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Missing Mexico activist found alive, says he fears for his life

September 26, 2012 |  8:52 am

Mexico missing
MEXICO CITY -- The Ensenada-based spokesman for Mexico's Yo Soy 132 protest movement who went missing last week turned up alive in the Baja Calfornia Sur city of La Paz on Tuesday after fleeing his hometown in fear of his life, his father said -- although it was not clear who or what the activist was afraid of.

The Yo Soy 132 youth movement, which has emerged as one of the key critics of President-elect Enrique Peña Nieto, had alleged that government forces were responsible for the disappearance of the spokesman, Aleph Jimenez Rodriguez, 32, after he vanished last week. 

The group, however, had no proof that the government was involved. 

At a news conference in Mexicali on Tuesday, Jimenez's father, Julio Jimenez Aponte, said he had heard through an intermediary that his son was safe and in good health but "had made the decision to hide because he felt that his physical well-being was in jeopardy."

The Baja California state prosecutor's office confirmed that Jimenez had turned up in La Paz. Julio Jimenez said his son was on his way to Mexico City on Tuesday evening to seek the protection of Mexico's National Human Rights Commission.  

The prosecutor's office also said Aleph Jimenez was planning to file a complaint with the commission, though it was not clear who he believed was threatening him.

Friends  of Jimenez feared that the 32-year-old science teacher had been abducted by government forces in retaliation for his involvement in protests against the president-elect and his Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI.

Jimenez's disappearance made national headlines in Mexico, in part because of lingering concerns that the PRI, which is returning to power after a 12-year-hiatus, will engage in violent repression that it occasionally resorted to during its seven-decade reign as a quasi-authoritarian force in 20th century Mexico. 

Peña Nieto, who will be sworn in in December, has promised that his party has changed with the times and is now more respectful of democratic norms.

Jimenez and about 20 other activists were arrested after a peaceful protest at Mexican Independence Day celebrations in Ensenada on Sept. 15. Municipal police allegedly roughed up some of the demonstrators, sending one women to the hospital.

Later, Jimenez told friends that he feared for his safety. He also told them he was being followed.

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-- Richard Fausset

-- Cecilia Sanchez of The Times' Mexico City bureau contributed to this report.

Photo:  Supporters of Yo Soy 132 movement leader Aleph Jimenez Rodriguez rally Ensenada just before he emerged from hiding in La Paz, Mexico. Credit: Alejandro Zepeda / EPA

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