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Title:  Mexico Human Rights Practices, 1995 
Author:  U.S. Department of State  
Date:  March 1996  
 
 
 
 
                               MEXICO 
 
 
The United Mexican States is a federal republic with an elected 
President, a bicameral Congress, and a constitutionally mandated 
independent judicial branch.  The Institutional Revolutionary Party 
(PRI) has won every presidential election in the last 66 years, many of 
which involved credible allegations of fraudulent practices.  Most 
national and international observers, however, regarded the August 1994 
presidential elections as free and fair.  The success of those elections 
carried over into many subsequent state elections, with only one state 
election marred by allegations of serious fraud.  Several southern 
states, most notably Guerrero, Tabasco, and Chiapas, continued to suffer 
politically motivated violence, often caused by local political 
rivalries.  Although the Government's dialogue with the Zapatista 
National Liberation Army (EZLN) has not yet produced a definitive 
resolution to the conflict in Chiapas, both parties remained committed 
to a negotiated settlement, and peace talks continued through the end of 
the year.  The army and the EZLN have not clashed since the Government 
unilaterally declared a cease-fire on January 12, 1994.  The army 
conducted a limited offensive in February to reassert control over some 
portions of Chiapas, but did not encounter any EZLN resistance. 
 
Police forces maintain internal security.  The army is responsible for 
external security, but also has some domestic security responsibilities.  
The security forces, including the federal and state judicial police, 
federal highway police, and local police, are under the control of 
elected civilian officials.  However, members of the security forces 
continued to commit numerous human rights abuses. 
 
Mexico has a market-based, mixed economy, which the Government has been 
progressively deregulating and opening during the past 12 years.  An 
ambitious program of privatization has reduced state-owned companies 
from more than 1,150 to less than 200.  About 22 percent of gross 
domestic product (GDP) comes from manufacturing, 25 percent from 
commerce, 8 percent from agriculture, and 27 percent from service 
industries.  There is significant subsistence agriculture, and 27 
percent of the populace lives in rural areas.  Leading exports include 
automobiles, manufactured and assembled products (including electronics 
and consumer goods), and petrochemicals.  Although per capita GDP in 
1994 was about $4,200, it fell to about $2,800 in 1995 as a consequence 
of currency devaluation and the recession.  There are severe inequities 
in income distribution, with large numbers of people living in extreme 
poverty in rural areas, shanty towns, and urban slums. 
 
The Government generally respected the human rights of its citizens, 
although serious problems remained in some areas, and some states 
present special concerns.  Major abuses included the violence and 
killings in Guerrero, as well as other extrajudicial killings, torture, 
illegal arrests, and arbitrary detention.  To address human rights 
abuses, the Government established the National Human Rights Commission 
(CNDH) in 1990.  The CNDH is autonomous, although it receives its 
funding from the Government and the President appoints the president of 
the Commission.  CNDH recommendations have resulted in the firing or 
censuring of more than 2,000 public servants (most of them members of 
public security forces), but critics claim that its effectiveness is 
limited by its lack of authority to bring criminal or civil charges 
against those accused of human rights abuses, as well as its cumbersome 
size and bureaucracy.  The CNDH concluded that from May 1994 to May 1995 
280 governmental organizations were "presumably responsible" for human 
rights abuses.  The CNDH cited the federal Attorney General's Office 
(PGR), which has authority over federal police, in 392 complaints.  
Corruption is rife within police ranks.  Other abuses included glaring 
prison deficiencies, discrimination and violence against homosexuals, 
women, and indigenous persons, and extensive illegal child labor in the 
informal economy.  The Government continued, with limited success, its 
attempt to end the "culture of impunity" surrounding the security forces 
through reforms in the PGR, continuing support to the CNDH, and 
implementing a wide-ranging package of judicial reforms. 
 
RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS 
 
Section 1   Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom 
from: 
 
   a.   Political and Other Extrajudicial Killings 
 
A number of murders were committed for ostensibly political reasons.  
Guerrero state police killed 17 peasants on June 28, while they were en 
route to protest the Government's failure to deliver promised 
herbicides.  Many were members of the Organization of the Southern 
Sierra, a small, leftist, peasant organization, formerly linked to the 
national Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD).  An investigation by 
the Guerrero state attorney general's office concluded that heavily 
armed policemen had acted in self-defense, and that the peasants had 
fired first.  A CNDH investigation, however, determined that the film of 
the scene which officials used to exonerate themselves had been tampered 
with, that at least one deliberate execution occurred, and that police 
placed weapons into the hands of the dead peasants in order to give the 
appearance that the peasants were armed and belligerent.  Additionally, 
the CNDH charged that state investigators had been negligent in their 
conduct of the investigation and had falsified forensic test results. 
 
Although he originally accepted the conclusions of the state attorney 
general's office, Governor Ruben Figueroa ultimately complied with the 
CNDH's recommendation that a number of state officials be suspended 
until the completion of a special  prosecutor's investigation.  There 
are credible allegations, however, that a number of the suspended state 
officials, including the former state attorney general, continued to 
exercise considerable influence in the operations of the state 
government. 
 
Alejandro Oscar Varela Vidales, formerly of the Mexico City Attorney 
General's office, was named special prosecutor in the case by the 
Guerrero state congress after the position had been vacant for a month.  
In accordance with CNDH recommendations, former special prosecutor 
Miguel Angel Garcia Dominguez (who left his position to become a state 
supreme court justice in Guanajuato) brought criminal charges against 
some state officials and ordered the arrest of ten policemen.  The 
officers were held on charges of manslaughter, rather than on charges of 
homicide, and by year's end had not been brought to trial.  The bodies 
of the peasants were to have been exhumed on December 13.  However, next 
of kin opted to postpone the exhumation for up to 3 months because the 
state government made no provision for following the CNDH's 
recommendation that independent forensic experts be present.  On 
instructions from Varela, in January 1996 federal judicial police (PJF) 
arrested 4 ex-officials and 18 state policemen in conjunction with the 
killings.  They included the former state police operations director, 
Manuel Moreno Gonzalez, first deputy state attorney general Rodolfo 
Espino, former director general of state security Esteban Mendoza Ramos, 
and Gustavo Martinez Galeana, former chief of state security for the 
Costa Grande region of Guerrero.  CNDH President Jorge Madrazo said that 
in spite of the arrests of the four state government officials, other, 
higher-ranking officials cited in the CNDH's recommendation as bearing 
responsibility for the crime remained free. 
 
Unknown assailants killed 12 peasants on July 5 in Ajuchitlan del 
Progreso, Guerrero.  The sole survivor, a 14-year-old boy, said that the 
attackers appeared to be police.  Also in Guerrero, more than 20 
unidentified gunmen killed 5 policemen in an ambush on July 7, and on 
July 15, gunmen allegedly in the employ of the state government killed 2 
peasant leaders.  In addition, five PRD activists were killed in random 
acts of violence in the state between March 25 and June 27; and peasants 
killed a policeman in the town of La Cebada on June 2.  Family feuds 
continued to generate more killings. 
 
Investigations continued into the 1994 assassinations of PRI 
presidential candidate Luis Donaldo Colosio and PRI secretary general, 
Jose Francisco Ruiz Massieu.  One gunman, Mario Aburto, has been 
convicted of Colosio's murder.  A second alleged gunman, Othon Cortes 
Vazquez, is in custody. 
 
In an unprecedented action, police arrested Raul Salinas de Gortari, 
brother of ex-President Carlos Salinas, as the  intellectual coauthor of 
the Ruiz Massieu murder.  Gunman Daniel Aguilar Trevino was sentenced in 
March to 50 years.  Manuel Munoz Rocha, a PRI legislator and another 
suspected intellectual coauthor of the killing, remained missing and 
presumed dead.  Former Deputy Attorney General Mario Ruiz Massieu, who 
until November 1994 was responsible for investigating his brother's 
death, was in the United States at year's end awaiting the outcome of 
deportation hearings.  The Mexican Government has charged him with 
obstruction of justice for concealing Raul Salinas' role in Jose 
Francisco Ruiz's murder.  While carrying out the investigation under the 
direction of Mario Ruiz, police allegedly tortured suspects and raped 
one. 
 
