Chiapas: Wife of Adolfo Guzmán Ordaz, Member of Enlace, Comunicación y Capacitación, Margarita Martínez: Beaten, Kidnapped and Threatened with Death

February 26, 2010

The International Service for Peace repeats its deep concern for the physical safety of members of the civil organization and SIPAZ counterpart Enlace Comunicación y Capacitación A.C. and their family members.

On the afternoon of February 25, in the city of San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, Mrs. Margarita Martínez, wife of Adolfo Guzmán Ordaz (Enlace member) left to pick up her son from his elementary school. On her way, at approximately 1:30pm, Martínez was kidnapped by unidentified individuals who placed a plastic bag over her face in order to obscure her vision and forced her to enter a fleeing vehicle. Inside the vehicle, Martínez heard voices one of which she identified as the individual who had held her. The individual proceeded to beat her face with a solid object producing lacerations of the lips and swellings on her forehead and neck. They also engaged in psychological torture by poking an unidentified object on the sides of her body, however it might have been that a knife-like object or a gun was used. They also placed a cold object in her hands and told her that “you will not be able to work anymore,” and insisted that she drop the criminal charges made months earlier against Chiapas government officials.

In addition, the unidentified attackers stated that the kidnapping was “a gift from the municipal president of Comitán.” They eventually released Martínez in a street near her home. These events took place less than 35 hours before the reconstruction of the unlawful entry of her home in Comitán which originally took place on November 8, 2009.

For More Information (Spanish):

Accion Urgente del Centro de Derechos Humanos Fray Bartolomé de las Casas (February 26, 2010)

More Information from SIPAZ:

Chiapas: new harrassmants of a member of the civil organization Enlace, Comunicación y Capacitación, AC (January 13, 2010)

Chiapas: Denunciation of Attempted Kidnapping in Mitzitón

February 26, 2010

The Tzotzil community of Mitzitón (San Cristóbal de las Casas municipality), adherent to the Other Campagin of the EZLN, denounced the events that took place on February 20. Several masked and armed individuals in civilian clothing, presumed to be agents from the Federal Investigation Agency (AFI, Agencia Federal de Investigación), attempted to illegally apprehend Manuel Díaz Heredia, an indigenous man, on the outskirts of the community. They stated: We know very well that we are suffering all of this repression because we are defending out territory, but we will not let them to destroy it by allowing their San Cristóbal-Palenque highway to pass through here because this is the only land we have.

For More Information (Spanish):

- Denuncia pública de los ejidatarios de Mitzitón (February 22, 2010)

- Embozados intentaron secuestro en Mitzitón (La Jornada, February 24, 2010)

More Information from SIPAZ:

Chiapas: Indigenous Communities demand a stop to repression for defending their territory (August 2009)

Chiapas: Press Releases from the Abejas of Acteal

February 25, 2010

On February 12 the Abejas Civil Society Organization of Acteal extended an invitation to a march they are organizing to mark International Women’s Day on March 8.

The Abejas commemorate the Acteal massacre on the 22nd of each month. This past February 22, the Abejas published a press release in which they shared their analysis of the current situation in their municipality, in light of the recent release of several prisoners accused of the massacre. They also remarked on conflicts taking place in other parts of the state.

“What was the reason for the Acteal massacre?” they ask. “What happened in Acteal was a clear message: Terror and death for the people who defend their land from neoliberal projects and who demand respect for their human rights, especially indigenous rights. The conflicts in Agua Azul and Mitsiton are due to economic interests. Agua Azul is a rich area. But if there are people living there, it’s difficult for the government to build a tourist center without noise and obstacles in their way. That’s why it’s convenient for the Sabines government to have problems in these zones. People are divided and don’t have the strength to organize themselves against the construction of the tourist center and San Cristobal – Palenque highway.”

For more information (in Spanish):

- Invitación de las Mujeres de Acteal a marcha del 8 de marzo

- Comunicado completo de Las Abejas (22 de febrero de 2010)

Guerrero: OPIM members win appeal for legal protection

February 25, 2010

On February 22, five members of the Indigenous People’s Organization Me’phaa (OPIM) were granted an appeal for legal protection, putting a stop to arrest warrants against them. The five members had been accused of being responsible for the murder of an army informant. Raul Hernandez Abundio is still in prison – unjustly — for this same crime. Amnesty International adopted him as a prisoner of conscience in November 2008.

