Social Justice Monday: Mexico’s Human Rights Crisis

Social Justice Monday–January 11, 2016
Submitted by Jeanna McLellan, Electronic Services Assistant

Last September, the world was shocked by the appalling disappearance of 43 student activists from a rural teacher’s college in Ayotzinapa.  Search parties have discovered the clandestine graves of many others murdered in Mexico, a country overwhelmed by violence and corruption.  In fact, Mexico has become one of the world’s most deadly countries for rights advocates and journalists. The threats do not only come from drug cartels. Political leaders and law enforcement officials — themselves strongly linked to cartels in many cases — routinely persecute social activists. Their brutal methods have left thousands of victims killed, tortured, or detained.

Ricardo Lagunes,  distinguished human rights attorney on the front lines of Mexico’s crisis,   has defended the rights of indigenous communities, political prisoners, and migrants for over a decade—often collaborating with our very own International Human Rights Clinic. Ricardo Lagunes provided his view of Mexico this Social Justice Monday. The event  was moderated by Alejandra Gonza, an Argentine human rights lawyer who currently directs the Business and Human Rights Clinic at the University of Washington School of Law and is also a member of the Seattle Human Rights Commission.

Interested in learning more? Here are some related books available from the Law Library:

Binational Human Rights: The U.S.-Mexico Experience

Edited by William Paul Simmons and Carol Mueller

Available Online

From the Publisher:

Mexico ranks highly on many of the measures that have proven significant for creating a positive human rights record, including democratization, good health and life expectancy, and engagement in the global economy. Yet the nation’s most vulnerable populations suffer human rights abuses on a large scale, such as gruesome killings in the Mexican drug war, decades of violent feminicide, migrant deaths in the U.S. desert, and the ongoing effects of the failed detention and deportation system in the States. Some atrocities have received extensive and sensational coverage, while others have become routine or simply ignored by national and international media. Binational Human Rights examines both well-known and understudied instances of human rights crises in Mexico, arguing that these abuses must be understood not just within the context of Mexican policies but in relation to the actions or inactions of other nations—particularly the United States.

The United States and Mexico share the longest border in the world between a developed and a developing nation; the relationship between the two nations is complex, varied, and constantly changing, but the policies of each directly affect the human rights situation across the border. Binational Human Rights brings together leading scholars and human rights activists from the United States and Mexico to explain the mechanisms by which a perfect storm of structural and policy factors on both sides has led to such widespread human rights abuses. Through ethnography, interviews, and legal and economic analysis, contributors shed new light on the feminicides in Ciudad Juárez, the drug war, and the plight of migrants from Central America and Mexico to the United States. The authors make clear that substantial rhetorical and structural shifts in binational policies are necessary to significantly improve human rights.


The Constitution of Mexico: A Contextual Analysis

José Maria Serna de la Garza

Available at LAW-4th Floor (KGF2921.S47 2013)

From the Publisher:

This book provides an overview of Mexico’s political evolution since it became independent from Spain in 1821, and its current constitutional arrangements, principles and structures. The aim is to explain this evolution as the result of struggles between the interests and ideologies of different groups within Mexican society, each with a different political vision of how the State should be organised. Chapter 1 reviews Mexico’s constitutional trajectory, and explains why democracy, republicanism, federalism, separation of state and church, protection of fundamental rights and the Nation’s ownership of mineral resources first became constitutional principles. Chapters 2, 3, 4 and 5 deal respectively with democracy and the electoral system, and the legislative, executive and judicial branches of federal government. Chapter 6 introduces the institutional structure of Mexico’s federal system, while Chapter 7 discusses the rules, principles and institutions for the protection of human rights. Chapter 8 examines the constitutional regime of Mexico’s economy. The conclusion explains how a series of factors has combined to produce a gap between the formal Constitution and what can be seen as the living Constitution; bridging that gap presents Mexican politics and society with one of its great contemporary challenges.

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