Stephen, Lynn. “Testimony and Human Rights Violation in Oaxaca.” Latin American Perspectives 38, 6(2011): 52-68. Accessed April 15, 2015.

Left to Right: Ramiro Aragón Pérez, Elionai Santiago Sánchez, and Juan Gabriel Ríos. This picture was chosen because it has the three victims that  were arrested after being brutally beaten by the Oaxacan police. These victims were not given a reason to why they were arrested and beaten by the police. This picture was taken from the website:”Somos la Cara de Oaxaca.”

In the article, “Testimony and Human Rights Violations in Oaxaca,” the author, Stephen tries to highlight the importance of testimonies. She argues that testimonies are an important instrument for recording human rights violations and attaining political and legal credibility. Testimonies can be easily mobilized through the media, the Internet, and human right organizations to defend survivors and victims. Lynn uses the cases of Ramiro Aragón Pérez, Elionai Santiago Sánchez, and Juan Gabriel Ríos, who were falsely charged, tortured, and imprisoned in connection with the social movement in Oaxaca, Mexico in 2006. The victims’ testimonies capture the violations of human rights committed by the Mexican government in Oaxaca. For these three victims, the rights that were guaranteed under the Mexican Constitution, such as freedom of speech, became meaningless when these victims were taken and beaten by the Oaxaca police.

The author emphasizes the importance of testimonies as an instrument for documenting human right violations. In the context of human rights violations, testimonies are definitely crucial. Testimonies help bring the attention to its primary audience—the media and human rights organizations. Further, testimonies shed a light to the struggles that individuals have gone through at the time their rights were violated. Stephen in her article presents the importance of testimonies in a clear and sufficient manner. She first describes the different types of efforts the Mexican government has undergone to protect human rights across its borders. Stephen then proceeds to describe the irony behind the protection of human rights. In many Mexican state governments, human rights are not valued. She demonstrates so by describing the social movement in Oaxaca where a protest was repressed with different violent methods. She then selects the testimonies of Ramiro Pérez, Elionai Sánchez, and Juan Ríos to further explain the violation. Stephen’s ability to clearly demonstrate the violations committed by the Oaxacan police show the knowledge she has about human rights. Stephen is a cultural anthropology professor at the University of Oregon where she teaches about the challenges facing Mesoamerican indigenous people. She has also worked closely with a wide range of human rights organizations to document human rights violations.. She has worked in several different Latin American countries including: El Salvador, Guatemala, Chile, and Brazil.

The article “Testimony and Human Rights Violations in Oaxaca” highlights the larger themes of this course. It examines the relationship between the national and state government and human rights. On one hand, the national government is trying to be an active promoter of human rights. On the other, the state government tries to repress its citizens. It also examines the different methods used that led to the violation of human rights, such as police brutality and kidnappings. These types of methods are very familiar when they are compared to other methods used in other Latin American countries.

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