Sunday, June 12, 2011

Mexico activist gains U.S. political asylum: U.S.-Mexico relations shift

Cipriana Jurado (file photo: March 2011)

One woman's request for political asylum reverberates across the U.S.-Mexico border and perhaps signals a change in U.S.-Mexico relations.

The attorney for a Mexican human rights activist announced this weekend that the U.S. government has granted her political asylum request, according to a report in the Associated Press. Cipriana Jurado applied for asylum in March after her friend and long-time human rights colleague Josefina Reyes was apparently assassinated in Juarez in January.

This is a dramatic new development in U.S.-Mexico relations. Jurado's lawyer, Carlos Spector, reports that it is the first time an asylum request has been granted to a human rights activist who accuses the Mexican army of persecution.
"[Spector] called the decision a "political message" that officials will look at cases more openly," says the AP.

The U.S. government has been reluctant to grant political asylum to Mexican applicants because doing so is an indication that it acknowledges that aid from Washington finances military abuses against the Mexican civilian population.

The blog explains just how rare it has been for a Mexican to receive asylum:
As drug violence has worsened in Mexico, businesspeople, law enforcement figures, journalists and other professionals have been seeking refuge in the U.S. But individuals seeking refuge in this country face an uncertain future: If their asylum applications are rejected, they can be deported to Mexico, to face near-certain retaliation from the cartels. To avoid such a fate, they can try to strike a deal with U.S. authorities to provide information about drug trafficking in Mexico. Or they can try to remain in this country illegally. The U.S. receives nearly 3,000 asylum requests from Mexico each year, but just 252 of those cases were granted between 2005 and 2009, and government sources and immigration attorneys suggest the number of requests is increasing. (my emphasis)
Last week another Mexican National Jose, Luis Anguiano-Aguirre, became the first reporter to receive asylum since Mexico’s bloody drug war erupted and media members became targets to silence their coverage.

Jurado, a 46-year-old activist, started as a worker rights advocate and later assisted relatives of murdered women. She was outspoken in her criticism of the militarization of Juarez. A recording of the press conference in March 2011 at the time of her asylum request is archived on Border Explorer. It offers good, first-hand information on the daily reality of the Mexico drug war as experienced in Juarez.


Sometimes Saintly Nick said...

This is excellent news! If I lived in an area controlled by drug lords, I would certainly feel the need to get out of town. If I had had a friend and colleague murdered, escape would be an urgent need.

Border Explorer said...

Nick, I treasure our relationship. Thanks for reading this and adding such an empathic comment.