Chiapas: OCEZ-Casa del Pueblo protests for the release of prisoners

May 29, 2010

Starting on 11 May, the Emiliano Zapata Campesino Organization (OCEZ)-Casa del Pueblo (House of the People) engaged in a strong protest-movement in the city of Venustiano Carranza that has resulted in the closing of governmental offices (from the federal, state, and municipal levels) as well as of banks.  On the other hand, according to OCEZ-House of the People. some educational institutions have also been closed for a week, this with the support of teachers.  On 26 May, an OCEZ commission arrived in San Cristóbal de las Casas to initiate a hunger-strike in front of the UN offices, which were being protected by riot police.  Officials from the Regional Sub-Secretary of Governance por the Highlands region, together with Oscar Torrens, a UN representative, told the campesinos that the following Monday the governor would receive them in the Palace of Government.  In any case, the protestors said they would maintain the sit-in until they received a written response to their demands.

The protestors demand the release of four prisoners imprisoned in Amate prison who have been held for more than 9 years for the murder of 8 members of the organization San Bartolomé de los Llanos.  The prisoners are Ángel Hidalgo Espinosa, sentenced to 37 years, and Mario Coutiño Morales, Enrique Coutiño Morales and Alberto Coutiño Morales, all of whom have been sentenced to 60 years.  The protests aim to condemn the lack of attention given to date by the state government and demand direct dialogue with the governor.  In a press release, they claimed that “we have for nine years been struggling legally, but to date responsibility has not been achieved; in any case, the authorities of the administration of justice refuse to release our comrades, even though they know that the juridical process they faced was plagued by irregularities and the fabrication and buying of crimes, among others things.”
For more information (in Spanish):

OCEZ requests the release of 4 indigenous prisoners (La Jornada, 27 May)

Campesinos protest against the UN (Cuarto Poder, 27 May)

Oaxaca: new information-update on San Juan Copala

May 29, 2010

Since the 27 April attack on a civil observation mission en route to the municipality of San Juan Copalá in the Triqui region of Oaxaca by presumed members of the group Union of Social Welfare for the Triqui Region (UBISORT), several distinct voices have denounced the events. On 12 May, a number of special rapporteurs from the UN claimed that “we are profoundly concerned about the deterioration of the situation of human-rights defenders in Mexico.” The European condemned the 27 April attack and demanded that “federal, state, and local authorities do all that is possible to identify, arrest, and judge those responsible for these murders.”

Amidst the present humanitarian crisis suffered in San Juan Copalá, representatives of the autonomous community announced on 13 May that another humanitarian-aid caravan would be organized, this one constituted by at least 300 participants. Initially slated to take place in late May, it was for some reason delayed until June 8. In homage to the two activists who lost their lives in the attack on the caravan in April, the new convoy will be named “Bety Cariño and Jyri Jaakkola.” Jordge Albino Ortiz, a representative and member of the Movement for Unification and Triqui Struggle-Independent (MULT-I), noted that the “humanitarian conditions” lived in San Juan Copalá are at the moment “extreme,” given that residents of the community continue to be encircled by members of UBISORT.

Indeed, authorities of the community recently requested the intervention of the International Red Cross and its Mexican counterpart, so that they detail the ongoing humanitarian crisis in San Juan Copalá. The Diocese Commission on Justice and Peace from the Oaxacan archidiocesis and the Carrasco Briseño Regional Center on Human Rights, or Barca, demanded the “immediate” presence of the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) in San Juan Copalá, given the “grave human-rights violations” experienced in the municipality.

An alarming development that occurred recently was the kidnapping and subsequent release of 11 residents of San Juan Copalá on 14 May, presumably by members of UBISORT. The detained were 6 women, 3 girls, 2 boys, and an infant, all of whom had been participating in a larger group from the autonomous municipality that were taken while returning to their community from the city of Santiago Juxtlahuaca. They were ambushed by armed men in La Sabana; according to their testimony, the men fired in the air, threatened them with death, and stole their money and goods.

