Binational Human Rights

Binational Human Rights: The U.S.-Mexico Experience

William Paul Simmons
Carol Mueller
Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 296
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  • Book Info
    Binational Human Rights
    Book Description:

    Mexico ranks highly on many of the measures that have proven significant for creating a positive human rights record, including democratization, good health and life expectancy, and engagement in the global economy. Yet the nation's most vulnerable populations suffer human rights abuses on a large scale, such as gruesome killings in the Mexican drug war, decades of violent feminicide, migrant deaths in the U.S. desert, and the ongoing effects of the failed detention and deportation system in the States. Some atrocities have received extensive and sensational coverage, while others have become routine or simply ignored by national and international media.Binational Human Rightsexamines both well-known and understudied instances of human rights crises in Mexico, arguing that these abuses must be understood not just within the context of Mexican policies but in relation to the actions or inactions of other nations-particularly the United States.

    The United States and Mexico share the longest border in the world between a developed and a developing nation; the relationship between the two nations is complex, varied, and constantly changing, but the policies of each directly affect the human rights situation across the border.Binational Human Rightsbrings together leading scholars and human rights activists from the United States and Mexico to explain the mechanisms by which a perfect storm of structural and policy factors on both sides has led to such widespread human rights abuses. Through ethnography, interviews, and legal and economic analysis, contributors shed new light on the feminicides in Ciudad Juárez, the drug war, and the plight of migrants from Central America and Mexico to the United States. The authors make clear that substantial rhetorical and structural shifts in binational policies are necessary to significantly improve human rights.

    Contributors: Alejandro Anaya Muñoz, Luis Alfredo Arriola Vega, Timothy J. Dunn, Miguel Escobar-Valdez, Clara Jusidman, Maureen Meyer, Carol Mueller, Julie A. Murphy Erfani, William Paul Simmons, Kathleen Staudt, Michelle Téllez.

    eISBN: 978-0-8122-0998-3
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. 1-24)
    William Paul Simmons and Carol Mueller

    The news of the ongoing and widespread human rights crises in Mexico is shocking even to hardened human rights workers. Over 60,000 people were killed in the drug war in the years 2006–2012. Hundreds of these killings involve beheadings or other gruesome mutilations and tortures often paraded prominently on the Internet. The well-known feminicides in Ciudad Juárez, despite unprecedented international pressure over the past fifteen years, have not declined but have reached record rates, with over 1,500 young women and girls killed since 1993 (Gupta 2011). Journalists covering the drug war are routinely targeted, with over thirty killed since...

    • CHAPTER 1 Reflections on Immigration, Binational Policies, and Human Rights Tragedies
      (pp. 27-43)
      Miguel Escobar-Valdez

      The fundamental premise of migration is economic. And the variables of the immigration equation between Mexico and the United States are an affluent and industrialized economy on one side and an undeveloped nation with a considerable labor supply on the other side, leading to a salary asymmetry that fuels migration.

      Migration is a fact of life in our modern societies and a characteristic of the globalization that permeates all aspects of life, with over 200 million human beings migrating all over the world (IOM 2010). The interaction of market forces with communications and technology promotes migratory flows from south to...

    • CHAPTER 2 Sexual Violence Against Migrant Women and Children
      (pp. 44-67)
      William Paul Simmons and Michelle Téllez

      This chapter narrates another little-told story of human rights abuses along the U.S.-Mexico border: the sexual violence experienced by women and girls as they migrate into the United States, especially into Arizona through the northern Mexican state of Sonora. The increasing militarization of the border and the growing power of organized crime have interacted with and exacerbated the structural violence—poverty, nativism, racialization, misogyny—endemic to the region (Segura and Zavella 2007). This has led to a state of exception that has put thousands of individuals in extremely vulnerable situations, especially the growing numbers of women and children crossing the...

    • CHAPTER 3 Immigration Enforcement at the U.S.-Mexico Border: Where Human Rights and National Sovereignty Collide
      (pp. 68-88)
      Timothy J. Dunn

      In recent years there has been a tremendous expansion of U.S. immigration enforcement activities in the U.S.-Mexico border region, most notably by the U.S. Border Patrol, with the growing involvement of the military. This has been spurred by the strong anti-immigrant political sentiment in the United States directed largely at Hispanic (or Latino) immigrants and unauthorized immigration. The heightened border enforcement has resulted in hundreds of deaths of border crossers each year, more than 6,600 bodies recovered from 1994 to 2012, a doubling of the death rate from approximately two hundred to four hundred per year, and a sevenfold increase...

    • CHAPTER 4 Politics of Death in the Drug War: The Right to Kill and Suspensions of Human Rights in Mexico, 2000–2012
      (pp. 91-111)
      Julie A. Murphy Erfani

      In November 2011, Mexican president Felipe Calderón stood accused of war crimes by a group of his own country’s citizens.¹ Prominent Mexican lawyers, journalists, academics, and 23,000 petitioners filed a criminal complaint against him with the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague. Spearheaded by leading figures, including UNAM legal scholar John Ackerman and organized crime expert Edgardo Buscaglia of the United Nations, the war crimes complaint alleged that Calderón and several of his cabinet members had committed crimes against humanity in Mexico’s drug war (LAND Blog 2011). More specifically, the Mexican complainants alleged that beginning in 2006 the Calderón...

