Release of young man encourages fight for abortion in Mexico

MEXICO CITY (HPD) — The fight by Mexican humanitarian organizations to get women facing abortion-related proceedings out of jail scored a victory after a court ordered the release of indigenous youth Aurelia García Cruceño, detained since three years ago accused of homicide in the degree of kinship.

Despite the fact that the Supreme Court of Justice of Mexico decriminalized abortion last year, the processes related to pregnancy interruptions remain in limbo and cases such as that of Cruceño, a 23-year-old Nahua indigenous woman who was detained by a miscarriage she suffered after becoming pregnant as a result of rape.

Now humanitarian organizations hope that the young woman’s sentence serves as a precedent to achieve the release of other women detained for processes related to abortions and who are facing trials for crimes such as homicide due to kinship, infanticide or omission of care. According to local organizations, there are more than 200.

This was recognized by Verónica Garzón, a lawyer from Cruceño and a member of the Mexican Institute of Human Rights and Democracy, who affirmed that the sentence “has many political, legal and social implications” and can serve as a precedent for other women accused by the State and ” violated from institutions that are incapable of guaranteeing access to justice”.

On the night of December 20, a judge ruled that there was not enough evidence to keep Cruceño in custody for the crime of homicide in the degree of kinship, which culminated the nightmare she had faced since 2019 when she was imprisoned in a prison in the southern town of Iguala, in the state of Guerrero.

The young woman is originally from the remote town of Xochicalco, located in the Montaña Baja de Guerrero, where she spent her childhood and youth and which she left after becoming pregnant by a man, who was a community authority, who abused her.

In mid-2019, the young woman moved to Iguala to live with an aunt and a few months later she began to present vaginal bleeding and had a premature delivery, for which she was transferred to a hospital to receive blood transfusions. While she was convalescing, she was handcuffed to her bed and after notifying her of the reason for her arrest, they made her sign a letter of rights whose content she did not understand because she did not speak Spanish well.

Still reeling from her release, Cruceño told The Associated Press she still hasn’t gotten used to her new reality and is surprised to wake up in the morning to find herself in a place other than her cell. “I feel weird. I still can’t believe seeing my mom waking up,” she added.

The young woman speaks little about the three years she spent in prison and acknowledges that “it gave me a lot of anxiety, a lot of sadness.”

Despite the difficulties he went through, Cruceño considers that his confinement was a learning stage and allowed him to improve his knowledge of Spanish. “My colleagues encouraged me a lot and a lady gave me advice that I never forgot: ‘here you have to be strong, you have to be brave’”.

“Aurelia’s case is one of many,” acknowledged Marina Reyna Aguilar, president of the Guerrero Association Against Violence Against Women, who explained that in that state, which is among the 20 with the highest records of violence against women in Mexico , the female indigenous population is one of the most vulnerable in the country due to the uses and customs maintained by the four ethnic groups that live in that region.

Between January and October, 11 femicides and 98 intentional homicides were reported in Guerrero, slightly below the records for the same period in 2021, according to official figures.

Although Guerrero became one of the 11 states in Mexico in May where abortion is decriminalized up to 12 weeks of gestation, Reyna Aguilar affirmed that there is still a long way to go in this matter and maintained that “those instances that They have the obligation, by mandate of law, to defend the rights of women.”

The judge’s decision in favor of Cruceño surprised the activists who had fought to get her out of prison, acknowledged Ana Grabiela Candela Garzón, a member of the Guererense Network for Women’s Rights, who attributed the measure to the fact that “we made her case visible through the media.

During his morning conference – in which the country’s daily agenda is usually set – President Andrés Manuel López Obrador referred to the situation of Cruceño and said that his case would be reviewed. “We always seek that injustices are not committed, always, always, always, they are not accepted,” he said.

Despite the fact that the country’s highest court ordered public defenders to search for and assist women detained for cases related to abortions such as Cruceño’s in order to obtain their release, many are still imprisoned and there is no official figure for how many are in that situation or the prisons where they are located, said Verónica Cruz, director of the organization “Las Libres”, which defends women’s rights.

In an attempt to try to locate these women, a coalition of humanitarian organizations this year introduced injunctions in five of the country’s 32 states to pressure judicial authorities to search for them.

Determined to start a new life, Cruceño affirmed that she will resume her high school studies soon to later dedicate herself to working as a teacher. When talking about the importance of her case, the young woman said that she hopes it will serve as a reference for other women. “I would like them not to go through this as I went through… that they do not remain silent, they have to talk about what is happening to them.”

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