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Mexico, 1/25/2015

Sr. Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong
Minister of Interio of Mexico

Sr. Gabino Cué Monteagudo
Governor of Oaxaca State, Mexico

Dear Sirs:

We are extremely concerned about threats to Silvia Pérez Yescas, a defender of women’s, indigenous, and land rights from the community of Matías Romero in Oaxaca State. On January 13 she learned that members of her organization, Indigenous Women for the Conservation, Research and Use of Natural Resources (CIARENA) were threatened by people claiming to have been sent by a local political chief (cacique) who told them, “Stop f… around, because you could even be thrown in jail for being Silvia’s accomplices, she's going to be f…. for meddling in the land problem and there are people waiting for her when she shows up.”

Silvia Pérez Yescas, an indigenous Zapotec woman, is the founder and director of CIARENA, a grassroots organization that defends the rights of indigenous communities and women, including victims of domestic violence, in Oaxaca. She has been threatened repeatedly. On August 19, 2014 she received information from a reliable source that 100,000 Mexican pesos (around $US 7,700) had been offered to any gunman prepared to kill her upon her return to the community of Matías Romero. Although she filed a formal complaint regarding this threat, the authorities have said they cannot investigate it without an official statement from witnesses. Fear of reprisals has prevented witnesses from coming forward. In January 2013 the Mexican government agreed to grant her protection measures. To date these measures have been ineffective, so Silvia Pérez has not yet been able to return to Matías Romero to resume her legitimate human rights work.

We strongly urge that you

  • ensure the safety of Silvia Pérez Yescas and strengthen the agreed upon protection measures, in accordance with her wishes, so that she can return to her community safely;
  • carry out a full, prompt and impartial investigation into the threats made against Silvia Pérez Yescas and members of her organization, make the results public and bring those responsible to justice
  • provide the Mechanism for the Protection of Human  Rights Defenders and Journalists the sufficient resources and trained staff so that it can effectively implement and carry out protection measures for those under threat who need and seek government protection


Brian J. Stefan Szittai            Christine Stonebraker-Martinez