Mexico is a federal republic with an elected President and Congress, and
a constitutionally-mandated independent judicial branch. While Mexico has
adopted one of the more advanced systems for protecting human rights, in
reality, the Mexican government has been responsible for a wide variety of
human rights violations. Indigenous people are particularly vulnerable to
For the past 65 years, the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) has dominated.
Incidences of patronage, corruption and repression have often been
In January, 1994, an Indian rebellion led by the Zapatista Army of Liberation
in Chiapas, Mexico's poorest and southernmost state, shook the entire political
=>The Zapatistas demanded protection for indigenous cultures, employment
opportunities for indigenous peoples, and the establishment of self-governing
=>The Mexican army responded to the Chiapas uprising with military force,
and was responsible for widespread human rights violations.
Chiapas has the worst socioeconomic conditions in Mexico (including poverty,
illiteracy and inadequate health care), and a record for injustice and human
rights abuses unparalleled anywhere else in the country, such as:
=>Murder by hired guns of rural organizers, lawyers and journalists
=>Arbitrary detention and imprisonment of peasants involved in land
=>Widespread torture and ill-treatment
=>Violent land evictions and the destruction of property
=>Harassment of advocates of Indian rights
The National Commission for Human Rights (CNDH), the federal and state Attorneys
General offices and the military Judicial Prosecutor's office have failed
to investigate many of these violations of human rights and international
President Ernesto Zedillo, who took office on December, 1994, promised to
overhaul the state-party system and the judiciary, but PRI hardliners have
attempted to block democratic reforms.
Further complicating the situation, the Mexican peso has plummeted, setting
off the worst economic crisis in Mexico's recent history.
Sources: Human Rights 1994 Country Report, Waiting for Justice in Chiapas
(report by Physicians for Human Rights & Human Rights Watch/Americas,
1994), Civilians at Risk: Military and Police Abuses in the Mexican Countryside
(Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights, 1993).
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