The investigation into the assassination of Digna Ochoa is in the hands of Mexico City’s Attorney General, not the Federal Attorney General, according to President Vicente Fox. In a political dig at Mexico City Mayor Lopez Obrador and an effort to distance his own administration from the high-profile case, President Fox characterized the murder as “one more incident that happened in Mexico City.” Fox went on to ‘offer Mexico City’s Attorney General broad collaboration with information, with investigation, but the responsibility is theirs.” Lopez Obrador said that the assassination must be understood in the “context of paramilitaries and caciques throughout the nation.”

On October 29, Secretary of Government Santiago Creel installed a permanent government desk dedicated to the protection of human rights workers. However, members of the Miguel Agustin Pro Human Rights Center (PRODH), where Digna worked for many years, expressed a lack of confidence in the Fox administration. A spokesperson for PRODH cited the Federal Attorney General’s office, which is headed by former army General Rafael Macedo de la Concha, as a particular concern. The Federal Attorney General would be in charge of protecting human rights workers, yet this same office has been the focus of a number of human rights cases brought by the PRODH and other human rights organizations, and is widely suspected of having a hand in the assassination of Digna.

The Fox administration shelved an investigation of death threats against Digna in May of this year, placing in question the level of “broad collaboration” that may be forthcoming and the effectiveness of the commitment to protect human rights workers.

On October 25, Abel Barrera, director of the Tlachinollan Human Rights Center of the Mountains in the state of Guerrero, was forced to leave the state after receiving a series of death threats. Barrera accused the army and government officials of perpetrating human rights abuses throughout the state with impunity. Guerrero has a history of perhaps the worst human rights abuses in Mexico, including the massacres at El Charco and Aguas Blancas. Mexico City’s Attorney General reported that the most promising leads in Digna’s assassination are from Guerrero.

A cartoon published in the daily La Jornada by cartoonist Helguera summarized the feelings of many. The cartoon shows Fox in his weekly radio interview and references the case of two campesinos who were defended by Digna: “It’s not alright that one makes accusations in advance. We are not campesino environmentalists for which crimes can be fabricated.”

Bishop Raul Vera Lopez, former co-Bishop of Chiapas, joined a growing chorus calling for justice for Digna’s assassins. Gilberto Lopez y Rivas, former PRD member of the Cocopa, demanded an immediate investigation of the army.

Meanwhile the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH), a government agency, reported credible evidence that 250 of the 531 political activists who were disappeared during the 70’s and 80’s were actually executed by security forces, mainly the army. The CNDH cited Military Camp Number One as the major offender. President Fox has refused to name a truth commission to investigate human rights abuses during the “dirty war,” despite promising to do so during his electoral campaign.