In a statement, the Montana Tlachinollan Human Rights Center said: “This latest appeal for legal protection in favour of five human rights defenders once again shows the clear and obvious intention of the Mexican State to persecute and imprison whoever organizes themselves to put in practice their collective rights, and document and denounce cases of abuse by the military. The Me’phaa indigenous people have fought for their rights, among them Ines Fernandez Ortega and Valentina Rosendo Cantu whose cases are now before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.”

For more information (in Spanish):

- Boletin del Centro de Derechos Humanos de la Montaña Tlachinollan (22 de febrero de 2010)

- Frenan orden de aprehensión contra 5 indígenas (El Universal, 23 de febrero de 2010)

Chiapas: Frayba Human Rights center reports on confrontation in Bolom Ajaw

February 22, 2010

On February 17, the Fray Bartolome de Las Casas Human Rights Center (Frayba) released a report on events that took place February 6 in the community of Bolom Ajaw, in the official municipality of Tumbala and the autonomous municipality Comandante Ramona. The report points to the manipulation of events in the media and expresses worry over the poor attitude of the government, who’s involvement dates back to 2006. The human rights center states that the root of the conflict has to do with economic interests over land because of government plans to develop the area for tourism.

According to Frayba’s report “Armed attack on the Zapatista village Bolom Ajaw by PRI residents of Agua Azul,” Support Troops of the National Freedom Zapatista Army (BAEZLN) from Bolom Ajaw gathered on land that had been invaded on January 20 by residents of Agua Azul affiliated with the PRI political party and linked to the paramilitary group OPDDIC. The BAEZLN claims the land as their own, and wanted to remove the Agua Azul residents from it in a peaceful way. When they noticed the arrival of the BAEZLN, one of the PRI members shot his gun into the air, which escalated into both parties physically fighting each other. The PRI members then retreated and set up an ambush on the road toward Bolom Ajaw, which the Zapatistas broke up. The PRI members then made their way toward Bolom Ajaw. At the same time, two groups of Agua Azul residents attacked Bolom Ajaw with firearms, shooting at houses, destroying the church, and insulting the villagers. The villagers – mostly women and children – barricaded themselves inside a house finding themselves under attack by two groups from Agua Azul, as well as a group of PRI members who came from the direction of the disputed land.

Someone from his own group killed one PRI member in the crossfire. The men in the BAEZLN were able to surround Bolom Ajaw and force the attackers to retreat. Five of the PRI attackers were detained by the Zapatistas and handed over to state authorities on February 10. According to Frayba, the region of Agua Azul and Bolom Ajaw is known for its natural beauty and “has become a point of interest for tourism investment, plans and projects – a situation that has led to its position as an area to be controlled.” Frayba explains that there are “two types of plans and projects for the region on the part of federal and state applications.” On one hand there are “projects proposed by the Tzeltal Indigenous Ecoturism Cooperative of the Agua Azul Waterfalls S.C. de R.L (…), the Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) and from the National Commission of Protected Natural Areas (CONANP).” On the other hand, there is a “tourism strategy within the framework of the Centro Integralmente Planeado Palenque (CIPP.)” In this context, the conflict over land and between indigenous groups from Agua Azul and Bolom Ajaw has to do with opposing interests: the Zapatistas want to defend the land because they live off it, and the residents of Agua Azul want to “benefit from the tourism projects planned for the region.”

For more information:

Informe del CDHFBC: “Ataque armado a poblado zapatista de Bolom Ajaw por pobladores del PRI de Agua Azul” (pdf), Anexo 1, Anexo 2, Anexo 3, (17/02/2010)

Comunicado de la Junta de Buen Gobierno “Corazón del Arco Iris de la Esperanza” (caracol de Morelia) por el ataque a Bolom Ajaw (12/02/2010)

Pronunciamiento público del CDHFBC por Ataque armado a poblado zapatista de Bolom Ajaw por pobladores del PRI de Agua Azul (pdf) (12/02/2010)

Comunicado de la Junta de Buen Gobierno “Corazón del Arco Iris de la Esperanza” (caracol de Morelia) por agresión por parte de la OPDDIC (23/01/2010)

La Jornada: La confrontación en Bolón Ajaw, por la mala actuación del gobierno, dice el Centro Frayba (18/02/2010)

For more information from SIPAZ:

Chiapas: statement from the Fray Bartolomé Center for Human Rights on Bolón Ajaw (February 15, 2010)

Chiapas: contradictory stories on new conflict in Bolón Ajaw (February 15, 2010)

Oaxaca: Accused in the Brad Will case released from jail

February 22, 2010

February 19th, 2010.

