Physically disabled persons, particularly in Sinaloa State, including their treatment by the authorities and the general population; whether disabled persons are discriminated against in housing, employment and education; services and legal recourse available to them (1995 to October 2000) [MEX35540.E]

Country Reports 1999 states the following on the situation of persons with disabilities in Mexico:

Estimates of the number of disabled persons ranged from 2 to 10 million. Disabled persons and their specific disabilities are to be counted separately in the 2000 census so that the Government can learn what services are most needed. In Mexico City alone, 124 NGO's dealt with issues affecting the physically disabled.
Twenty-seven of the 31 states have laws protecting the disabled. The law requires access for the disabled to public facilities in Mexico City but not elsewhere in the country. However, in practice most public buildings and facilities do not comply with the law. The Federal District also mandated access for physically disabled children to all public and private schools. The Mexico City secretary of education, health, and social development maintained that 78 percent of these children received some schooling (2000, section 5).

Several sources report the inequitable treatment received by persons with disabilities in Mexico (The Atlanta Journal and Constitution 26 Apr. 2000; El Informador 2 Oct. 2000; La Jornada 3 Sept. 1999; La Jornada de Oriente 30 Aug. 2000; The San Diego Union-Tribune 28 July 1995).

In The San Diego Union-Tribune, Ignacio Robles, a Mexico-City councillor who was blind, was cited as saying that Mexico was "a country with a notorious lack of compassion for handicapped people" and that the government failed to provide basic services (ibid.). Robles further stated that persons with disabilities were "pushed to the margins of society" and "ostracized by an unsophisticated public" (ibid.). Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo estimated that 85 per cent of children with special education needs were not being provided for by the public school system.

In September 1999, while the president of the National Commission for Human Rights (Comisión Nacional de Derechos Humanos), Mireille Roccatti, stated that disabled people received inequitable treatment in that they lacked opportunity to participate as fully in civic life as the rest of the population (La Jornada 3 Sept. 1999). Roberto Cubas Carlín, director of the Public Education Secretary of Tlaxcala State (Secretaría de Educación Publica en el Estado, SEPE), also stated that disabled people throughout Mexico suffer from social exclusion (exclusión social) and that much work needs to be done to integrate them in the work force; he further stated that more training of the disabled, an increased conscientiousness on behalf of the society, and a willingness of potential employers to hire persons with disabilities would greatly benefit this group (La Jornada de Oriente 30 Aug. 2000).

A 2 October 2000 editorial in El Informador states that while, not long ago, disabled persons were considered as unproductive beings and a burden to society, today Mexican society has begun to build an authentic culture of respect, understanding and support towards them as Mexicans with the same rights as all other Mexicans. This attitude has translated into more and more children being incorporated into the regular and special school systems; as a result of citizens' increased awareness of disabled people's needs, they now have greater access to public areas (espacios públicos) (ibid.).

Several 1999 and 2000 La Jornada reports profile the various services available to persons with disabilities in Mexico, as well as government initiatives.

In February 2000, Judith Heumann, deputy secretary of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services of the US Department of Education, stated that there has been much progress with regard to the situation of persons with disabilities in Mexico, but added that much remained to be done in the area of education as disabled persons were being placed in segregated assistance centres (La Jornada 21 Feb. 1999).

A 4 December 1999 La Jornada report states that the National System for Integral Development of the Family (Sistema Nacional para el Desarrollo Integral de la Familia, DIF) was servicing 60 per cent of the disabled population in Mexico through its 465 rehabilitation units and centres which existed throughout the country (ibid.). The federal DIF provided advice, staff and equipment, while the state governments were responsible to find the real estate for the centres and build them (ibid.). Another 30 per cent of the disabled population was serviced by the Mexican Institute of Social Security (Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social, IMSS) and the remaining 10 per cent by Institute of Social Security and Services for State Workers (Instituto de Seguridad y Servicios Sociales para los Trabajadores del Estado, ISSSTE), private institutions, and civil bodies (ibid.).

