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In Mexico to participate in the Permanent Peoples Tribunal on the impacts of dams -- Day six

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Maude Barlow is in Mexico to participate in the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal on the impacts of dams, to visit Real de Catorce where a proposed mine threatens sacred land and local water, and to speak at a public forum in Mexico City on the right to water. This is her sixth blog from this trip.

Yesterday afternoon, I spoke on the right to water to an enthusiastic crowd at the Human Rights Commission and the day ended with a late dinner just off the famous Zócalo plaza in the heart of Mexico City. Not great sleep as a bunch of people held a rave in an abandoned building right under the window of my hotel. They raved into the wee hours.

Day 6 started with a very important and hopeful meeting at the Mexican Supreme Court with senior officials. They assured us of the court’s commitment to improve human rights in Mexico and explained that last year, the Constitution was amended to require judges to treat the country’s international human rights commitments as equal to domestic law in cases where human rights are involved. They have implemented a program for training judges across the country on the new emphasis on human rights.

The officials also spoke hopefully about the Temaca case now making its way through the courts. The Mexican groups present were very pleased with the meeting.

What struck me, however, is that every wall in the Mexican Supreme Court is covered in murals of torture and violence. There are horrific images of the treatment of the First Peoples by the Spanish and then other abuses down through history.

But three years ago, they commissioned artists to paint images of modern day torture and they are in some ways even worse to look at, with people in uniforms but also jeans and t-shirts doing horrible things to other people in jeans and t-shirts. One whole wall is covered with a work of art depicting hundreds of skulls.

One activist with us said it is just window dressing as human rights violations and torture are as bad as ever here but I couldn’t help but think that it would be very difficult seeing those images every day when you go to work and that perhaps it heralded a new commitment on the part of the courts to deal with this history.

Next was another press conference with again lots of media. Blue Planet Project organizer Claudia Campero and I are running now for the airport where the next leg of this powerful journey begins.

Barlow’s previous blogs from Mexico this week can be read at http://canadians.org/blog/?p=17823.

Photos 1-4: Murals inside the Mexican Supreme Court.

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