Mexican Government Compensates Men Coerced Into Having Vasectomies

State authorities have agreed to pay $48,000 in compensation to 14 indigenous Mexican men coerced into having vasectomies, an official said.

The men will each be paid 35,000 pesos ($3,400) and given water storage tanks and cement to build homes, said Luis Barrera Rios, health secretary of Guerrero state. He said the men had accepted the compensation, even though it was far less than the $19,000 each they demanded.

A group representing the men, the Tlachinollan Center for Human Rights, declined to comment Wednesday.

The men say that state health workers showed up in the southern village of El Camalote in 1998 and demanded that men with more than four children must have vasectomies, according to a report last year by the National Human Rights Commission.

The plaintiffs said they were promised a clinic, medicine, clothes, scholarships for their children and new homes for undergoing the procedure, while those who refused were threatened with removal from government aid programs.

The government earlier refused to pay compensation, saying the men signed consent forms and denied they had been offered any benefits in exchange for undergoing the procedure, according to the National Human Rights Commission.

After an investigation, the commission called on the Guerrero government to compensate the men. The commission found that health officials made no effort to counsel them on the implications of vasectomies or on alternative birth control methods.

Although the commission's decisions are not binding, they are influential.