Raúl life drama

It is all too easy to forget that you are not watching actors. The leaked footage  of members of a Mexican drug cartel, meeting in a lay-by, guns casually slung over their shoulders, sauntering around, apparently taking a drug doled out by the ‘leader’ from his car window before making the short journey across a field to open fire on the occupants of a nearby residence, seams almost familiar. I’ve seen this one before, I thought. Only this is real life CCTV footage, (despite the comic soundtrack), this is a real massacre of real people in a real town. The brazen manner, in which the hit men operate without fear of reprisals, is surreal, but depressingly all too common.  

It comes in a week, which has seen a lot of high profile coverage on drug related violence in the country. The BBC ran a story about the staggering 3,365 reported deaths due to drug-related violence in the first three months of this year. That is more than 37 people a day. It is difficult to relate to those numbers. It is not difficult to imagine the headlines if it happened here. More people die there every fortnight, than throughout the entire swine flu epidemic in the UK to date.  

Government officials have repeatedly said that the statistics need to be seen in context, and suggest that nine out of ten of all the deaths involve people connected with the drug trade or law enforcement officials. 

However, this perhaps implies that Mexico is a safe place for people who are neither cop nor dealer. That is certainly not the case. The opening line of Amnesty International’s most recent report on the country ominously reads; ‘Mexico is a dangerous country in which to defend human rights’.

 This coming Saturday will mark the two year anniversary of the arrest of Raúl Hernández.  Raúl fought for indigenous rights as a leader of the Me’phaa Indigenous People’s Organisation (OPIM) which defends and promotes the rights of the Me’phaa (Tlapanecas) people in Mexico.

 He was arrested for a murder that Amnesty believes he did not commit and railroaded through the system without due process, he still sits in jail as a prisoner of conscience, still awaiting trial two years on.  The impact of Raúl’s incarceration on his wife and child are devastating. In a new video, he speaks of the financial and emotional trauma caused to his wife and child having lost the family bread winner.   

Saturday will see a number of actions around the world in a show of solidarity for Raúl as well as various features in the media to call attention to his ongoing incarceration.

The lines between fact and fiction can become blurred, with so many cinematic depictions of Mexican drug cartels and it is hard to tell whether art is imitating life, or vise versa. Yet the video of Raúl, makes it easy to empathise with the plight of an individual Mexican and puts a face to the facts. To take action on Raúl’s behalf go here.

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Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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