Columbia University’s Center for Mexican Studies presents the Leaders of Mexico Forum. Two distinguished human rights and social justice activists in Mexico, Bishop Raúl Vera, 2012 Nobel Prize Nominee, and Priest Alejandro Solalinde, an eminent migrants’ defender, will deliver this special dual-lecture: “The Humanitarian Emergency from South to North: Migration and Social Justice.” They will dwell on their fight to address the humanitarian crisis resulting from the migration from South to North, as well as issues of social justice amidst the violent Mexican borders.
Bishop Raúl Vera is a Mexican Catholic friar of the Dominican Order, and current Bishop of Saltillo, Coahuila, ordained by Pope John Paul II in 1999. 2012 Nobel Prize Nominee, he is recognized for his work in the fight for migrants’ human rights and social justice in Mexico. Bishop Vera founded the social center Monseñor Juan Navarro Ramirez, to care for the poor in Guerrero. In Chiapas worked in the peace process after the Zapatista struggle for the rights of indigenous people. In its current pastoral work in Coahuila, Bishop Vera founded the Centro Diocesano para los Derechos Humanos Fray Juan de Larios, which provides legal support and a platform organization for families of forcedly disappeared persons. Bishop Vera has won numerous awards for his work in human rights and peace, including the award of the Rafto Foundation in Norway in 2010, the merit medal of Mexico’s Ecclesiastical Observatory and the National Network of Human Rights in 2007, and Mexico’s National Human Rights Award Don Sergio Mendez Arceo in 2000. Bishop Vera first graduated as a chemical engineer at UNAM, and then began his religious education in Guanajuato. He continued his theological studies at the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas in Rome, obtaining a summa cum laude distinction. He was ordained in 1975 by Pope Paul VI, and Bishop of Altamirano, Guerrero in 1987.
Priest Alejandro Solalinde is a Mexican Catholic priest in charge of the Pastoral of Human Mobility, in the South Pacific Mexican Episcopacy, and one of the most notorious figures of human rights defending migrants. He is the Director of the migrants’ shelter Hermanos en el Camino in Ixtepec, Oaxaca, which assists migrants from Central and South America on their way to the United States, offering food, accommodation, and psychological, medical and legal support. Priest Solalinde’s has publicly condemned the abuses of murder, robbery, kidnapping, assault, extortion, and rape committed against undocumented migrants, both in Mexico and the United States. He was jailed in 2008 along with 17 migrants in the city of Ixtepec, and in 2012 was exiled for two months out of the country after death threats. Priest Solalinde received unanimously in 2012 the National Human Rights Award by President Enrique Peña Nieto, the awards Peace and Democracy, Pagés Llergo for Democracy and Human Rights, and the medal Emilio Krieger. Priest Solalinde was ordained priest by the Bishop of Toluca Arturo Vélez, and obtained undergraduate degrees in History and Psychology, and a Masters in Family Therapy.