EXTERNAL AI Index: AMR 41/115/97
UA 398/97 Fear for safety 19 December 1997
MEXICOAlba Hurtado Arias (f), aged 17, peasant activist
Rocío Mesino Mesino (f), peasant activist, human rights defender
Alba Hurtado Arias was detained on 10 December 1997, Human Rights Day, by members
of the Mexican army in Tepetixtla, Guerrero state. She was taken to Coyuca
de Benitez, where she was interrogated by soldiers claiming to be members of
military intelligence. She was questioned about the activities of Rocío Mesino
Mesino, a leading member of the Organización Campesina de la Sierra del Sur
(OCSS), Southern Sierra Peasant Organization, a peasant organization. The
soldiers warned Alba Hurtado Arias, who is also an OCSS member, that she would
be imprisoned if they saw her in Tepetixtla again. They accused her of having
links to the Ejército Popular Revolucionario (EPR), Popular Revolutionary Army,
an armed opposition group. She was released after the interrogation.
The incident, which forms part of a pattern of intimidation and other human
rights violations against members of the OCSS (see below), has raised fears
for the safety of both Alba Hurtado Arias and Rocío Mesino Mesino.
Dozens of members of the OCSS and other peasant organizations in Guerrero have
been killed in the context of disputes over peasants’ rights since the creation
of the OCSS in the Tepetixtla mountains in 1994. Nineteen-year-old Gerardo
Hurtado Arias was shot dead on 20 April 1997, the ninth OCSS member to be killed
for political reasons in 22 months (see UA 110/97, AMR 41/24/97, 22 April 1997).
OCSS members, including Rocío Mesino Mesino, have been the target of death
threats, reportedly by paramilitary groups, because of their activities for
the indigenous and peasant population in the region and because of their
outspoken criticism of the government.
The OCSS offices were raided in June 1997 by unidentified armed individuals
looking for, among other things, Rocío Mesino Mesino’s home address (see UA
172/97, AMR 41/42/97, 13 June 1997). In September two members of the Mexican
armed forces raped and tortured a 19-year-old woman Gloria Roque Bautista,
while trying to force from her information about the activities of the OCSS
leadership, including Rocío Mesino Mesino.
Rocío’s father, Hilario Mesino Acosta, an OCSS leader arrested on 3 July 1996,
was tortured and threatened with the “disappearance” and death of Rocío and
her sister Norma Mesino, also a leading peasant activist in Guerrero. Hilario
Mesino remained in prison as a prisoner of conscience on unfounded charges
of having links with the EPR until 21 June 1997, when he was released after
the courts decided there was no evidence to substantiate the charges.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/faxes/express/airmail letters in
Spanish or your own language:
- calling for an immediate and thorough investigation into the detention and
intimidation of Alba Hurtado Arias on 10 December 1997, and for those responsible
to be brought to justice;
- calling for immediate measures to ensure the safety of Alba Hurtado Arias
and of leaders of the Organización Campesina de la Sierra del Sur (OCSS), in
particular Rocío Mesino Mesino;
- expressing deep concern that members of the OCSS remain unable to carry out
their legitimate political and human rights activities free from fear for their