Mexico – PRODH and human rights: ?if you prick us do we not bleed??

The decade between 1980 and 1990 was one of the most shameful chapters of human rights violations in the history of Mexico. By way of response, a group of Jesuits decided in May 1987 to confront the situation by founding the Miguel Agustin Pro Human Rights Centre (PRODH). Since its inception the centre has worked to educate people about human rights, which in turn has led to the founding of local organisations. It offers legal help in cases of human rights violations and also conducts systematic and analytical investigations of the situation in the country, concentrating not only on general issues but specific topics as well in order to present these at State and international levels. ?We have been interested in civil and political rights,? says Fr Cortez Moralez SJ, ?and today we feel the need to turn our gaze to economic, social and cultural rights?. PRODH is involved in issues like the transition to democracy, truth commissions, torture, reparation and prevention, and in organising international seminars on the concept of human rights. In the rapidly changing Mexican context where liberalisation and capitalism are beginning to rule the roost, new kinds of human rights violations have mushroomed and new ways of dealing with these have to be developed. The cultural and social rights of indigenous people have plummeted, but Fr Cortex remarks ?I would like to say that young people are very interested in these problems of indigenous people and their rights…this opens possibilities for the future.? PRODH lodged complaints regarding the imprisonment of 20 alleged Zapatistas in international forums and secured their freedom. Responding to changing times, the centre is reorganising its entire work, looking at global issues like those emanating from WTO from the human rights perspective, connecting with networks of both Jesuits and non-Jesuits, and offering support to National Network of Civil Organisations ?All Rights for All?. [HL31102] Director: Fr E. Cortez Moralez SJ ; website