Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award Ceremony Highlights Abuses in Mexico - Honors Local Hero
Abel Barrera Hernandez, Founder and Director of the Tlachinollan Center received the 2010 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights award for his courageous defense of the rights of rural and indigenous peoples living in Guerrero State in southern Mexico.
Mrs. Robert F. Kennedy presented Mr. Barrera and the Tlachinollan Center with the 2010 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award in a ceremony attended by Ms. Kerry Kennedy and other members of the Kennedy family. Mr. Barrera joins 42 RFK human rights laureates in 25 countries as the recipient of the 27th annual prize.
Since 1992, Mr. Barrera and his colleagues at the Tlachinollan Center have put their lives on the line to accompany indigenous communities in their struggle to bring justice to some of Mexico’s most marginalized communities under exceptionally dangerous working conditions.
Tlachinollan has created an independent police-monitoring organization, worked to establish the first state law on forced disappearance, secured the release of numerous illegally detained people, forced a mining company to pay fair rent for the land it utilized, and with the strength of rural farmers, stopped the construction of a dam that would have displaced tens of thousands of people. By leading the courageous journey of survivors of military and police abuses, Tlachinollan and partner organizations have achieved precedent-setting decisions by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.
Mr. Barrera is an outspoken critic of militarization in Mexico and the resulting disregard for human rights and lack of civilian jurisdiction in criminal matters involving military personnel. He and his colleagues have called on the U.S. to stand in solidarity with the Tlachinollan Center in denouncing these abuses.