Activist to speak about human rights and drug war in Mexico

Advocating for victims of political repression in Mexico, a leader of a human rights organization will speak at a free public lecture at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.

 Francisco Cerezo of Mexico City will speak on Thursday, October 17, at 7:30 p.m. in Room 221 of the Noel Fine Arts Center. His presentation, “Drugs, Guns, and U.S. Policies in Mexico: Lessons from the Human Rights Organization Comité Cerezo” is part of the Latin American/Caribbean Speaker Series sponsored by the College of Letters and Science. 

Cerezo will deliver the presentation in Spanish with an interpreter providing consecutive translation into English. The appearance is part of a Midwest speaking tour organized by Witness for Peace, a 30-year-old, politically independent organization of  U.S. citizens committed to the promotion of U.S. policies in Latin America that support peace, justice and nonviolence. 

Cerezo will describe how a militarized approach to dealing with drug trafficking has led to increased violence, political repression and human rights violations in Mexico.  

“Since former Mexican president, Felipe Calderon, took the fateful step of mobilizing the military to battle the drug cartels, more than 60,000 Mexicans have lost their lives,” said Jennifer Collins, associate professor of political science at UW-Stevens Point. “Not only has this militarized approach taken a terrible toll on Mexican society but it has not succeeded in stemming the flow of drugs; this should give us pause and lead us to consider alternatives.”

 Cerezo and family members formed Comité Cerezo after three of his brothers were arrested in 2001 for student activism. The organization fought for their liberation while they were incarcerated and subjected to physical and psychological torture in federal prison for more than seven years. Since the Cerezo brothers’ release, Comité Cerezo has continued to organize on behalf of political prisoners in Mexico, and is part of a national campaign to protect human rights defenders. The organization estimates that over 900 individuals have been detained or persecuted for political reasons in Mexico since 2000.

The interdisciplinary Latin American/Caribbean Speaker Series at UW-Stevens Point was founded in 2011 to promote awareness of political, social, economic, environmental, and cultural issues in Mexico, Central and South America and the Caribbean. For more information on this or other series events, contact Collins at 715-346-2439 or email


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