In August the Attorney General's Office released its finding that 
Cardinal Juan Jesus Posadas Ocampo was slain in a case of mistaken 
identity May 24, 1993 at the Guadalajara airport.  Edgar Nicolas 
Mariscal, who remains in police custody, declared that he mistook the 
Cardinal's automobile for that of rival narcotics trafficker Joaquin 
Guzman Loera. 
 
Five men attempted to murder Bishop Arturo Lona Reyes on June 29 in the 
state of Oaxaca.  The Bishop opined that the assassination attempt may 
have been motivated by local peasant bosses ("caciques") who may have 
been perturbed by the Bishop's campaign to educate peasants about their 
rights. 
 
Unknown assailants murdered Government Prosecutor Jesus Humberto Priego 
Chavez and Judge Abraham Polo Uscanga on June 19 and June 20, following 
the government declaration of bankruptcy of a company which formed part 
of Mexico City's public bus system--Ruta 100--and violent reaction by 
its leftist union, SUTAUR.  The Government has not established 
culpability in either case.  Police made no arrests for the murder of 
former SUTAUR secretary general Ignacio Chicuellar Vela and ruled as 
suicide the death of former municipal transit director, Luis Miguel 
Moreno, although many questioned the ruling (see Section 6.a.). 
 
On May 10, police found former Jalisco state Attorney General Leobardo 
Larios Guzman murdered outside his home in Guadalajara.  The authorities 
arrested Gaston Ayala Beltran, a former state judicial police officer as 
Larios' alleged killer, as well as three other alleged gunmen of the 
Tijuana drug cartel in connection with the murder. 
 
Unknown assailants killed one PRD activist and wounded 42 on July 10 in 
Villa Benito Juarez, Tabasco during post-electoral conflict with police.  
A local newspaper in Chiapas reported on September 30 that 19 PRD 
members had been killed and 50 wounded in the towns of Tila, Tumbala, 
and Angel Albino Corzo, since March.  Local PRD leader Martha Morales 
died from bullet wounds received October 14 in Tecpan de Galeana, 
Guerrero.  The PRD  claims that her death brings to 71 the number of its 
members killed in Guerrero.  In an August 1994 incident, which some 
believe to have been an assassination attempt, the PRD's candidate for 
the governorship of Chiapas suffered severe injury (two other PRD 
officials died in the incident, and two more were also seriously 
injured) when a trailer truck collided with his minivan. 
 
There were no new developments in the 67 cases of violence (including 
murders) against PRD activists in which CNDH has issued recommendations 
since 1992.  The authorities have fully complied with 28 
recommendations, but only partially complied with the remaining 39. 
 
Police and vigilantes acting on behalf of local landowners continued to 
commit extrajudicial killings while dislodging peasant squatters from 
rural lands in several states.  To expand communal land holdings, for 
decades peasants have invaded private lands and petitioned for 
government recognition of the seizures.  With recent constitutional 
agrarian reforms, the Government ceased distributing new lands; the 
invasions continue nonetheless. 
 
Police continued to evict, detain arbitrarily, and destroy the homes of 
peasant leaders in the state of Veracruz.  Land disputes in the state, 
especially those involving ranchers and indigenous persons, are the 
principal cause of such violence, but police have also alleged EZLN 
involvement.  During a major sweep of the village of Benito Juarez, 
Veracruz, on May 29 and 30 to remove squatters from ranches, police 
arbitrarily detained 34 peasants.  Eight of the peasants were sentenced 
to prison on charges of having damaged property.  The police also beat 
or robbed many others.  Fearing further police violence at the behest of 
local ranchers, over 100 peasant families took refuge in surrounding 
mountains.  A mob of more than 100 town residents attacked police in 
Soledad Atzompa, Veracruz, after the police beat and attempted to arrest 
a local peasant for buying a stolen car.  Police often fail to 
investigate killings of peasants by ranchers. 
 
The CNDH said that the Veracruz state attorney general's office had been 
negligent in implementing its recommendations regarding the September 8, 
1994, killing of two local leaders in Plan de Encinal, a community in 
Ixhuatlan de Madero, Veracruz.  State officials had previously blocked 
attempts by Amnesty International forensic experts to conduct autopsies 
on the victims.  The authorities made no progress in the case. 
 
Some large landowners in Chiapas maintain private militias to defend 
their property from peasant land invasions.  Local authorities do not 
impede the establishment of these militias, which often employ police 
and military personnel.  Other land disputes between ranchers and 
peasant squatters continued in Oaxaca and Tabasco and occasionally 
turned violent. 
 
Police officer Jose Antonio Verduzco Flores remains in detention, but 
the authorities have not yet tried him for beating U.S. citizen Mario 
Amado to death in 1992 in a Baja California jail.  A new judge has been 
assigned to the case. 
 
   b.   Disappearances 
 
Amnesty International reported one case of politically motivated 
disappearance, that of peasant leader Gilberto Romero Vasquez of the 
Peasant Organization of the Southern Sierra, in Atoyac de Alvarez, 
Guerrero on May 24.  Members of that organization were among the 17 
killed by state police on June 28.  There were political and economic 
elements in some cases of disappearances due to religious differences 
(see Section 5). 
 
The CNDH's 1995 annual report states that, of 13 cases of disappearance 
which it reviewed from May 1994 to April 1995, 6 resulted in 
determinations that the subject was deceased or likely to be deceased.  
The authorities resolved most of the more than 400 cases of 
disappearance reported during the early stages of the Chiapas conflict 
in 1994. 
 
   c.   Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or 
Punishment 
 
Torture continues to be a serious human rights problem, although the 
CNDH reported a 68 percent decline in torture complaints over the 
previous year (from 148 complaints to 45) and said that torture was its 
19th most common type of complaint during the year.  Incidence of 
torture reported to the Federal District's human rights commission also 
fell.  However, the CNDH does not maintain statistics on torture 
complaints to state human rights commissions.  Of the 31 states and the 
Federal District, 8 of these jurisdictions do not have specific laws to 
prevent or punish torture.  Poorly trained and equipped to investigate 
crimes, police officers continued to attempt to solve crimes by rounding 
up likely suspects and then exacting confessions from them. 
 
The authorities punish few officials for torture, which continues to 
occur mainly because confessions are the primary evidence in many 
criminal convictions.  The CNDH reported that only 13 policemen were 
jailed on torture convictions during the year.  By law the defendant 
must prove that a confession was forced.  Many victims do not report, or 
do not follow through on, their complaints against the police for fear 
of reprisals. 
 
PJF officers abducted, tortured, and ultimately released U.S. citizen 
Roberto Carlos Castillo Zuniga on August 3 in Matamoros for allegedly 
stealing marijuana belonging to a local PJF commander.  Despite repeated 
inquiries by consular authorities, no investigation has been undertaken. 
 
The Mexico City press reported that police beat and forcibly removed all 
finger and toe nails during an 18-hour interrogation 
of Daniel Aguilar Trevino, who was allegedly involved in the conspiracy 
to assassinate Jose Francisco Ruiz Massieu.  Press reports also state 
that police forced carbonated water into Marco Antonio Rodriguez 
Gonzalez's nose while he was seminaked, 
bound, and blindfolded, and raped and tortured Maria Eugenia Ramirez 
Arauz, both of whom were subsequently convicted of assisting in the 
assassination plot.  The investigation continued at year's end, but the 
authorities had not indicted any police officials in connection with 
these allegations. 
 
Police in the state of Veracruz, attempting to force suspected EZLN 
leader Alejandro Garcia Santiago to turn himself in, allegedly tortured 
his parents and brother.  The CNDH confirmed that police in the Norte 
Prison in Mexico City tortured at least four of seven persons whom they 
had arrested in Yanga, Veracruz on suspicion of links to the EZLN. 
 
According to press accounts, on May 28 Mexico City police beat, raped, 
and tortured Gloria Gaulito, a member of the politically activist Mexico 
City Neighborhoods Assembly, while they held her incommunicado. 
 