Ricardo Camacho Sanciprián, director of the rehabilitation and social assistance section of the DIF, stated that DIF had taken many steps to coordinate the efforts to support all disabled persons in the context of the National Program of Well-Being and Developmental Incorporation of Persons with Disabilities (Programa Nacional para el Bienestar y la Incorporación al Desarrollo de las Personas con Discapacidad), in which 8 state secretaries, 10 public organizations and all state governments participated (ibid.). The Program addressed a variety of concerns, from providing assistance in health, education, culture, sport, and training. Camacho Sanciprián added that an Integral Rehabilitation Centre (Centro de Rehabilitación Integral), built in Tlalnepantla (in the Federal District), with funds raised through a telethon, provided services to 5 000 children (ibid.). He further stated that all Mexican states had adopted legislation to protect disabled persons and had at least one Basic Centre for Rehabilitation (Unidades Básicas de Rehabilitación, UBR), except the State of Hidalgo, which was in the process of establishing one (ibid.). In addition to UBRs, there were 30 Centres of Integral Rehabilitation (Centros de Rehabilitación Integral, CRI) and 28 Centres of Rehabilitation and Special Education (Centros de Rehabilitación y Educación Especial, CREE) principally located in the country's state capitals (ibid.). La Jornada reported in August 2000 that the number of UBRs had increased from 108 five years before to 424 in 2000 (3 Aug. 2000).

Elva Cárdenas Miranda, deputy director of the National Council of Organizations of and for Persons with Disabilities (Consejo Nacional de Organizaciones de y para Personas con Discapacidad), stated that the three main accomplishments of the National Program of Well-Being and Developmental Incorporation of Persons with Disabilities established by President Zedillo in May 1995 were: the elaboration of three policy projects directed towards the integration of disabled people; a food assistance scheme for groups at risk; and social assistance services to minors and adults (La Jornada 7 Dec. 1999). Enrique Burgos García, DIF director, stated that his organization had 550 shelters, each with a capacity for 400 persons, throughout the country to assist persons with disabilities (ibid.).

During Zedillo's six year-term as president, 27 Mexican states have adopted laws guaranteeing the right to health, education, sport, work and culture to those who have a physical or mental disability (La Jornada 3 Aug. 2000). Before Zedillo's term, only five states had such laws (ibid.). Furthermore, the Mexican Congress has reformed 10 pieces of federal legislation and has ratified international conventions that protect the human rights of disabled persons and promotes their social reintegration (ibid.).

In 1995, the Government of Sinaloa State officially published its Integration and Protection Law for Persons with Disabilities and the Elderly (Ley de Protección e Integración Social de Personas Con Discapacidad y Senescentes Para el Estado de Sinaloa) (Mexico 4 Aug. 1995). The Law outlines, under Article 19 of Chapter 7, the services offered to persons with disabilities, including health, social welfare and social security; vocational training; labour rehabilitation, training and work; training to family members or third parties who assist them; training, prescription and adaptation for use of prosthetics, orthesis and other required equipment for their rehabilitation and integration; accessibility, telecommunications and transportation; education; and training and counselling in culture, recreation and sport. Chapter 11 outlines the right to education for disabled persons. More specifically, at Article 29, it states that persons with disabilities would be integrated in the regular education system (Sistema Educativo Regular) and at Article 30 that they would receive special education if integration in regular schools could not be achieved. Article 45 of Chapter 12 states that the DIF would establish programs that would promote work opportunities for the disabled by creating a labour exchange, in which lists of potential candidates with their respective capabilities and abilities would be kept. Article 46 of the same chapter states that the DIF would promote and support the creation of special employment centres for the disabled to facilitate labour force possibilities for them. Chapter 21 of the Law makes provisions for appeals (Recurso de Reconsideración) and Article 103 states that resolutions under this Law may be appealed.