Serious doubts exist regarding the security situation of those who would participate in the new caravan. Rufino Juárez Hernández, leader of UBISORT, announced that “not even the minimal [security] conditions” exist for a new convoy and that hence “lamentable events could occur.” He added that the presence of observers “with blue eyes and long hair” would not resolve the situation in the region, and that “there is no security for people to travel [here].” Evencio Nicolás Martinez Ramirez, secretary of governance in Oaxaca, warned on 13 May that “whoever attempts to come near the Triqui region puts herself at risk.”

For more information (in Spanish):

OHCHR Press Release on situation in Mexico (12 May)

Triquis announce new humanitarian caravan to Copala (La Jornada, 17 May)

Another humanitarian convoy will attempt to cross the paramilitary encirclemente of Copala (La Jornada, 18 May)

Red Cross is requested in San Juan Copala (El Universal, 18 May)

CNDH asked to come to San Juan Copala (El Universal, 17 May)

UBISORT detains 11 women and children from San Juan Copala in the Triqui sierra, it is said (La Jornada, 16 May)

UBISORT released women and children (La Jornada, 17 May)

Those who go to Triqui region put themselves at risk (La Jornada, 14 May)

For more information from SIPAZ:

Oaxaca: Information-update on observation-caravan attack (3 May)

Guerrero: Briefs – CECOP demonstrates before Senate/Press-conference on the cases of Inés and Valentina is held

May 27, 2010

On May 19th, members of the Council of Ejidos and Communities Opposed to the La Parota Dam (CECOP) demonstrated before the Senate of the Republic in Mexico City to demand the cancellation of the construction of the La Parota hydroelectric dam. Some 300 demonstrators from 28 communities of the Center of Cacahuatepec and the ejidos of Dos Arroyos and Huajes, of the Acapulco municipality, stood in front of the Senate while a delegation of 10 members of CECOP attended to an audience which included deputies Agustín Guerrero and Avelino Méndez, of PRD, and the PRIsta Silvio Lagos. The demonstrators demanded respect for the voice of the people, as expressed in the 12 August 2007 assembly, when the plan for the hydroelectric dam was rejected. On May 12th, CECOP also presented a demand before the United Agrarian Tribunal (TUA) requesting the annulment of the 18 April 2010 assembly, in which supporters of the project approved the expropriation of land for the construction of La Parota while the presence of more than 600 police prevented opposition from entering the assembly.

On May 19th there was also held a press conference in Mexico City about the 2002 rape cases of indigenous Me’phaa women, Valentina Rosendo Cantú and Inés Fernández Ortega. Due to lack of appropriate response from the Mexican state, the abuses went unpunished and so in 2004, the women decided to bring their cases before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR). On April 17, a hearing of the Inter-American Court for the case of Fernández Ortega took place in Lima, Peru. The press conference on May 19th occurred a few days before the hearing of the case of Rosendo Cantú (May 27 in Costa Rica). A press release was signed by several human rights organizations, among which were the Tlachinollan Mountain Center for Human Rights and Amnesty International-Mexico. It stressed the paradigmatic character of these two cases to make visible “multiple discrimination and the high level of violence faced by indigenous women – particularly when they have been victims of sexual violence by state agents – who seek to improve access to the justice system and health services in Mexico. “

For more information (in Spanish):

Case of La Parota:

- Press release: “CECOP members demand definitive cancellation of La Parota before the Permanent Commission of the Congress of the Union (19 May)

- CECOP takes its movement to the Senate (La Jornada de Guerrero, 20 May)

Caso of Valentina:

- Press release: Valentina Rosenda, another Me’phaa woman of Guerrero who will accuse the Mexican State before the IACHR (19 May)

- Mexico, in the dock of the accused, this time for the rape of the Me’phaa Valentina (La Jornada de Guerrero, 20 May)

For more information from SIPAZ:

Guerrero: resurgence of conflict over the possible construction of the La Parota dam (27 April)

