Thursday, April 29, 2010

Femicides have increased in Juárez City with the arrival of the army

Femicides have increased in Juárez City with the arrival of the army
ABC - Salamanca, Spain, 15 April 2010
Femicides have increased in Juárez City with the arrival of the army, three Mexican lawyers said today in Salamanca, where they are attending a conference organised by the Torre del Clavero Foundation of the Salamanca College of Lawyers.

All three are long-time fighters for human rights in their country. Two of them, David Peña and Micheel Salas, were the lawyers who took Mexico to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights over the deaths of eight women in Juárez City in 2001, the so-called ‘Cotton Field’ (Campo Algodonero) case. The third is Alba Cruz, a human rights advocate, who reported on the ‘harassment and threats’ she has been subjected to in the State of Oaxaca.

The three stated that, with the entry of the army into Juárez City, ‘femicides have increased’. David Peña said, categorically, that ‘now it’s the worst it’s been in recent years’, because violations of human rights ‘are not just being committed by individuals, but by those who ought to be protecting them’.

At a press conference, Micheel Salas produced figures to back up the lawyers’ claim, stating that in 2009 ‘184 killings of women took place, the highest figure since 1993; prostitution has grown 400% in Juárez City and disappearances have also grown 400%; and this year so far 12 young girls have disappeared.’

Alba Cruz pointed to the ‘impunity’ of State officials in relation to human rights violations, stating that although ‘many of them have been identified as torturers’, they remain in their posts. This is because ‘there are no mechanisms in place to sanction them,’ added David Peña.

On the same topic, Micheel Salas said that Mexico ‘rewards’ senior officials who have ‘violated human rights’. She cited the appointment of Arturo Chávez Chávez as Mexico’s Attorney General, despite his having been ‘named for dereliction of duty by the National Human Rights Commission, which recommended that he be investigated’ .

Over his role in relation to femicides in Juárez when he was Attorney-General for the State of Chihuahua. [Translator’s note]

The three lawyers identified the ‘legal system’ as the reason for the lack of legal protection suffered by victims.

According to David Peña, ‘the structural shortcomings of the system, which is outdated and archaic’, added to the ‘attitude of public officials who continue to resist incorporating the defence of human rights into their activities’ and the ‘political structures’ of Mexico, make the violation of human rights ‘a routine and unpunished occurrence’.

Alba Cruz, who has received threats from officials in Oaxaca, alleged that all violations of human rights since 2006 ‘remain unresolved; the Governor of Oaxaca, Ulises Ruiz Ortiz, is still in his post, despite a Mexican Supreme Court ruling in October 2009 which found him responsible for basic human rights violations’.
For her part, Micheel Salas commented on the indictment of the Spanish judge Baltasar Garzón for investigating crimes committed by the Franco regime, saying that his situation is ‘terrible’ and that Garzón has been an ‘inspiration for Justice’ and a person who ‘believes in human rights’. She expressed her solidarity with one who has ‘ennobled the profession of lawyer’.
Translation Eileen Haley

Embroidery with 450 students at Middle School

At the end of March I spent 2 weeks at a middle school outside Oslo, embroidering with nearly 450 students. The last day of my visit the students made an exhibition of their embroidered labels. At times about 10 students were working simultaneously on the piece, letting the 650 labels form a Peace Dove. In a few days the Dove will be taken apart again and the labels sent to me to become part of the next installation of all the labels, May 15th at The Leonard Pearlstein Gallery at Drexel University in Philadelphia, USA. Thank you students!