After 16 months in prison, Juan Manuel Martinez Moreno – accused of the 2006 murder of American videographer Brad Will – was released from prison on February 18. A protection order that was granted in December 2009 was finally approved because of a lack of evidence against Martinez Moreno. The Attorney General appealed the protection order, which meant Martinez Moreno spent an additional month and a half in jail. The 25th of November Committee which is responsible for Martinez Moreno’s defence, said in a statement: “Today finally, the fact that there is no basis for keeping Juan Manuel Martinez Moreno in jail has prevailed. It’s obvious he is innocent and he’s been held hostage by the state to silence the government of the United States, who have demanded the hand-over Brad Will’s murderer. (…) From a legal perspective, Juan Manuel’s release lays bare the Mexican justice system. It’s an example of the lack of a formal and professional investigation, as well as the criminalization of social protest given that the evidence and witnesses were fabricated and manipulated.”

For more information (In Spanish):

El acusado de matar a Brad Will, libre (Jornada, 19 de febrero)

Excarcelan al implicado en el caso Brad Will (Milenio, 19 de febrero)

Juez ordena liberar a único implicado en el caso de Will (Universal, 19 de febrero)

Comunicado del Comité 25 de Noviembre: La libertad de Juan Manuel, desnuda la parcial actuación de la Justicia en México

More information from SIPAZ:

Oaxaca: Members of the APPO accused in the Brad Will case (October, 2008)

Chiapas: statement from the Fray Bartolomé Center for Human Rights on Bolón Ajaw

February 15, 2010

On 12 February, the Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Center for Human Rights (CDHFBC) released a statement claiming that “the Chiapas state government seeks to avoid its responsibility in the conflict caused since 2007 and attempts to blame the Zapatista support-bases for the armed attack on the Zapatista population of Bolón Ajaw.”  It claimed that “the federal government is pressing for a military intervention against the Zapatistas” and “is increasing mixed-force intelligence operations.”  It found that while the Good Government Council (JBG) of Morelia “is acting toward the realization of a goodwill agreement based on principles of autonomous indigenous justice,” the “lack of political will in the state government is closing off the possibility of such an accord.”

In the view of CDHFBC, the events in Bolón Ajaw are “a product of the bad behavior and omissions on the part of the state government amidst the violent atmosphere directed by residents of Agua Azul, PRI members, and presumed ex-militants of the Organization for the Defense of Indigenous and Campesino Rights (OPDDIC) against Zapatista support-bases.”  The statement stresses that the state government “has been responsible for maintaining impunity” with regard to the widely-documented and -reported aggressions by OPDDIC; it further states that the government has “administered the conflict and not afforded it a definitive solution.”  It adds that the “presumed OPDDIC ex-militants”  invaded the retaken land of Bolón Ajaw three weeks ago “so as to be able to participate in planned ecotourist projects” in the area.  The Zapatista support-bases retook control of the territory and so, it is said, were subjected to a “contemptible armed attack.”

The CDHFBC finds this confict to be a “communication bridge,” evidence that the Zapatista proposals demonstrated a “goodwill” to advance toward an accord.  The communiqué stressed the need to “recognize” the Bolón Ajaw aggressions.

For more information (in Spanish):

Statement of the Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Center for Human Rights (12 February)

NGO: the Chiapas state government unjustly accuses the Zapatistas (La Jornada, 15 February)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Chiapas: contradictory stories on new conflict in Bolón Ajaw

Chiapas: contradictory stories on new conflict in Bolón Ajaw

February 15, 2010

At the close of last week, several contradictory accounts were presented regarding a new conflict in the fields of Bolón Ajaw, municipality of Tumbalá, in the north of Chiapas.  Managed by the Zapatistas since 1994, these fields, which pertain to the autonomous muncipality of Comandanta Ramona, are located 4km from Agua Azul.  They feature waterfalls that have yet to be exploited for touristic ends.

The first version of these events speaks of a confrontation on 6 February between members of support-bases of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) and members of the Organization for the Defense of Indigenous and Campesino Rights (OPDDIC) that left one dead, 12 injured, and 5 arrested among the Zapatistas.

