National Clearinghouse on Marital and Date Rape
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STUDENTS from many countries PROTEST to Mexican congress members visiting Berkeley re: the Mexican Supreme Court decision (granting a property right of a husband to a wife). We call it Mexico's Dred Scott decision!

On October 24, 1997, the Center of Latin American Studies and the Berkeley Mexican Student Association sponsored an Open Forum entitled "Mexico at A Crossroads: The Role of the New Congress and The Search for National Consensus." The subject was the transformation of the Mexican Congress in the wake of the historic July 1997 elections and the implications for politics and policy-making in Mexico.

We worked most of the night and morning to prepare and pass out informational fliers about the Mexican Supreme Court ruling making rape in marriage a mere "undue exercise of a right." The packet included our DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AWARENESS MONTH press release of October 6, 1997 (SEE, as well as the original InterPress Service report in English and the Mexican womens' protest document sent to us by Patricia Olamendi, one of the protest leaders in Mexico. SEND your support to her at (Patricia Olamendi Torres).

We were one Korean from Guam who is doing her honors thesis on marital rape, one Salvadorena, one exiled Guatemalteca with her 4 year old son, two Mexican-Americans (one descended from a grandfather, Juan Osuna Gorgona, who was a famous farmworker fighter with Cesar Chavez and founder of MALDEF, the other a Political Science Major who plans to move to Mexico to do political journalism concerning women's rights), two non-Chicana students -- one at UC Berkeley and the other recently graduated from Harvard-Radcliffe -- and Laura X, Director of the National Clearinghouse on Marital and Date Rape in Berkeley, a 19 year campaigner on this issue in 45 states and 20 countries, who has studied in Mexico and speaks Spanish, and who especially enjoyed the day because she is a UC Berkeley 60's veteran of student non-violent protests!

After the forum was over, we managed to speak with the participants to find out their opinions on this human rights violation made BY their supreme court! (in the Spring before the Elections in July.)

There were six participants from the Mexican government representing the three major parties.

Porfirio Munoz Ledo (PRD) Federal Deputy, Coordinator of the PRD Congressional Delegation to the Chamber of Deputies, former Secretary of Education, former Ambassador of Mexico to the UN and first opposition member to preside over the Chamber of Deputies and to respond to the President's State of the Nation address.

One student tried to speak with him during the break but he told her to write the Congress instead. He said the same thing to Laura, but she spoke to him specifically on the fact that he had been the ambassador to the UN ten years ago and wanted to know why Mexico broke the consensus in Beijing by going back on their signature. He said it was not the court, just a judge. She said two of the three judges making the decision were women and one had been the Mexican delegate to the UN's Nairobi conference on the status of women. He said "I will accuse her" and that "On Tuesday I will introduce this issue in the Congress. The decision was wrong."

He was talking with so many people at once we hope he remembers.

Esteban Moctezuma (PRI) Senator-elect, member of the National Council for the Institutional Revolutionary Party, former Secretary of the Interior, and former Undersecretary of Education.

In response to a student's inquiries about the Supreme Court case and arguments that this ruling promoted rape and sexual slavery, Esteban Moctezuma replied that this was the first he had ever heard of this case and thus could not give his opinion. In the student's opinion, he did not seem to understand the issue beyond a domestic violence viewpoint and he suggested we look into civil law. He did, however, encourage our inquiries and suggested that we check the Mexican Congressional Website which lists proposed legislation. He also believed that there might be a domestic violence legislation in motion (though not yet proposed) that might address this issue. He looked to be the youngest of the participants.

Santiago Creel Miranda (PAN), Federal Deputy, President of the Committee on Constitutional Affairs of the Chamber of Deputies, and former member of the National Electoral Council.

In response to a student's framing the Mexican Supreme Court ruling from a constitutional and human rights viewpoint, Santiago Creel Miranda agreed with us saying that this case sounded like a constitutional issue and a human rights violation. He said that though this is not his area of specialty, he would look into it. Furthermore, when she claimed that only the new "People's Congress" in search of democracy and equality could adequately deal with this issue, he said knew of no new legislative measures regarding this issue currently, but agreed that it was the role of new Congress to address this problem. Note: He speaks English as someone who has lived in the US.

