From PBI we observe certain important actions from AMLO´s new government that favour the protection of human rights defenders in Mexico, however at the same time we have noted a few tendencies that concern us. In this article we look at a few achievements and challenges for the new government and the reactions from Mexican and international civil society about the first few weeks of the MORENA government.
Since they took government, AMLO´s administration has freed 16 political prisoners. Olga Sánchez Cordero, Governance Secretary (Secretaria de Gobernación, affirmed that "We have freed 16 people and have 367 cases on the table. Many of these have had no judgement, nor absolute condemnation after many years of being deprived of their liberty". This process of revision of cases of imprisoned activists and social leaders marks an important precedent and from PBI we applaud the initiative which pertains to end the criminalisation of social protest.
Since coming into government, and even before, AMLO´s administration has committed to re-opening the investigation of the forced disappearance of the 43 "normalista" students from Ayotzinapa. On 3rd December 2018 a Presidential Commission was created, coordinated by the Subsecretary of Human Rights to take up the investigation done by the General Prosecutor's Office (PGR). The organisations that represent family members of people who have been forcefully disappeared across the country recognise this as an important step in the fight against the phenomenon as well as the generalised impunity that accompany these cases, however they also note that this only represents the beginning the process of searching for the truth. With this in mind, PBI demands that all cases of forced disappearance receive adequate attention by Mexican authorities and the victims have access to justice.
Militarisation in Mexico continues to concern both Mexican and International civil society. Since the government of Felipe Calderón, the "War against drugs" has resulted in a drastic increase in violence in the country with very high numbers of human rights violations. The organinsations that PBI accompanies link this militarised strategy with the human rights crisis the country is still in. In this framework, the proposal of a National Guard, by AMLO's government, is a serious concern to human rights organisations.
The Mexican Commission for Promotion and Defense of Human Rights has manifested it's firm rejection of the creation of a National Guard that is ascribed to the National Defense Secretary integrated by military and naval police as well as elements of the Armed Forces. Equally they have opposed the fact that this institution have prevention, investigation and detention functions.
Amnesty International has also expressed their concern about the proposal and the prolongation of a militarised public security strategy. Their main concern is that the proposal for a constitutional reform that would create the National Guard, does not impose clear limits on the public security functions of the armed forces, required under international law.
During the past year, PBI has expressed concern over the increase in violence against people who defend their land and territory. The organisations that we accompany continue to be concerned for AMLO's position on the rights of indigenous populations, given that his public discourse seems to respect their autonomy, but he continues to propose initiatives of megaprojects such as the Mayan Train or new mining investments. Since his electoral campaign, AMLO has spoken about the benefits of megaprojects and large-scale economic investments in territories across the Republic. Because of this, PBI continues to express concern over the tensions that this exploitation of resources and land will generate, and as a result, the risk that it will implicate for communities in processes of resistance in their territories.