous, Xicotencalt replied: “I hope not . . . But it’s important to be here to say that Canada should not consider Mexico a ‘safe’ country.”


The Embassy - Canada's Foreign Policy Newspaper interviewed the Four Mexican Human Rights Defenders. The story is
is very good. The Mexican Human Rights defenders are on the front cover and there's a full page story on page 15. Please see attached PDF.


The Record - Opinion Piece

Rethink travel plans

This week I attended the speaking tour entitled No More Blood: Struggles for Peace and Human Rights in Mexico, hosted by Wilfrid Laurier University.

It opened my eyes to the hardships and injustices currently befalling the people of Mexico, particularly the challenges faced by the youth, indigenous, and poor.

Canadians consider Mexico the perfect travel destination and a strong continental ally, but the fact of the matter is the Mexican government sees Canadians as dollar signs.

The government, police, and army in Mexico are awash with corruption and have been tainted by human rights violations and are heavily influenced by the drug trade.

When displacement, unjust imprisonment, and disappearances have become commonplace in your country there is a very serious situation at hand.

I think Canadians need to re-evaluate their plans to travel to Mexico in order to avoid funding a corrupt system. We see North America as being at the forefront of development and enlightenment and yet this seems to not be the case in Mexico.

Eric Lannan


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