January 13, 2006
Mexico: Urgent Action Update
Maquila Solidarity Network – Action Alert Update – January 13, 2006
Yesterday, at 4:30 p.m. CST, Martin Barrios, president of the Mexican Human and Labour Rights Commission of the Tehuacan Valley, was suddenly released from a Puebla state prison, with little or no explanation.
Barrios had been arbitrarily detained for two weeks on false charges alleging he had attempted to blackmail a maquila owner in Tehuacan, a major blue jean manufacturing centre in Mexico’s state of Puebla.
According to Barrios, his release was the result of the enormous local, national and international pressure that was brought to bear on the state authorities, not the good will of those authorities or his accusers. His unexpected release from prison comes as pressure was growing on the Puebla state governor from human, indigenous, trade union and labour rights organizations in Mexico and around the world to free Barrios, ensure his safety, and end the persecution of human rights activists in the state.
Thanks to all of you who sent letters of protest to the governor and other government officials.
Your efforts played an important role in helping to secure Barrios’ freedom.
As he left the prison, Barrios was greeted by supporters who had been waiting for hours outside the prison for permission to visit him, including family members, colleagues from the Commission, former workers from the Calidad en Confecciones garment factory, whose owner had brought the charges against Barrios, and MSN coordinator Lynda Yanz.
According to Yanz, there are still a number of unanswered questions about the legal justification for Martin’s sudden release and the status of his legal case, as well as fears that maquila owners in Tehuacan, who have been campaigning against Barrios and the Commission and publicly supporting his arrest, will be angered about Barrios’release. For that reason, MSN and Mexican human rights organizations continue to be concerned about the safety of Barrios and other members of the Commission.
Today, January 13, the Mexican human right centre, Miguel Agustin Pro Juarez, will be holding a press conference in Mexico City to discuss Barrios’ release and unresolved issues in the case. MSN will also be meeting with the Commission and Mexican and US support groups to discuss next steps in our efforts to defend the right of the Commission to continue to carry on its important work in support of maquila workers in the Tehuacan region.
Once again, thanks to all of you who sent letters of support that helped to secure Martin’s release. We will get back to you soon with additional information and, if needed, calls for further action.
Maquila Solidarity Network