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Cablegate: New Mexican Human Rights Commission President

VZCZCXRO6611
RR RUEHCD RUEHGD RUEHHO RUEHMC RUEHNG RUEHNL RUEHRD RUEHRS RUEHTM
DE RUEHME #3642/01 3621756
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 281756Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY MEXICO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9562
INFO RUEHXC/ALL US CONSULATES IN MEXICO COLLECTIVE
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 1179
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0386
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
RUEHME/USDAO MEXICO CITY MX
RHMFIUU/HQ USNORTHCOM

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MEXICO 003642

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR WHA DAS JACOBSON, MEXICO OFFICE DIRECTOR
LEE, D STAFF CUE, AND INL HOHMAN. NSC FOR O'REILLY.

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM PINR UN MX
SUBJECT: NEW MEXICAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION PRESIDENT
PLEDGES MODEST CHANGES

REF: MEXICO 3627

1. (SBU) Summary: Raul Plascencia Villanueva at his
inauguration ceremony November 17 as the new President of
Mexico's National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) pledged
changes that would strengthen the organization's ability to
promote greater human rights respect. During the ceremony,
Plascencia announced that he wanted to make CNDH
recommendations legally binding upon all government agencies.
The following day, he told Poloffs that he also plans to
work more closely with the NGO community. (Note: His
predecessor, Jose Luis Soberanes, had a notoriously bad
relationship with the human rights NGO community. End Note.)
Analysts, however, question whether he will show the courage
to take a strong hand on human rights with serious political
overtones. End Summary.

2. (SBU) Raul Plascencia Villanueva pledged modest changes at
his inauguration ceremony November 17 as the new President of
Mexico's National Human Rights Commission (CNDH). Before a
large number of well-wishers from the human rights community,
Plascencia said that he would work to make CNDH
recommendations legally binding upon all government entities.
The NGO community repeatedly has voiced its displeasure with
the current system in which government agencies are not
obligated to implement CNDH recommendations. In a cautious
move, Plascencia also announced the creation of a new
kidnapping unit. The unit was created in response to the
high number of kidnappings over the past several years but
some analysts question the relevance of the unit to human
rights abuses by government authorities. In a follow-up
meeting with Poloffs November 18, Plascencia continued his
cautious stance by not offering more ambitious proposals for
reform. He said, however, that he would endeavor to work
more closely with the NGO community than his controversial
predecessor, Jose Luis Soberanes.

3. (U) CNDH is composed of five major offices: 1) the
Presidency, 2) a Consultative Council and its 3) Technical
Secretariat, 4) an Executive Secretariat, and 5) Five
Substantive Divisions or "Visitorships." Of these offices,
the most important are the Consultative Council, which
consists of ten academics appointed by the Senate who are
responsible for establishing CNDH guidelines, approving
internal rules and overseeing the budget (the CNDH President
serves as head of the Council), and the five Visitorships
which cover the following areas.

-- First Visitor: Disappearances; women, children and family
issues; attention to crime victims; HIV; and the new
kidnappings unit;

-- Second Visitor: conduct of authorities in federal
institutions;

-- Third Visitor: prison system conditions;

-- Fourth Visitor: indigenous affairs;

-- Fifth Visitor: treatment of journalists and migrants and
trafficking in persons.

Plascencia appointed the following five new Visitors:

-- First Visitor: Dr. Luis Garcia Lopez Guerrero. Garcia
served as Technical Secretary of CNDH's Consultative Council
prior to his assignment as the First Visitor. He was a law
professor at the National Autonomous University of Mexico
(UNAM), including a member of its investigation center, as
well as law professor at the Autonomous University of
Yucatan, Iberoamericana University, La Salle University,
among others. He has written several books including one on
Mexican penal law. He holds a Bachelor's, Master's, and
Ph.D. in law from UNAM.

-- Second Visitor: Dr. Luciano Silva Ramirez. Silva is
member of the National System of Investigators and has
written several articles on constitutional law. He holds a
Bachelor's Degree in Political Science and Public
Administration from the Autonomous Universty of Nuevo Leon, a

MEXICO 00003642 002 OF 002


Master's Degree from the University of Ortega y Gasset in
Madrid, Spain, and a Ph.D. in Political Science and Sociology
from the Complutense University of Madrid.

-- Third Visitor: Daniel Romero. Romero is the former
president of the Maquila Industry trade association, and
Honorary Consul of Japan. He was suggested for this position
by PRI Senators Manlio Fabio Beltrones and Fernando Castro.
Romero is a lawyer by profession and also has served as
Public Prosecutor.

-- Fourth Visitor: Teresa Paniagua Jimenez. Prior to her
assignment as the Fourth Visitor, Paniagua served as Deputy
Director in the Liaison Unit of Information in the Chamber of
Deputies. She also served as the Press Director in the
Agrarian Reform Secretariat. Prior she worked as a journalist
and, in 1987, received the National Journalism Award.
Paniagua is a lawyer by profession.

-- Fifth Visitor: Fernando Batista. Batista has held
different positions within CNDH including Fourth Visitor and
Director of the Victims of Crime Program. He has given
classes in human rights at different universities. Batista
holds a Bachelor's Degree in Law from the Technological
Autonomous Institute of Mexico (ITAM). He studied Judicial
Policy at Harvard University and earned a Master's Degree in
Legal Sciences from the Navarra University of Spain.

4. (SBU) Comment: During the meeting with Poloffs,
Plascencia promised to work more closely with the NGO
community. As the Ambassador meets with the human rights
community, we have encouraged those groups to work more
collaboratively with Plascencia and CNDH. Plascencia also
has pledged a number of reforms including an initiative to
strengthen CNDH's ability to enforce its recommendations,
which will require Congressional approval. This would help
assuage the Commission's harshest critics, some of whom
indicated in the last NGO meeting with the Ambassador in
November (reftel) that the organization lacks the political
will to realize its full powers. Human rights organizations
question Plascencia's fortitude, however, because he
essentially secured his election with the backing of leaders
from the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and National
Action Party (PAN). Former senior CNDH advisor Javier
Montezuma knows Plascencia and believes him to be very
cautious about criticizing powerful political players
particularly in view of the fact that CNDH relies on Congress
for its funding. End Comment.

Visit Mexico City's Classified Web Site at
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/wha/mexicocity and the North American
Partnership Blog at http://www.intelink.gov/communities/state/nap /
PASCUAL

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