Mexican human rights activist Norma Andrade suffered a knife wound to the face in an attack in this capital and has been hospitalized, officials said.
An unknown assailant attacked Andrade at around 8:00 a.m. Friday while she was walking her granddaughter to school, a spokesman for the Mexico City District Attorney’s Office told Efe, adding that she is receiving treatment for a five-centimeter (two-inch) gash in her cheek.
The aggression occurred two months after an attacker shot the founder of the “May Our Daughters Return Home” non-governmental group multiple times in the violence-wracked northern border city of Ciudad Juarez.
Andrade, who gave a statement to police at the hospital in Mexico City, was unable to identify the attacker or pinpoint a motive, the DA’s office said.
The federal Government Secretariat released a statement Friday night condemning the attack and reiterating its commitment to protecting human rights defenders.
The secretariat added that at the request of the independent National Human Rights Commission it has “activated the corresponding procedures to provide appropriate protection” for the activist and her family in coordination with the Mexico City government.
Andrade, who has received death threats from drug-trafficking gangs, fled to the Mexican capital after the Dec. 2 attack in Juarez, in which she was shot in the left shoulder and right hand.
Amnesty International’s Mexico chapter issued a safety alert in the wake of this latest attack, saying the activist is in “imminent danger” and calling on authorities to fulfill their obligation to offer her effective protection, including at the hospital.
The rights watchdog noted that since 2008 the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has urged the Mexican government to protect four members of the May Our Daughters Return Home rights group, including Andrade.
AI also noted that the Juarez hospital where Andrade had received treatment for the gunshot wounds late last year had discharged her after receiving anonymous threats warning that its medical personnel would be killed if they continued to treat her.
Over the past two-and-a-half years, five human rights activists have been killed in alleged organized crime-related violence and 12 others have left the country, the Chihuahua state’s Human Rights’ Commission said.
The most recent case was that of Susana Chavez, a poet and women’s rights activist who, like Andrade, led efforts to seek justice for the - mainly unsolved - slayings of more than 500 women in Ciudad Juarez since 1993.
Most of the victims were young women from poor families who worked in the assembly plants, known as “maquiladoras,” that sprung up around the city to take advantage of the North American Free Trade Agreement. Many were sexually assaulted before they died.
Chavez was raped, murdered and mutilated on Jan. 11, 2011, by three attackers, including a minor.
A month earlier, Marisela Escobedo was slain while staging a demonstration outside the Chihuahua governor’s office to demand justice for the murder of her daughter, whose confessed killer had been released by a three-judge panel due to lack of evidence.
Another killing that rocked Juarez, located across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas, was that of Josefina Reyes, a former municipal official in a Juarez suburb and longtime social activist who was gunned down on a road outside the city.
In November 2010, activist Flor Alicia Gomez, a member of the Justice for Our Daughters and the Women’s Human Rights Center groups, was raped and murdered.
In September 2009, Paz Rodriguez Ortiz, founder of a human rights association, was shot and killed in front of his wife.
The northern state of Chihuahua, where Juarez is located, has accounted for about 30 percent of the approximately 50,000 murders committed in Mexico since late 2006, when newly inaugurated President Felipe Calderon militarized the struggle against Mexico’s drug cartels.
Ciudad Juarez, a coveted drug-smuggling corridor that is being fought over by the Juarez and Sinaloa cartels with backing from hit men from local street gangs, is considered Mexico’s murder capital.