PBI-Nederland Shelter City guest David Jiménez of Fray Juan de Larios on enforced disappearances in Mexico
Image from PBI-Nederland’s 7-minute video about David Jiménez.
On June 19, the magazine Mondiaal Nieuws published this interview in Dutch with 26-year-old Mexican human rights defender David Jiménez.
Jiménez works with the human rights organization Fray Juan de Larios (that PBI-Mexico began to accompany in February 2014) and has been a guest of the PBI-Nederland supported Shelter City in Utrecht for the past three months.
Mondiaal Nieuws reports: “Violence in Mexico has escalated since then-President Calderón declared war on drug cartels in 2006. He had the army take out leaders, causing the big cartels to disintegrate into smaller, often even more violent networks. They gained more and more control over local politics. They put pressure on politicians or won a seat at municipal or regional level.”
There had been hope that the situation would change with the election of Andrés Manuel López Obrador as the President of Mexico in 2018.
But Jiménez says: “There’s hardly any real change. The government doesn’t want that. Putting the truth on the table about all the murders and disappearances would expose the role played by the military and the authorities. And still playing.”
He adds: “It’s not in the government’s interest, so it’s trying to keep citizens quiet with memorial ceremonies and other symbolic gestures. Victims’ families don’t buy anything with that. It’s cynical: first the authorities are involved in a murder and then it assists the family.”
He further notes: “Nearly 90,000 people have disappeared since 2006, according to the National Missing Persons Investigation Commission. According to the United Nations, only 20 to 30 percent of all disappearances are reported. That would mean the actual figure could be around 400,000. The role played by the authorities in this is much greater than they appear. That’s the image Mexico portrays abroad.”
Jiménez says: “I escaped kidnapping twice. On my way home from university, I was attacked by men from the Zetas cartel. I was very scared and begged to let go. I gave up my phone and money, but luckily I got away. I was going to press charges, but I know there’s no point. In fact, leaving my address details with the police would not be safe. Those agents have ties to the cartels and can pass on my report immediately.”
“The threats come from criminal organisations, but also from local authorities, the military and the police. The latter sometimes invades during rallies or protests. They then take pictures and distribute them. The government sends female party members, so-called liderezas,to threaten and intimidate female protesters during protests.”
Jiménez also shares: “In 2014, 43 students disappeared from Ayotzinapa College in Guerrero state. They were on their way to a student protest but never got there. Soldiers also came into my university, looking for leaders of student protests. I didn’t feel safe in my own university, so decided to join the demonstrations. So, I met the families of the 43 missing students and ended up with Fray Juan de Larios.”
To read the full interview with Jiménez, please see: Mensenrechtenverdediger over Mexicaanse spiraal van geweld: ‘Mogelijk tot 400.000 verdwijningen’