MEXICAN PRESIDENT ENRIQUE PEÑA NIETO VISITS QUEBEC TO DISCUSS STRATEGIC AND ECONOMIC RELATIONS WITH PHILIPPE COUILLARD- BUT WHAT OF HUMAN RIGHTS?
Québec- June 27, 2016. Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto will be meeting premier Philippe Couillard today in order to pursue and reinforce economic partnerships that have existed between Quebec and Mexico for more than 35 years. However, the question of human rights in Mexico, a country where violence has spread throughout the territory through drug cartels and the political system- does not appear to be on the agenda.
During the breakfast discussion “Quebec and Mexico: Strategic Partners in the Era of the New Economy” at the Chateau Frontenac, Quebec civil society members in solidarity with temporary workers and the peoples of Mexico will be gathering at the Place d’Armes (10 Saint-Louis) on Monday, June 27th from 11am to 2pm to demand:
- an end to state violence and repression against the Mexican people, and a guarantee of freedom of expression;
- an end to massacres, forced disappearances, and to systemic and systematic violence in Mexico;
- that President Peña Nieto respond to multiples appeals issued by the UN and by human rights organizations to shed light on civilian massacres (students, teachers, journalists, members of activist organizations and of civil society) and bring those responsable for these crimes to justice;
- an end to complicity on the part of the Quebec and Canadian government, who have closed their eyes to the crimes committed by the Mexican state, and this in the name of economic interests.
On Sunday, June 19th at Nochixtlan in the Mexican state of Oaxaca, teachers affiliated with the CNTE
(National Coordination of Education Workers – Coordinadora Nacional de Trabajadores de la Educación), who had been organizing for three years to demand that workers rights be respected in the wake of the Peña Nieto government’s education reform, were brutally attacked by federal and Oaxacan state police, who opened fired on a peaceful demonstration. The attack killed 11 people, while 90 were injured and many others remain unaccounted for.
In September 2014, events in Ayotzinapa shook Mexico and the international committee. Six people were killed, among them 3 students, while 43 students disappeared and 22 people were seriously injured, with federal and Guerrero state police implicated in the violence. An investigation led by the Interdisciplinary Group of Independant Experts (GIEI) refuted the evidence submitted by the Mexican Attorney General to shed light on the events. In April 2015, family members of the 43 disappeared students from the Raul Isidro Burgos Normal School of Ayotzinapa and their legal representative travelled to Canada to denounce state violence and unaccountability in Mexico. The delegation visited the National Assembly of Quebec, who unanimously passed a motion of solidarity. These events are emblematic of the Peña Nieto, government, where massive attacks have been perpetrated by the forces of order, as was the case in Ostula, Apatzingan, Tlatlaya, etc.
Generalized violence in Mexico has intensified over the past decade, forcing thousands to flee towards other countries, including Canada. Many refugee claims have been refused on grounds of insufficient evidence, particularly since Mexico was listed in 2013 as a Designated Country of Origin (DCO), which has restricted claimants’ recourse to seek asylum in Canada, even when they are facing real threats.
Many Mexicans arrive in Canada under the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SWAP), which exposes Mexican workers to many forms of exploitation and abuse. Lack of Canadian labour market mobility, inability to obtain permanent residency, and workplace isolation are among the structural conditions that Mexican agricultural workers must accept to work in Canada, conferring all power to Canadian employers. While this program is often presented as a winning formula for all parties involved, it represents the other side of the coin where the criminilization of migration is concerned, as it is the only “legal” channel for international mobility.