Leonel Guadalupe Rivero Rodriguez, leading human rights lawyer and a member of Tierra y Libertad has represented many politically sensitive in cases in Mexico. He represented students detained during mass arrests at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), National Autonomous University of Mexico in February 2000. He also represented two alleged members of the armed opposition group Ejército Revolucionario del Pueblo Insurgente (ERPI), Revolutionary Army of the Insurgent People, arrested in October 1999. [AMR 41/023/2000]
He was also a colleague of human rights lawyer Digna Ochoa, who was shot dead in her office in October 2001. [AMR 41/018/2002]
On March 29, 2000 Rodriguez’s home was broken into. The motive of the crime was apparently to steal his computer which contained files on the UNAM case. On May 12, 2000 at approximately 10:30 p.m. several rocks where thrown through the windows of his home. On January 2, 2000 Juan de Dios Hernández Monje and Pilar Noriega García, two other lawyers representing UNAM students, received verbal death threats and Juan de Dios Hernández Monje was hit in the face. Shortly after these incidences Rodríguez filed a formal complaint with the local Public Ministry (Ministerio Público), in Ecatepec de Morelos, México state. [AMR 41/017/2000]
On October 19th 2001, Rodriguez’ colleague, human rights lawyer Digna Ochoa was found murdered by a gunshot to the head on in her small Mexico City office. She had taken over the office from colleague Pilar Noreiga on a day or days her body was found. A warning note with words to the effect ‘if you continue, this will also happen to another.’
“Given the new gravity and urgency this event created, on October 22, 2001, the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights–INCHR sent the Inter-American Court of Human Rights a request for provisional measures on behalf of PRODH’s members and the lawyers Pilar Noriega García, Bárbara Zamora López, and Leonel Rivero Rodríguez. These last three individuals, the IACHR pointed out, helped Digna Ochoa defend cases and had received threats in the past. The President of the Inter-American Court issued an order on October 25, 2001, requiring urgent protection measures for the persons named in the Inter-American Court’s request. At a later date, the Court held a public hearing at its headquarters, at which it received information from both the Mexican State and the IACHR. On November 29, 2001, the Inter-American Court issued an order ratifying the order of October 25, 2001, and requiring the State to maintain the measures for protecting the members of PRODH and lawyers Noriega García, Zamora López, and Rivero Rodríguez; these measures include the investigation of the reported incidents.” (from the 2001 Report of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, para. 119)
Subsequent to this order, the Mexican government assigned bodyguards to Leonel Guadalupe Rivero.
On April 6, 2002 at 6:10 a.m. three men approached two of Rodriguez’s bodyguards who were waiting outside of his home. The three men pretended to be drunk but then attacked the bodyguards, beat them and took their guns. They handcuffed one bodyguard and locked the other in the trunk of a car. They asked the bodyguards who they were waiting for and indicated that they were going to ”do him in” when he arrived.
The human rights lawyers’ association, the Centre for Justice and International Law (Centro por la Justicia y el Derecho Internacional, CEJIL), then asked the Inter-American Court on Human Rights to petition the government to strengthen the protection he was receiving. [AMR 41/018/2002]
On February 18, 2003 Rodriguez received a message on his answering machine. The male voice said, “…we are going to get you… I’ll see you later…” This message came at a time when Rodriguez was negotiating to end the prosecutions of several peasants from San Salvador Atenco who oppose the construction of a new international airport in for Mexico City.
On March 15 2005 received a telephone threat “Te vas a morir” (You will die) followed on March 16 2005 by another death threat delivered by phone: “No proque sea una nina no sabre matarte” (just because I’m a girl doesn’t mean that I don’t know how to kill you). The March 5th threat was delivered by a female.
March 12, 2003 LRWC letter written by Gail Davidson
January 22 2004 LRWC letter written by Gail Davidson
April 4 2005 LRWC letter written by Monique Pongracic-Speier
A reply dated April 9 2003 was received from Ricardo J. Sepúlveda Iguiniz writing on behalf of the Department for the Promotion and Defence of Human Rights, Ministry of the Interior. Mr. Sepúlveda wrote that the Federal Executive condemned the acts complained of by LRWC and was taking steps to investigate the allegations and to provide necessary protection to Mr. Rivero. He further emphasized the Government of Mexico’s firm commitment to the promotion and defence of human rights and their acknowledgement that human rights advocacy is ‘fundamental to the democratic development of Mexico.’