12/7/11 – Norma Andrade, a human rights activist and one of the founders of the organization Nuestras Hijas de Regreso a Casa (Bringing Our Daughters Back Home), was shot five times last Friday, December 2, outside of the school in Ciudad Juárez where she teaches. At the time of the attack, which Andrade survived, she was accompanied by her two grandchildren. Primary reports have speculated that this attack was tied to a drug trafficking organization that operates in the Juárez area.
Andrade became an activist against the murders and mutilations of women in Ciudad Juárez in 2001 after her 17-year-old daughter was kidnapped and murdered. She’s been an advocate for a fair and consistent judicial process so that the impunity surrounding the crimes that victimized her daughter stops. Andrade is also the mother of Malú García, who is the current director of Nuestras Hijas de Regreso a Casa. García, however, has been in hiding because of recent death threats from drug trafficking organizations.
The state attorney general’s office has speculated that this crime was probably intended to be a theft more than anything. However, according to Proceso, Andrade’s legal counsel affirms that there is “sufficient evidence that proves that this was not a theft case, but rather a planned attempt to murder the activist.” Some of this evidence includes reports from people close with Andrade who stated they received threatening phone calls demanding information about Andrade’s whereabouts. The State Commission of Human Rights (Comisión de Derechos Humanos del Estado) in Chihuahua has demanded that the state attorney general’s office establish a set of protection methods to make sure that Andrade is better protected.
Crime against activists in Chihuahua is not a new problem, nor has it been adequately addressed. According to CNN México, “In the past two years, five activists have been murdered in Chihuahua by organized crime members and this same cause has forced 12 other activists to exile to another country.” The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has called on the Mexican government to implement better measures to protect activists. In addition, they demanded that serious and speedy investigations be carried out with due diligence in regards to these crimes against activists. The OHCHR claimed that President Felipe Calderón’s administration has not kept his promise to protect human rights activists, which was part of an agreement he signed during the latest visit by Navi Pillay, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. Andrade and her daughter requested extra protection in 2008, although these preventative measures failed to safeguard Andrade last week.
The OHCHR wants to “resume the government’s dialogue with civil society organizations to create a national mechanism of effective protection to ensure the safety of all persons engaged in the promotion and defense of human rights.”