Mexico: Federal judge to process two individuals accused of disappearance of human rights defenders Ricardo Lagunes and Antonio Diaz 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 24, 2023
CONTACT: 
Mynellies Negrón | +1 703 585 6727 | [email protected] 

 

Mexico CityIn recent days, Mexico’s Attorney General’s Office confirmed the arrest of two individuals who are allegedly involved in the disappearance of human rights defenders Ricardo Lagunes Gasca and Antonio Díaz Valencia. After analyzing the evidence against them, a federal judge indicted José N and Fernando N  and their criminal proceedings will move forward.

 

José N. has been identified as one of the leaders of a group of community members, who for some time, claimed to be the legitimate representative of the Nahua indigenous community of San Miguel de Aquila, Michoacán. Community divisions came about due to disagreements regarding mining activity in the region operated by the Ternium Corporation who specializes in the extraction of iron and steel manufacturing. 

 

A group of community members led by Antonio Díaz Valencia with legal representation  from Ricardo Lagunes Gasca won legal proceedings assuring that the community of San Miguel de Aquila, Michoacán be allowed to elect their own representatives for future steel manufacturing. The work of the disappeared human and environmental rights  defenders has been crucial in favoring the community in several lawsuits before agrarian courts. It is important to note that various complaints filed by members of the community against the mining company detail that Ternium is responsible forpromoting divisions within the community in order to expand  their corporate interests which would seriously affect the environment.

 

Ricardo Lagunes and Antonio Díaz have been missing since January 15, 2023, after having attended an assembly in the community of San Miguel Aquila, Michoacán. According to  investigations, Ricardo and Antonio were intercepted by their perpetrators when they were in their truck in Cerro de Ortega, Colima.

 

Three months after their disappearance it is crucial to point out that there are a multitude of omissions by the State of Colima’s Prosecutor’s Office, which has refused to cooperate with other institutions and to share vital information regarding the case.

 

While we recognize the efforts of some institutions, including the Attorney General’s Office and its Special Prosecutor’s Office for the Investigation of Crimes Against Forced Disappearance, it is pertinent to point out that three months after the disappearances, their families and the community they represent are still waiting for them.

 

We urge the National Search Commission and the Search Commissions of Colima and Michoacán to strengthen their actions to locate Ricardo and Antonio. Both the United Nations Committee Against Forced Disappearance and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights have adopted precautionary measures and urgent actions requiring Mexican State authorities to implement a comprehensive search strategy.

 

We reaffirm our commitment to continue working until Ricardo and Antonio are found and those responsible for their disappearance are held accountable.

 

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Alianza Americas is the premier transnational advocacy network of Latin American migrant-led organizations working in the United States, across the Americas, and globally to create an inclusive, equitable and sustainable way of life for communities across North, Central and South America. In 2022, Alianza integrated with Presente.org, establishing a stronger digital organizing powerhouse.

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