In some cases police officers dismissed in one state find law 
enforcement employment in another.  The CNDH discovered that even when 
the authorities censured some officers in one law enforcement job, they 
moved on to other positions and were subsequently charged again with 
human rights abuses.  In an effort to remedy this situation, the CNDH 
publishes lists of censured public servants in its annual report and 
monthly newsletters.  Announcing plans for the creation of a national 
register of law enforcement officials in July, Pablo Monzalvo, Director 
General of Protective Services in the Ministry of Government, said that 
30 percent of all "highway robbers" are or had been policemen.  Attorney 
General Antonio Lozano Gracia estimated in October that 80 percent of 
all federal judicial policemen had engaged in criminal activity. 
 
Standards at prisons vary by state.  Many are staffed by undertrained 
and corrupt guards, and some lack adequate facilities for prisoners and 
are overcrowded, despite an early release program endorsed by the CNDH 
and legal reforms reducing the number of crimes that carry mandatory 
prison sentences.  Prisoners complain that they must purchase food, 
medicine, and other necessities from guards or bribe guards to allow the 
goods to be brought in from outside.  Drug and alcohol use is rampant in 
prisons.  Frequently, prisoners exercise authority within a prison, 
displacing prison officials.  Conflicts between rival prison groups, 
often involved in drug trafficking, continued to spark lethal violence.  
While the authorities prosecuted a few prison officials for abusing 
prisoners, it was more common to dismiss them or to charge them  with 
only minor offenses.  The Federal Government began building 10 new 
prisons to house an additional 13,000 prisoners, in order to alleviate 
overcrowding. 
 
On May 3 and 4, at the Puente Grande prison in Jalisco state, Federal 
Judicial Police killed seven prisoners whom they fired on without 
authorization during a riot.  Eight more prisoners were killed and at 
least 20 wounded during further rioting at the prison on July 6 and 7.  
May 9 rioting at a Cancun prison left one prisoner dead and at least 
seven wounded.  Contention over prisoner self-government and control of 
narcotics and weapons touched off a riot in January at the Torreon 
prison in Coahuila, which left at least 28 dead.  A riot in Leon, 
Guanajuato left one dead and seven injured on November 6. 
 
Some prisons, contrary to law, do not separate male and female 
populations.  Officials sometimes encourage women to form sexual 
liaisons with male prisoners and guards.  In some cases, officials 
coerce women into sexual relationships.  The CNDH has a program to 
inspect prisons (it visited 53 jails from May 1994 to April 1995) and to 
investigate prisoner complaints. 
 
The law prohibits incarceration for failure to pay private debts.  
However, such incarcerations increased dramatically during 1995, 
probably reflecting the economic crisis. 
 
   d.   Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile 
 
The Constitution provides that the authorities must present anyone 
detained before a judge within 72 hours, and must try the person within 
4 months if the alleged crime carries a sentence of less than 2 years, 
or within 1 year if the crime carries a longer sentence.  The law 
requires prisoners awaiting trial to be housed separately from those 
convicted.  In practice, judicial and police authorities frequently 
ignored these time limits.  According to the CNDH and nongovernmental 
organizations (NGO's), the authorities often held criminal defendants 
with convicted prisoners and for longer than allowed by law before going 
to trial. 
 
For the period from May 1994 to April 1995, CNDH reported 169 findings 
of arbitrary detention, and 30 cases in which it found that authorities 
held prisoners incommunicado.  Arbitrary arrest and detention continued 
to be among the most common human rights abuses.  Detention of 
opposition political activists is neither widespread nor systematic, but 
does occur frequently for short periods of time. 
 
In previous years, judges often failed to sentence indigenous detainees 
within legally mandated periods.  In a substantial improvement over 
1994, authorities sentenced 69 percent of all imprisoned indigenous 
persons within legally mandated periods.  In 1994, 70 percent had not 
been sentenced, and the authorities  had held half of them in pretrial 
detention for longer than allowed by law.  At the behest of the National 
Indigenous Institute (INI) and the CNDH, authorities released 480 
indigenous detainees from jails from May 1994 to April 1995.  Federal 
prosecutors continued to adhere to INI's recommendation that they drop 
charges against first-time offenders accused of drug cultivation, as 
drug traffickers often forced indigenous defendants who do not 
understand the legal significance of their actions to grow the crops. 
 
Many detainees report that officials ask them to pay bribes for release 
before formal arraignment; many of those arrested report that they are 
able to bribe officials to have them drop charges before they go before 
a judge.  Corruption is rampant throughout the system.  Some wealthy 
drug traffickers have avoided arrests or jail sentences by paying off 
police officers and judges.  Payments by drug kingpin Hector "El Guero" 
Palma Salazar to the Guadalajara city police force totaled $40 million 
per month, according to press accounts.  Attorney General Lozano said 
that the army participated in Palmas' arrest because the Government had 
to assume that entire police forces had been compromised.  In an attempt 
to curb police bribe-taking, the Federal District raised judicial police 
salaries by 80 percent in July. 
 
Robberies committed by policemen are common; four federal judicial 
police were arrested as they attempted to rob President Zedillo's son in 
March.  In a number of cases in northern border states, judges, police, 
and persons posing as attorneys extorted large sums of money ($3,000 to 
$10,000) from tourists to "fix" real or fabricated infractions.  State 
human rights commission authorities in Coahuila widely published a toll-
free telephone number for reporting police abuses. 
 
Most Mexicans view the police as corrupt and unhelpful:  64 percent of 
crime victims in Mexico City did not report incidents to law enforcement 
authorities, and according to a reliable poll 75 percent of those 
surveyed felt that the justice system was riddled with corruption.  
Police academies in some states, such as Coahuila, Durango, and Sonora, 
sought to improve police conduct by offering special courses aimed at 
greater professionalization.  However, such progress among the various 
police forces is highly uneven. 
 
The law does not permit exile, and it is not practiced. 
 
   e.   Denial of Fair Public Trial 
 
The judiciary is nominally independent but in the past has been 
influenced by the executive branch, and corruption and inefficiency were 
commonplace. 
 
The federal court system is composed of 98 district courts, over which 
are 32 circuit courts of appeal and a Supreme Court.  President Zedillo 
proposed and Congress--after considerable debate and the incorporation 
of amendments proposed by the opposition National Action Party (PAN)-- 
approved several extensive judicial reform packages.  These reforms 
include: selecting most lower and appellate federal court judges and law 
secretaries by competitive examinations; creating an independent 
judicial council to administer the federal courts (except the Supreme 
Court, which administers itself); and requiring two-thirds of the Senate 
to confirm the appointment of a Supreme Court justice.  The reforms also 
provide the Supreme Court with the authority to strike down a law for 
unconstitutionality (one-third of the Congress, one- third of a state 
Congress, or the Attorney General must ask the Supreme Court to review 
the constitutionality of a law before it can be declared 
unconstitutional). 
 
The judicial trial system is based on the Napoleonic Code and consists 
of a series of fact-gathering hearings at which the court receives 
documentary evidence or testimony.  In addition officials may add 
notarized documents to the official case file without authentication.  
While the law requires that these hearings must be open to the public, 
in practice the courts ignore this law.  Journalists covering judicial 
proceedings must rely on statements of attorneys outside the courtroom 
as to what occurred inside.  A judge alone in chambers reviews the case 
file and makes a final written ruling based thereon.  The record of the 
proceeding is not available to the public; only the parties and, by 
special motion, the victim, may have access to the official file. 
 
While there is a constitutional right to an attorney at all stages of 
criminal proceedings, the authorities often do not assure adequate 
representation for many poor defendants in practice.  Attorneys are not 
always available during the questioning of defendants; in some instances 
a defense attorney will attempt to represent several clients 
simultaneously by entering different rooms to certify that he was 
present although he did not actually attend the full proceedings.  In 
the case of indigenous defendants, many of whom do not speak Spanish, 
the situation is often worse.  The courts do not routinely furnish 
translators for them at all stages of criminal proceedings, and thus 
defendants may be unaware of the status of their case. 
 
Some human rights groups claim that activists arrested in connection 
with land disputes and other civil disobedience activities are in fact 
political prisoners.  The Government asserts that the system fairly 
prosecutes for common crimes, such as homicide and damage to property, 
those charged in sometimes violent land invasions. 
 
    f.   Arbitrary Interference With Privacy, Family, Home, or 
Correspondence 
 
The Constitution provides for the rights to privacy, family, home, and 
correspondence.  The law requires search warrants, but there are 
credible claims that unlawful searches without warrants are common.  
There were no known claims of forced political membership.  SUTAUR, a 
transit workers union, made a formal complaint to the CNDH in August 
that microphones had been illegally placed in the prison cells of some 
of its members.  The CNDH is investigating the complaint. 
 
   g.   Use of Excessive Force and Violations of Humanitarian Law in 
Internal Conflicts 
 
The military's February 9 deployment into rebel-held territory in 
Chiapas was accomplished without any large-scale armed confrontations.  
Most of the violence in Chiapas appeared to be caused by political 
rivalries, land disputes, and common crime.  There were credible 
allegations that many military personnel gratuitously invaded homes, 
damaged the contents, and killed livestock when peasants fled in fear 
from the army offensive. 
 
Amnesty International reports that soldiers kidnaped two indigenous men, 
Alfredo Jimenez Santis and Mario Alvarez Lopez, on February 9.  The 
soldiers tortured and beat the men for 5 days at a military installation 
in the state capital, Tuxtla Gutierrez, and then released them.  Amnesty 
International also reports that soldiers tortured two other indigenous 
persons on February 13 in order to extract confessions of support for 
the EZLN; the two were released on the following day. 
 
The military continues to deny any responsibility for abuses committed 
during the early stages of the Chiapas rebellion in 1994.  The 
authorities have failed to sanction any military personnel or government 
officials for committing abuses, although the CNDH issued an interim 
report in May 1994 finding that there was reason to believe that the 
military had injured or killed civilians in aerial attacks, and that 
there were summary executions, illegal detentions, and instances of 
torture. 
 
The law does not require civil trial of soldiers involved in civil 
crimes, and the military continues to handle such cases.  The military 
alleges that five suspected EZLN guerrillas who were all shot in the 
head at the Ocosingo market with their hands bound behind their backs in 
January 1994 were "caught in the crossfire" and the Federal Attorney 
General's Office exonerated the army in April 1994. 
 
The army claims, however, that an officer, Lt. Arturo Jimenez Morales, 
murdered eight civilians at an Ocosingo, Chiapas  medical clinic on 
January 3, 1994.  Army sources claim that after questioning him about 
his role in the murder at defense headquarters on April 15, he committed 
suicide. 
 
The army continues to stand by its assertion that it was not responsible 
for the deaths of three men in the farm cooperative community of 
Morelia, Chiapas on January 7, 1994.  The army does, however, admit that 
its troops were in the town on January 6.  Residents said that they saw 
a military ambulance take away the bodies of three men, and later 
discovered their remains.  The Government did not file charges and 
closed the case. 
 
Nearby municipal police took no action to prevent an attack against 
supporters of Bishop Samuel Ruiz outside his offices in San Cristobal de 
Las Casas, Chiapas, on February 19.  The CNDH condemned police inaction, 
and recommended that the municipal government improve security at the 
bishop's offices, which it subsequently did. 
 
The Chiapas women's rights organization, "Women of San Cristobal de Las 
Casas," has documented 50 cases of rape during the year in the 
municipalities of Altamirano, San Andres Larrainzar, Amatenango, San 
Cristobal, and Ocosingo.  They allege some were committed by security 
forces.  A U.S. human rights worker who worked on behalf of the EZLN in 
the United States accused four armed men of raping her in Chiapas on 
October 25 while she was hiking in a national park.  The CNDH has begun 
to investigate. 
 
Section 2   Respect for Civil Liberties, Including: 
 
   a.   Freedom of Speech and Press 
 
The Constitution provides for freedom of speech and the press, and the 
Government generally respects these rights in practice.  Newspapers, 
books, and magazines represent a very wide range of opinion across the 
political spectrum.  Broadcast media are similarly free, although some 
suggest that the Government's power to grant or withdraw broadcast 
licenses has a chilling effect on free expression.  While there have 
been charges of delays in renewing licenses, there are no known 
instances in which the Government has forced a radio or television 
station off the air.  The Government does not censor or inhibit foreign 
publications or broadcasts. 
 
While Mexicans generally enjoy access to a vast range of information, 
human rights groups and other students of media point to three problem 
areas:  corruption, physical violence against reporters, and 
monopolization of television by one, progovernment company.  The New 
York Times and various Mexican newspapers reported that press access was 
severely restricted during the 5-day army reoccupation of Chiapas in 
early February. 
 
Bribing publishers, editors, and reporters has a long history, although 
it seems to be waning.  In 1994 the Federal Government began to require 
all its press offices to report all their expenses to the Office of the 
Comptroller General.  This appears to have reduced cash payments, 
although noncash favors of more than nominal value remain common.  
Likewise, state and local governments are reforming.  In 1995 the PAN 
Mayor of Guadalajara announced that his predecessor had paid roughly 
$250,000 to news organizations and journalists the previous year and 
that he was ending the practice.  The governor of Baja California did 
the same in 1987.  Editors at four Mexico City dailies have adopted 
codes of conduct for their employees-- 
three raised reporters' salaries at the same time and have tried to 
diminish dependence on government advertising revenues.  Even so, the 
bribing of journalists is still common. 
 
The CNDH screens cases involving violations of press and speech rights 
and refers the ones it considers to have merit to appropriate officials 
for investigation and possible prosecution.  Of 11 complaints received 
from May 1994 to May 1995, 5 are still under investigation.  The CNDH 
requested judicial investigation in two cases, in two cases the 
complainants withdrew the charges, and one complainant did not pursue 
his case.  From May to December 1995, CNDH reported eight new cases, 
including three alleged assaults, four reports of threats and one 
complaint about censorship.  CNDH has acted on seven cases.  In one 
case, it recommended that judicial authorities start a formal 
investigation.  Two cases were concluded with the removal of a police 
officer from his position and the initiation of judicial process.  CNDH 
advised two other complainants to follow up on their cases 
independently.  An additional two cases are still under review, and one 
case was dismissed as being outside the mandate of the CNDH. 
 
The nongovernmental magazine Revista Mexicana de Comunicacion receives 
complaints but does not investigate them.  The magazine reported on 90 
complaints of human rights violations involving journalists in 1994 and 
28 cases in 1995.  Of the 28 cases, 4 concerned censorship.  There were 
13 cases of physical assault (most of them by local or federal police 
authorities), 7 complaints of threats, and 3 assassinations, including 
that of a journalist from Tijuana who was investigating drug 
trafficking.  The journalist's father and brother (also journalists) 
were shot after promising to reveal the names of the killers in a press 
conference.  At year's end the case remained unresolved.  According to 
the magazine, the human rights commission of the state of Baja 
California has recommended that further action be taken by the state 
attorney general's office and local authorities.  The magazine also 
reported the disappearance in October of a Coahuila magazine publisher 
following allegations in the magazine of links between federal 
authorities and drug traffickers.  The magazine  states that the 
regional human rights commission of La Laguna (northern Mexico) is 
investigating this case. 
 
Some complain that the private Televisa network's share of approximately 
80 percent of the television market would not be permitted were Televisa 
not so clearly progovernment in its broadcasts.  However, Televisa's 
influence faces growing competition from all kinds of media. 
 
   b.   Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association 
 
The Constitution provides for the right of assembly, and the Government 
respects this right in practice.  The only requirement for holding 
demonstrations is that groups wishing to meet in public areas inform 
local police authorities;  public demonstrations are held frequently. 
 
   c.   Freedom of Religion 
 
The Constitution provides for the right to practice the religion of 
one's choice, and the authorities generally respect this right in 
practice.  (However, see Section 5 concerning religious discrimination.)  
The law bars clergy from holding public office and from advocating 
partisan political positions. 
 
Immigration authorities detained and on June 22 deported three foreign 
priests who had been working in Chiapas, claiming they had engaged in 
political activities from which foreigners are prohibited by law.  After 
an appeal from Father Loren Riebe, a U.S. priest who claims that he took 
part in no political activities, the Government said that it would 
review his case and his application for a visa to return to Mexico.  By 
year's end, the Government had not made a final decision in the Riebe 
case.  In September immigration authorities refused permission to two 
priests, Canadian Albert Mahoney and American Paul Nadolny, to reenter 
Mexico and return to their parishes in Chiapas.  Immigration authorities 
based their refusal on legal technicalities; the priests claim that the 
decision was politically motivated.  President Zedillo met with leaders 
of the Catholic Church on October 13 to discuss expulsions of foreign 
clergy from Chiapas.  Church leaders said that they were pleased with 
the results of the meeting, and church and government officials remained 
in contact on the issue. 
 
   d.   Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel, 
Emigration, and Repatriation 
 
The Government does not generally restrict movement into, out of, or 
within the country. 
 
