This document was prepared by  a coalition of Mexican NGOs, within the framework of the examination of the Third Periodic Report (1992-1996) of the Mexican Government by the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. This document represents a collective effort brought about by our concern for the increasing and systematic nature of human rights violations in Mexico, reflected in the United Nations Human Rights Committee's recent observations in connection with the situation in Mexico (CCPR/C/79/Add.109).

 Our country is experiencing a serious downturn in the general living conditions of increasing numbers of Mexicans. This is largely a result of the structural adjustment policies implemented during the past 17 years which prioritise macroeconomic market indicators over the welfare of the population. This deterioration has become more accentuated since the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) entered into force in 1994. Such policies have proven incompatible with the spirit and letter of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and deepen the economic and social inequalities that exist amongst the population.

 The narrow-focussed national poverty-alleviation programmes which have been favoured over the past few years are selective, short-term and function as mere palliatives rather than addressing the structural causes of poverty. These programmes, for instance the Programme for Education, Health and Nutrition (PROGRESA), referred to by the Mexican Government in its Third Report to the Committee, are used for political and electoral ends, heightening discrimination and hindering the construction of a truly democratic political system which is vital for social development.
Mexico’s rural population is most intensely affected by such factors, in particular the more than ten million indigenous Mexicans. For years, institutionalised violence in Chiapas has been reflected in the systematic nature of human rights violations and the impunity which inevitably follows. The armed conflict which started in 1994 aggravated this situation, and serves as a warning about the conditions in which indigenous peoples and campesinos throughout the country survive. It is unacceptable that several of the Mexican states richest in natural and cultural resources (including Chiapas, Guerrero, Oaxaca and Veracruz), register the highest levels of poverty and marginalisation in the country.
The Mexican Government's economic and social policies have a marked gender bias, to the detriment of women, whose burden of labour, as well as discrimination in various spheres, is increased. It is not enough for the Government to recognise the increasing feminisation of poverty. Policies must be redefined from a perspective that integrates women as fully-fledged actors, with specific needs and capabilities.
The following figures illustrate these concerns:





We believe that the failure of the Mexican Government to include information regarding the above concerns precludes the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights from effectively evaluating progress made towards compliance with the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. We consider that such omissions represent a violation of articles 16 and 17 of the Covenant.
  It is worrying that the Mexican Government has not responded satisfactorily to the observations and recommendations made by the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in connection to the Second Periodic Report (E/C.12/1993/16). The examination of the Government’s Third Report by this Committee resulted in questions, observations and recommendations that are of vital importance for the construction of the conditions necessary to ensure full respect for ESC Rights, as well as human rights more generally, in Mexico.
  As members of Non-Governmental Organisations working in areas related to these rights, we ask the Committee to take into account the information and concerns presented in our alternative report, in order to call on the Mexican Government to implement the following recommendations:


(In alphabetical order)

Casa y Ciudad, AC ­ Coalición Mexico, member of the Habitat International Coalition, Human Rights Centre "Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez" (PRODH), Centro de Reflexión y Acción Laboral (Centre for Reflection and Labour Action, CEREAL), Comisión Mexicana de Defensa y Promoción de Derechos Humanos A.C (Mexican Commission for Defence and Promotion of Human Rights, CMDPDHAC), Colectivo Mexicano de Apoyo a la Niñez (Mexican Collective in Support of Children, COMEXANI), Convergencia de Organismos Civiles por la Democracia (Forum of Civil Organisations for Democracy), DECA Equipo Pueblo, Defensoría del Derecho a la Salud (Defence for the Right to Health), Food First Information and Action Network - Mexican section (FIAN-Mexico), Liga Mexicana de Defensa de los Derechos Humanos (Mexican League for the Defence of Human Rights, LIMEDDH), Red de Jóvenes por los Derechos Sexuales y Reproductivos (Youth Network for Sexual and Reproductive Rights, ELIGE), Red Nacional de Organismos Civiles de Derechos Humanos "Todos los Derechos para Todos" (National Network of Human Rights NGOs "All Rights for All").



1) Statement by Esteban Moctezuma, ex ­Secretary of Social Development, cited in ‘El Universal’ national newspaper article, "Preciso fortalecer el federalismo en ese ámbito, sostiene Moctezuma B.", 19 July 1998.

2) Boltvinik, Julio, Specialist investigator on poverty, Colegio de México University, "15 millones más de pobres extremos!", published in La Jornada, 16 October 1998.

3) Centre for Multidisciplinary Research, Investigation report 50, Los hogares mexicanos, November 1998, Department of Economics, National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM).

4) Federal Executive, IV Informe de Gobierno, 1998, Annexes 36, 37 y 45.
5) Centro de Reflexión y Acción Laboral (CEREAL), Los derechos humanos laborales: el lado obscuro de la modernización, Informe sobre la violación de los derechos humanos laborales en 1998, Mexico, 1999, p.28.

6) Acosta U., Mariclaire; "Vencer la discriminación de la mujer en México es una tarea para Sísifo", cited in the Mexican NGO Report for the Committee for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), presented by Mexican women’s and human rights NGOs, mimeo, 1998.

