Neighbourhood Assembly (Asamblea de Barrios), including its mandate, activities involving the press and propgaganda, any political affiliations it may have and reports of members being threatened (1996-1997) [MEX31791.E]

A July 1997 Reforma report provided the following information on the origins and leaders of the Neighbourhood Assembly (Asamblea de Barrios):

This faction arose from housing organizations created after the 1985 earthquakes. Its origins date back to two groups in the 1970's, the Revolutionary National Civic Association and the Critical Point Revolutionary Organization. Although not considered a faction as such, it formed as a group in 1987 and to date has gone through five major splits.

Four different organizations that will be represented in this Legislature [Federal District Legislative Assembly] now operate under the name of Assembly of Barrios: Javier Hidalgo's organization; Yolanda Tello's organization (known as the civic groups organization); that of David Cervantes (New Nation); and the Assembly of Barrios Coordinating Group of Aurelio Perez (22 July 1997).

The report stated that Hidalgo and Tello were among the five Party for Democratic Revolution (PRD) candidates for position of party coordinator of the Federal District Legislative Assembly (also see La Jornada 22 July 1997). Ernesto Chávez of the Neighbourhood Assembly New Nation (Asamblea de Barrios Patria Nueva) was also one of the five contenders for the post (ibid.; ibid.).

Prior to the Mexico City mayoral elections in August 1997, La Jornada reported that the Neighbourhood Assembly headed by Javier Hidalgo supported the candidacy of Porfirio Muñoz Ledo for the mayor's job, while the Neighbourhood Assembly New Nation, the Neighbourhood Assembly Mexico City (Asamblea de Barrios Ciudad de México) of Yolanda Tello and the Neighbourhood Assembly of Popular Coordinators (Asamblea de Barrios Coordinadores Populares) of Luis Moo supported the candidacy of Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas (10 Feb. 1997).

Some reports associate the masked Mexico City political activist known as "Superbarrio" to the Neighbourhood Assembly (The Times-Picayune 12 May 1996; IPS 7 May 1997).

The Times-Picayune report stated that Superbarrio and two other members of the Neighbourhood Assembly protested the prison sentences of two alleged Zapatistas by "symbolically turning themselves in to the authorities" and accusing "themselves of being terrorists" (12 May 1996). In April 1997, members of the Neighbourhood Assembly, including Superbarrio, who is "famous for his cowl and costume that is half-super hero, half-professional wrestler," protested at the Peruvian Embassy in Mexico City by throwing paint and tomatoes in response to Peru's "bloody assault" on the residence of the Japanese ambassador in Lima to end the hostage taking by Tupac Amaru rebels (Reuters 23 Apr. 1997). Superbarrio claimed that during a visit to Mexico by U.S. President Clinton, "the government prevented freedom of speech and a siege was imposed in order to keep Clinton and his friends happy" (IPS 7 May 1997).

Following Clinton's vistit to Mexico, many human rights organization formally complained that their rights were suspended during the visit and that some of their colleagues had been unjustly imprisoned (The News 9 May 1997). According to the Neighbourhood Assembly, three of its members had been arrested near the Angel of Independence in Mexico City and then imprisoned (ibid.). The Research Directorate can find no information on when, or if, the assembly members were released.

Some activities of the Neighbourhood Assemblies are described in the following La Jornada reports.

In November 1996, about 800 members of the Neighbourhood Assembly New Nation intended to enter the premises of the Government Secretariat offices to celebrate the Day of the Dead (Día de Muertos) but were stopped by riot police (2 Nov. 1996). Three members of the assembly had painted their faces with white paint to look like skeletons and were carrying cardboard coffins on their shoulders (ibid.). Ernesto Chávez, leader of the New Nation assembly, stated during the procession that the march was to commemorate those who died of hunger, to denounce "repression," low wages and disease (ibid.). The same article reported another activity carried out by the Neighbourhood Assembly headed by Superbarrio and Javier Hidalgo, who, in front of the Arts Palace, erected a massive sheet of wood with cardboard stars, pictures and drawing of famous political sketches.

