MEXICO CITY – Mexican human rights activist Norma Andrade is thinking about leaving Mexico after having her face cut by a knife-wielding man, her attorney, Carla Michel Salas, said in reports published Sunday by the Mexican press.
The human rights activist is weighing the possibility of leaving her country because “the authorities have not dealt with the need to protect her,” the attorney told the Mexico City daily El Universal.
Andrade was released Saturday afternoon from the clinic where she was treated and escorted home by Federal District police, who will guard her until she decides what to do.
An unknown assailant attacked Andrade at around 8:00 a.m. Friday while she was walking her granddaughter to school, leaving her with a five-centimeter (two-inch) gash in her cheek.
The knife attack occurred two months after a gunman shot the founder of the “May Our Daughters Return Home” non-governmental organization several times in the northern border city of Ciudad Juarez.
Andrade, who has received death threats from drug cartels, moved to Mexico City after the Dec. 2 attack in Juarez, in which she was shot in the left shoulder and right hand.
The activist founded the NGO to try to bring an end to the killings of young women in Ciudad Juarez after her daughter, Lilia Alejandra Garcia Andrade, was murdered.
Amnesty International’s Mexico chapter issued an alert in the wake of the latest attack on Andrade, saying the activist was in “imminent danger” and calling on authorities to do their duty to offer her effective protection.
The rights watchdog noted that since 2008 the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has urged the Mexican government to protect four members, including Andrade, of the May Our Daughters Return Home rights group.
AI also noted that the Juarez hospital where Andrade had received treatment for the gunshot wounds late last year had discharged her after receiving anonymous threats warning that medical personnel would be killed if they continued to treat her.
Over the past two-and-a-half years, five human rights activists have been killed in alleged drug-related violence and 12 others have left the country, the Chihuahua state Human Rights Commission said.
The most recent case was that of Susana Chavez, a poet and women’s rights activist who, like Andrade, led efforts to seek justice in the mostly unsolved slayings of more than 500 women in Ciudad Juarez since 1993.
Most of the victims were young women from poor families who worked in the assembly plants, known as “maquiladoras,” that sprung up around the city to take advantage of the North American Free Trade Agreement. Many were sexually assaulted before they died.
Chavez was raped, murdered and mutilated on Jan. 11, 2011, by three attackers, including a minor.
A month earlier, Marisela Escobedo was slain while staging a demonstration outside the Chihuahua governor’s office to demand justice for the murder of her daughter, whose confessed killer had been released by a three-judge panel due to lack of evidence.
Another killing that rocked Juarez, located across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas, was that of Josefina Reyes, a former municipal official in a Juarez suburb and longtime social activist who was gunned down on a road outside the city.
In November 2010, activist Flor Alicia Gomez, a member of the Justice for Our Daughters and the Women’s Human Rights Center groups, was raped and murdered.
Paz Rodriguez Ortiz, founder of a human rights group, was shot and killed in front of his wife in September 2009.
The northern state of Chihuahua, where Juarez is located, has accounted for about 30 percent of the approximately 50,000 murders committed in Mexico since late 2006, when newly inaugurated President Felipe Calderon militarized the struggle against Mexico’s drug cartels.
Ciudad Juarez, a coveted drug-smuggling corridor that is being fought over by the Juarez and Sinaloa cartels with backing from enforcers from local street gangs, is considered Mexico’s murder capital.