    • CHAPTER 5 Migration, Violence, and “Security Primacy” at the Guatemala-Mexico Border
      (pp. 112-126)
      Luis Alfredo Arriola Vega

      Most international state borders are loci entangled in power disputes. This interplay may involve adjoining polities or may be about localized tensions among inhabitants of the border. External actors who are neither state-related nor resident frequently also play a role in such contested arenas. This chapter focuses on the glocal¹ dynamics happening at one particular area of the porous border between Guatemala and Mexico (see Figures 1 and 2) with an emphasis on the connections between migration and violence, the result of crime, most notably the illicit drug trade. Transit migration to the United States via Mexico is a phenomenon...

    • CHAPTER 6 The Binational Roots of the Femicides in Ciudad Juárez
      (pp. 129-145)
      Carol Mueller

      In approximately 1993, a series of grisly murders began to target poor, young women in the Mexican border town of Ciudad Juárez. Esther Cano Chávez, who ran the only shelter for battered women in Ciudad Juárez before her death, noted the treatment of victims as worthless, disposable women and characterized these deaths asfeminicidos, or feminicides. Cano Chávez and others pointed to a combination of sexual violation with signs of torture and mutilation on the bodies of victims (Monárrez Fragoso 2001, 2000; Wright 2004, 2001). Many of the women’s bodies were disposed of like worthless objects in shallow graves. One...

    • CHAPTER 7 Reflections on Antiviolence Civil Society Organizations in Ciudad Juárez
      (pp. 146-162)
      Clara Jusidman

      The human rights situation in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, is staggering. In 2008, 1,656 murders were recorded, and these rose sharply to over 3,000 in 2010; 2011 saw a significant drop, but the murder rate remained frighteningly high, with over 1,900 dead. Parents are afraid to send their children to school because students and teachers are being extorted by delinquents in exchange for protection against kidnapping. Businesses operate in secret so that they will not be subject to extortion for protection or face being burned down. Families and ambulances cannot pick up the wounded and take them to hospitals for fear...

    • CHAPTER 8 The Persistence of Femicide amid Transnational Activist Networks
      (pp. 165-180)
      Kathleen Staudt

      Despite the often heard pronouncement that “women’s rights are human rights,” many women face stark and everyday threats to lives free of violence. In Mexico’s fifth largest city, Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, bordering the United States, hundreds of women have been murdered since 1993, with over 80 killed in 2008, and every year thereafter amid huge increases in annual murders of men and women that reached 3,100 murders in 2010 alone. Approximately one-third of these women died after sexualized torture and rape, a misogynist crime that Mexican academics and activists namedfeminicidioor femicide (Staudt 2008; Monárrez Fragoso 2002; though see...

    • CHAPTER 9 Transnational Advocacy for Human Rights in Contemporary Mexico
      (pp. 181-201)
      Alejandro Anaya Muñoz

      Throughout the past six decades, as the international human rights regime has developed, as a growing number of international human rights non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have emerged and consolidated, and as more countries have included the promotion and protection of human rights in their foreign policy objectives, the behavior of rights-violating governments has been increasingly scrutinized by weary international eyes. Indeed, more than six decades after the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, the involvement of international actors in domestic human rights processes is taken for granted. A growing literature has studied the way international advocates (nongovernmental,...

    • CHAPTER 10 Restrictions on U.S. Security Assistance and Their Limitations in Promoting Changes to the Human Rights Situation in Mexico
      (pp. 202-220)
      Maureen Meyer

      At the outset of his administration in 2006, Mexican president Felipe Calderón launched a massive deployment of soldiers and federal police in counterdrug operations in several parts of the country while also implementing a series of initiatives to strengthen Mexico’s public security and justice institutions. President Calderón also affirmed shortly after assuming office that, parallel to these national efforts, “the U.S. is jointly responsible for what is happening to us … in that joint responsibility the American government has a lot of work to do. We cannot confront this problem alone” (Thomson 2007). This call for greater counter-drug cooperation and...

  8. Conclusion: Multiple States of Exception, Structural Violences, and Prospects for Change
    (pp. 221-232)
    William Paul Simmons

    This volume has covered a range of human rights abuses and their binational causes. Indeed, the volume can be read as a sustained indictment of Mexican and U.S. policies on immigration, drug interdiction, gun possession, trade, and security for fueling human rights abuses, including the criminal violence perpetrated by cartels,bajadores, and other extralegal actors.

    Taken as a whole, the contributions in this volume provide a sobering outlook on the ways forward to address these crises. The main solutions proposed so far by the Mexican and U.S. governments—more border enforcement and a stepped up war on drugs—will most...

  9. NOTES
    (pp. 233-250)
    (pp. 251-280)
  11. List of Contributors
    (pp. 281-284)
  12. INDEX
    (pp. 285-298)
    (pp. 299-300)