RIP: Human Rights Defender Bety Cariño

Tragic news like the murder of two human rights workers in Oaxaca, MX leaves me feeling frustrated, exasperated… yet more determined to believe that this world can change. Thanks to La Cebollita who forwarded this info on to me:

Human rights defenders in Mexico paying with their lives, warn UN experts

Human rights defenders in Mexico are under increasing threat, a group of independent United Nations experts cautioned today, speaking out against the recent killings of two defenders in the country’s southeast.
Rights defender Beatriz Alberta Cariño Trujillo and international observer Tyri Antero Jaakkola, who were on a monitoring mission in Oaxaca, were killed on 27 April when ambushed by paramilitaries.

Several others, including journalists, were killed in the attack, and four members of the mission were rescued by the police after being stranded in the forest following the incident.

UN Special Rapporteur Philip Alston, who focuses on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, acknowledged the complexity of the situation in Mexico and the challenges the country’s Government faces in fight against drug cartels.

“But there is no justification for failing to take strong steps when human rights defenders, journalists and others are killed,” he emphasized.

“Human rights must not be permitted to be a casualty in the fight against drugs and crime.”

Below a recent speech Cariño gave at the Front Line Dublin Platform, February 2010

MIXTECA – OAXACA – MEXICO

OUR FEET STEADY AND FIRM ON THE GROUND – OUR HEADS HELD HIGH; DIGNIFIED, WITH FOCUSED SPIRIT AND BURNING HEART

BROTHERS AND SISTERS,

With my voice, I speak for my brothers and sisters of my mixteco people, from rebellious Oaxaca in this great country called Mexico. And in these lines I cannot speak of myself without speaking of the others, because I can only exist if they exist. Therefore, we exist
as us. Brothers and sisters, these women I am; a daughter, a sister, a mother, a comrade, a teacher, an indigenous woman, a Mixteca, an Oaxaqueña, a Mexican, they represent us women who go forward leading our peoples against the looting of our mother Earth, for the benefit of large transnational corporations and financial capital. Today, with our voices, with our struggles, with our hands, the legitimate wishes for social justice of the Mexican Revolution are being kept alive; our struggle is the same one the Morelos, the Magón, the great Zapata and, in today’s Mexico, the EZLN led, a struggle that has cost the lives of thousands of Mexicans, all of them poor people from the bottom of society who have fought these fights. The place they have been given in history continues to be one of exclusion and they have been forgotten. Today we, the young, the indigenous peoples and the women are at the head of this catastrophe.

Our fields now are the scenes of ruin and disaster, victims of indiscriminate commercial
opening, genetically modified crops, the ambitions of the multinationals; this has consequently caused the forced migration of millions of our brothers and sisters who, in the words of my grandfather, “have to leave in order to remain.”

In Mexico the right to autonomy, the right to exist for the indigenous peoples is still being denied, and today we want to live another history: we are rebelling and we are saying enough is enough, today and here we want to say the they are afraid of us because we are not afraid of them, because despite their threats, despite their slander, despite their harassment, we continue to walk towards a sun which we think shines strongly; we think the time of the peoples is coming closer, the time of unrepressed women, the time of the people at the bottom.

These days, discontent is present throughout the length and breadth of our national territory. Because of this the presence and participation of us, the women we defend,cannot be put off any more in the daily business of human rights; we want to construct a world with Justice and dignity; without any kind of discrimination; today we are pushing forward a profound and extensive process of organisation, mobilisation, analysis, discussion and consensus which is helping us to build up a world in which many worlds can fit. We are the result of many fights, we carry in our blood the inheritance of our grandmothers, our roots make demands of us and our daughters.

For Bety Cariño’s Bio click here:

Beatriz Alberta “Bety” Cariño Trujillo was the director of CACTUS (Centro de Apoyo Comunitario Trabajando Unidos) a community organization in Oaxaca, Mexico. On April 27, 2010, she was killed when paramilitaries ambushed a caravan on its way to the indigenous autonomous community of San Juan Copala. The caravan, including local and international human rights observers, was delivering food to the community which has been under a blockade from paramilitaries allied with the state government. In the attack died also Jyri Jaakkola, Finnish human-rights activist, and more than ten people were wounded. Cariño was Mixtec and an advocate for food sovereignty, community water management, soil conservation and the right to autonomy for indigenous peoples in Mexico. As part of her work with CACTUS, she worked to organize women’s collectives in northern Oaxaca. She was one of the leaders of CACTUS forced to temporarily flee Oaxaca in December 2006 after government repression in response to the 2006 Oaxaca protests. Bety Cariño worked with the Centro de Apoyo Comunitario Trabajando Unidos CACTUS (Centre for Community Support Working Together). In February, she spoke at an event organized by Front Line, an organization dedicated to the protection of human rights defenders. You can watch the video (in Spanish).

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