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Mexico, 6/14/2015

Estimado Gobernador
Lic. Gabino Cué Monteagudo
Governor of Oaxaca State, Mexico

Estimado Secretario
Miguel  Ȧngel Osorio Chong
Minister of the Interior of Mexico

Estimada Señora Procuradora
Arely Gómez González
Attorney General of Mexico

Dear Governor, Minister of the Interior, and Attorney General:

We are deeply concerned for the safety of Omar Esparza, widower of human rights defender Bety Cariño, who was assassinated in 2010. On May 17, he was informed by a reliable source that an armed group of hired assassins had been contracted to kill him. This information was corroborated by a number of sources. In the early morning of June 1, unidentified persons attempted to enter the house where his children have been residing with family members.

On April 2, 2010, men belonging to an armed group linked to state and municipal authorities killed Bety Cariño Trujillo and Finnish human rights observer Jyn Antero Jaakkola (cf our letters May 12, 2010, June 1, 2010 and September 15, 2010). Both activists were part of a humanitarian convoy that was trying to reach the remote Triqui Indigenous community of San Juan Copala in Oaxaca State. Bety Cariño was head of the Working Together Community Support Center in the city of Huajuapan de León in Oaxaca State. She ran workshops to promote women’s rights in the local Indigenous communities and had supported many women in setting up community radio stations. Bety Cariño had also campaigned for truth and justice in the killing of two community radio broadcasters, Felícitas Martínez and Teresa Bautista, in San Juan Copala, in 2008 (cf our letter of May 24, 2008).

For five years, Omar Esparza has demanded progress in the criminal investigation of the assassination of Bety Cariño.  Two suspects have been arrested in 2015. However, two indigenous Triqui women who were eyewitnesses to the killing were threatened following one of these arrests (cf our letter of March 1, 2015). Then, just weeks after a second suspect was arrested in March 2015, Omar Esparza received a call from a relative of the arrested man demanding that he retract his public statements against the suspect.

Because we believe that Omar Esparza is in extreme danger from the most recent threats that hired assassins have been contracted to kill him,  we strongly urge that you

  • provide effective protection for Omar Esparza, in strict accordance with his wishes;
  • conduct a full, prompt and impartial investigation into the threats against Omar Esparza, publish the results and bring those responsible to justice;
  • conduct a full investigation into the assassination of Bety Cariño and Jyri Jaakkola, as well as the killing of many other people from San Juan Copala in recent years;
  • investigate fully the apparent links between armed gangs and municipal and state authorities


Brian J. Stefan Szittai       Christine Stonebraker-Martinez