This is an excerpt from the AFL-CIO Solidarity Center's "Threatened with Death, Mexican Labor Activist Leaves Country."
Facing death threats for her work as a Mexican labor rights activist, Blanca Velásquez left the country earlier this month and suspended her two-year legal battle with the Mexican government over ongoing harassment and threats against workers in Puebla, Mexico.
In May, human rights defender José Enrique Morales Montaño, who worked with Velásquez at the Center of Support for Workers (CAT), was kidnapped by four masked men and physically tortured for 16 hours before being released. Other employees at CAT have received death threats, and the organization’s e-mail has been hacked in a cycle of harassment that began in December 2010. That month, Velasquez found a threatening message scrawled across her office wall: “No saben con quien metes” (“You don’t know who you’re messing with”).
Velasquez, in 2001, founded CAT, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting human rights for Puebla workers. At CAT, a longtime Solidarity Center partner, Velasquez addressed sexual harassment against female employees and championed workers’ freedom to form unions.
Seeking to force Mexican authorities to address the threats, intimidation and violence against workers who stand up for their rights, Velásquez worked with ProDESC, a non-profit organization that focuses on economic, social and cultural rights. But after the Mexican government would not guarantee safe passage to travel to an evening hearing on the case, Velásquez decided the risk was too great to make the trip and suspended her legal fight. The Mexican government had been directed by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to provide protective measures after CAT’s and ProDESC’s complaints had been heard by the IACHR, the regional body of the Organization of American States devoted to promoting and protecting human rights in the Western Hemisphere.
Read the rest of "Threatened with Death, Mexican Labor Activist Leaves Country."
Learn more about the Solidarity Center at www.solidaritycenter.org.