Mexican Politician, Disabled Rights Activist Gilberto Rincón Gallardo

Associated Press
Thursday, September 4, 2008

Gilberto Rincón Gallardo, 69, a former socialist presidential candidate who gained respect in Mexico for defending the rights of the disabled, gays and other marginalized groups, died Aug. 30 in Mexico City. No cause of death was reported.

Mr. Rincón Gallardo, born with shortened arms as the result of a birth defect, was the head of the National Council for Preventing Discrimination. A government statement said he died in Mexico City but did not give a cause of death.

President Felipe Calderon issued a statement praising Mr. Rincón Gallardo's "tireless, lifelong work for the rights of the disabled and his significant contribution to the democratic development of our country."

Mr. Rincón Gallardo was the candidate of the tiny Social Democracy Party in Mexico's historic 2000 election, when the Institutional Revolutionary Party lost the presidency after seven decades of single-party rule.

Although Mr. Rincón Gallardo received few votes, he emerged as the conscience of the campaign by speaking out for homosexuals, the disabled, rape victims and Indians.

"In weak democracies like Mexico, legal protections are necessary to prevent a tyranny of the majority over minorities," he said in a debate.

Mr. Rincón Gallardo, a former leader of the now-defunct Mexican Community Party, had a history of reaching across ideological lines.

Conservative Vicente Fox, who won the 2000 election, appointed him to head Mexico's anti-discrimination council, a position he continued to hold under Calderon.

He also helped develop Mexico's position favoring a U.N. convention on the rights of the disabled, signed last year by 80 countries.

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