By Kathy Price, Amnesty Canada's Mexico campaigner
The long, sun-filled days of July are a time of joyful freedom for many of us in Canada, as we take a break from work or school to enjoy hanging out with friends and family. Not so for a young mother in Mexico called Yecenia Armenta.
By Kathy Price, Mexico Campaigner with Amnesty International Canada
I’m betting that no one who met Garifuna defender and former prisoner of conscience Angel Amílcar Colón Quevedo during his recent visit to Canada will forget his incredible smile or his inspiring words. I certainly won’t!
By Kassidy Goyette, a student at Massey Vanier High School in Cowansville, Quebec.
I would have never imagined that the petition created by our “small but mighty” Social Action Committee from Massey-Vanier High School would have such impact. It was amazing to have the opportunity to actually hand it over to Mexico’s Ambassador in Ottawa, see his reaction, and hear him say that he would ensure it reached the office of President Peña Nieto in Mexico.
By Alex Neve, Secretary General, Amnesty International Canada
The tremendous news that three Mexican police officers have been criminally charged with torturing Adrián Vázquez in Tijuana in 2012 is a historic breakthrough; and a great day for justice. It is obviously very welcome news for Adrián himself; and it can and must spur greater efforts across Mexico to ensure that those who have been responsible for the staggering crisis of torture the country has faced over the past decade are held accountable.
By Kathy Price, Mexico Campaigner for Amnesty International Canada
The messages that arrived in my inbox could not be ignored! They were bursting with positive emotion as they told of an important victory over injustice in Mexico.
The texts were sent by Claudia Medina, a woman whose experience of torture and persecution had so moved me and other members of an Amnesty Canada delegation that visited Mexico last September.
When we met Claudia five months ago, she was living with the traumatic scars of what was done to her while she was detained at a naval base in 2012: the beatings, the hot peppers forced up her nose, the electric shocks, the sexual assault. Her torturers added psychological torture, threatening to rape her with a metal bar and bring in her children to the torture chamber unless Claudia “confessed” to involvement in an armed, criminal gang.
Not surprisingly, Claudia signed the “confession” she was not allowed to read and hung her head as she was presented as a dangerous criminal at a press conference by security forces anxious to show results in its "war on drugs".
By Mariano Machain, Amnesty International’s campaigner on Mexico.
I have seen Claudia Medina cry many times.
She cried when she told me about the torture, including sexual abuse, she suffered at the hands of Mexican marines in 2012. She also cried when she explained what it is like to live with federal charges pending over her head, accused of being a member of a criminal gang, facing the risk of being arrested again at any time. Then once more when she told me about how her children were suffering.
But today is the first time I have seen her cry out of joy and relief. A judge has just dropped the last remaining charge against her, arguing that the sole piece of evidence – a report filed by the marines – is a lie.
The judge confirmed that after her arrest Claudia was tortured and sexually assaulted by marines in order to force her to incriminate herself and others in drug-related crimes. The offences took place on 7 August 2012 at a Navy barracks in Veracruz state, Eastern Mexico.
By: Alex Neve Published on Wed Jan 21 2015, originally published in the Toronto Star
There are many reasons to lament Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s decision to cancel next month’s scheduled Three Amigos Summit with U.S. President Barack Obama and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto. At the top of the list is the missed opportunity to push for effective solutions to Mexico’s acute human rights crisis.Mexico: Raise your voice for 42 missing students
“I’ve been working for the drug cartels and helped place a car bomb that killed two police officers,” said Rogelio Amaya, looking straight at the camera lens. He appeared shaken, his body bruised.
Within hours, a version of the video featuring Rogelio and four of his friends confessing to the crime plastered the TV screens of Ciudad Juárez, in northern Mexico along the border with the USA.
The town is one of the most violent in the country, infamous for brutal clashes among competing drug cartels and law-enforcement officers.
The local authorities congratulated themselves for having captured who they said were members of “La Línea”, a local drug cartel who had been terrorizing people in the area for years. They were also blamed for the recent explosion of a car bomb in downtown Juárez.
