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Mexico: Canadians invited to protect human rights before their holiday in the sun

    November 18, 2014

    Before leaving to have some fun in the sun, Canadians are being encouraged to discover the secret Mexico locals know. If Canadians think winter is torture they should know that there is an epidemic of the real thing in Mexico.

    A special advertising campaign created by Agency59 is being launched today by Amnesty International Canada.  is a travel ‘company' offering sun-seekers great discount travel deals to Mexico. Or so it seems. In fact, it becomes clear on second glance that the site is actually showcasing the plight of torture victims in that country, and the microsite links to the actual Amnesty website.

    Canadians who click onto the Last Chance Travel Club site will be asked to raise their voices in solidarity with Mexicans and send a message to Mexico’s President Enrique Pena Nieto to address the human rights crisis that is staining Mexico’s reputation.

    To promote the microsite, Amnesty International Canada is launching a multi-media campaign today that mimics the marketing tactics of actual travel discount groups so familiar to Canadians this time of year. Digital banner ads promoting the Last Chance Travel Club will be attracting the attention of Canadians where they are planning their winter getaway online. Billboards and in-theatre ads complement the media mix.

    The intent is not to discourage Canadians from traveling to Mexico but rather, to draw attention to an overlooked human rights crisis and invite action to address it.

    “As an organization, globally we have often leveraged provocative marketing campaigns to ensure that serious issues like torture are addressed,” says Alain Roy, Campaign Director for Amnesty International Canada. “We are not suggesting that Canadians should not travel to Mexico. Our goal is to empower travelers to support action that will protect the human rights of everyone in Mexico. We believe this ad campaign has real potential to cut through, and get people talking about this."

    The ads appearing on web sites and bus shelters will lead viewers to take action before leaving for Mexico to stop human rights abuses that are widespread yet out of sight for visitors at holiday locations.

    In September, Amnesty International released an authoritative new report about torture and ill-treatment in Mexico, as part of the organization’s worldwide campaign to Stop Torture. The report concludes that torture is out of control in Mexico with over 7,000 complaints reported in the past four years alone, with well-founded suspicions that many other cases went unreported. This is a 600 percent increase from 2003.  Use of torture has thrived in a culture of tolerance on the part of authorities who downplay complaints or turn a blind eye. Only seven torturers have ever been convicted in federal courts. At the state level, the prevalence of torture and impunity is even higher.

    In this context, fear of torture and ill-treatment is widespread. A survey commissioned by Amnesty International found that two out of three Mexicans are afraid they will be tortured if detained by the authorities.

    Amnesty International has documented numerous cases of torture at the hands of state security forces amidst a climate of impunity. 

      Stop Torture and Ill-Treatment in Mexico

    One of the few cases to attract public attention is that of Julio César Mondragón, a student- whose tortured body was found on September 27. Mondragón had been en route to a protest against government education reforms with dozens of other students from a rural teacher-training college in Ayotzinapa when they were attacked by police and gunmen in Iguala. Three were killed, along with three bystanders, and eyewitnesses saw police take other students away. Families of the now-famous 43 “missing” students were left to agonize over their suffering after learning about the torture of Mondragón.

    This is no isolated case. More than 22,000 people are missing or disappeared in Mexico and the few victims whose remains have been found have displayed evidence of torture and other ill-treatment. Outrage over collusion between officials and organized crime, as well as negligence on the part of investigators who did too little too late to try to find the missing students from Ayotzinapa, has provoked massive, ongoing protests across Mexico calling for justice and accountability.

    “Before going to Mexico, Canadian travelers can help to make the country safer for everyone,” says Roy. “Individual action through the Last Chance Travel Club can have a real impact. The Mexican government cares very much about Canadian concerns. We are Mexico's third largest trading partner and a huge source of tourism income. Our two countries have a close relationship cemented by the North American Free Trade Agreement and programs of security cooperation.”

    Online and offline media has been donated or provided at a reduced rate by MSN Networks, MetroLand, The Exchange Lab, eyeReturn, CBS Outdoor and Cineplex Media. The creative was developed by Toronto based Agency59.


    For further information contact John Tackaberry, Media Relations (Ottawa)
    (613)744-7667 #236

     Elizabeth Berton-Hunter, Media Relations (Toronto)
    (416)363-9933 #332


    September Report   Out Of Contol - Torture  And Other Ill-Treatment in Mexico