The New Attack Against Human Rights


Yesterday, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador once again said that he does not have much respect for the National Human Rights Commission,* which does not have “moral authority” because, according to him, “they kept silent” in the past. An example of that supposed silence is the case of the night of Iguala and the students of Ayotzinapa.** He said the commission seems hypocritical; this, after the unprecedented response of the Welfare Secretariat to the CNDH recommendation regarding the detention of children and, a month ago, López Obrador being the first president in almost 30 years not to attend the annual report of the commission.

Needless to say, this time, López Obrador does not have the data. Just read the CNDH’s research on Iguala or look at the record of hundreds of recommendations and investigations on multiple human rights violations.

The CNDH is one of those institutions that functions. And it functions well. But these are different times, bad for human rights and for the gains made in recent decades. And for the world.

In the United States, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has convened a commission with the goal of narrowing the U.S. perspective on the global promotion of human rights, with an adjustment that recognizes “natural law”: law in accord with the religious groups of a particular country.

Secretary Pompeo said, “I hope that the commission will revisit the most basic of questions: What does it mean to say or claim that something is, in fact, a human right? How do we know or how do we determine whether that claim, that this or that, is a human right? Is it true, and therefore, ought it to be honored? How can there be human rights, rights we possess not as privileges we are granted or even earn, but simply by virtue of our humanity belong to us? Is it, in fact, true, as our Declaration of Independence asserts, that as human beings, we – all of us, every member of our human family – are endowed by [our] Creator with certain inalienable rights?”

These are dark times for the defense of human rights.

*Translator’s note: The Comisión Nacional de los Derechos Humanos (CNDH) is Mexico’s national human rights institution and is accredited by the United Nations with “A” status by the International Coordinating Committee of National Human Rights Institutions.

**Translator’s note: On September 26, 2014, 43 male students from the Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers’ College were kidnapped and murdered in Iguala, Guerrero, Mexico. Suspects included municipal police and organized crime.

About this publication


About Patricia Simoni 103 Articles
I first edited and translated for Watching America from 2009 through 2011, recently returning and rediscovering the pleasure of working with dedicated translators and editors. Latin America is of special interest to me. In the mid-60’s, I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Chile, and later lived for three years in Mexico, in the states of Oaxaca and Michoacán and in Mexico City. During those years, my work included interviewing in anthropology research, teaching at a bilingual school in the federal district, and conducting workshops in home nursing care for disadvantaged inner city women. I earned a BS degree from Wagner College, masters and doctoral degrees from WVU, and was a faculty member of the WVU School of Nursing for 27 years. In that position, I coordinated a two-year federal grant (FIPSE) at WVU for an exchange of nursing students with the University of Guanajuato, Mexico. Presently a retiree, I live in Morgantown, West Virginia, where I enjoy traditional Appalachian fiddling with friends. Working toward the mission of WA, to help those in the U.S. see ourselves as others see us, gives me a sense of purpose.

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