Campeche: Arrest of activist campaigning against high electricity prices

May 27, 2010

On 15 May, in the city of Escárcega, units of the Federal Attorney General’s Office (PGR) detained Octavio Solís Cortés, member of the civil resistance movement against high electricity prices in Candelaria in the state of Campeche.  He was taken to the Public Ministry in the city of Campeche, capital of the state of the same name, and thereafter to the San Francisco Koben prison.  In accordance with the denunciation made by the Movement of Popular Culture of Mérida (Yucatán), the “arrest of comrade Octavio Solís has occurred the same day on which took place the National Meeting of Resistance in Candelaria, when compañeros Sara, Joaquín, and Guadalupe began a hunger-strike aimed at pressuring the courts to resolve the ruling that was granted them previously, that they stop delaying doing so.”

It should be remembered that on 10 July 2009, the PGR detained Sara López González, Joaquín Aguilar Méndez, Guadalupe Borjas Contreras, Elmer Castellanos Velázquez, and Guadalupe Lizcano Gómez, from the aforementioned movement; they too were held in Koben prison, and accused of illegal privation of liberty, among other charges.  Elmer Castellanos Velázquez and Guadalupe Lizcano were released on bail on 23 September 2009.  Amnesty International declared Sara López, Joaquín Aguilar, and Guadalupe Borjas prisoners of conscience on 4 March 2009, as it considered that the imprisonment of the three activists was due to their struggle against the excessively high electricity prices that the parastatal Federal Commission on Electricity (CFE) charges.  Amnesty also believes the charges that the three face to have been fabricated.

For more information (in Spanish):

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Chiapas: Five Zapatista support-bases released for lack of evidence

May 20, 2010

Five Tzeltal campesinos–support-bases of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN)–who had been detained in the municipal prison of Ocosingo since 11 May were released without charges by the authorities the following day.  They had initially been arrested by residents of the Peña Limonar ejido and were later transferred by the State Preventive Police (PEP) to the charge of the Public Ministry.

The five indigenous individuals–Ebelio Montejo Hernández, 35; Manuel Gutiérrez López, 42 (a health-promoter); Luis Gutiérrez Vázquez, 15; Pedro Gutiérrez Hernández, 18; and Narciso Gutiérrez Jiménez, 63–were taken into custody following accusations that they had raped five women.

The La Garrucha Good-Government Council (JBG), located in the municipality of Ocosingo, denounced their detention on 10 May together with the disappearing of 9 other Zapatistas from the community of Amaytic.  In its communiqué, the JBG found “the three levels of government, FEDERAL, STATE, AND MUNICIPAL” responsible for the events, given that they “had not paid attention to the question of resolving this problem.”

The conflict dates back to at least August 2002, during which time two Zapatista authorities were killed after they had moved to Peña Limonar.  According to the La Garrucha JBG, they desired to return to Amaytic in March 2010, occupying land by force and generating a climate of hostility.

For more information (in Spanish):

Five Zapatista support-bases are released for lack of evidence (La Jornada, 13 May)

Five detained members of the EZLN are returned (Cuarto Poder, 13 May)

Communiqué of Caracol III “Resistance toward a new dawn” (10 May)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Chiapas:  Public denunciation on Ranchería Amaytic from Garrucha JBG (19 March 2010)

Oaxaca: attack on union leader Marcelino Coache

May 20, 2010

On 10 May, Marcelino Coache Verano, an activist associated with the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca (APPO) and secretary of the union of laborers of Oaxaca de Juarez’s City Hall, was threatened with death by two armed strangers who forcibly entered the offices of the union.  One struck the union-leader with a knife in the abdomen and a leg; the injuries, however, were not life-threatening.  Later in the week, Coache announced that the Federal Attorney General’s Office had launched an investigation to find those responsible for the crime.  It is worth mentioning that Coache has, together with other APPO leaders, feared for his security since his having been imprisoned in  2006 and again in 2008, in addition to the kidnapping and torture to which he was subject in March 2009.  In light of this latter attack, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) granted him preventive measures in May 2009.

