Martín Barrios Hernández is the president of the Human ad Labour Rights Commission of Tehuacán Valley (Comisión de Derechos Humanos y Laborales del Valle de Tehuacán) in the state of Puebla. His campaign for the rights of maquiladora (assembly factory) workers in the region has been hampered by threats, intimidation and attacks as well as his detention on 29 December 2005 and subsequent release. Human rights watchdog Amnesty International has expressed fear for the safety of Martín Barrios Hernández, his family and other members of the Human and Labour Rights Commission of Tehuacán Valley.
Martín Barrios Hernández’s December arrest was reportedly used as an attempt to prevent him from carrying out his legitimate human rights work. He was detained and charged after a local maquiladora owner made allegations that Martín Barrios had tried to blackmail him. Martín Barrios maintained his innocence and was released on 12 January 2006 after being pardoned by the factory owner who had made the accusation.
Despite his release, the labour and human rights campaigner faces continuing harassment. He was warned on 12 February 2006 that an individual reportedly connected with the maquiladora industry has paid someone to kill him. This latest threat is a continuation of a lengthy pattern of intimidation faced by Martín Barrios as a result of his human rights activities including a serious assault which occurred outside his home on 30 December 2003.
Letter by Monique Pongracic-Speier sent on Janurary 4, 2006