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CA44o8OXEAAQzxSThe protests in San Quentín began on March 17 at three in the morning. In the boroughs that make up the valley, thousands of farm workers, led by their community leaders, headed out on the highway that crosses the Baja California Peninsula amid cries of "In struggle for the dignity of day laborers!" and "The people united will never be defeated!" San Quentín's day farmworkers labor in humiliating conditions on farms that grow produce for export: tomatoes, strawberries, blackberries. In exchange for starvation wages, they work up to 14- hour days without a weekly day of rest, let alone, holidays or social security [medical insurance, pensions]. Foremen sexually abuse the women, and they are forced to take their children to the premises to perform work. The farmworkers usually live in makeshift settlements that [over time] have become permanent. The settlements are overcrowded, lacking basic services; the houses have tin roofs and dirt floors. Many [workers] are indigenous migrants from Oaxaca (Mixtec and Triqui), Guerrero, Puebla and Veracruz, who have made San Quentín into another of their communities. Three generations of Oaxacalifornianos live there. They suffer constant police harassment. They rely on a single hospital [run by the] Mexican Social Security Institute [IMSS].

See Aljazeera video: Thousands of Mexican farm workers protest low wages and poor working conditions

LA Times coverage: Mexican farmworkers strike over low wages, blocking harvestMexican farm strike leaders to meet with growers as crops rot

Read more on the protests: Hundreds of Baja Californian Farmworker Continue to Strike

ana maria defensores 2“When I see that a child can go to school, well fed and with a smile on its face...when I see a river flowing freely, plentiful cornfields, forests thriving...when I see an indigenous assembly and the multicoloured traditional clothing...when I hear the different languages of the mountain communities...when I see the problems that oppose the common interest...when people are heard and authorities act with honesty and fairness...when anybody can decide how to look, who to love, in what to believe. ..that is when my heart tells me my work is worth the effort.” Ana Maria Garcia Arreola, Educa A.C., Oaxaca de Juárez, Mexico

The work of women all over the world remains highly underestimated, and women still suffer under the reign of patriarchal values in their many different life pursuits. This applies also to women whose vocations include politics, advocacy or journalistic practices, – in other words, women who work in the so-called public sphere.

Last week Mexico’s arguably most renowned female journalist Carmen Aristégui, declared that it seems, “we are light years away from establishing a culture that respects women”. Mexico, a nation plagued by corruption and impunity from punishment, is also home to a myriad of savvy activists fighting for a more dignified life. A great number of these social activists are female and go by the term defensora – which translates to woman human rights defender (or WHRD). This year’s International Women’s Day revealed the necessity to bring to light some the work mexican defensoras carry out, in particular those who risk their lives to protect others and their indigenous/non-indigenous communities.

pri members killedThree members of a major political party were found dead in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca, according to reports on Wednesday. Authorities say they have recovered the bodies of federal legislature candidate Carlos Martínez Villavicencio from the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD, a center-left Mexican political party), a companion Fidel Lopez, and their driver Bernardo Bautista. All three were found dead in or near their vehicle in the municipality of Santiago Juxtlahuaca, according to EFE.

According to a statement from the Oaxaca district attorney's office, they “were ambushed by armed men in a van with Federal District license plates.” The Federal District refers to Mexico City. All three were returning from a rally just hours earlier.

Read original article on TeleSUR

For further information on recent political conflicts in southern Mexico see: PRI Mayor in Oaxaca gives orders to fire at citizens, European Parliament probe progress of investigations on murders of activists 

eurodiputadas copiaRepresentatives of the European Parliament Franziska Keller and Heidi Hautala, as well as the ex–MP Satu Hassi met with the current Governor of Oaxaca, Gabino Cue, to request information on progress of the investigations concerning the murders of mexican activist Beatriz Alberta Cariño and the finnish human rights observer Jyri Jaakkola, that occured on the  27th of April 2010 in the indigenous community of San Juan Copala, Oaxaca.

The activists were murdered during an ambush accredited to members of the Unity for Social Wellbeing of the Triqui Region (Ubisort), while participating in a humanitarian caravan that was carrying food and medicine to the inhabitants of the indigenous triqui community of San Juan Copola, at the time besieged by paramilitary forces. The triqui region of Oaxaca has long since been immersed in violence and disruption due to political tensions between governing administrations, including Ubisort.

images 2Amnesty International Urgent Action: Key eyewitnesses into the killings of two human rights defenders have been harassed in the Mexican state of Oaxaca. This is an apparent attempt to stop them from giving testimony in court. Their lives could be at risk. On 22 January relatives of a man who has been arrested in connection with the killing of human rights defenders Bety Cariño and Jyri Jaakkola intimidated two Indigenous women who witnessed the events. Both witnesses are soon due to give oral testimonies in court. The relatives confronted the two women (whose names are withheld for security reasons) in the town of El Carrizal, Oaxaca State, southern Mexico, where the women live, and told them to retract their previous written testimonies. Both witnesses have since left El Carrizal. On 3 and 4 February the same people turned up at their home and told their relative that “something bad can happen” (algo malo puede pasar) if the women do not retract their testimonies. State authorities have provided insufficient security measures for the women to date. 

SIGN Urgent Action online

Read the complete Ugent Action issued by Amnesty International

For more information on the case of Bety Cariño and Jyri Jaakkola see: 4 years and 7 months on, presumed murderer of human-rights defenders is apprehended,  Parents of Jyri Jaakola visit Mexico for fifth time to demand justice,  Mexico promises justice for unsolved murders,  Human rights defender Mr Omar Esparza Zárarte on hunger strike over impunity for the assassination of Bety Cariño, Public letter by civil society demands justice 4 Bety Cariño & Jyri Jaakkola

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