New administration, new hope for human rights in Juárez


Andres Rodriguez

Human rights activist and lawyer, Gustavo de la Rosa, says Wednesday that the organizing of the citizenry, not politicians, is bringing down murder rates and violations of human rights in Ciudad Juárez. He spoke at the Inter-American Dialogue event on the state of human rights in the city.

Andres Rodriguez, Scripps Howard Foundation Wire Reporter

WASHINGTON – A member of the Security and Justice Board in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico said Wednesday that mayor-elect Enrique Serrano has sought admittance into the board.

This would be a first for the mayor’s administration, Gustavo de la Rosa, an activist and lawyer with the Chihuahua State Human Rights Commission, said Wednesday. Guillermo Terrazas, a spokesman for Serrano, could not confirm the action.

“He met with us and made his request,” de la Rosa said in Spanish at a discussion hosted by the Inter-American Dialogue and the Wilson Center’s Mexico Institute. “That encourages us.”

“It was about enforcing justice and we reached the worst levels of law enforcement. The city collapsed.”

— Gustavo de la Rosa


In 11 years, through different organizations and through the Security and Justice Board, de la Rosa said he’s hit brick walls asking for city officials to cooperate in addressing the rise in murder rates and how the police handle human rights in Ciudad Juárez.

“We have more than 10 years knocking on the government’s doors telling them we want to help them. We want to collaborate. We want to help unite the people so that things get done right and in ten years, the mayors have– one by one, there’s been four already – told us they don’t need us,” he said.

Serrano takes the mayor’s office in Ciudad Juárez Thursday, replacing Hector “Teto” Murguia.

In recent years, after going through what de la Rosa calls the “years of fear,” Ciudad Juárez has shown progress. The city is currently averaging 43 monthly murders, as opposed to the 220 a month in 2009, de la Rosa said. Prior to the outbreak of the drug wars in 2008, monthly murder rates averaged 18, he said.

The human rights lawyer said that part of the problem lies in the Mexican military’s unaccountability. The military began patrolling the city in 2008, at which point human rights in Ciudad Juárez completely stopped, he said.

“It was about enforcing justice and we reached the worst levels of law enforcement. The city collapsed,” de la Rosa said. He added 465 military records have been reopened, of which there’s been one arrest.

Andrés Rodríguez may be reached at [email protected] or 202-326-9871.