Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador
President of Mexico
Dear Mr. President,
Through this letter, the undersigned organizations of the United States want to express our concern and pain at the situation of violence in the state of Guerrero.
Several of the signatory organizations recently visited Mexico as part of an international arms delegation from the United States to Mexico and as participants in the Summit for Peace. During our stay we learned, through the voice of the Undersecretary for Human Rights, Alejandro Encinas, and Alejandro Celorio, Legal Adviser of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, about the efforts of his administration to stop arms trafficking from the United States and about the commitment of his government to defend Human Rights and address the causes of violence, including inequality and marginalization.
On the other hand, during a visit to the state of Guerrero, we heard from human rights defenders, journalists and families who were victims of forced displacement and relatives of the disappeared about the bloody reality facing the population of that state.
The José María Morelos Human Rights Center, in a letter to Presiden Biden, reports that in the year 2022 alone, 1,807 disappearances were committed and 1,360 intentional homicides were committed by members of organized crime in collusion with local authorities.
We listened to the testimonies of local journalists about how the State of Guerrero has become the second most dangerous entity in the country to practice journalism, with 10% of the 157 murders of journalists committed between 2020 and 2022 in the country. Days after our visit and presenting the situation of violence in the state, journalist Eduardo Yener de los Santos was the victim of assault and robbery at his home.
Organized crime groups terrorize entire regions, as in the recent attacks in the Tierra Caliente area and in the high mountains of Guerrero.
And as if that were not enough, organizations with a long and proven track record in the defense of human rights in the region, such as the Tlachinollan Human Rights Center, have been subjected to intimidation and espionage actions.
We know that much of this violence is carried out with firearms that come from the United States, and our organizations are spearheading many of the efforts to stop the flow of guns out of our country, including lobbying Congress to pass the ARMAS Act, supporting the prohibition of assault weapons and promoting the demand of your Government to gun manufacturers weapons and gun dealers in Arizona.
Your government is taking important steps towards peace in Guerrero, but we are extremely concerned about strengthening the role of the Mexican armed forces without this implying greater transparency or security in Guerrero. The Mexican Army is one of the principal gun buyers from the United States in the world and we know little or nothing about how, to whom and under what criteria it distributes these weapons to police units and military zones in Guerrero, despite the fact that many of these units have proven links to organized crime. In the case of Ayotzinapa, for example, the Guerrero state police continued to receive weapons imported by the army, despite the proven links of this corporation with organized crime that led to this still unresolved tragedy.
We are very concerned about the lack of prompt and expeditious justice mechanisms. Most of the cases of victims of violence that we know of have filed lawsuits without any consequences. The cases of disappeared activists, such as Vicente Suástegui, and of those who have died, like Arturo Cerón, remain unresolved. According to the Morelos Center for Human Rights, more than 25 defenders have had to flee the state, while migrant aid organizations report that thousands of people from Guerrero have had to leave their homes to seek refuge in the United States.
Therefore, we kindly request that, in addition to your current efforts:
- Take the necessary measures to return public security to a civilian institution and strengthen transparency and citizen observation of temporary military action.
- Ensure prompt and expeditious justice for all the people of Guerrero, as well as the effective protection of victims of violence.
- Strengthen and accompany the work of human rights organizations and state journalists.
- Relaunch your administration's efforts to establish a sensible drug policy that puts people at the center.
President, count on us to accompany the fight to end the flow of arms from the United States to Mexico and for a sensitive and humane drug policy in that country. We hope to have your commitment to prioritize the end of violence in Guerrero.