People Profile: Straight Shooter Dario Ramirez

Dario Ramirez, head of Article19’s programme in MexicoDario Ramirez
Straight Shooter

By Deborah Bonello

Darío Ramírez is no naïve idealist. The 35-year-old head of Article 19’s Mexico chapter – an organization that defends and promotes freedom of expression — has been a human rights activist for more than a decade. He bluntly describes the United Nations as a “slow elephant,” Mexico’s NGO sector as ”unprofessional at times” and the country’s Access to Information Law – the “Ley Federal de Acceso a la Información Pública” – as limited at best.

Referring to a six-month stint with the UN Commission for Human Rights in Geneva, he says, “I’m not the sort of person for Geneva – it’s way too high up and I felt suffocated. [T]hey don’t know what they’re talking about. It’s more about what looks good…”

Back in Mexico, Ramírez helped draft the Mexican Government’s first Human Rights Program at the Ministry of the Interior. Although most of his work has been dismantled, he was proud that the program received international praise.

Like most committed humanitarians, Ramírez is full of contradictions; he’s cynical, skeptical, hopeful and optimistic in equal parts. He will need to draw on all those qualities along the road ahead. With violence against journalists in Mexico at an all-time high, and the right to freedom of expression in what he calls “grave danger” as the transition to democracy continues, Ramírez’s work at Article19 – where he has been for two years – is vital, and often frustrating.

What has he achieved since joining the organization? “Nothing, really. Nothing,” he says as he laughs sheepishly and runs his hands through his short, brown hair.

That’s unfair. Article19 is now the reference point for issues regarding freedom of expression in the country and an important voice challenging repression, censorship and corruption in Mexican political and social life. A belligerent cynic like Ramírez is just what the organization needs.

Inside Mexico November IssueThis profile appeared in the November 2007 issue of InsideMexico, available here. The photo is the journalist’s own.

See here for MexicoReporter.com’s interview with Ramirez.

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