Another La Jornada article in November 1996 reported that within a centimetre of the entrance of the TV Azteca building, members of the Neighbourhood Assembly, including Superbarrio, placed plastic bags of garbage as payment for comments in an earlier La Jornada report by Ricardo Salinas Pliego against Marco Rascón, a PRD deputy (28 Nov. 1996). In the report, Salinas accused Rascón of causing economic damage and requested 965,000 pesos as compensation for the damage (ibid.). In response to this, Superbarrio said that the bags of gargage were a first contribution to this amount and said that Rascón was supported by the Neighbourhood Assembly (ibid.). The report also mentioned Superbarrio's Barriomobile (Barriomóvil) where the bags of garbage were stored. A banner stating [translation] "Carlos, Raúl and Ricardo Salinas: Oh, what nice people!" ("Carlos, Raúl y Ricardo Salinas, ¡ah, qué gente tan fina!") was placed at the entrance of the building.

In March 1997, Superbarrio and other Neighbourhood Assembly members, including PRD deputy, Marco Rascón, claimed in front of the United States Embassy in Mexico City that that the U.S. was certifiably the country with the most drugs and drug users in the world (La Jornada 8 Mar. 1997). The event mocked the process by which the United States certifies or decertifies Mexico in regards to its anti-drug efforts every year (ibid.). A banner was erected close to the embassy which made official the "certification" of the United States as the worse drug consuming nation (ibid.).

In April 1997, the Neighbourhood Assembly got involved in a clash with riot police when it attempted to carry out an order to evacuate four families who resided in a building owned by Esperanza de Gortari, aunt of former Mexican president, Carlos Salinas (La Jornada 20 Apr. 1997). At least seven members of the assembly and three riot policemen were injured in the clash. The clash erupted when 500 riot policemen arrived at the building on Melchor Ocampo Avenue at in the early hours of the morning and began to throw the families' furniture onto the streets. Members of the Neighbourhood Assembly responded to the police actions by removing the furniture and taking it back inside the building. The police then used force against the members. According to the report, it was the third time police had attempted to remove by force the families from the property.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum.


Inter Press Service (IPS). 7 May 1997. Diego Cevallos. "United States-Mexico: Clinton Visit Calms Troubled Waters." (NEXIS)

La Jornada [Mexico City]. 22 July 1997. Alonso Urrutia. "Hoy elige el PRD entre 5 aspirantes a su coordinador en la ALDF." [Internet] http://serpiente.dgsca. jornada/1997/jul97/970722/hoy.html [Accessed 14 May 1997]

_____. 20 April 1997. Raúl Llanos Samaniego. "Chocan vecinos y granaderos por un inmueble de una tía de CSG." [Internet] jornada/1997/apr97/970420/tia.html [Accessed 14 May 1997]

_____. 8 March 1997. Alberto Nájar. "Al microscopio, Superbarrio y amigos certificaron que EU es el país con más narcos y adictos, ante su embajada." [Internet] [Accessed 14 May 1997]

_____. 10 February 1997. Rosa Icela Rodríguez. "Aventaja Cárdenas en el PRD: organizaciones." [Internet] feb97/970210/prd.html [Accessed 14 May 1997]

_____. 28 November 1996. David Aponte. "Abono a Television Azteca." [Internet] [Accessed 14 May 1997]

_____. 2 November 1996. Pascual Salanueva and Gustavo Castillo. "La Muerte no Tuvo Permiso." [Internet] jornada/ 1996/ nov96/ 961102/ lamuerte.html [Accessed 14 May 1997]

The News. 9 May 1997. Matthew Brayman. "Clinton Visit Followup Rights Groups Register Complaints About Security." (NEXIS)

Reforma [Mexico City, in Spanish]. 22 July 1997. "Contending Capital PRD Factions Noted." (FBIS-LAT-97-158 22 July 1997/WNC)

Reuters. 23 April 1997. "Mexican Protesters Denounce Fujimori for Assault." (NEXIS)

The Times-Picayune [New Orleans]. 12 May 1996. "It's Super Barrio." (NEXIS)