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Blanca Mesina

Mrs. Blanca Mesina is a lawyer in the Mexican City of Tijuana, close to the border with the US, some 20 miles from San Diego. Tijuana is known for its vivid drug trade and other crime and because many Mexicans attempt to cross the border from the city. The independence of the police is under great strain, and officers use illicit methods, such as torture, to obtain testimonies.

Blanca addresses human rights violations by starting cases before local and federal courts. Especially cases before the federal courts are important in Mexico, since local courts do not always take international norms and legislation into consideration. Furthermore, Blanca brings cases of human rights violations to the attention of international organizations such as the UN and the mission of the European Union in Mexico.

Because of her work, Blanca frequently receives death threats. Her situation has deteriorated over the past six months to such an extent that she was forced to leave Tijuana. This is because she works for family members of a group of 25 police officers who were arbitrarily detained and tortured by the army for two months without any reason. One of those officers was Blanca’s father, who died during the detainment. Recently, Blanca was pursued by a car with blinded windows. When she parked her car in order to get away, she was approached by the driver, who proclaimed that he knew where to find her family in case she continued her work. “The only reason that I won’t kill you right now,” he said, “is that the elections are near and I don’t want a scandal. Your case is internationally known.”

The work of people like Blanca Mesina is very much needed in order to improve the human rights situation in Tijuana. The importance of international attention is clear from her pursuer’s words. Lawyers for Lawyers organized a letter writing campaign in July 2010 to draw attention to the case (see the example letters here). An english translation of the letter can be found here.

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