For more information (in Spanish):

Attack on union leader in Oaxaca (La Jornada, 12 May)

Marcelino Coache accuses URO of attempting to kill him (Frente, 12 May)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Oaxaca: Reports-police operations/new aggressions against the Human Rights Center/precautionary measures for activist and his family (14 May 2009)

Oaxaca: New threats in the case of Marcelino Coache (4 May 2009)


Mexico City: Second phase of Our Prisoners First campaign launched in Mexico City

May 13, 2010

On the 3rd and 4th of May, people from organizations and groups adhering to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandón Jungle gathered in Mexico City’s Zócalo to  demand the “immediate freedom” of political prisoners across the country, thus launching the second phase of the Other Campaign’s Our Prisoners First project.

This stage of the campaign’s protest and educational actions commenced on May 3rd, a date selected to coincide with the fourth anniversary of violent state repression in San Salvador Atenco. Regarding the significant date, Our Prisoners First stated in a communique that they sought to bring attention to “the crimes of physical, psychological and sexual torture committed against our compañeros in Atenco in 2006″ and repeated “every day” against those who are “unjustly imprisoned.”

On their list of political prisoners from the Other Campaign, Our Prisoners First identified a total of 32 people from Campeche, Mexico City, Mexico state, Guerrero, Nayarit, Oaxaca, and Chiapas – including Alberto Patishtán Gómez, who is a member of the Chiapas-based Voice of Amate (La Voz de Amate in Spanish).

Participants in the Mexico City actions included people from Mitzitón, The Bees, San Sebastian Bachajon, Molino de los Arcos, Voces Inocentes and Costa in Chiapas.

In a statement issued by the Bees (Las Abejas in Spanish) from Mexico City’s  Zocalo on the 3rd of May, the group said they “reaffirmed” that “here in Mexico there are two types of justice: one for the rich and one for the poor and below. When politicians, the powerful, public officials and policies that serve the bad government and commit crimes against humanity, they never set foot in jail. Instead they are rewarded with houses and everything they need…However when we raise our voices against any injustice, violation of human rights, in defense of Mother Earth, and so on., The consequences are serious, we are repressed, imprisoned and even  killed.”

In a message from Altiplano, political prisoner Felipe Alvarez thanked the campaign for their solidarity and commented on the struggle of political prisoners in Mexico stating, “Compañeros, we need to do many things. We all know that the task is not easy” because “the enemy is big, but we also know that however big, it is not invincible … The dignity of our fighting spirit is stronger than the blows that the enemy deals us. We must not let up in jail. We must not let up in the streets or any place in our country. We can not keep quiet about what is happening in our country.”

Other actions in the Zócalo during the two days included movies, music and conferences.

For more information (in Spanish):

Declaración política del 3 y 4 de mayo (Colectivos, Organizaciones e Individuos de la Otra Campaña en el marco de la Campaña Primero Nuestrxs Presxs; Red Contra la Represión y por la Solidaridad)

Blog de la Campaña Primero Nuestros Presxs

Comunicado de las Abejas sumándose a la Campaña


Atenco: repression in San Salvador Atenco, 4 years on

May 11, 2010

On 3 May, four years passed since the police operations against residents of San Salvador Atenco and Texcoco, in the state of Mexico, which took place on 3 and 4 May 2006.  The Supreme Court of Justice for the Nation (SCJN) recognized in February 2009 that grave violations of the basic liberties of the residents of the region had been committed during these acts.  It should be remembered that the police arrested more than 200 people, of whom 12 still remain imprisoned. Indeed, just as the anniversary approached, the three principal leaders of the Popular Front for the Defense of the Land of Atenco (FPDT)–Ignacio del Valle Medina, Felipe Álvarez, and Héctor Galindo, who are being held in the Altiplano prison under 112-year (Del Valle) and 67-year (Álvarez and Galindo) sentences, were notified of new arrest orders filed against them.

