Letter to Prime Minister Jean Chrétien Regarading the Situation in Chiapas, Mexico

Wednesday, March 25 1998


March 25, 1998

The Right Honourable Jean Chrétien
Prime Minister
Room 311-S, Centre Block
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A2

Dear Mr. Prime Minister:

We wish to express our grave concern about the deteriorating human rights situation in Mexico, particularly in the Chiapas region, where paramilitary groups are taking action not only against the leaders of native organizations but also against women and children.

This is evidenced by the massacre of 45 residents of the Acteal community on December 22, 1997. We are particularly concerned that the alleged perpetrators of these abuses are seemingly treated with impunity, while the Mexican government is apparently determined to pursue a military buildup in the Chiapas region. As you know, this area has for several years been the scene of conflict between the native peoples, who are the original inhabitants of this land, and the large land owners and mining companies who want to exploit the land’s mineral wealth.

In our view, the situation has grown serious enough to warrant the Government of Canada using its intervention on item 10 of the agenda of the fifty-fourth session of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, currently under way in Geneva, to make a clear statement expressing its utmost concern about the rapidly deteriorating human rights situation in Mexico. We also urge the Canadian government to support the appointment and sending to Mexico of a Special Rapporteur from the Commission on Human Rights to assess the situation and report back to the Commission’s fifty-fifth session next year.

Yours very sincerely in Christ,

†François Thibodeau, CJM
Bishop of Edmundston
Chairman of the Human Rights Commission
Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops

c.c.: The Honourable Lloyd Axworthy
Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs

Mme Adèle Dion
Director, Human Rights Division

Mr. Ross Hynes
Permanent Mission of Canada to the United Nations
New York