The law provides protection for foreigners who face political 
persecution.  The CNDH reported that the number of refugees had fallen 
in 1995 to approximately 17,000, from the previous  year's 23,000.  It 
stated that the principal reasons for the diminution were greater 
numbers of repatriations to neighboring Guatemala as that country's 
civil war abated, and death of refugees due to unhealthy living 
conditions.  A July 1994 CNDH survey of 132 refugees in Chiapas found 
that 67 percent had been mistreated, struck, or threatened by 
authorities; 20 percent had been robbed; and that police had extorted 
money from 44 percent.  Ten complained of having been tortured, and two 
of the women claimed that they had been raped.  (Similar information is 
not available for 1995.)  Scattered reports of use of illegal immigrants 
and refugees as slave labor on Chiapas farms persisted. 
 
During 1995 Mexico expelled 83,148 "undocumented" or illegal immigrants, 
the majority of whom were Guatemalans.  After Guatemalans, the largest 
groups were Salvadorans and Hondurans.  Many of those expelled were en 
route to the northern border with the United States.  Illegal immigrants 
rarely file charges in cases of crimes committed against them.  The 
authorities generally immediately deport illegal immigrants who come to 
their attention; therefore, pending cases brought by an illegal 
immigrant are subject to dismissal once the immigrant has been deported.  
Until 1995, children who were in Mexico illegally did not have the right 
to matriculate in public schools.  According to new Education 
Secretariat guidelines, any child may now be registered for public 
school with a Mexican or foreign birth certificate.  Implementation of 
the new guidelines varies widely from state to state, however. 
 
Section 3   Respect for Political Rights:  The Right of Citizens to 
Change Their Government 
 
The Constitution provides citizens with the right peacefully to change 
their government through periodic elections.  The PRI dominates politics 
and has controlled the Government since the party was founded in 1929.  
It has won every presidential election since then and has maintained 
power, in part, by relying on public patronage, use of government and 
party organizational resources, and, in the past, electoral fraud.  
However, the Government no longer restricts the functioning of political 
opponents. 
 
Mexico held gubernatorial elections in the states of Jalisco, 
Guanajuato, Yucatan, Baja California, and Michoacan, as well as state 
and local contests in 11 other states.  At year's end, the opposition 
PAN had won three of five governorships.  The ruling PRI retained the 
governorships in Yucatan and Michoacan.  The PAN unsuccessfully 
contested the Yucatan gubernatorial election's outcome, claiming that 
the PRI committed fraud. 
 
Elections were generally peaceful and orderly.  The Government spent 
hundreds of millions of dollars funding the operations of  the quasi-
independent Federal Electoral Institute (IFE), whose governing council 
is under the control of nonpartisan, civilian directors.  Many states 
undertook electoral reform, modeling state electoral institutes after 
the federal institute.  The IFE oversees the national voter registration 
list, and provides technical support to state electoral registers. 
 
Some domestic observer groups, media outlets, and major political 
parties conducted "quick count" operations which confirmed official 
election results during state and local elections.  In cases where 
electoral courts determined fraud, they voided the results of the voting 
stations in question and  determined the outcome according to returns 
from other stations in the district. 
 
A severe failure in the electoral process has been the lack of any 
meaningful prosecution of those accused of electoral crimes.  Despite 
numerous accusations of fraud in the various state races, authorities 
declined to prosecute any electoral crimes.  On the other hand, an 
electoral tribunal reversed the results of the 1994 Monterrey mayor's 
race, changing a PRI victory to one for PAN. 
 
One of the continuing major obstacles to election reform is the deeply 
entrenched antidemocratic tradition of unchecked power exercised by 
local bosses over peasants in rural areas.  These bosses often exercise 
some measure of control over virtually every aspect of peasants' lives, 
including how they vote.  One NGO which studied the results of the 
August 21, 1994, elections in a remote district found that there were 30 
percent more votes for the PRI in polling places where no independent 
observers were present. 
 
Although there is no systematic exclusion of women and indigenous 
persons, they are underrepresented in politics.  Women, however, hold 
numerous congressional seats, and continue to increase their 
representation in political offices.  For the first time in its history, 
the PRI had a female president, Maria de Los Angeles Moreno, who 
resigned August 19. 
 
Section 4   Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 
Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights 
 
A wide variety of human rights groups operate largely without government 
restriction, investigating and publishing their findings on human rights 
cases.  About 800 NGO's attended a July conference in Mexico City, 
demonstrating the rapid growth of this sector.  Government officials are 
generally cooperative and responsive to NGO views, and the Congress has 
established a citizen participation committee to act as a liaison with 
NGO's.  However, problems remain.  For example, Father David Fernandez, 
S.J., and other human rights leaders reported anonymous death threats. 
 
To address human rights abuses, the Government established the CNDH in 
1990.  Since that time, the CNDH has made nearly 1,000 recommendations 
which have resulted in the firing or censuring of over 2,000 public 
servants, most of them members of public security forces.  From May 1994 
to May 1995, CNDH efforts resulted in sanctions against 221 public 
servants, as follows:  96 criminal actions; 24 dismissals; 24 declared 
incompetent for public service; 29 suspensions; 44 reprimands or 
warnings; 1 arrest; and 3 fines.  The CNDH publishes the names of all 
sanctioned public servants.  In some cases, authorities applied multiple 
sanctions, but CNDH statistics list cases under the most severe sanction 
applied. 
 
In its review of the various state human rights commissions' decisions, 
the CNDH issued 74 recommendations for reconsideration or renewal of 
action between May 1994 and December 1995.  At year's end, state 
commissions complied completely with 57 of the recommendations, and 
partially with 15.  Two were in various stages of administrative 
processing.  Some NGO's note that the CNDH lacks both autonomy and 
enforcement authority.  Additionally, some contend that it has become 
too large and bureaucratic, and that the state commissions are 
ineffectual. 
 
In March the Federal District Attorney General's office announced the 
opening of a new sub section for human rights to address abuses in 
Mexico City, where one-quarter of Mexico's population lives.  By July 
the new office was handling an average of two complaints per day against 
federal district police officers, as well as other cases. 
 
The CNDH had made 1,015 recommendations to government authorities by the 
end of the year.  Of these, the authorities fully complied with 599, 
partially complied with 392, and rejected 21 while 52 were in various 
stages of administrative processing.  The CNDH cited 60 recommendations 
which authorities had been "negligent" in implementing during the past 4 
years. 
 
Then Defense Minister General Antonio Riviello imprisoned General Jose 
Francisco Gallardo Rodriguez in November 1993 on a range of charges, 
including embezzlement and dishonoring the military.  Gallardo claims 
that the embezzlement charges, which date back 6 years, had previously 
been abandoned for lack of evidence.  He maintains that military 
authorities are persecuting him because of an academic dissertation 
calling for the establishment of a military human rights ombudsman's 
office.  The army continues to hold Gallardo, but has reduced the 
previous inordinately high level of security of his incarceration. 
 
Section 5   Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, Disability, 
Language, or Social Status 
 
The Constitution states that men and women are equal before the law.  It 
also provides that education should sustain the ideals of "fraternity 
and equal rights of all mankind, avoiding privileges of race, sects, 
groups, sexes, or individuals."  These provisions are not effectively 
enforced. 
 
Amnesty International cites Mexico as one of the countries in which 
homosexual men and women are most likely to be victims of abuse and 
violence.  Discrimination against homosexuals in hiring and promotion is 
also widespread.  At least 12 homosexuals and 9 male prostitutes were 
killed in Tuxtla Gutierrez between 1991 and 1993.  An independent 
prosecutor took over the investigation of the Tuxtla Gutierrez murders 
in April 1994 but had made no progress in solving them by the end of 
1995.  Liborio Cruz, a 19-year-old male prostitute, was beaten to death 
by a group of men in Mexico City in June. 
 
