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Estela Hernández Jiménez

WHRD, Academic

Estela Hernández Jiménez is a hñöhñö (Otomí) indigenous peoples rights woman defender, a teacher of native indigenous education, Dr. in pedagogy and one of the most brilliant indigenous intellectuals of contemporary Mexico. She is a member of the Autonomous Council of Santiago Mexquititlán and the National Indigenous Congress (CNI). She fought for the freedom and reparation of her mother Jacinta Francisco Marcial, who was arbitrarily detained on August 3, 2006 and accused of kidnapping six agents of the now defunct Mexican Federal Investigation Agency. Estela Hernández Jiménez rejected the ex president's Enrique Peña Nieto's educational reform and has denounced the attempted dispossession of the territory of the Hñöhñö Ceremonial Center of Santiago Mexquititlán. She continues to protect and fight against the privatization of water and to protect the drinking water well of Santiago Mexquititlán.


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.

Several international organisations and bodies have previously expressed concern for the lack of protection for human rights defenders and those who exercise freedom of expression in Mexico, such as the recommendations issued on the occasion of the 2009 Universal Periodic Review of Mexico, and the recommendations of the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights Defenders, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the UN and OAS Special Rapporteurs on Freedom of Expression, who noted that in the past decade Mexico has become one of the world's most dangerous countries for journalists to exercise their profession. Despite the establishment of a mechanism for the protection of HRDs and journalists, the decision process and subsequent implementation of these measures has not yet responded adequately to the needs of HRDs.