PBI-Mexico accompanied Tlachinollan centre report “Your Name that I Never Forget” on the situation in Guerrero

Published by Brent Patterson on

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On May 31, Quetzalli Villanueva, a lawyer with the Tlachinollan Human Rights Centre in Guerrero, will be a featured speaker on a PBI-Canada organized webinar about militarization of territory. You can register for that webinar here.

To read the 27th report from Tlachinollan, click here.

Key excerpts from the S!Paz article on that report include:

The twenty-seventh report on the activities of the La Montaña Tlachinollan Human Rights Center, Your Name that I Never Forget, presents the scenario in which a human rights crisis is developing that has kept the wounds of the Guerrero population open for decades. A crossroads of violence in which various sectors of the population live, particularly the indigenous.

22 crime groups

According to Tlachinollan, at least 22 organized crime groups are vying for the state of Guerrero. They are not only dedicated to cultivating and moving drugs, but also control the exploitation of natural resources in collusion with mining companies; they control formal and informal businesses in various regions and even “govern” municipalities, forcing the population to abide by their decisions. It mentions that, despite the militarization of the state, neither the National Guard nor the Army enter these areas.

Ayotzinapa 43

In this context, the levels of violence and human rights violations in the state are not surprising, one of the most emblematic cases being that of Ayotzinapa. September 26th, 2021, marked seven years since the disappearance of the student teachers.

For [the mothers and fathers of the 43] it is imperative to break the pact of silence that covers up the participation of the Army in these disappearances because there are data that indicate that different security forces, including the Army, were involved in this massive aggression, as they describe in the report.

The Dirty War

Forced disappearance in the state of Guerrero has been omnipresent since what is known as “The Dirty War.” According to the Tlachinollan report, during this period, relatives have documented more than 600 people disappeared. The “Death Flights” threw the bodies into the sea, staining the Pacific Ocean with blood along with the disappearances and murders carried out by the army, the navy and the state police corporations.

Enforced disappearances

The National Search Commission showed in its latest report that from March 15th, 1994, to November 7th, 2021, 98,008 people were declared missing nationwide, while in Guerrero, this figure reaches 3,719 cases.

Vicente Suastegui Muñoz

One of the most recent cases is that of Vicente Suastegui Muñoz, who was deprived of his liberty by three armed men on his way back home on August 5th, 2021. The disappearance of the land defender and member of the Council of Ejidos and Communities Opposed to the La Parota Dam (CECOP) is framed within the decomposition of the police bodies and “this climate of criminal violence that murders and disappears people they classify as enemies, without the authorities carrying out exhaustive investigations to arrest the perpetrators”, stressed Tlachinollan.

“The disappearance of Vicente is an example that in Mexico there is a crisis of insecurity to preserve the lives of defenders”, states La Montaña Human Rights Center in its report. The document also mentions that the state of Guerrero ranks fourth nationally in the number of attacks against human rights defenders and journalists, a region of silence where “media coverage is not given or avoided, due to the imminent risk that implies accounting for the insecurity, impunity and injustice that prevail.”

Murdered human rights defenders

Tlachinollan presents the cases of murdered human rights defenders that they have documented between September 2020 and August 2021 in the report. The first was the environmentalist leader of the Los Guajes ejido, Elias Gallegos Coria, and his son, Fredy Gallegos; the last one, that of Guerrero journalist Pablo Morrugares and his bodyguard, this despite the fact that he had been a beneficiary of the Mechanism for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and Journalists since 2016. They also highlighted the case of the Jose Maria Morelos y Pavon Regional Center for the Defense of Human Rights whose members suffered different attacks by organized crime and local authorities for their work accompanying the communities victims of forced displacement.

Forced displacement

Conflicts with extractivist companies have been aggravated by the influence of criminal groups that are in charge of terrorizing communities by assassinating heads of families to displace their widows and children, seize the forests or rivers that the communities protect.

Tlachinollan has mentioned that the control of organized crime, together with authorities, private companies and the public force “systematically transgresses human rights without any consequence” and “gives a glimpse of how state players and criminal groups operate in a mining region, where the owners of the land have to bow to the macroeconomic interests of transnational companies.”

Femicide in Guerrero

From September 2020 to October 2021, they documented 26 femicides in different municipalities of the state. According to the follow-up that the Center has given, in only 20% of the cases have those responsible been prosecuted and a minimum percentage has reached convictions.

Indigenous women are especially vulnerable due to the absence of institutions. There is an environment of normalized and dehumanized violence that is coupled with the ineffectiveness of the justice system that maintains these crimes in impunity.

The full article can be read here.

To hear more from Quetzalli Villanueva of the Tlachinollan Human Rights Centre on May 31, register here.

The Tlachinollan report can be read here.

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