In a subsequent communiqué, the Attorney General for State Justice (PGJE) confirmed that the conflict had left 1 dead, 5 detained, and 28 injured among members of OPDDIC, as the number of injured among the Zapatistas was said to be unknown.   13 of the 28 injured were hospitalized with injuries that seem to have resulted from firearms, knives and machetes, and fists.  According to the PGJE, the conflict erupted in January when Zapatistas from Bolón Ajaw requested support from sympathetic communities in Oxchuc, Alan Sacjun, Salto del Tigre, and Bachajón in preventing OPDDIC members from cleaning the pathway from the Agua Azul waterfalls to those of Bolón Ajaw, a move that was considered by the Zapatistas to encourage tourism.

On 10 February, the Agustín PRO Center for Human Rights entitled one of the entries in its media synthesis “Confrontation in Chiapas spurs media campaign against indigenous communities–communication media from Mexico City emphasize ‘executions’ and ‘disappearances’ on the part of the Zapatistas on their front pages.”  Other media pointed out the still-relevant judiciary findings against OPDDIC from February 2008 for the charges of aggression, assault, death-threats, murder attempts against non-governmental organizations and EZLN support-bases in Bolón Ajaw.  Other media accounts alluded to the Morelia Good Government Council’s 23 January 2010 report on OPDDIC aggressivity in the same community.  Adherents to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle gathered in La Otra Jovel claimed that in the Bolón Ajaw ejido “the population has been now for many years harassed by other indigenous individuals organized and armed by the government as paramilitary groups.”

The Chiapas state government announced on 10 February that EZLN support-bases had released 5 OPDDIC members, thus confirming the PGJE statement.

In a communiqué released on 11 February, the Good Government Council (JBG) of Morelia clarified the recent events in Bolón Ajaw by referring to its previous communiqué:  “15 days ago we released our statement; for us, this period of time was to represent a time of waiting to see if they wanted to dialogue, but they never approached us.”  The JBG added that “this is the restarting of the types of tricks used by previous governments that would simply make up crimes so as to be able to justify their repressiveness.”

Regarding the conflict of 6 February, the JBG noted that “the OPDDIC lies claim that it to have been us that surprised the population at dawn, when in fact it was us who were thus surprised.”  The communiqué further claimed that OPDDIC members “arrived with pistols and rifles in hand firing at our compañeros.  We estimate that they expended some 250 cartridges of .22 ammunition (…).  40 OPDDIC members arrived in Bolón Ajaw with weapons at hand; they went to the village church, forcibly entering by destroying the door, and destroyed much inside (…).  The indiscriminate firing that they engaged in while in Bolón Ajaw itself was the cause of the deaths among them.”

The JBG admitted that “of course we detained 7 of them, but we have respected them at all moments and indeed have given them to eat (although not high-quality food, since we ourselves do not have such) and water to drink as well as a room in which to sleep (although, again, not a terribly comfortable one, since this is how we live) and blankets.  In sum, we have respected their rights as humans; even if they are animals, we know how to respect them (…).  We proposed that they be released on condition that they promise not to occupy the land and that tranquility be restored.  This was our proposal, which we have observed with honor and truth.”

The JBG also mentioned that “Pedro Raúl López, special prosecutor for matters pertaining to non-governmental organizations, shared the message of Juan Sabines Guerrero, who insinuated that the military could be ordered in, with the result that dialogue would collapse and hostilities be reinitiated if the problem were not resolved through dialogue.”

For more information (in Spanish):

The Morelia JBG clarifies recent events in Bolón Ajaw (11 February)

EZLN support-bases release 5 OPDDIC members previously detained in Agua Azul (La Jornada, 11 February)

Pending judicial findings against OPDDIC members (La Jornada, 10 February)

Confrontation in Chiapas spurs media campaign against indigenous communities (media synthesis from the Agustín Pro Juarez Center for Human Rights, 10 February)

Agua Azul residents call for justice after having been assaulted by Zapatistas (Milenio, 10 February)

EZLN group executes an indigenous individual and disappears 5 (Razón, 10 February)

Alleged Zapatistas detain indigenous individuals (El Universal, 10 February)

Confrontation at Bolón Ajaw field leaves 12 indigenous people injured (La Jornada, 8 February)

The JBG of Caracol IV in Morelia denounced aggression on part of OPDDIC (communiqué of 23 January)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Chiapas: aggression against members of CAPISE and SERPAJ (9 February 2008)

Oaxaca: “Rivers for Life, Not Death”

February 10, 2010

The VII Meeting of the Mexican Movement of Those Affected by Dams and in Defense of Rivers (MAPDER, Movimiento de Afectados por las Presas y Represas en México y en Defensa de los Ríos) took place Paso de la Reina in the municipality of Jamiltepec, Oaxaca between February 5 and 7. The final declaration of the meeting celebrated the temporary suspension of the construction of the Arcediano and La Parota dams and reaffirmed their opposition to the project known as the “Paso de la Reina Multiple Uses Hydraulic Exploitation” in Oaxaca, “El Zapatillo” in Jalisco and the Manzanillo Liquid Natural Gas Terminal at the lagoon in Cuyutlan, Colima. The organization denounced the construction of dams which has always signified the “historic and systematic divestment of natural resource, traditions and the ways of life of indigenous, campesino communities and original peoples of the country,” in addition to the social and environmental damages incurred by such construction that cannot be compensated for.

