Press Releases (News)
Mixtec Human Rights Defender Released after Two Months of Arbitrary Imprisonment
Maximino García Catarino is the latest indigenous defender in Ayutla to prove his innocence, Mixtec and Me’phaa defenders continue to face targeting for denouncing government abuse
(WASHINGTON, March 22, 2012) – Mixtec human rights defender Maximino García Catarino has been released yesterday from the Ayutla de los Libres detention center in Guerrero, Mexico, where he had been held since January 21. His detention brought about condemnations by national and international human rights organizations for the continued targeting of indigenous groups in the Costa Chica (south coastal) region of Guerrero.
Catarino is one of the 107 human rights defenders in Guerrero who were issued provisional protective measures by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) in 2009 upon a finding that these defenders were being targeted because of their human rights work. Despite the protective measures, Catarino remained imprisoned for two months in the Ayutla jail.
Catarino’s imprisonment was denounced by RFK Center President Kerry Kennedy, who in August 2011 met with Catarino and members of the Organization for the Future of the Mixtec People, a key organization working for indigenous rights in the region.
"The RFK Partners for Human Rights welcomes the tribunal's decision, but we also have to condemn the continued misuse of process to undermine the Mixtec and Me'phaa peoples' efforts to secure justice," said RFK Center Officer Salvador Sarmiento who visited Catarino on March 4. "Maximino is the most recent of almost two dozen indigenous defenders that have been subjected to arrest warrants for what have been proven in court to be falsified charges," said Sarmiento.
For over a decade, the Mixteco and Me’phaa in the coastal regions of Guerrero have faced threats and attacks for denouncing human rights abuses committed against their communities. In 2009, two Mixtec leaders from Mr. Catarino’s organization in Ayutla were disappeared and found dead eight days later with visible signs of torture.
Catarino was detained on January 21, 2012 by officers of Guerrero state’s Ministerial Police. During his detention, he received visits from the Mexico Representative of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Javier Hernández, and several delegations of international human rights groups, including the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, Amnesty International, and Spain's General Council of Attorneys Foundation (Fundación del Consejo General de la Abogacía Española).