On the other hand, the SCJN ruling recognized that police had utilized public force in excessive and brutal fashion in many ways, such as the sexual torture of 28 women.  Accompanied by the Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez Center for Human Rights (Centro Prodh), 11 women have denounced their being-subjected to sexual torture by means of a petition since April 2008 to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR).  On 10 December 2009, the IACHR presented the petition to the Mexican government, granting them 2 months to present their observations.  To date, the state has failed to produce any sort of response.

During an event held in Mexico City on 3 May, Alberto Herrera, director of Amnesty International-Mexico, claimed that “After four years since the events that took place in San Salvador Atenco, where 240 people were arrested and 28 women raped by police, we are here so as not to forget, to declare that the only way forward is through the realization of justice.” Since 2 May, activities in commemoration of the repression in San Salvador Atenco have been held.  A sit-in was maintained during 3 and 4 May, while other actions took place in Mexico City and other Mexican cities.

Finally, the third phase of the Campaign for Liberty and Justice for Atenco was launched.  The communiqué announcing this initiative emphasizes that “Our 12 prisoners, together with all Mexican political prisoners, are hurt.  Atenco represents an emblematic national case.  It represents the application and creation of new crimes, such as kidnapping, an arbitrary offense that can be employed against social struggle as a tool of control and repression.  The repressive operations in Atenco symbolize, moreover, impunity, tyranny through violence, and illegality practiced by the State.  Atenco represents an open wound for the entirety of the country, all civil society, and all those who sturggle for liberty and justice.”

Beyond demanding that the SCJN rule in favor of the immediate annulment of the sentences of the 12 prisoners, the communiqué calls for actions of information-distribution, mobilization, and non-violent protest as part of a campaign to be held during May and June.  For its part, the organizing community announced multiple activities and called for July 7 to be celebrated as “a global day of action for the liberty of the political prisoners of Atenco.”

For more information (in Spanish):

Amnesty International and other NGOs demand justice and punishment of those responsible for the events in Atenco (La Jornada, 3 de mayo)

New arrest orders for Del Valle, Álvarez, and Galidno are announced (La Jornada, 3 de mayo)

Without justification, three imprisoned from Atenco held in a maximum-security prison (La Jornada, 3 de mayo)

Atenco leaders claimed to be responsible for more crimes (El Universal, 3 de mayo)

Incomplete, an IAHCR petition regarding rape and torture of women of Atenco (La Jornada, 4 de mayo)

Bishop Vera calls on SCJN to free Atenco prisoners (El Universal, 4 de mayo)

Declaration 4 years after the repressive acts in San Salvador Atenco.  Announcement of the third phase of the Campaign for Liberty and Justice for Atenco (Frente de Pueblos en Defensa de la Tierra, Comité Libertad y Justicia para Atenco)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Atenco: the Campaign “Liberty and Justice for Atenco” begins (24 February 2009)

Chiapas: La Realidad JBG claims more evictions to come in Zapatista territories

May 5, 2010

The Zapatista Good-Government Council (JBG) “Towards Hope,” located in the jungle border zone of Chiapas, of the caracol La Realidad denounced in an April 30 communiqué that “Calderón is planning new evictions in Zapatista communities, thus opening a breach that would enclose the Montes Azules biosphere; these are the plans of the three types of bad government: municipal, state, and federal.” The JBG added, “We love the Earth; we work it, care for it, and defend it.  For these reasons, we are ready to defend it all costs.”

In an article in the Mexican newspaper La Jornada, Hermann Belinghausen referred to the context referred to by the JBG communiqué, explaining: “On April 28th, the state delegate of the Attorney General’s Office for Environmental Protection (Profepa), Ricardo Alonso Frías, announced that an ‘inter-institutional commission’ was working with ‘seven settlements to achieve their relocation, through dialogue–to leave the Lacandon Jungle Community and the Montes Azules Biosphere Reserve.”  Profepa told the press-agency Notimex that these villages “constitute less than 3000 hectares and are made up of the settlements Salvador Allende, Ranchería Corozal, San Gregorio, Nuevo Limar, Agua Dulce, Ojo de Agua La Pimienta and Nuevo Villaflores.”  “Among other offers or proposals” was mentioned a “counter-offer–namely, the granting of financial assistance for their departure from the site.”

