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Cablegate: Murder of Juarez "Human Rights Activist" Clouded by Drug

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246089
2010-01-28 20:50:00
10MEXICO294
Embassy Mexico
UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
09CIUDADJUAREZ339|09MEXICO3175
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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MEXICO 000294

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS
WHA DAS JACOBSON
NSC RESTREPO AND O'REILLY

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM PINR MX
SUBJECT: Murder of Juarez "Human Rights Activist" Clouded by Drug
Ties

REF: 09 CIUDAD JUAREZ 0339; 09 MEXICO 3175

1. (SBU) Summary. Josefina Reyes, the mother of an alleged
Juarez Cartel hit-man and drug trafficker, was killed January 3 by
gunmen in her hometown of Guadalupe, Chihuahua. Reyes became an
outspoken opponent of the Mexican military's operations in
Chihuahua after the army detained her son in 2008. While locally
known to have this connection with organized crime, the national
press portrayed her death as the killing of a human rights
defender. Domestic and international human rights organizations
have brought significant pressure to bear on the Government of
Mexico (GOM) to act on Reyes' killing. As overall threats to human
rights defenders have been on the rise in recent years, we have
made improving dialogue between the GOM and the NGO community, with
a view to reducing hostility and threats against human rights
defenders, one of the priorities for our dialogue with local human
rights NGO. End Summary.

2. (SBU) Alleged Sinaloa cartel gunmen murdered civic activist
and former local politician Josefina Reyes Salazar January 3 in
Guadalupe, Chihuahua, a small community 20 miles east of Ciudad
Juarez. Reyes was the mother of purported Juarez Cartel hit-man
and drug trafficker, Miguel Angel "El Sapo" Reyes Salazar.
Although press reports vary, it appears that a group of armed
gunmen entered the "Barbacoa Marios" restaurant and attempted to
kidnap Josefina Reyes. When she resisted, they shot her in the
head saying, according to some witnesses, "You think you're so
[expletive] because you belong to those organizations?"

3. (SBU) Josefina Reyes allied with elements of the Juarez human
rights community in opposition to the Mexican army's presence in
the city after the army detained and later released her son in
2008. Reyes called her son's detention a kidnapping. In September
2009, the army arrested the same son when they captured high level
Juarez Cartel operative Jose Rodolfo "Rikin" Escajeda. (Note:
Escajeda is awaiting extradition to the United States on drug
charges. He is also believed to be responsible for the 2009
murders of Amcits Benjamin LeBaron and Luis Widmar (ref. A). End
Note.)

4. (SBU) Reyes gained both wanted and unwanted recognition for
her activism. She drew public attention in 2008 when she launched
a hunger strike to protest her son's 2008 detention and to demand
information on his whereabouts. She led multiple marches and
protests in Ciudad Juarez and participated in the Forum against
Militarization and Repression organized by the National Front
Against Repression (FNCR). While she formed alliances with
numerous local and international NGOs, according to press accounts
she also was detained by authorities for leading protests and
marches. She maintained that she began receiving death threats as
early as 2008 and that same year reported that the military twice
entered her home, broke windows and doors, and stole her
belongings.

5. (SBU) Human rights NGOs have condemned Reyes' killing with 50
of her allies, staging a public demonstration on January 7 outside
the federal attorney general's offices in Ciudad Juarez to protest
and draw attention to her death. Some editorialists and
commentators have criticized strongly the government for not
protecting Reyes and they have urged officials to do more to
protect her collaborators. Notwithstanding the Reyes family's ties
to organized crime, Amnesty International (AI) characterized her
murder as an aggression against human rights defenders. AI called
on the GOM to "provide immediate and effective protection" for
Juarez rights activists.

MEXICO 00000294 002 OF 002


6. (SBU) The National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) announced
that it would open an official investigation into Reyes' death,
which it claimed was "as assault on rights defenders and the rule
of law" and that it reflects a larger trend. In 2005, CNDH
documented 24 cases of attacks against human rights defenders, but
in 2006 that number decreased to 18 and in 2007 it decreased
further to 16. However, in 2008, CNDH reported 24 attacks against
activists and 25 in 2009. The UN's Office of the High Commissioner
for Human Rights (OHCHR) released a report in October 2009 in which
it documented 128 aggressions against human rights activists that
occurred between January 2006 and August 2009, including ten
murders and three kidnappings (ref. B). AI specifically appealed
to the GOM and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to
seek protection for three activists who collaborated with Reyes.

7. (SBU) Comment: Threats against human rights defenders are
real and apparently on the rise in Mexico. We have stressed our
commitment with the Mexican human rights community to facilitating
a more constructive dialogue between it and the government on
reducing threats and violence against human rights defenders. In
this instance, information available to the Consulate in Ciudad
Juarez suggests that Reyes' murder had more to do with her ties to
organized crime than her work with human rights organizations.
Nevertheless, until the government does more to protect human
rights defenders and investigate threats and violence against them,
its bona-fides on this important matter will continue to come under
fire by the local and international human rights community. End
Comment.
FEELEY

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