The Mexican government will be taken to the Inter-American Court on Human Rights (IACHR) in Costa Rica today and tomorrow for the torture of campesino environmentalists Teodoro Cabrera García and Rodolfo Montiel Flores. Both men were detained by the Mexican military in 1999 as a result of their opposition to excessive logging in the Costa Grande region of the southern state of Guerrero, Mexico. After receiving electric shocks, beatings, and threats that they were going to kill them and their families, the two were coerced into signing confessions that they were in possession of military weapons and that they cultivated marijuana. Despite the fact that the confessions were obtained through torture, they were admitted into court as evidence against them and Rodolfo and Teodoro were sentenced six years and ten years of prison respectively.
While in prison, they received important international support. In 2000, Amnesty International declared them both prisoners of conscience. Rodolfo was also awarded the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize in 2000. In 2001, they both received the Chico Mendes Prize from the Sierra Club. Due to national and international pressure, the two were released for humanitarian reasons in November 2001, but their innocence was never recognized. The soldiers responsible for their torture have never been brought to justice.
Now, the case against the Mexican military is being brought before the Inter-American Court on Human Rights, and WOLA will be closely following the proceedings. It is extremely important that the IACHR brings justice in this case so that the systematic human rights abuses committed by the Mexican military do not continue to go unpunished. The case of Rodolfo and Teodoro illustrates that the current human rights violations perpetrated by members of the Mexican army in the context of counter-drug operations are part of a broad history of abuses that many communities and activists in the state of Guerrero and elsewhere have suffered at the hands of the Mexican military.
To read the full media advisory with background on the case, click here.
For more information, please contact:
Maureen Meyer, Associate for Mexico and Central America
202-797-2171, [email protected]