   Women 
 
Although the Constitution provides for equality between the sexes, 
neither the authorities nor society in general respect this in practice.  
The most pervasive violations of women's rights involve domestic and 
sexual violence, which is believed to be widespread and vastly 
underreported.  Domestic assault is a crime, but in 10 states the "right 
to correct" wife and children is not a crime unless this abuse involves 
cruelty or excessive frequency.  Women are reluctant to report abuse or 
file charges, and even when notified, the police are reluctant to 
intervene in what society considers to be a domestic matter.  The 
municipality of Chimalhuacan, Mexico state, where the average time for 
police action on rape cases is 2 months, is a typical example of the 
difficulty rape victims experience. 
This is attributable to police inexperience in handling these cases, 
lack of investigative techniques, and unwillingness to get involved in 
what are often considered domestic affairs. 
 
The Federal District Attorney General's Office operates rape crisis 
centers around the city.  Few women, however, avail themselves of the 
centers' services.  Out of a municipal female population of more than 10 
million, only 627 approached the centers.  The majority were girls:  27 
percent were between 13 and 17, and 25 percent were under age 13.  Some 
women who availed themselves of the centers' services reported abusive, 
humiliating, and unprofessional behavior by police and medical examiners 
who work as staff in the centers. 
 
The legal treatment of women's rights is uneven.  Women have the right 
to own property in their own names and to file for separation and 
divorce.  However, in some states a woman may not bring suit to 
establish paternity and thereby obtain child  support, unless the child 
was a product of rape or cohabitation, the child resides with the 
father, or there is written proof of paternity. 
 
The Labor Code provides that women shall have the same rights and the 
same obligations as men, and that "equal pay shall be given for equal 
work performed in equal posts, hours of work and conditions of 
efficiency."  However, employers, including the Mexico City police 
department, frequently require women to certify that they are not 
pregnant at the time of hiring. 
 
The CNDH found that the largest number of complaints against health care 
institutions involved negligence or abuse during childbirth by medical 
personnel and charges of forced sterilization, and that the number of 
such complaints rose in 1995, in large part due to women's increased 
awareness of their rights.  The study noted that most sterilizations 
occurred in public hospitals and were performed on poor and illiterate 
patients who were not informed of the consequences of the medical 
procedure.  The Constitution and a law protect women from abuses of this 
kind; the Constitution states that all persons have the right to make 
free, responsible, and informed decisions on the number of children they 
choose to have.  The 1984 General Health Law provides for criminal 
action against those who pressure a woman to undergo sterilization 
procedures or perform such procedures without the woman's consent.  In a 
very few cases, charges have been brought against doctors for 
sterilizing a woman without her consent.  The CNDH recommended that 
medical administrators train their staffs to be more aware when dealing 
with such patients. 
 
   Children 
 
Children under 18 make up over 40 percent of the population.  There is 
no societal pattern of abuse against children, but children's advocates 
report many such cases.  The U.N. Children's Fund classifies Mexico as 
"lacking adequate strategies" to combat malnutrition among children, and 
reports that 30,000 children die each year of causes related to 
malnutrition.  More than 12,000 children live on the streets of Mexico 
City, many having left or been driven from their homes by alcoholic 
parents.  The children themselves often become involved with alcohol, 
drugs, prostitution, and petty thievery.  Police in Hermosillo, Sonora 
conducted "sweeps" of street children, incarcerating many for short 
periods, in order to "clean up" the city. 
 
While the Government and NGO's conduct a number of programs for street 
children, corrupt police exacerbated the problem by pressuring children 
to commit petty crimes and extorting profits from them.  The CNDH has a 
program for protection of children's rights which includes educating 
children on their rights and reviewing legislation to ensure compliance 
with  relevant international conventions.  Noting that reports of abuse 
of children in Mexico City had increased 40 percent during the year, 
Andres Linares, director of the Public Ministry of Family Affairs, 
announced in November the creation of two new Federal District agencies 
to deal specifically with the abuse and kidnapping of children.  While 
the Government is committed to children's health and education, it has 
failed to allocate sufficient resources for acting on that commitment. 
 
   People With Disabilities 
 
The law requires access for disabled persons to public facilities in 
Mexico City, but not elsewhere in the country.  In practice, however, 
most public buildings and facilities do not comply with the law.  
Recognizing that disabled persons often suffer employment 
discrimination, the Federal District instituted a new tax rebate program 
for businesses employing disabled persons.  For the first time, the 
Public Education Sub Secretariat for the Federal District mandated that 
all public and private schools grant access to physically (though not 
mentally) disabled children, and that schools make the necessary 
arrangements (e.g., installation of ramps) to facilitate access.  The 
National Public Education Secretariat printed 27,000 textbooks in 
Braille in 1995. 
 
   Indigenous People 
 
The indigenous population has long been victim of discriminatory 
treatment.  The Chiapas uprising focused unprecedented interest on the 
demands of indigenous persons in that state for increased economic and 
social rights.  Among its basic demands, the EZLN called on the 
Government to enact measures to protect indigenous cultures, provide 
more opportunity for employment, and invest in schools, clinics, and 
infrastructure projects.  The Government, through the INI and the CNDH, 
operates programs to educate indigenous groups (many members of which do 
not speak Spanish) about their political and human rights, and it 
generally professes respect for their desire to retain elements of their 
traditional culture.  Of the 94 complaints regarding indigenous affairs 
received by the CNDH in 1994 and up to the end of May 1995, 72 had been 
resolved. 
 
More than 130 NGO's in Mexico are dedicated to the promotion and 
protection of indigenous rights.  Indigenous people do not live on 
independently governed reservations, although some indigenous 
communities exercise considerable local control over economic and social 
issues.  These communities apply traditional law to resolve a variety of 
disputes, including allegations of crimes.  However, these groups remain 
largely outside the country's political and economic mainstream, a 
result of longstanding patterns of economic and social development, and 
in many cases their ability to participate in decisions affecting their 
lands, cultural traditions, and allocation of natural resources is 
negligible. 
 
The 1992 reforms in agrarian law were expected to promote economic 
development in the countryside, but indigenous groups generally 
perceived the reforms as intended to break up indigenous communal 
landholdings and prevent the groups from obtaining title to new lands.  
A 1991 amendment to the federal law requires that an interpreter be 
present at every stage of criminal proceedings against indigenous 
persons, and stipulates that "their customs and traditions shall be 
taken into account."  However, the courts continue to try and sentence 
indigenous people without the benefit of interpreters.  In May 1994, at 
least 5,874 indigenous persons were in jail.  During the period from May 
1994 through May 1995, 480 were released, largely through CNDH efforts. 
 
The general education act states that "teaching shall be promoted in the 
national language (i.e., Spanish) without prejudice to the protection 
and promotion of indigenous languages."  However, many indigenous 
persons speak only their native languages.  Non-Spanish speakers are 
frequently taken advantage of in commercial transactions involving 
bilingual middlemen, and have great difficulty finding employment in 
Spanish-speaking areas.  Over 50 indigenous languages are currently 
spoken in Mexico. 
 
Although the law provides some protection for the indigenous, and the 
Government provides indigenous communities support through social and 
economic assistance programs, legal guarantees and social welfare 
programs are not sufficient to meet the needs of all indigenous persons. 
 
   Religious Minorities 
 
In the highlands of Chiapas and other indigenous areas, traditional 
leaders sometimes acquiesced in, or actually ordered, the expulsions of 
Protestants belonging primarily to evangelical groups.  In many cases 
the expulsions involved the burning of homes and crops, beatings, and, 
occasionally, killings.  The most significant example of religious 
inspired expulsions occurred in San Juan Chamula, Chiapas, where local 
authorities have expelled an estimated 30,000 Evangelicals over the past 
30 years.  In 1995 violence in San Juan Chamula was directed against an 
evangelical group whose members were previously expelled for their 
religious beliefs, who returned in August 1994 under an agreement 
arranged by state and CNDH officials.  The latest round of violence 
resulted in several dead and wounded, and several cases of 
disappearances. 
 
