Tuesday, 24 January 2012
Two women we met with, Supreme Court Justice Olga Sanchez Cordero and Commissioner Dilcya Garcia Espinosa de los Monteros, National Commission to Prevent and Eradicate Violence Against Women, are strong advocates for women’s rights. Meeting with them gave us hope that each in her way would do all the could on behalf of women.
I’d met Justice Sanchez Cordero, who has been on the Court since 1995, right before the Court made its decision to free the twelve political prisoners from Atenco. I liked her then – and now, to me, she seemed even more openly clear about her liberal inclinations on the Court and especially strong in her defense of women’s rights. She gave a bit of background of the movement of the Court toward judicial independence over the past fifteen years. I can’t speak to the independence of the Court, but I can say she is a strong defender of women’s rights before the Court and tries to bring such cases to the Court. She has strongly argued in defense of the right of women to access to the “morning after pill.”
Commissioner Garcia, on the other hand, has only been in her position for two months and has one more year in office. With the new government after the upcoming elections, her term will end. She opened the meeting saying, “We want to take concrete action that makes a difference in the lives of women, not make symbolic gestures.” She was very emphatic about trying to take steps that stop the “re-victimization of victims.” She said that they wanted their work to transform “victims into survivors and survivors into women able to totally embrace life.
Garcia noted that the federal government operates totally in the context of the drug war so it must assume responsibility for its consequences in Mexico. She said that the state had to accept its errors and its responsibility. She said the Commission is interested in prevention and protection for human rights defenders and is in the process of developing a protocol for their protection. She said that the protocol must define inter-governmental actions to protect threatened human rights defenders. She also said the Commission would be happy to work with civil society organizations on that protocol.
The last meeting of the day with Attorney General Marisela Morales Ibanez was a very different story. She came into the room and sat a the meeting table flanked by about 12 people from the government. And there were others hanging in the background. She proceeded to read a multiple-page statement that was pure government speak about all the laws, committees, investigations they were carrying out. When she finally finished, I had to point out, on behalf of the women we’d listened to that they were sick of beautiful words and laws that were not implemented. They didn’t need more laws, they needed action. They were sick of the lack of justice and the total impunity in Mexico. Frankly, that was the essence even if she and some of the others tried to defend what they were doing for the women of Mexico. What we were able to do was present a document from women’s organizations in which they spelled out concrete steps they would like to see from the Attorney General’s office. We don’t expect much more than vacuous words if and when they do respond….
Any changes in Mexico will come from the people, not its government.