The Mexican Army continues to invade communities, illegally breaking into people's houses and robbing community members of what little they own; some community leaders have been incarcerated while others have simply been executed. The members of the Secretary of National Defense have been untouchable with regards to the law, and have acted with complete impunity, not only in Guerrero but also in other states. -- Digna Ochoa
Digna Ochoa y Plácido
was one of Mexico's leading advocates for human rights
. This can be a deadly occupation in the third world
. It was for Ochoa. She was shot dead
in her office on October 19, 2001.
Ochoa's father was a union leader in a sugar factory in Veracruz, Mexico. Ochoa began to study law after hearing that her father and his friends needed more lawyers. Her father was unjustly jailed for over a year and then "disappeared" - the fate of many union sympathizers in Latin America.
After law school, Ochoa began as a prosecutor in the Attorney General's office, but quit because of the corruption she saw. So she opened an office and began to do defense work. She immediately made enemies within the corrupt Mexican law enforcement community. The police harassed her and sent death threats. In 1988 Ochoa was kidnapped and "disappeared." She endured a month of torture before escaping, but feared for her life in Veracruz and moved to Mexico City.
In Mexico City she began working for the Miguel Agustin Pro Juarez Human Rights Centre (PRODH). She was constantly bombarded with death threats, abducted and beaten once again, and had her offices ransacked. In 1999 three men broke into her home. They tied her to a chair, immobilized her arms and legs, interrogated her for nine hours, locked her in a room with an open gas canister, and left her to die. But again she managed to escape.
Despite the pleas of many human rights organizations calling for Ochoa's protection, on 19 October, 2001, her enemies finally prevailed. Digna Ochoa's body was found in a legal office in Mexico City. The killers left a death threat warning other human rights defenders from the PRODH that they would meet a similar fate if they continued their human rights work.