7) Campaña Nacional para Desalentar el Despido por Embarazo y el Examen de No Gravidez (National Campaign Against Dismissals for Pregnancy and Pregnancy Tests in Recruitment), Summary of Cases presented in the frame-work of the Tribunal de Conciliación entre la Maternidad y el Trabajo (Maternity and Labour Reconciliation Tribunal), Mexico City, October 1998.
8) Sistema Nacional para el Desarrollo Integral de la Familia (National System for Family Development DIF), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and United Nations International Drugs Programme. Study of children and adolescent workers in 100 cities, "Yo también cuento," Mexico, 1999.
9) El Universal, national newspaper, 24 February 1999. p. 17
10) Avila, Curiel, Shama Levi and Chaves Villasana of the Instituto Nacional de Nutrición Salvador Zubirán  (Salvador Zubirán National Institute of Nutrition, INZS) National Survey of Rural Nutrition, j. , Mexico, 1996.
11) Salvador Zubirán National Institute of Nutrition, National Survey of Rural Food and Nutrition, 1997.
12) Red Mexicana de Acción Frente al Libre Comercio (RMALC), Espejismo y Realidad: El TLCAN tres años después. Análisis y propuesta desde la sociedad civil, México, 1997.
13) Center for Reproductive Law and Policy y Grupo de Información en Reproducción Elegida (CRLP-GIRE). Derechos Reproductivos de la Mujer en México :un reporte sombra, México, December 1997.
14) Elu Ma. Carmen and Langer, Ana (eds). Maternidad sin Riesgos en México, Mexican Institute of Social Studies, Mexico, 1994. p. 86
15) Virginia Chambers, Subdirectora de Programas en América Latina, IPAS, 1993, cited in La LVI Legislatura ante la ética, el derecho y el aborto, Grupo de Infromación en Reproducción Elegida, GIRE, México, 1995, pp.22-23.
16) Information provided by PROPOSITIVO, Human Rights Centre "Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez", A.C., Mexico D.F., mimeo, 1999.
17) Mexican Fund for Health. Economía y Salud, Propuesta para el avance del Sistema de Salud en México,  First Edition, Mexico D.F., 1997, p. 51.
18) Laurell, Asa Cristina; No hay pierde: todos pierden. Lo que usted necesita saber sobre la nueva Ley del IMSS, Instituto de la Revolución Democrática-Coyuntura, 1996, p. 5, and National Population Council (CONAPO), La demanda de atención de salud en México, Mexico 1995, p. 29.

19) CEREAL, op. cit., pp. 42-43.
20) UNDP - Human Development Report, 1996.
21) Ministry for Social Development (SEDESOL), National Housing Programme 1995-2000.
22) Casa y Ciudad, A.C. - Coalición Habitat México, elaboración propia con base en Instituto Nacional de Estadística, Geografía e Informática (INEGI), Encuesta Nacional de Ingreso Gasto de los Hogares, 1992, 1994, 1996. México, 1999.
23) Casa y Ciudad, A.C. - Coalición Hatitat México. Los desalojos en México, database of press reports, 1997,1998 y 1999, and Centro de Información Documental del Centro Operacional de  Vivienda y Poblamiento (COPEVI, A. C.) Sumario Informativo, La Vivienda, 1994-1997.
24) Aguilar, Genaro. Ricos y Pobres en México, 1984 a 1996. Speech to be read in Septembre 1999 at the VII Congress of Latin American and Caribbean Economists in Río de Janeiro, Brazil.
25) Ministry for Social Defence, SEDESOL and the National Federation of Industrial Promoters, PROVIVAC, A.C., 1997-1998
26) Information from the Special Report published in El Financiero newspaper, 11 May 1997 and Análisis del Presupuesto de Egresos de 1999 (Analysis of the 1999 Budget), by the PRD Parliamentary Group, Coyuntura 89, December 1998, p. 56.
27) Ibid.
28) CONAPO, Indicadores socioeconómicos e índice de marginación municipal, 1990.
29) Research by Jesusa Cervantes and Juan Antonio Zúñiga, journalists from La Jornada national newspaper, cited in Castro, Gustavo and Hidalgo, Onécimo. Militarización y Paramilitarización en Chiapas, CIEPAC, Mexico,1997.
30) National Health System, Información Básica del Estado de Chiapas, México, 1995.
31) Centro de Investigación y Estudios para la Acción Comunitaria (CIEPAC)-Diócesis de San Cristóbal de las Casas, Information about Chiapas, web site http://www.laneta.apc.,org/curiasc/datochis.html.

32) INEGI, Anuario estadístico del Estado de Chiapas, 1994.
33) Castro, Gustavo and Hidalgo, Onécimo, Los desplazados internos en Chiapas, ‘Chiapas al Día’ Bulletin, No. 168, Centro de Investigación y Estudios para la Acción Comunitaria (Research and Study Centre for Community Action. CIEPAC), Chipas, 28 August 1999.