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|Francisco Cerezo shared his experience of human rights violations.|
Francisco Cerezo, one of the founding members of Comité Cerezo, a Mexican human rights organization, said that he and two of his brothers were “unjustly” imprisoned for peacefully protesting against the Mérida Initiative. According to Cerezo, they were in a federal prison for over seven years, where they were tortured physically and mentally.
According to Cerezo, the Mérida Initiative: Expanding the U.S./Mexico Partnership has been the primary cause for the increase in violence, political repression, and human rights violation in Mexico. The initiative seeks to expand and deepen both countries’ cooperation to maximize the effectiveness of disrupting organized criminal groups, strengthen partnership between the U.S. and Mexico, build a stronger border control, and to build strong and resilient communities in Mexico, said Cerezo.
According to Cerezo, the Mérida Initiative is supposed to reduce violence and political repression in Mexico by strengthening human rights, providing and training Mexican officials with a specific code of conduct that treats citizens fairly.
“Unfortunately, the initial intents of the initiative have backfired for both parties,” Cerezo said. “In reality, Mexico is being militarized by the U.S. in an attempt to have control in Mexico.” The fight on drugs has actually created a new conspiracy in Mexico, Cerezo said.
The alleged conspiracy is that Mexican officials with the help of the U.S. have been forcefully disappearing people, Cerezo said.
“Blackhawk helicopters have been spotted being used inappropriately to stop peaceful protests against the initiative,” said Cerezo. “Mexican officials react violently against protestors.”
Cerezo presented a video and a series of pictures where Mexican officials put a bag over an activist’s head to hide his identity after attacking him violently and prosecuting him for peacefully protesting against the U.S. and its initiative with Mexico. According to Cerezo, the U.S. is hurting Mexico more than it is helping it.
“Witness for Peace has made all of this possible,” said Cerezo. “The organization’s mission is to expose the effects that U.S. involvement has on Latin American countries, especially when it comes to military aid.”
Cerezo urged students to join Witness for Peace, receive frequent action alert emails, and spread the word. He said, “You can join the team and fight for justice in Latin America.”