Mexico’s top human rights official Rosario Piedra Ibarra receives death threats

Rosario Piedra Ibarra said the threats are related to the investigation on the Giovanni López case

Mexico’s top human rights official Rosario Piedra Ibarra receives death threats
Rosario Ibarra Piedra is the president of Mexico's Human Rights Comission - Photo: Carlos Mejía/EL UNIVERSAL
English 03/07/2020 15:12 Newsroom Mexico City Alexis Ortiz, Pedro Villa y Caña & Alberto Morales/EL UNIVERSAL Actualizada 15:12

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The head of Mexico’s governmental human rights commission (CNDH) said Thursday she has received threatening telephone calls, text messages, and social media postings.

Human Rights Commissioner Rosario Piedra Ibarra said the threats started after she took up the case of a young man who was allegedly beaten to death by police in May after they detained him for not wearing a face mask during the coronavirus pandemic in Iztlahuacán de Los Membrillos, Jalisco.

The death occurred in Jalisco state, which is governed by an opposition party, and the man’s death has become a political issue.

Piedra Ibarra said she filed a complaint with prosecutors after receiving threats from more than 100 telephone numbers. She said the threats also mentioned her family.

Read more: Mexico City police chief Omar Harfuch injured in assassination attempt, blames CJNG cartel

In a brief news conference, in which Piedra Ibarra did not allow questions, she asserted that on June 8, she received threats from over 100 telephone numbers from different parts of Mexico, a situation for which she has already filed a complaint at Mexico City’s Attorney General’s Office.

“I want to underscore that the Giovanni López case is involved in the threats; that is why I received calls in which they told me not to mess with the governor when I am investigating a case; I have not pointed out anyone; it is a serious investigation and we are going to carry on with it,” said the ombudsperson.

It was on June 9 when they CNDH announced it would investigate the death of Giovanni Lòpez. The investigation would have been started by the State Human Rights Commission in Jalisco, but the national organization interceded by arguing the case is a matter of national public opinion.

“I make these threats public, why? Because we are not going to tolerate impunity to keep reigning over this country (…) that’s why I legally denounced it and it is in hands of justice and justice will know what it has to do,” said Piedra Ibarra.

In addition to the Giovanni López case, Piedra Ibarra said that the threats against her and her family also took place in the framework of the CNDH's 30th anniversary, for there has been a “political campaign” that mentioned she wants to turn the organization into a Peoples Advocacy organization to defend only the most vulnerable:

“There was a political campaign that said I only wanted to focus on poor people, which is false, for we know that a Peoples Advocacy organization is precisely for the people, a concept that involves every citizen in the country: rich and poor, men and women, children, teenagers, adults, seniors, indigenous people, people with disabilities, any kind of citizen will be protected in this Commission and hence, those threats were related to this, they attacked me up to the point of death threats

Read more: Giovanni López: Mexican protesters clash with Jalisco police over police brutality death

Enrique Alfaro stands in solidarity
Jalisco governor Enrique Alfaro expressed his solidarity and support to Rosario Piedra Ibarra in his Twitter account where he said he is already in touch with the CNDH president and made a call to face the country’s common enemy: organized crime.

Regarding the threats received by the ombudsperson, Enrique Alfaro said he is committed to the respect of humans rights in Jalisco and the country.

Mexico's President offers protection
For his part, Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said in his morning news conference that he did not know Rosario Piedra Ibarra had received death threats, just as governor Enrique Alfaro, and offered her protection.

Enrique Alfaro was threatened by the Jalisco New Generation cartel (CJNG) and the President instructed the Security Cabinet to establish communication with the Jalisco governor in order to provide him with the protection he deems proper.

López Obrador said that, in Piedra Ibarra’s case, the Public Security Minister has received the same instructions.

The President said at the National Palace that these threats are stemmed from affecting private interests and asserted that his government will not make deals with any group and attack others, or reach “hidden” agreements as other countries do.

“And there are some who feel affected, but this is normal when a change takes place, and it is very clear; we do not make deals with crime, neither with common crime nor with organized crime, nor white white-collar crime; and we have not made deal hidden agreements with the U.S. government or its organizations.”

Read more: Criminal organization threatens García Harfuch again

Rosario Piedra Ibarra
Rosario Piedra Ibarra is a human rights activist who was recently appointed to the CNDH.

On November 7, 2019, her appointment as the new president of the National Human Rights Commission was widely questioned after 116 senators voted but only 114 votes were registered. Therefore, one of the contenders obtained two-thirds of the votes but if 116 senators voted, none of the contenders would have been able to reach the necessary votes to become the next ombudsperson and as a result, the process had to be repeated.

The fact that polarized the election process was that two-thirds of the votes needed had to be provided by the members present or through valid votes, nevertheless, the majority claimed the result was binding and validated the process. Ever since fraud accusations have been surrounding the process.

In the end, the proposal to repeat the voting process was rejected. After debating for over 7 hours and after senators were on the verge of a physical altercation, Rosario Piedra Ibarra took office as the new president of the CNDH.

Moreover, Piedra Ibarra faces a complicated scenario since the CNDH is an autonomous body that investigates federal authorities when there are human rights violations. This period will perhaps become the most polemic and monitored administration in the last 30 years.

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