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Natural Born Rebel: Alejandro Cerezo

Matt Templeton

September 2006, by Comité Cerezo México

What is the Human Rights situation in Mexico today?
We live in a frightening regime. Our case began in 2001. My brothers and I were arrested on 3 August. We were tortured, and our lawyer was killed on 19 October 2001. This is one of many cases of Human Rights violations.

I will give another example. On 3-4 May this year, 3,500 federal police and Mexican soldiers dressed in police uniforms arrived at a small town, San Salvador Atenco. They arrested 218 people, tortured them, hit them, committed sexual abuse and also raped several women. This is one of the more representative examples of police repression in Mexico.

We are not living in a democratic regime like most European countries believe. We are living under a fascist regime.

What inspires you to continue this dangerous work?

First of all I lived in a hard situation. I was in jail for three and a half years and I know other people are still living in a similar situation. I don’t want more people to live what I had to live, so I am working to ensure their release.

Most importantly, I think that we can change this regime. We are doing just a piece of the work. We don’t believe that human rights can change the whole regime, but human rights are one instrument in the whole social and political fight, so we are trying to help the political and social movements to use this instrument. Defending human rights will not change the capitalist regime, but we can decrease the impact of the oppression of social and political movements.

What are the core objectives of Cerezo Committee?

We have three principle objectives. Firstly, we want the Mexican state to recognise that in Mexico there exist political prisoners. The second objective is that we want to recover the history of the political prisoner movement; we want justice but we want justice with truth. We want all of the members of the army or of the police that participate in torture or kill political leaders to get their dues. Thirdly, we as an organisation have to be economically self-sufficient.

How would the Mexican state recognise political prisoners?

We want the Mexican state to recognise that people are in jail who are not criminals; they are there because they have political motives and they are not like kidnappers or killers, they are just people fighting for their rights. To recognise this means to separate them from the other prisoners. They have to accept that we have problems in Mexico.

Is there a strong role for international awareness and pressure in changing the human rights situation in Mexico?

Yes. International pressure is very useful. The Mexican government is always afraid about the opinion of the international community, so if the international community says to the government of Mexico ’we are worried about what is happening in human rights, we are worried about the Cerezo brothers’ case, the government of Mexico stops the repression a little bit. So that’s why it is important to have some international pressure on the government of Mexico.

Does it matter to the Committee who becomes the next Mexican president?

We develop a strategy for many years not just for every presidential election.

We think the new government will be a human rights violator. We have to prepare well in order to document these human rights violations. But we think that if the centre left candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is declared the winner it could be harder for us to do our job. Some people in the international community believe that if he were to win all the problems would end so it would be harder for us to say that this is not true. If the ultra right wing candidate Felipe Calderon wins, I think that we will suffer a lot of repression - not just social and political movements, but also human rights defenders - so it will be worse. So we don’t have many options. We must continue to document, to say to people what is happening with the human rights situation in Mexico.

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