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Social Activists and Human Rights Defenders Threatened by the Mexican Army

October 17, 2022. (Chilpancingo, Guerrero, Mexico)

The strategy of counterinsurgency is not only used against armed insurgent movements. It is also employed against all those who fight for truth, justice and the reparation of harm, including human rights defenders, journalists and social activists. Such is the case of the comrades Vidulfo Rosales Sierra, Abel Barrera, Rogelio Téliz García and Marco Antonio Suástegui Muñoz. The first three are members of the Tlachinollan Human Rights Centre of the Montaña and the last is a leader of the Council of Ejidos and Communities in Opposition to La Parota Dam (CECOP).

This has been demonstrated in a recent publication by the news portal, La Silla Rota, in its article “Guacamaya leaks: SEDENA links Vidulfo Rosales to kidnappings and extortion”. In that article, La Silla Rota affirms that a report of the Secretary of National Defense (SEDENA) describes the presence of three civil organizations which commit diverse illicit acts, one being linked to Vidulfo Rosales, the lawyer of the families of Ayotzinapa.

The article describes the documents of the armed forces which were obtained through hacking, in which the SEDENA states that Vidulfo Rosales “is a part of the structure of the State Council of Coordination for Public Works (CECOP)” (sic) which, according to the army, is an organization dedicated to criminal activity.

The information contains errors, is false and exhibits the lack of investigative capacity of army intelligence as they confuse a farmers’ organization with a governmental institution.

The legal defense work that Vidulfo Rosales Sierra has carried out is with the Council of Ejidos and Communities in Opposition to La Parota Dam (CECOP), a farmers’ organization which defends land and water against extractive corporations.

We are worried that the armed forces have a position which criminalizes human rights defenders and considers them to be on par with criminal groups.

We call on the media, given their important work, to not irresponsibly reproduce the information that the army puts forth in order to repress and punish human rights defenders and social activists.

The information obtained about the army makes it clear that imminent judicial action is being prepared against Vidulfo Rosales, undoubtedly to be carried out as the mothers and fathers of our 43 compañeros of Ayotzinapa, disappeared on the 26th and 27th of September 2014, get closer to the truth about their sons’ disappearance. To date, all investigations point to the responsibility of members of the army, and high-level politicians. The defense work of Vidulfo has been decisive in this struggle, which is why the army is looking to neutralize and silence him and will not hesitate to exercise penal action or other actions against him.

It is our firm conviction that when a true, honest and unyielding struggle affects the economic and political interests of the elite, they recur to defamation and slander in order to criminalize and delegitimize our struggle.

The struggle of the mothers and fathers of the 43 threatens to place the army on the bench of the accused and the voice and permanent work of denouncement by Vidulfo has made strident waves, to the point of bothering the military power that now attempts to strike down in order to silence dissident voices and monitor those it considers to be enemies by putting forth unfounded accusations with complete impunity.

The agreements between the armed forces and the Presidency of the Republic ensures their immunity, making them believe that they have the right to accuse and attack social activists and human rights defenders all while criminal groups are allowed to act freely and, in many cases, work in collusion with the army, as has been shown in the case of Ayotzinapa. Criminals of the Guerreros Unidos group met and mingled with high-ranking officials of the military belonging to the 27th Batallion of the Infantry which is located in Iguala. At the same time, the army was following and threatening human rights defenders and activists, accusing them of criminal activities which were never proven, given that they were completely false.

Given the above, we demand that there be an end to the hostility and the imminent repression against Vidulfo Rosales, Abel Barrera, Marco Antonio Suástegui Muñoz and Rogelio Téliz García, that there be given guarantees in order that they may continue their work as human rights defenders and that the Mexican army be investigated for carrying out illegal surveillance and monitoring operations.


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