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News :: International
Toronto activists expose Peña Nieto’s role in the violations of human rights in Atenco
17 Jun 2006
Toronto, June 16^th . A group of activists denounced today Enrique Peña Nieto, governor of the state of Mexico, for having ordered a police raid on the villagers of Atenco, on May 3^rd and 4^th , resulting in the dead of two youths, the rape of 30 women, the beating of more than 200 detainees. Peña Nieto was in Toronto for the Metropolis conference of the World Association of Major Metropolises, which is made up of delegations from across the world.
Toronto, June 16^th . A group of activists denounced today Enrique Peña Nieto, governor of the state of Mexico, for having ordered a police raid on the villagers of Atenco, on May 3^rd and 4^th , resulting in the dead of two youths, the rape of 30 women, the beating of more than 200 detainees. Peña Nieto was in Toronto for the Metropolis conference of the World Association of Major Metropolises, which is made up of delegations from across the world.

The group, called the Toronto Atenco Solidarity Committee, set up a picket in front the Intercontinental Hotel in downtown Toronto at 11:30 at the same time that Peña Nieto was schedule to speak. The people carrying out the picket distributed information on the human rights violations perpetrated by 3500 police in the town of Atenco, in the state of Mexico and gathered names for a petition. Many of the leafleters commented that the reaction of the participants to the congress and even passers-by was positive. Many congratulated them for denouncing the perpetrators of human rights violations and some delegates even signed the petition.

Peña Nieto joined his session on “Private Investment in Public Infrastructure”, made of six panellists, well after it had started. He seemed anxious, as security and staff from the Mexican consulate came in and out of the room, monitoring the picket outside. During the question period, a person from the group approached the microphone and confronted Peña Nieto. He denounced Peña Nieto’s responsibility for the gross human rights violations in Atenco, particularly the rape of 30 women. He mentioned that these had been documented and condemned by the UN high commissioner on Human Rights in Mexico, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, among others. He also mentioned that the victims had yet to receive appropriate treatment and demanded the liberation of all remaining prisoners. The moderator of the session interrupted the speaker and refused to ask Peña Nieto to answer the question, arguing that: “the issue was not relevant because the session was a session on infrastructure investment”. This comment infuriated the person asking the question and other individuals in the audience who were part of the group. They shouted, “This is an outrage” “How can you say that human rights are not relevant”, and “Let the governor answer”, as security staff from the consulate took picture of the people asking for answers, while hotel security made its way to the room from the main entrance where they were invigilating the picket. The moderator intended to take control of the situation while another round of denunciations were addressed to Peña Nieto and the organizers of the event. “If this was Milosevic, you would not be so confortable sitting beside him, but this man also has blood on his hands, let him respond”. Again, addressing Peña Nieto, he added: “If you would have one once of integrity you would answer instead of hiding behind the moderator”, while others continued shouting, “let him answer”. At this point, dues to the pressure of the protesters, which gathered some sympathy from the audience, the moderator decided to suspend the session.

Once hotel security came close to the demonstrators, they ordered them to leave the building. The demonstrators accepted but not after having distributed their leaflets to the participants and shouted a few more accusations to Peña Nieto. Throughout the denunciations, Peña Nieto facial expression passed from a nervous to an arrogant smile, which never showed any intention of addressing the issue. After the event, many participants to the conference, particularly from the European and Latin American delegations, came out to congratulate the people who had planned the protest for having denounced the governor. Some recognised that they were not that surprised by the denunciations, and said “we knew the previous governor, Montiel from the PRI, but this new one, which seems to have inherited the position from him, this one is even worst”.

Reported by Chicho

This work is in the public domain
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