The municipal government Website of Ahome in Sinaloa State states that the DIF office there provides food programs, through its Family Programme of Food Social Assistance (Programa de Asistencia Social Alimentaria a Familias, PASAF), for families of limited resources especially those with persons with disabilities, elderly people, children and breast-feeding mothers (14 Sept. 2000). These families may also benefit from the Detection and Assistance Programme to Vulnerable Families (Programa de Detección y Atención de Familias Vulnerables), which provide support services related to health, nutrition, legal advice, psychological counselling and education (ibid.). Furthermore, the 1999-2001 DIF administration in Ahome established a Persons With Disabilities Assistance Programme (Programa de Asistencia a Personas con Discapacidad) (ibid.). The Programme has permitted disabled persons to work in DIF's two copying centres (Centros de Copiado Copy DIF), in the offices of the state government and at the Western University in Los Mochis (Universidad de Occidente Campus Los Mochis); the Programme anticipates the establishment of 15 other such centres in Los Mochis (ibid.). Training courses in mechanics, computers and sewing, for the disabled are also being offered by the Program (ibid.).

The Website of Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR), an American NGO, Website provides the following information on Project Projimo, based in Ajoya, Sinaloa State:

Project Projimo is a community based rehabilitation and education project run by and for disabled people in Ajoya, Sinaloa, Mexico. It's a couple of hundred miles from Mazatlan, in the mountains. Its main objective is the training of disabled and families of the disabled in conscienceness raising, physical therapy, self help, and maintenance and creation of adaptive equipment (18 Sept. 2000).

A 2 October 2000 El Informador editorial stated that a second Children's Rehabilitation Centre (Centro de Rehabilitación Infantil) had been inaugurated by President Zedillo in Guadalajara, Jalisco State. The Centre will assist around 2,500 disabled children and service the western and central Mexican States of Jalisco, Michoacán, Nayarit, Colima, Aguascalientes, Guanajuato, Querétaro, San Luis Potosí and Sinaloa (ibid.).

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. Please find below the list of sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


The Atlanta Journal and Constitution. 26 April 2000. Susan Ferriss. "Mexico's Presidential Rivals Go Head-to-Head." (NEXIS)

Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR). 18 September 2000. [Accessed 25 Oct. 2000]

Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 1999. 2000. United States Department of State. Washington, DC. [Accessed 24 Oct. 2000]

DIF Ahome. 14 September 2000. "DIF Ahome: Coordinación de Trabajo Social." [Accessed 25 Oct. 2000.]

El Informador [Guadalajara]. 2 October 2000. "Camino de Esperanza." [Accessed 25 Oct. 2000]

La Jornada [Mexico]. 3 August 2000. Georgina Saldierna and Angeles Cruz. "Aún hay retos en atención a discapacitados: Zedillo." [Accessed 25 Oct. 2000]

_____. 21 February 2000. Angeles Cruz. "Los discapacitados, un asunto partidario en México: Heumann." [Accessed 25 Oct. 2000]

_____. 7 December 1999. "Irrenunciable, el compromiso oficial con disapacitados." [Accessed 25 Oct. 2000]

_____. 4 December 1999. "Hay en el país casi 10 milliones de personas con discapacidad." dic99/991204/soc1.html [Accessed 25 Oct. 2000]

_____. 3 September 1999. "Persiste el trato desigual para discapacitados." [Accessed 25 October 1999]

La Jornada de Oriente [Puebla, Mexico]. 30 August 2000. "No ha habido una integración de discapacitados al sector productivo: Roberto Cubas Carlín." [Accessed 25 Oct. 2000]

Mexico. 4 August 1995. Ley de Protección e Integración Social de Personas Con Discapacidad y Senescentes Para el Estado de Sinaloa. [Accessed 25 Oct. 2000]

The San Diego Union-Tribune. 28 July 1995. S. Lynne Walker. "A Leader Who Clearly Sees Woes of Disabled." (NEXIS)