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Alberta "Bety" Cariño Trujillo

CACTUS - Centro de Apoyo Comunitario Trabajando Unidos

Alberta "Bety" Cariño Trujillo was a Mexican human rights defender and director of CACTUS (Centro de Apoyo Comunitario Trabajando Unidos), a community organisation in Oaxaca, Mexico. Bety and her organisation were advocating for food sovereignty, community water management, soil conservation and the right to autonomy for indigenous peoples in Mexico. As part of her work with CACTUS, she worked to organise women's collectives in northern Oaxaca.

On 27 April 2010, Bety and Finnish international observer Jyri Antero Jaakkola were shot dead. They were participating in a peaceful solidarity caravan, which came under fire as it tried to enter the autonomous indigenous municipality of San Juan Copala which had been occupied by a government backed paramilitary group. The HRDs were going there to deliver provisions to indigenous communities who were under siege by armed groups.

The case is still pending. As of June 2015, three people have been arrested and there are outstanding warrants for the arrest of another 10 suspects. However, despite a public statement by the President of Mexico that the government is committed to bringing the perpetrators to justice, both the husband and lawyer of Bety Cariño complain of a lack of political will to make this happen. They have also complained of the authorities failure to protect witnesses and those who have been leading the campaign for justice for Bety Cariño and Jyri Antero Jaakkola have received threatening phone calls telling them to give up the case or face the consequences.


Human rights defenders (HRDs) and journalists in Mexico are subject to intimidation, legal harassment, arbitrary detention, death threats, acts of physical aggression, enforced disappearances and killings as a result of their activities in defence of human rights and the exercise of freedom of expression and journalism.

Disappearances are endemic in Mexico, often happening with collusion from the state. HRDs working on the issue face serious risk, up to and including death. HRDs working in the defence of territory, particularly indigenous territory, face a similar level of risk. They are criminalised, imprisoned, defamed, and often killed. Journalists working on any of these issues, or issues related to the drugs trade and the government's complicity in this, also run the risk of losing their lives.


Bety Cariño Trujillo - with English subtitles