This violence is due in part to political and economic rivalries, as 
well as religious differences.  During state government-sponsored talks 
in the state capital of Chiapas, Tuxtla Gutierrez, the two sides reached 
agreement on September 4 that followers of local political bosses should 
end their harassment of Evangelicals.  However, the agreement was  
shattered when local bosses kidnaped Evangelical Agustin Lopez Perez.  
Both parties tried to reach a solution but Evangelicals eventually 
retaliated by kidnaping two party bosses from the town of Arvenza in 
November which set off street fights resulting in six dead and six 
wounded. 
 
Police detained 100 indigenous Chiapans, members of an evangelical 
group, after a confrontation near the town of Bochil, Chiapas.  The 
peasants attacked the police with rocks; police responded with tear gas.  
According to press reports, the Evangelicals were attempting to take 
back by force two impounded community transport vehicles and kidnap the 
local official in charge of public transportation. 
 
Section 6   Worker Rights 
 
   a.   The Right of Association 
 
The Constitution and the Federal Labor Law (LFT) provide workers with 
the right to form and join trade unions of their choice.  About 30 
percent of the total work force is unionized, which implies an effective 
rate nearly twice that high, as only about one-half the labor force 
works in the formal sector and is accessible to union organization. 
 
No prior approval is needed to form unions, but they must register with 
federal or state labor authorities to obtain legal status in order to 
function effectively.  Registration requirements are not onerous.  There 
are credible allegations, however, that federal or state labor 
authorities occasionally withhold or delay registration of unions 
hostile to government policies, employers, or established unions, or 
register extortionists or labor racketeers falsely claiming to represent 
workers.  To remedy this latter problem, Federal Labor Secretariat 
(STPS) officials require evidence that unions are genuine and 
representative before registering them.  The matter of trade union 
registration was the subject of ministerial consultations in 1995 under 
the North American Agreement on Labor Cooperation (the side agreement on 
labor to the North American Free Trade Agreement). 
 
Unions form federations and confederations freely without government 
approval.  Most unions belong to such bodies, which also must register 
to have legal status.  The largest trade union central is the 
Confederation of Mexican Workers (CTM), organizationally part of the 
ruling PRI.  The Federal Employee Union Federation (FSTSE), the 
Revolutionary Worker and Peasant Confederation , and most of the 35 
separate national unions, smaller confederations, and federations in the 
Labor Congress (CT) are also allied with the PRI.  However, several are 
not, including the large teachers' union, which severed its PRI ties 
several years ago and freed its factions to cooperate openly with other 
parties.  Rivalries within and between PRI-allied  centrals are strong.  
There also are a few small labor federations and independent unions 
outside the CT which are not allied to the PRI. 
 
Unions are free to affiliate with, and are often active in, trade union 
internationals. 
 
Union officers help select, run as, and campaign for, PRI candidates in 
federal and state elections, and support PRI government policies at 
crucial moments.  This gives unions considerable influence on government 
policies, but limits their freedom of action to defend member interests 
in other ways, particularly when this might threaten the Government or 
the PRI.  After the 1991 federal elections, the proportion of CT 
senators and deputies fell to less than 10 percent, but in 1994 the CT, 
and especially the CTM, regained some lost congressional nominations, 
and nearly all labor candidates won easily. 
 
The International Labor Organization (ILO) Committee of Experts (COE) 
has found that certain restrictions in federal employee labor law, a 
separate section of the Constitution and LFT, violate freedom of 
association.  At FSTSE request, the Congress incorporated certain 
provisions of FSTSE statutes into the LFT.  These provisions allow only 
one union per jurisdiction, forbid union members from quitting the 
union, and prohibit reelection of union officials.  The COE and the ILO 
Conference Committee on Application of Standards (CAS) strongly 
reiterated their criticism and request that the Government amend these 
provisions.  The Government promised to study this as part of reforms 
currently under consideration and report the resultant action to the ILO 
before next year's conference. 
 
Two major alleged violations of freedom of association in the public 
sector occurred in the spring and were cited in the CAS debate.  In the 
first case, a new Environment Ministry was created, merging the former 
Fisheries Ministry and much larger sections from the Agricultural and 
Social Development Ministries.  The officers of the Fisheries Ministry 
union, rather than negotiate the transition within FSTSE, appealed to 
the Federal Employee Labor Tribunal to become the union of the new 
ministry.  The tribunal ruled that the FSTSE should apply its statutes 
and hold a convention to form a new union, dissolving the former 
Fisheries Ministry union.  The FSTSE convoked secret ballot elections in 
the sections of the new ministry for delegates to a convention which 
formed the new union and elected its officers.  The dissolved union 
alleged that this was all just a pretext to get rid of the only FSTSE 
union led by militants of the left, rather than the PRI.  While this was 
a result, it was not the reason for creating the new ministry, and FSTSE 
procedures were scrupulously democratic and in accord with its statutes.  
In November considering a freedom of association complaint on this case, 
the ILO governing body  reiterated that Mexican public service labor law 
should allow free formation of multiple unions and the most 
representative union for exclusive bargaining rights should be chosen 
objectively.  The press reported in November that the two unions were 
negotiating a compromise solution.  In January 1996, 
a court reversed the tribunal decision and restored the dissolved 
union's registration.  A recognition election (see Section 6.b.) will be 
held to choose between the two unions. 
 
The other complaint involved Mexico City municipal transit workers.  In 
March the Government of the Federal District obtained a court order 
declaring the grossly corrupt Ruta 100 bus company bankrupt.  A court 
also ordered the arrest of 12 leaders of Ruta 100's SUTAUR union in 
connection with internal union corruption.  Investigations are still 
underway into the subsequent mysterious suicide of a city transit 
director who was reorganizing the company, and the murders of a 
prosecutor who was working on the case, and a judge who had left the 
case (see Section 1 a.).  Some SUTAUR members protested the government 
reorganization of the Tribunal for dissolution of the union.  Although 
SUTAUR proponents contend that the Government's hasty and heavy-handed 
manner in dealing with Ruta 100 was as bad as any corruption in the 
company or the union, their claim that the Government's actions 
constitute a violation of freedom of association is not credible. 
 
The Constitution and the LFT provide for the right to strike.  The law 
requires 6 to 10 days' advance strike notice, followed by brief 
government mediation.  If federal or state authorities rule a strike 
"nonexistent" or "illicit," employees must remain at work, return to 
work within 24 hours, or face dismissal.  If they rule the strike legal, 
the company or unit must shut down totally, management officials may not 
enter the premises until the strike is over, and the company may not 
hire striker replacements.  The law permits public sector strikes, but 
they are rare.  Provisions for maintaining essential services are not 
onerous. 
 
During the first 11 months of 1995, the Labor Secretariat estimated that 
5,810 strike notices were filed and 96 legal strikes occurred involving 
12,249 workers and the loss of 777,990 work days.  These figures were 
less than during the same period of 1994.  At year's end, 47 strikes 
were resolved and 49 were unresolved.  During the period December 1994 
to November 1995, 794 representation disputes between unions were filed, 
plus 18 economic disputes--these are generally company requests to lay 
off workers due to economic difficulties.  There were no reports that 
federal or state labor authorities stretched legal requirements to rule 
strikes nonexistent or illicit, or used delays to prevent damaging 
strikes and force settlements. 
 
The Constitution and the LFT protect labor organizations from government 
interference in their internal affairs, including strike decisions, 
which can also protect undemocratic or corrupt union leaders.  The law 
permits closed shop and exclusion clauses, allowing union leaders to vet 
and veto new hires and force dismissal of anyone the union expels.  Such 
clauses are common in collective bargaining agreements. 
 
Employer organizations have pushed for labor law reform which would 
limit union leaders' powers, but unions have successfully resisted.  
However, the Government, employers and unions have negotiated de facto 
reform through tripartite national pacts (see below) and collective 
bargaining at the enterprise level. 
 
   b.   The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively 
 
The Constitution and the LFT strongly uphold the right to organize and 
bargain collectively.  Interest by a few employees, or a union strike 
notice, compels an employer to recognize a union and negotiate, or ask 
the federal or state labor board to hold a union recognition election.  
LFT prounion provisions led some employers to seek out independent, 
"white" or company unions as an alternative to mainstream national or 
local unions.  Representation elections are traditionally open, not 
secret.  Management and union officials are present with the presiding 
labor board official when workers openly declare their votes.  Such open 
"recounts" are prevailing practice, but not required by law or 
regulation.  Secret ballots are held when all parties agree. 
 