The declaration emphasized the organization’s rejection of the “process of privatization of water, energy and land; the criminalization and harassment of social movements in defense of territory; the imposition of high tariffs on the electricity consumption of rural communities throughout the country; the financing and interference of the World Bank that promotes such supposed development models,” and demanded the “definitive cancelation” of those projects that have been suspended. The document concludes with a call for “food and energy sovereignty from the people and for the people.”

For More Information:

Declaration of the VII Meeting of the Mexican Movement of Those Affected by Dams and in Defense of Rivers (in Spanish)

Chiapas: Montes Azules evictions jeopardize peace in Chiapas

February 9, 2010

On February 9, the Peace Network in Chiapas released a communiqué on the recent evictions in Montes Azules that we here reproduce for your consideration:

Montes Azules evictions jeopardize peace in Chiapas

We, representatives of the civil organizations that are members of the Peace Network in Chiapas, express our profound concern regarding the evictions that occurred on 21 and 22 January 2010 in indigenous communities in the region of Montes Azules, and we announce that we will be prepared for the possibility of more eviction-operations as announced by different sources.

During the forced eviction of the community of Laguna El Suspiro (also known as El Semental) and Laguna San Pedro (or San Pedro Guanil), which are located in the municipality of Ocosingo, the basic rights were of children, women, and men who have resided in the zone since time immemorial were violated.

The police and military operations coordinated by state and federal authorities that carried out the evictions were not the first to visit the Montes Azules zone. Due t governmental plans of “territorial clearing” to make way for the creation of tourist facilities, it is feared that the communal life and social fabric of several of the following communities that are presently threatened by eviction will continue to worsen: Nuevo San Gregorio, Nuevo Salvador Allende, Nuevo San Pedro, 6 de Octubre, Laguna Paraíso, Ojo de Agua el Progreso, Ojo de Agua La Pimienta, San Jacinto Lacanjá, Nueva Galilea, Chuncerro, Benito Juárez and Ranchería Corozal.

We also express our concern at the bias seen in media coverage of the event, principally in the stigmatizing portrayals of the evicted as well as claims that are made without previous investigation or use of non-official sources. We assert that journalism that presents only the government’s version of events jeopardizes the security of displaced families as well as that of the human-rights defenders that accompany them and of the residents of communities threatened with eviction.

As civil organizations that work in the area, we do not accept the proffered excuse of “conservation and protection of natural resources” that has been employed at several levels of government to obtain territorial as well as social, political, and economic control over one of Chiapas’ most-biodiverse regions.

Hence, we call on the state and federal governments to respect existing international conventions on human rights, especially Convention 169 of the ILO, which protects the right to territory of those who, following their ancestors, reside in the Montes Azules region.


Organizaciones integrantes de la Red por la Paz

Educación para la Paz (Edupaz)Centro de Investigaciones Económicas y Políticas de Acción Comunitaria, A.C. (Ciepac)

Desarrollo Económico y Social de los Mexicanos Indígenas, A.C. (Desmi)

Servicio Internacional para la Paz (Sipaz)

Comisión de Apoyo a la Unidad y Reconciliación Comunitaria, A.C. (Coreco)

Enlace Capacitación y Comunicación, A.C. (Enlace CC)

Servicios y Asesoría para la Paz, A.C. (Serapaz)

Centro de Derechos de la Mujer de Chiapas, A.C. (CDMCH)

Centro de Derechos Indígenas, A.C. (Cediac)

Comité de Derechos Humanos Fray Pedro Lorenzo de la Nada, A.C.

Centro de Derechos Humanos Fray Bartolomé de las Casas, A.C. (Frayba)

For more information (in Spanish):

A 15 años de la ofensiva en Chiapas contra el zapatismo persiste la militarización (Jornada, 10 de febrero de 2010)

More information from SIPAZ:

Chiapas: New evictions in Montes Azules (February, 3)


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