Photo: Esra Yarar


Priority Issues

  • Rule of Law
  • Land and Resource Rights
  • Rights of Indigenous Communities
  • Security of Human Rights Defenders
  • Women’s Rights

Began Program: 2003

Mexico’s carefully crafted international image of a modern democracy committed to fighting corruption and its progressive foreign policy belie a dismal human rights record at home. Despite the government’s promises to strengthen the rule of law, curb rampant violence, and promote stability, Mexican citizens continue to suffer a crisis of violence and forced disappearances. And rather than advancing rights, policy changes pushed through congress backslide on important human rights safeguards, most notably protections for workers and peasant farmers.

We began our work in Mexico in 2003, when, following more than seventy years of single party rule, human rights groups had the unprecedented opportunity to engage with a new government and address past violations. Our initial strategy focused on strengthening the capacity of organizations to take advantage of these opportunities for dialogue. We prioritized support for organizations working to increase access to justice for women, indigenous people, and migrants as well as those seeking to promote land and resource, health, and labor rights. Despite some early signs of change, progress in Mexico has since been set back. As the state struggles to subdue organized crime, violence is escalating for many interrelated reasons: failed attempts to strengthen police forces; pervasive impunity and corruption; infiltration of organized crime into security forces and government; and an increase in dubious development projects in rural and indigenous communities. Activists working in this environment are now under attack, facing defamation, criminalization, and violence.

“The Fund is a visionary institution that supports structural change in countries like Mexico, where the struggle for justice is built from the ground up, with many risks but with the joy of always moving towards dignity.”
Alejandra Ancheita, Project for Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, Mexico

Our Strategy

The Fund’s strategy has adapted to respond to the challenges on the ground. In response to escalating violence, we’re providing emergency assistance and facilitating coordination among the organizations we support to build national strategies. This coalition-building has been particularly important for our grantees working on land and resource rights. Our grantees have launched a regional campaign against multi-national mining company Goldcorp for the health harms it caused in the communities where its mines were or are located. Another key to our grantees’ success has been the Fund’s innovative approach to strengthening the skills of grantees, with a strong emphasis on advocacy for policy change. We’ve given activists the necessary tools to press for the adoption of important reforms, including improvements to the criminal justice system, legislation to protect women in cases of gender-based violence, and constitutional reforms ratifying international treaties protecting human rights—the building blocks of a society based on accountability, justice and equality.