Mexico human rights rep says Mexican government will not protect him from soldiers' threats
by Alejandra Gomez
Posted on October 1, 2009
Gustavo de la Rosa Hickerson, lawyer and former representative of the Chihuahua State Commission of Human Rights has been in charge of tracking and investigating allegations of human rights violations by the Mexican military ever since its arrival to Juarez.
Hickerson has been critical of the military's presence, speaking out against abuse of Juarez residents. He often has been cited in national and international media outlets.
Last week, Hickerson publicly announced that he had received serious death threats against him and his family and had been harassed by the military to the point where his personal body guards had suffered direct aggression. He said he witnessed many dangerous situations that started escalating to the point in which a house was burned a block from his own in the town of San Agustin in the Valley Of Juarez.
He asked for protection from the authorities since he felt an extreme vulnerability. However, he says, the protection was never offered and he was forced to go into exile into the United States. He is currently in El Paso.
On Wednesday, more than a dozen citizens representing different community organizations gathered at a Juarez press conference to protest the threats and demand the protection of their colleague.
Their meeting was the first action of many planned to get national and international attention not only on the threat on Hickerson’s life, but on the many violations of human rights that are increasing daily in Juarez.
“It is not possible that those who are here to protect us are the ones violating our rights,” Hector Padilla from the Pact for Culture Movement (Movimiento Pacto por la Cultura) said.
Perla de La Rosa, a family member of Hickerson, delivered a message from him at the press conference. He wants the media to know that the President of the Chihuahua State Commission of Human Rights, Jose Luis Armendariz, has removed him from any investigations and has ordered him to come forward and give names and identify those who threatened him.
However, Hickerson said he will not do so for his own protection. Hickerson claims that Armendariz has not provided him with adequate work conditions to carry on with his duties.
More than a hundred politicians, university professors, journalists and activists have signed a petition to show their support for Hickerson that will be sent to Mexican President Felipe Calderon, and to Chihuahua Gov. Jose Reyes Baeza.
“Hickerson is one of the voices that have spoken what is truly happening in our city. If we allow this to happen it will be a great loss for the community. If it is happening to him, what can the rest of us expect?” Sonia Torres, Ciudadana de No Violencia said.
The state government gave Hickerson until Oct. 7 to return to his job otherwise he will be permanently fired from his position.
On a phone interview, Hickerson says he is not afraid to return to Juarez but he is demanding a guarantee of his and his family’s safety before returning to his job. He says that if by Oct. 7 he does not feel safe returning to Juarez he will not return and it would be unjust if he got fired.
“My mistake was to take my job seriously and really dig in the investigations to try to get some justice for the victims of military abuse,” Hickerson said.
No one has been appointed to take over Hickerson’s position.
Most Viewed Stories
- Sex clubs and swingers in El Paso
- Defense lawyer Gary Hill arrested on assault charge; his attorney says no weapon found
- "Unknitting: Challenging Textile Traditions" at the Rubin Gallery
- Mexico human rights rep says Mexican government will not protect him from soldiers' threats
- Remains of Juarez women identified, apparently killed long after they were disappeared
- Police Chief Finalists Named; Public Forum is Tonight, March 27
- Review: "Blockading the Border and Human Rights: The El Paso Operation That Remade Immigration Enforcement"
- It is time to see health care as a right, not a privilege
- Resources for the El Paso gay community
- Police Blotter 8.1-7.09: Police seek serial burglar who assaulted women