Peter Gabriel met with Mexican President Felipe Calderón on Friday (March 27), urging him to increase his efforts to end the violence against women and murders in Ciudad Juárez and Chihuahua. Gabriel was in Mexico City for a concert as part of a brief Mexican tour.
The meeting was arranged by WITNESS, the organization founded by Gabriel in 1992 that trains and supports people to use video and online technologies in human rights campaigns.
Gabriel and Calderón were joined in the meeting by Mexican rock legend Saúl Hernández of Jaguares and actor Diego Luna. Patricia Cervantes, the mother of Neyra Cervantes whose 2003 murder was the subject of WITNESS video "Dual Injustice," presented the President a petition signed by thousands urging action to solve the crimes.
According to WITNESS, more than 470 women have been violently killed in Ciudad Juárez and Chihuahua, Mexico since 1993 in a phenomenon known as "feminicide." Most of the victims are between 13-22 years old, and no definitive explanation for the killings has been determined.
Calderón promised to personally follow-up on the case of Neyra Cervantes and others, while pledging to combat any abuse of authority and to promote the repairs of damage to victims. Calderón said that Mexican federal forces are collaborating with the local authorities to solve the cases of feminicides.
"We are thrilled by President Calderon's response to our meeting," said Tamaryn Nelson, WITNESS Program Coordinator for Latin America and the Caribbean, who participated in the meeting. "His committment to review cases and issues related to feminicide in Ciudad Juarez and Chihuahua means renewed hope for the families of hundreds of murdered women."