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Memory, Culture, and Political Organizing in Mexico

A discussion with Mexican artist, Edith López Ovalle

Sunday, October 25, 2009 | 4:30 pm

Mexico Solidarity Network and Galeria de la Raza invites you to join us in discussing Mexican state repression of political dissidents and in learning from the innovative responses by human rights activists.  Edith López Ovalle is an artist and co-founder of HIJOS, a multi-national organization made up mostly of the children of political prisoners and activists who were killed or “disappeared” in the 60s, 70s and 80s.

Edith will be joined by a representative from the Mexico Solidarity Network and will discuss:
- The historical and present-day context of the imprisonment, disappearance and assassination of political dissidents in Mexico.
- The role of artistic and cultural interventions, as well as political organizing, in confronting human rights abuses.
- The Other Campaign and the role of young urban activists.

Edith López Ovalle, whose mother was imprisoned for her political organizing, is a 25-year-old artist and co-founder of Hijos por la Identidad y la Justicia contra el Olvido y el Silencio (HIJOS), a multi-national organization founded in Argentina and with chapters in Guatemala, El Salvador, Colombia, Chile and Mexico made up mostly of the children of political prisoners and activists who were killed or “disappeared” in the 60s, 70s and 80s.

HIJOS works to reconstruct the history of assassinations and disappearances of social actors, celebrate the memory of the victims, and demand that the perpetrators of human rights abuses are justly punished. Edith and HIJOS have been active in the Otra Campaña — the network of Mexican social movements initiated by rebel indigenous communities in Chiapas — since it began in 2005.

Edith works with HIJOS on its Committee on Art and Politics, designing creative public events to draw attention to human rights violators.

Mexican authorities released a groundbreaking report in 2006 on the government's use of violent repression to crush its opponents during the 1960s-80s. The report accuses three Mexican presidents of a sustained policy of violence targeting armed guerrillas and student protesters alike, including the use of "massacres, forced disappearance, systematic torture, and genocide." The report makes clear that the abuses were not the work of individual military units or renegade officers, but official practice under Presidents Díaz Ordaz (1964 1970), Echeverría (1970-1976) and López Portillo (1976-1982).

In 2008, Amnesty International reported that human rights abuses in Mexico are “widespread” and even “systematic,” and those responsible for human rights abuses and multiple killings of political and social activists “continue to evade justice.”

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