In their communique, the JBG states that “for us, the land is for s/he who works it; therefore, this JBG publicly condemns the events that are taking place.  In light of this situation, we announce that, as the EZLN, we will not allow a single other eviction; we will not tolerate these actions, much less stop.  We will defend our land whatever happens because for us, the land is not for rent, let alone to be made an object of sale.”

Evictions involving both police and military units took place earlier this year, in January. During the forced evictions of the communities of Laguna El Suspiro (also known as El Semental) y Laguna San Pedro (known as San Pedro Guanil), both located in the municipality of Ocosingo, several violations of basic rights were committed against the children, women and men who have occupied this area since ancient times.

For more information:

La Realidad JBG communiqué

It is claimed that more evictions will take place in Zapatista areas (La Jornada 3 de mayo)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Chiapas:  New evictions in Montes Azules (3 February 2010)

Mexico City: World Social Forum Mexico 2010

May 5, 2010

The World Social Forum, an ‘alter-globalization’ space that has met regularly in different parts of the world since its beginnings in Porto Alegre, Brasil, in 2000, celebrated a Thematic Social Forum in México City’s Zócalo between 2 and 4 May.  Entitled “From the people, escape-routes from the global crisis are possible,” the Forum rotated around five themes:  alternative economic models; saving the planet; constructing true participatory democracy with respect to human rights; creating an inclusive society based on social rights instead of profits; and pluri-cultural societies.  According to the Forum’s organizers, participants from some 40 countries attended the event.

In face of the profundity of the present social and economic crisis, several speakers and participants at the Forum denounced the effects of the hegemonic socio-political system, with increased unemployment and extreme poverty rates, militarization, and environmental destruction being central among them.  The Mexican sociologist Pablo González Casanova claimed for example that “the many-headed imperialism is destroying the world in which we live and the Earth on which we reside.”  He emphasized that “[i]t is fanciful to believe that capitalism will respect democracy and the sovereignty of nations, whether they be more or less developed; that it will do away with illiteracy and material poverty, pandemics and epidemics, famines and starving people, the sick who go without doctors or medicine, young people without work or schools, families without roofs or trash-service.”  The ex-presidential candidate Manuel López Obrador, also present at the Forum, declared that today in México “we suffer from a rapacious, overbearing oligarchy; there is no other option than to destroy it politically, in full combat, non-violently, to establish actual democracy.”  Martí Batres Guadarrama, secretary of Social Development of the government of México City, said in a speech that “[t]he global market can create commodities, but it cannot eliminate poverty.”  Senator Rosario Ibarra de Piedra proposed the organization of a grand front of the impoverished and working classes to do away with “the infamies of the powerful.”  Flavio Sosa, of the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca (APPO), stressed that “the terrorism of the State” could not continue.

With regard to the context in México, the Forum became a space for denunciation of the criminalization of social protest, the attacks on human-rights defenders, the disregard for the interests of the working class, and the militarization that has been experienced in the country in recent years.  Martin Esparza, leader of the Mexican Union of Electricians (SME) inaugurated the Forum by promising that, by attending, its participants from other lands would come to familiarize themselves with the “real México,” which has suffered a drop-off in remittances and tourism, an “obsession” among the authorities in doing away with employment, and the sacrifice of the people with the passing of higher taxes, the price-increase in services, and the millions of impoverished Mexicans.

For more information (in Spanish):

World Social Forum, in the Zócalo (La Jornada, 2 de mayo)

The Mexican World Social Forum 2010 is inaugurated in the Zócalo of México City (La Jornada, 5 de mayo)

Social activists from more than 40 countries analyze the crisis and the role of the people (La Jornada, 3 de mayo)

Call to denounce the violation of human rights in México before the European Union (La Jornada, 4 de mayo)

Call to society to defend itself from the commercial, consumerist system (La Jornada, 5 de mayo)

The struggle for another world begins by preventing divisions among the poor:  González Casanova (La Jornada, 3 de mayo)


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