On August 20th, a press conference was held by followers of “the Other Campaign” representing three communities affected by the construction of the San Cristobal-Palenque highway: Mitziton, Jotola and San Sebastian Bachajon. At the press conference, held at the Fray Bartolome de Las Casas Human Rights Center, the representatives denounced the current situation, saying they are face to face with “bad neoliberal projects that offer no benefit to indigenous people in any way” and the plundering of land that threatens their very presence on the land.
The Other Campaign members of Mitziton condemned the fact that after one month there has been no arrest made in the murder case of Aurelio Diaz Hernandez, who was killed on July 21st, 2009. They also reported that paramilitaries continue to “threaten with their guns, firing them often into the air during the evening and night” and that public officials from the Ministry of Communication and Transportation have made new attempts to “trick us into signing a meeting certificate to give them permission to pass through our territory to build the highway to Palenque.”
Members of the Other Campaign in San Sebastian Bachajon demanded the “immediate release” of Geronimo Gomez Saragos and Antonio Gomez Saragos, who were arrested between April 13th and 18th during police operations in the Chilon region. They also demanded that arrest warrants for Ricardo Sanchez Luna, Alberto Mendez Lopez, Isabel Moreno Miranda and Pascual Sanchez Perez be withdrawn. They reported the recent “illegal occupation of their land by state and federal police” and said members of the Other Campaign have been threatened by OPDDIC – the Organization for the Defense of Indigenous and Campesino Rights. The Jotola communal landowners have received similar threats and said OPDDIC members are “firing their guns, scaring our ‘compañeros´ and our children.”
To conclude the press conference, the representatives of the three communities explained they had met on this occasion to defend their land, their rights and their indigenous culture that “the bad government wants to destroy and continue destroying like they did with our ancestors.”
For more information (in Spanish):
Links to audiovisual materials during the press conference: