Since its inception in 1999, the Chiapas Human Rights Practicum has provided invaluable experiences to DePaul law students. The primary goals are to provide direct experiences in a ground-level human rights struggle and to promote the recognition of equal rights of the indigenous.
Prior to traveling to Chiapas, you learn the history of this ever-changing human rights struggle during a semester-long class program, helping to develop the legal and political skills needed to better understand the complex situation. Topics include the Mexican legal system, Mexican political and colonial history, introductions to international human rights law, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights land the North American Free Trade Agreement. Sessions consist of assigned reading discussions, required films and video viewings. Outside speakers also are invited, and attendance is mandatory.
Upon arriving in Chiapas after spring semester final exams, you meet with a wide variety of human rights organizations and have the opportunity to visit at least one indigenous village. The majority of visits take place within San Cristobal, the nongovernmental organization (NGO) capital of Chiapas. Each year the group is invited to visit at least one indigenous village to speak with the people and learn about the issues facing the community. Participants also meet with primary antagonists in the present conflict: the Mexican government and the Zapatistas. The trip also focuses on analysis and reflection; students are invited to share their thoughts in moderated discussions each evening to develop understanding of the speakers and activities.
The 10-day program ends before summer classes begin. Open to first and second year students; Spanish is not required for the 10-day program. (2 credit hours mandatory)
A select group of students from the 10-day program remain in Chiapas for the summer to gain additional hands-on experience in the field. You work side by side with Mexican human rights lawyers at a local human rights office. Placements are pre-arranged for field work in a number of locations in Chiapas, such as San Cristobal, Tapachula, Palenque, Comitan or Ocosingo.
This portion of the program allows Spanish-speaking law students the opportunity to study the Mexican and Inter-American legal systems in detail, to undertake specific projects on various human rights topics in the state of Chiapas, and to accompany Mexican lawyers as they respond to human rights issues.
Open to first- and second-year students; Spanish fluency is required.