International Tribunal of Conscience (ITC), Mexico: Confronting Repression Faced by Defenders Fighting for Self-Determination

International Tribunal of Conscience (ITC), Mexico August 9-20, 2018: Confronting Repression Faced by Defenders Fighting for Self-Determination

 By Jose Luis Fuentes

The Mesoamerica subcommittee of the NLG International Committee Task Force on the Americas (TFA) has done country investigation in El Salvador, Honduras and Mexico since the strategic planning session in Phoenix.[1]  A decision, among others, is to hold a ten-day ITC Mexico in August 2018 with Canadian, United States, Peruvian and Mexican jurists.  For info email Jose Luis Fuentes/visit: /

Key activities have included:

– Honduras: Findings from March delegation: On New Year’s Day, unmarked SUVs pursued 21-year-old Honduran activist Wilmer Paredes as he rode home on his motorcycle. When Paredes neared the final bend, he dropped his bike and tried to sprint to safety; unknown assailants gunned him down. No one has been charged in his killing, but state security forces had recently beaten him during a protest of the discredited November 26, 2017, election. Paredes, a youth leader in the Broad Movement for Dignity and Justice, was just one of many victims of the violent post-election crackdown. The recent increase in targeted killings is stoking fears that the government is reconstituting death squads.[2]

-El Salvador: The environmental movement, which won the world’s first ban on metallic mining in 2017, has also warned of ARENA’s candidate, Carlos Calleja- owner of El Salvador’s largest supermarket chain, Super Selectos, ranks one spot above Nayib Bukele, the former FMLN mayor of San Salvador who has since founded his own party, New Ideas, on the list of El Salvador’s six richest men- ties to international figures in the mining world, namely Frank Giustra, who, along with former U.S. President Bill Clinton and notorious Mexican telecom magnate Carlos Slim, has pumped money into Calleja’s local development foundation.  El Salvador’s 2019 presidential race reflects trends that have been observed on a global level, namely a high degree of disillusionment with established political parties that is leading voters to support outside candidates, often from the business sector. As P. Andreu Oliva, rector of the University of Central America, commented, “The parties don’t understand that the population is tired of the way things are being done.”[3]

-Mexico: From 09 to 14 May, the international mission of Pre-electoral observation was held in Tamaulipas. It is a State where the serious deterioration of the rule of law is reflected in the fact of being the number one state in disappearances where from 2008 to 2017 have disappeared 6129 people 12889 homicides, 1355 kidnappings and 5299 sexual rapes have been committed.  Tamaulipas is one of the most violent states in the country with constant violations of guarantees, political and human rights in the area.

In short, we could see that the context of violence presents a series of challenges to carry out an election day that guarantees the right to vote in a reliable and transparent way. We see that institutions at all levels of government have no diagnosis or strategy to confront the combination of widespread and electoral violence.[4]

NLG lawyers and law students will conduct foreign visitors observation in Quintana Roo, Puebla, State of Mexico, and Mexico City from June 28 to July 3, 2018.  To support the ITC, donate at:


[2] NLG member Lauren Carasik, Trump’s Cruel Folly: Canceling TPS for Hondurans Will Fuel More Violence, May 15, 2018,


[4] NLG member Jose Luis Fuentes et al, Press Bulletin: Global Exchange,

Photo credit: Global Exchange

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