PBI-Mexico Annual Report and its accompaniment of 152 human rights defenders in 2020

Published by Brent Patterson on

On April 21, PBI-Mexico posted its 2020 Annual Report in English and Spanish.

That Annual Report highlights:

“In 2020, PBI Mexico provided international accompaniment to 11 organisations and two civil-society coordination spaces in Chihuahua, Coahuila, Guerrero, Oaxaca, Puebla and Mexico City.

PBI’s accompaniment – which includes physical presence; national and international advocacy; awareness raising; training in security, protection, creation and maintenance of support networks; and facilitating spaces for dialogue between HRDs and key actors in their protection – benefits more than 78 Mexican communities and/or civil-society organisations (CSOs) and 152 HRDs, of whom more than 65% are women human rights defenders (WHRDs).

The work of these people and organisations benefits at least 24,021 others, who are thus secondary beneficiaries of PBI Mexico’s efforts. This can have a nationwide impact on Mexico’s human rights situation.”

ASMAC and Coloradas de la Virgen

The Annual Report also features a profile of the community of Coloradas de la Virgen in the state of Chihuahua.

That section notes: “Since 1973, at least 14 people from this community have been murdered because of their activity in defence of their territory. In 2017, Rarámuri and Tepehuan peoples, mentored by the Sierra Madre Alliance (ASMAC), decided to undertake legal action to request the cancellation of all forest usage permits.”

We collaborated with PBI-Mexico and Amnesty International-Canada on a webinar this year that featured Isela Gonzalez, the director of the Sierra Madre Alliance, providing an update on this urgent and continuing situation.

Peoples’ Front in Defence of Land and Water

The Annual Report also includes an article written by the Peoples’ Front in Defence of Land and Water in Morelos, Puebla and Tlaxcala against the Morelos Comprehensive Project (Proyecto Integral Morelos, PIM).

The article by the Peoples’ Front notes: “The imposition of the PIM has brought defamation against the communities’ defenders; division among the communities; criminalisation and imprisonment; torture; closure of community radio stations; threats of kidnapping, trafficking and murder; and removal of protests and strikes using state and federal public forces, the army and the national guard.”

Impacts of the pandemic

The impacts of the pandemic are referenced throughout the Annual Report, including an advocacy tour in Canada that was set to begin just as news of COVID-19 was beginning to emerge in March 2020.

PBI-Mexico advocacy coordinator Lena Weber writes about that tour that was to focus on migrant rights: “In the uncertainty of the moment, we decided that the safest thing was to cancel our flights to Canada, scheduled for the following day, and put ourselves into quarantine – cases had been reported in the House of Representatives and in the Senate, where we had held meetings over the last five days.”

Recommendations

The Annual Report also includes a section on recommendations to the Mexican government and the international community.

One of those recommendations is: “Ensure that the presence of foreign investments and international companies does not foment and engender subsequent abuses and violations of human rights, guaranteeing their compliance with the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights of the United Nations and international human rights law.”

This is pertinent to Canada given nearly 70 percent of foreign-owned mining companies operating in Mexico are based in Canada and 29 of the 58 mining conflicts in Mexico involve Canadian mines.

Basilian Human Development Fund

We also note that the Annual Report acknowledges in its list of donors the Basilian Human Development Fund, a project of Toronto-based Roman Catholic Congregation of St. Basil. We also express our gratitude for the continued support of the Basilian community.

The PBI-Mexico Annual Report can be read in full in English and Spanish.

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