Drug dealers behind bars. Problem solved.
But a few years into the men’s prison term, the real story of how the video was made came to light – and exposed the shocking use of torture that pervades across Mexico.
By Kathy Price, Mexico campaigner
You may have noticed an Amnesty International campaign "Think Winter is Torture,Think Mexico" that reaches out to potential Canadian travellers to Mexico.
There's a compelling reason why Amnesty is reaching out this way and it starts with an alarming human rights situation in Mexico. What has been revealed in the last couple of months in Mexico is a horror story that is simply unacceptable. Yet it's one that has largely escaped attention in Canada and the condemnation that could help make it stop.
By Kathy Price, Mexico campaigner with Amnesty International Canada
How often do you get the chance to sit down with a hero whose courageous actions make change happen where it is least expected? I got just that opportunity when I travelled to a small town in Mexico (unnamed for security reasons) to meet up with Valentina Rosendo Cantú.
Like other Me’phaa Indigenous women from beautiful Guerrero State, Valentina is small in stature. But I can tell you that she has the courage of a giant.
In 2002, Valentina was washing clothes in a stream when an army patrol arrived. They demanded information about people they accused of subversion. Valentina knew nothing about what they were asking. She barely understood the Spanish they spoke. She was just 17 years old. The soldiers proceeded to torture and rape her.
By Tim Carpentier, an Amnesty activist who lives in Toronto
Solidarity. I’ve long known that solidarity is a foundational principle of Amnesty’s work, but my conception of what it actually means changed while in Mexico for an activism conference. I, and my colleagues from Amnesty Canada (Alex Neve, Kathy Price, Crystal Giesbrecht, and Andrea Oakunsheyld), had the rare privilege of meeting someone on whose behalf we campaign, Brenda Rangel Ortíz, and she changed my outlook on activism.
Brenda Rangel Ortíz is up against seemingly insurmountable odds as she continues to search for her brother, Héctor Rangel Ortíz, who was disappeared after being stopped by the police on 10 November 2009 in the city of Monclova, Coahuila state.
Brenda told us how the official investigation is going nowhere, and conveyed the frustration that accompanies the process of trying to find answers in a broken system.
By Kathy Price, Mexico Campaigner
The photos arrived in a steady stream on my Facebook feed, a flood of images too numerous to include here - impossible to ignore. From the wide boulevards of Mexico’s capital to the streets of small towns across the country, women and men, young and old, thousands and thousands of them, marched in protest, united in their outrage about what was done in Guerrero State.
by Alex Neve, Secretary General, Amnesty International Canada
-Mexico City, 15 September 2014.
We could not have had a more powerful affirmation of how important solidarity is in our human rights work.
We passed over to Claudia Medina Tamariz a collection of messages from Amnesty supporters across Canada; greeting cards, letters, handwritten notes, and drawings. We showed her some of the colourful messages that will be among the large number of petitions and letters turned over to Mexican officials later this month. And we unfolded a vibrant yellow banner full of handprints and a message of solidarity, from an event held in Toronto in June.
by Alex Neve, Secretary General, Amnesty International Canada (English branch)
- September 8, 2014, from Guadalajara, Mexico
UPDATE: Ángel Colon was released in October 2014! He's now struggling for justice in his case and speaking out against torture in Mexico. Take Action >> Stand with Angel.
It had been a two and a half hour drive from Guadalajara. As we approached, the ominously named prison, CEFERESO Number 4, the Federal Centre for Social Rehabilitation, loomed large and intimidating at the bottom of one last hill.
We spent the next hour going through the most extensive series of endless security checks I’ve been through in any prison visit, anywhere. It included a stamp on our forearms which only showed up under a special light, which we had to show again on our way out to demonstrate that none of us had stayed behind and allowed a prisoner to slip out in our place. There was, in fact, far more visible security than I have experienced on any of the visits I’ve made to the US detention centre at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.