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Photo Credit: CNN MexicoOn June 7, midterm elections will be held in Mexico with voting to determine all 500 seats in the Chamber of Deputies, as well as nine governorships, 17 state legislatures and roughly 300 mayors. In the weeks and months prior to the elections however, the legitimacy of the electoral system have been challenged by voices across the political spectrum, including threats from a major teachers’ union to burn ballots and blockade roads to prevent access to ballot stations as well as a call for an electoral boycott by parents of 43 students who were disappeared last September in Iguala, Guerrero.

Community Police Commander Nestora SalgadoNestora Salgado García, a Mexican-American woman and former coordinator of a community police force in the indigenous community of Olinalá, Guerrero, has been locked up in a federal maximum security prison in Tepic, Nayarit since August 2013 after being falsely accused of kidnapping and involvement in organized crime. The pretext for these accusations was that she arrested teenagers for drug dealing and the local sheriff Armando Patrón Jiménez for tampering with evidence at a crime scene. Salgado’s arrest happened soon after she issued a press release denouncing Olinalá’s mayor and other government officials for their involvement in drug trafficking. In March 2014, federal judge Arroyo Alcántara dismissed the accusations and ordered her liberation, having determined that her actions were legal considering the powers given to the Community Police by Guerrero state law. In spite of this ruling, she is still being kept in the high security prison in solitary confinement without proper medical attention and few opportunities to talk to her lawyer and family.

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 

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