Serapaz defines itself as a peace-building organization. We work on three levels. We help individual victims organize and defend their rights and help them manage the risks they incur by doing so. At the national level, we advocate for policy change, but Mexican authorities are usually reluctant to take bold action. That’s when we seek international solidarity as additional “persuasion power.”
We also use a variety of tools. Within communities, we discuss methods for conflict resolution to stop abuses before they happen. As guides and protectors, we accompany people as they explore avenues for justice. We work to pass and enact policies, as developed by those who have been affected by violence, to prevent further abuses.
One example: We accompanied El Movimiento por Nuestros Desaparecidos en México to Washington, D.C. in October 2022 when they received a human rights award from the Institute for Policy Studies. We all met with US government officials and asked that the dialogue on human rights between the US and México be resumed — it halted during the Trump years — since the US also indirectly bears responsibility for the violence.
Serapaz has focused on indigenous rights for many years. Has there been an expansion of indigenous rights and protections under Morena?
Bishop Don Samuel Ruiz García founded Serapaz in 1996, after he was asked to serve as a mediator between the Zapatistas and the Mexican government. We continue to work with indigenous peoples and not just in Chiapas.
Unfortunately, with Morena, we have not seen substantial changes. It may be that because we had greater expectations, we also feel greater disappointment. Some of Morena’s new programs have had unintended consequences. Programs aimed at protecting the environment, for example, have actually led to more deforestation.