Members of Mexico’s National Movement of Families of the Disappeared hold up photos of their missing loved ones.

Mexican human rights activists seek help from Canada


Disappearances, torture, and extrajudicial executions are sharply increasing in Mexico, say human rights activists who came to Canada to ask for help.

‘A serious human rights crisis’

“Mexico is undergoing a serious human rights crisis,” said Mariano Machain, international advocacy coordinator with the Mexican human rights organization, Serapaz. He is one of four activists who were in Canada from January 29 to February 2. Three of them were victims of grave abuses that drove them to become activists.


Magui Quevedo is the sister of Herson Quevedo who disappeared in Veracruz state in 2014. Her youngest brother and boyfriend were killed as they tried to find him.

Martha Camacho was seized by federal police forces and “disappeared” for 49 days during which she gave birth to her son in military barracks. Her husband was executed.

Alicia Bustamante told Canadians about government plans to build a highway through her Indigenous community’s ancestral land.

Alicia Bustamante is a leader of the Otomi Indigenous community in central Mexico which has been fighting the government’s plan to build a highway through ancestral land without consultation or consent.

Activists seek help from many quarters

While in Ottawa, the activists met with government officials, members of Parliament (MPs) and members of civil society organizations.

“The Canadian government should be putting human rights at the centre of its on-going conversation and a period of strengthening of relationship with Mexico,” said Machain. “The Canadian MPs, both government and opposition MPs, should be overseeing the strengthening of this relationship and also ensuring that…the ministry of foreign affairs here raises these issues and puts human rights at the centre of an on-going and developing relationship.”

In addition, the activists worked to strengthen partnerships with civil society organizations and to urge them to work toward these same goals and to put pressure on the Mexican embassy. Amnesty International Canada hosted the mission. The activists will move on to London, England and Geneva, Switzerland to make their case.

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