As the economic crisis deepened, the Government, at union insistence, 
agreed to end the system of annual national pacts negotiated by the 
Government and major trade union, employer, and rural organizations 
which voluntarily limited free collective bargaining for the past 
decade.  The pact follow up committee continues to meet to monitor 
prices, limit inflation, and support the Government's free market 
economic reforms, but wage restraints no longer exist, except for the de 
facto restraint caused by the economic recession and difficult situation 
of most employers.  In the fall, the Government and major employer and 
union organizations concluded a new "Alliance for Economic Recovery," 
agreeing on tax breaks to industry to spur employment and increases in 
the minimum wage but reiterating the commitment to free collective 
bargaining with no guidelines or government interference.  Real wages in 
union contracts were estimated to have fallen an average of 20 to 25 
percent, losing most of the ground regained over the previous 5 years. 
 
Mexico's record in internal union democracy and transparency is mixed.  
Some unions are democratic, but corruption or authoritarian and strong-
arm tactics are common in others.  There were few protests alleging such 
practices, though the CTM  petroleum union dissident movement continued 
to accuse leaders of undemocratic and strong-arm tactics.  The CTM 
helped protesting workers switch to a different section (local) of its 
transport union when the section leader signed a contract that favored 
an intercity bus company, supported their strike for a better contract 
in July and August, and took action against other bus companies to which 
the company tried to divert buses and routes to evade the strike.  At a 
U.S.-owned auto parts firm in Mexico state near Mexico City, some 
workers dissatisfied with an arrangement favorable to the company 
reached by a CTM union leader began trying to shift to the union of the 
small, left of center, independent Authentic Labor Federation (FAT), and 
were threatened with dismissal under closed shop-exclusion clause 
provisions.  Once the local American Federation of Labor-Congress of 
Industrial Organizations representative advised the CTM of this 
situation, it withdrew, renounced the contract, and called off the 
dismissal actions.  The company sought out the CT-member Mexico state 
Worker and Peasant Confederation which took over the favorable contract 
and resumed the dismissal action.  The FAT sought a representation 
election, but lost overwhelmingly. 
 
The public sector is almost totally organized.  Industrial areas are 
heavily organized, but states with little industry often have few 
unions.  The law protects workers from antiunion discrimination, but 
enforcement is uneven, especially in states with low unionization. 
 
Unionization and wage levels in the in-bond export sector vary by area, 
especially between high and low technology facilities.  Wages have been 
lower in this sector than in most of industry, especially in low 
technology facilities in the west, but the gap has narrowed.  Some 
observers allege poor working conditions, inadequate wages, and employer 
and government efforts to discourage unionization in this sector.  There 
is no evidence that the Federal Government opposes unionization of the 
plants, which tend to be under state jurisdiction, but some state and 
local governments are said to help some employers discourage unions. 
 
   c.   Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor 
 
The Constitution prohibits forced labor.  There have been no credible 
reports of forced labor for many years, with the exception of abuses of 
refugees and illegal immigrants in Chiapas (see Section 2 d.). 
 
   d.   Minimum Age for Employment of Children 
 
The law bans child labor and sets the minimum legal work age at 14.  The 
activities of those age 14 and 15 are so restricted as to be uneconomic 
(no night or hazardous work, and limited hours).  The ILO reported that 
18 percent of children age 12 to  14 work, often for parents or 
relatives.  Enforcement is reasonably good at large and medium-sized 
companies, especially in export industries and those under federal 
jurisdiction.  Enforcement is inadequate at the many small companies and 
in agriculture.  It is nearly absent in the informal sector, despite 
government efforts.  Most child labor is in the informal sector 
(including myriad underage street vendors), agriculture, and in rural 
areas.  The CTM agricultural union's success years back in obtaining 
free transport for migrant seasonal workers from southern states to 
fields in the north inadvertently led to a significant increase in child 
labor.  The union and employers have been unable to convince most 
indigenous farm workers to leave their families at home even though 
bilingual education is not available near worksites. 
 
The Government increased the number of obligatory school years from 6 to 
9 in 1992 and made parents legally liable for their children's 
attendance, as part of a reform to upgrade labor force skills and long-
term efforts to continue increasing educational opportunities for and 
participation by youth. 
 
   e.   Acceptable Conditions of Work 
 
The Constitution and the LFT provide for a daily minimum wage.  The 
Tripartite National Minimum Wage Commission (government, labor, 
employers), sets minimum wage rates each December, effective January 1.  
The minimum daily wage is for the whole year, but any of the three 
parties can ask that the board reconvene during the year to consider a 
changed situation.  It did so in April, boosting the minimum wage 
another 12 percent to compensate for rapid inflation.  In the Alliance, 
(see Section 6.b.) labor, employers, and the Government agreed to ask 
their representatives on the Commission to increase the minimum wage 10 
percent on December 1 and another 10 percent on April 1, instead of the 
usual January 1 increase. 
 
In Mexico City and nearby industrial areas, Acapulco, southeast Veracruz 
state's refining and petrochemical zone and most border areas, the 
minimum daily wage on December 4 was $2.70 (20.15 new pesos).  Minimum 
wage earners were actually paid $3.06 (22.97 new pesos) by their 
employers due to a supplemental 14 percent fiscal subsidy (negative 
income tax or tax credit for employers).  These income supplements to 
the minimum wage, agreed in annual tripartite pacts, are for all income 
less than four times the minimum wage, decreasing as wages and benefits 
rise.  In Guadalajara, Monterrey, and other advanced industrialized 
areas, the 1995 minimum daily wage (before the fiscal subsidy) was $2.50 
(18.70 new pesos).  In other areas, it was $2.27 (17.00 new pesos).  
There are higher minimums for some occupations, such as building trades. 
 
Few workers (only 14 to 18 percent of the workers covered by social 
security) earn only the minimum wage.  Industrial  workers average three 
to four times the minimum wage, earning more at bigger, more advanced, 
and prosperous enterprises. 
 
The law and contract arrangements provide workers with extensive 
additional benefits.  Legally required benefits include free social 
security medical treatment and pensions, individual worker housing and 
retirement accounts, substantial Christmas bonuses, paid vacations, and 
profit-sharing.  Employer costs for these benefits run from about 27 
percent of payroll at marginal enterprises to over 100 percent at major 
firms with good union contracts. 
 
The LFT sets 48 hours as the legal workweek, with pay for 56 hours.  
Workers asked to exceed 3 hours of overtime per day or to work overtime 
on 3 consecutive days must be paid triple the normal wage.  For most 
industrial workers, especially under union contract, the true workweek 
is 42 hours, although they are paid for 7 full days.  This is why unions 
jealously defend the legal ban on hourly wages. 
 
The law requires employers to observe occupational safety and health 
regulations issued jointly by STPS and the social security institute 
(IMSS), and pay contributions which vary according to their workplace 
safety and health experience ratings.  LFT-mandated joint management and 
labor committees set standards and are responsible for workplace 
enforcement in plants and offices.  These meet at least monthly to 
consider workplace needs and file copies of their minutes with federal 
labor inspectors, who assumed jurisdiction for all such inspections in 
1987, supplanting state inspectors and strengthening inspection 
considerably.  The inspectors schedule visits largely in response to 
these workplace committees. 
 
Individual employees or unions may also complain directly to inspectors 
or safety and health officials.  Workers may remove themselves from 
hazardous situations without jeopardizing their employment.  Plaintiffs 
may bring complaints before the Federal Labor Board at no cost to 
themselves. 
 
STPS and IMSS officials report that compliance is reasonably good at 
most large companies.  Federal inspectors are stretched too thin for 
effective enforcement if companies do not comply voluntarily and fulfill 
their legal obligation to train workers in occupational health and 
safety matters, although the number of inspectors was increased in 1995.  
There are special problems in construction, where unskilled, untrained, 
poorly-educated, transient labor is common, especially at many small 
sites and companies.  Many unions, particularly in construction, are not 
organized effectively to provide training and to encourage members to 
work safely and healthily, to participate in the joint committees, and 
to insist on their rights. 

(###)

[end of document]

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