Adolfo Aguilar Zinser (Independent) Senator-elect, former Member of the Chamber of Deputies, Former Secretary of the Investigating Commission of CONASUPO, and Visiting Professor at UC Berkeley.

The Chair of the Latin American Studies Department, Enrique Riveros-Schaefer, was kind enough to help us at every point and was clearly shocked at the Supreme Court decision. The first thing he did was to reassure us that we could approach "Zinser" and ask him to introduce us to the others. Professor Zinser then told us who was who and encouraged us to approach them. He also believes that Porfirio Munoz Ledo will push for the decision to be overturned.

During the forum, Professor Zinser said excellent things in support of a Congress for the People through relations with human rights organizations, citizen groups, and other non-governmental organizations. His closing remarks about compromises made by elite politicians not being in the interest of those not in authority were well-received. After the forum, he also gave us his e-mail address ( and phone number (510-642-2088). Laura mentioned to him that even the Vatican voted in Beijing for the right for wives to say no.

Enrique Gonzales Pedredo (PRI) Senator-elect, and former Governor of the State of Tabasco.

Enrique Gonazles Pedredo was also helpful. He did not have time to read the fliers, but he promised to do so. At the wine and cheese party to which he had invited Laura, they had a long conversation which included her Berkeley friend Peter Jacobson who turned out to be a former student and employee of his at the Facultad de Ciencias Politicas at the University of Mexico. When Senator-elect Gonzales said that he likes to have everything calm and without passion, Peter laughed and said that Laura is "La Pasionaria of Berkeley!" So Gonzales quoted Hegel to Laura about how nothing gets done without passion. He then gave us his card with both his home and office phone number and address. His office number for telephone and fax is 661 78 97. His home number is 550 01 49. His office address is Chimalistac 52, Col. Chimalistac, 01070-Mexico, D.F.

He was shocked at the ruling because Laura explained that spousal rape was not considered rape in Mexico and said that this was wrong and that there must be consent. She said that if one person has a property right in another person's body that it is slavery and he was clearly supportive. When she told him of her studies in Jalapa and her trip to San Cristobal de Las Casas by bus in 1961, he rhapsodized about the beauties of both places and how he would love to have a little house in San Cristobal. Laura also liked him because he has white hair like hers, but she didn't mention this to him. Note: He is new to the Congress but promised to be supportive.

Alfredo Phillips Olmedo (PRI) Federal Deputy, President of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the Chamber of Deputies, former Director General of the North American Development Bank.

We spoke with Alfredo Phillips Olmedo before the event started and he commented that the fact that marital rape was any type of crime was a step forward for Mexico, pointing at the document that began in 1994. Laura said that this was not so precisely because, a year later, Mexico along with all the other countries in the UN voted that every woman has a right to say no, even in marriage, when Mexico was at the Beijing Conference. And so to go backwards in 1997 is disastrous.

One of the women with Laura said that we are asking our government to help the Mexican government change the Supreme Court ruling. He nicely commented that it would not be a good idea for other governments to put themselves in the middle of internal affairs. That is when Laura explained that this was a human rights violation that affected everyone in the world. He was kind and thoughtful and listened. After the forum, he said that as he hadn't had time to read the fliers, he could not comment on the rulings. He did, however, promise to look into this case and gave us his office phone number in the Mexican Congress. His number is 628 14 02 and said that we should call at a later date.

Elba Esther Gordillo, Senator-elect (PRI), President of the "Confederacion de Educadores Americanos," Secretary General of the National Confederation of Popular Organizations, former Secretary General of Mexico's National Union of Teachers.

She could not come at the last minute and we have no idea why what her opinion is of the court decision, but we hope they have a 24-hour daycare center at the Congress for both genders, and wish them well in carrying on the concerns expressed at the forum about human rights violations against indigenous people.