Ernesto Palencia is a human rights lawyer in Sierra Madre Alliance (Alianza Sierra Madre, A.C., ASMAC) that accompany indigenous communities in a region where high risks permanently threaten the wellbeing of those who defend their lives and territories in Chihuahua, Mexico. This is one of the states which has had, over the last decade, one of Mexico’s highest murder rates of human rights defenders (HRDs).
Although some ASMAC members have measures authorised by the Protection Mechanism, they have not seen convincing actions taken to resolve the structural causes of violence against HRDs. For this reason, the organisation believes the presence of international observers is fundamental to
“give the work visibility, and also for the media presence; for the opportunity to be recognised by private and public organisations, and institutions within Mexico and abroad,” as Ernesto Palencia puts it.
Despite the difficulties and risks of their work, the ASMAC team continues to hold ambitions whose development will be supported by PBI. One is to contribute to the implementation of the principles of truth, justice, reparations and guarantees of non-repetition for the relatives of HRDs who have been assassinated, as well as the serious human rights violations against indigenous communities. Others are to
“achieve the recognition of the communities’ ancestral lands”, as Palencia says,
and to support the communities in exercising their autonomy as a guarantee of their self-determination.