Chiapas: the Peace Network expresses its concern for the possible detention of human-rights defender

July 19, 2010
Marcha del movimiento en contra de las altas tarifas en Tonalá, el 8 de marzo de 2010 @ Consejo Regional Autónomo de la Zona Costa de Chiapas

March of the movement against high electricity-prices in Tonalá, 8 March 2010 @ the Autonomous Regional Council of the Coastal Zone of Chiapas

The Peace Network, comprised of civil and human-rights organizations in the state of Chiapas, expressed in a pronouncement its worry regarding the open judicial process against Nataniel Hernández Nuñez, director of the Digna Ochoa Human-Rights Center, which could result in his detention.  We here reproduce the bulletin in full:

San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas

13 July 2010

Pronouncement of the Peace Network

  • Concern for the criminalization of the work of human-rights defender
  • Call to respect the accompaniment of organizational processes

We, the civil organizations that comprise the Peace Network in Chiapas, manifest our profound concern for the judicial process that accuses Nataniel Hernández Nuñez, director of the “Digna Ochoa” Human-Rights Center, in the city of Tonalá, Chiapas.

The accusation was presented against Hernández Nuñez for his presence as a human-rights observer in a peaceful protest carried out by the Autonomous Council of the Coastal Zone on 13 April 2010.  During the event, the Council, which is part of the Other Campaign, denounced the stealing of electrical cables that two communities that pertain to the Autonomous Council had suffered.  Furthermore, protestors demanded that the Federal Commission of Electricity reinstall the electrical service that had left more than 150 families–resisting high-electricity prices–without electricity for more than a week.

On 11 June 2010, the AFI arrived at Nataniel Hernández Nuñez’s home to present an order demanding his presence on 15 June at 10:00am in the city of Arriaga, Chiapas.  In this order Hernández Nuñez was informed that there exists an investigation (no. AVP/PGR/032/2010) against him, one that charges him with the crime of attacking means of communication, a situation that places him in a state of permanent vulnerability: “The procedural state in which [Nataniel Hernández Nuñez] finds himself is that of the previously mentioned investigation; pending is the arraignment and the request for the arrest-order, if the necessary elements are found to exist.”

As human-rights defenders, we are concerned by the legal punishment imposed by the state government against this human-rights defender, a case that seems to represent yet another example of the recurring criminalization of the work of defense and accompaniment realized by human-rights organizations in the case of different organizations and communities that promote civil and peaceful transformation in Chiapas.

We call on the appropriate state and federal authorities to do the following:

  1. Immediately suspend the judicial process against the director of the “Digna Ochoa” Human-Rights Center, seeing as it is clearly a crime invented to criminalize and make difficult his work.
  2. Cease the vigilance and harassment of Nataniel Hernández Nuñez, as well as the rest of the members of the “Digna Ochoa” Human-Rights Center.
  3. Respect the work of human-rights defenders in all of Mexico.

Regards

Member organizations of the Peace Network

Centro de Investigaciones Económicas y Políticas de Acción Comunitaria, A.C. (Ciepac)

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

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)

Educación para la Paz (Edupaz)

For more information (in Spanish):

Joint bulletin from the Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Human-Rights Center and the Digna Ochoa Human-Rights Center (pdf) (16 July 2010)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Chiapas: Judicial Harrassment of Human-Rights Defender (21 June 2010)


Chiapas: prisoner Alberto Patishtán Gómez’s latest communiqué and its coverage by La Jornada

July 19, 2010

http://www.sipaz.org/imagral/Alberto-Pakistan.jpg

On 5 July Alberto Patishtán Gómez, adherent to the Other Campaign who, imprisoned for 10 years, found himself until last week detained in the Vida Mejor Hospital in Tuxtla Gutierrez, released a public letter in which he denounced that “[t]elling the truth and defending the rights of future generations and of society in general is still considered to be a crime in Mexico.”  In this letter, Patishtán Gómez indicated that his experience has been that “institutional authorities” sentence Mexicans “for many years” and force them “to move from one location to another arbitrarily.”  He refers to his own experience in “captivity” in the hospital in which he has been held “for nearly six months, isolated from all.”  He adds that his health has deteriorated during his stay in the hospital, and he closes by requesting that he be returned to Prison No. 5 in San Cristóbal de Las Casas, in addition to being granted his liberty immediately.

Significantly contrasting with this account is that proferred in an unsigned article published in La Jornada on 10 July.  Seemingly citing Patishtán’s 5 July communiqué, the article erroneously affirms that Patishtán had rejected the idea that he “is being detained in the Vida Mejor Hospital” and “assures that he has received adequate medical attention from the government of Chiapas.”

For more information (in Spanish):

Alberto Patishtán’s 5 July communiqué (Chiapas Denuncia)

Alberto Patishtán claims to have received “the best medical attention” (La Jornada, 10 July)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Chiapas: medical neglect in the case of Alberto Patishtán (25 March 2010)

Chiapas: Presentation of the “jTatic Samuel jCanan Lum” Honor (26 January 2010)


Chiapas: mayoral and state-congress elections met with incidents

July 19, 2010
Casilla en Nachig @ Carlos Herrera (Cuarto Poder)

Election-booth in Nachig @ Carlos Herrera (Cuarto Poder)

On 4 July, the same day that elections at the municipal and state levels were held in different locations of the Mexican Republic, elections took place for the 118 mayorships and seats in the state congress of Chiapas.  On the day of the election, violent incidents and acts were observed in some municipalities, and many called for the repudiation of the election results due to allegations of irregularities.

For these elections, the National Action Party (PAN), the Party of Democratic Revolution (PRD), Convergence, and New Alliance formed a coalition against the PRI (Institutional Revolutionary Party); this type of coalition was also seen in other Mexican states during this electoral cycle.  The coalition, called in Chiapas “United for Chiapas,” won the mayorship of the state capital, Tuxtla Gutiérrez, as well as those of San Cristóbal de Las Casas and Tapachula, according to the Program for Preliminary Electoral Results (PREP) of Chiapas.  Furthermore, the coalition won the majority of the seats in the state congress.  Nonetheless, election results were challenged in several localities due to alleged irregularities that are said to have occurred during the day.  It is should be mentioned that abstentionism in the state surpassed 50 percent.

Within the context of the elections, several incidents occurred.  On election day in Tila, Juan José Díaz Solórzano, ex-mayor of the muncipality, was detained , accused of having bought votes for mayoral candidate of the Green-Ecological Party of Mexico (PVEM), Sandra Luz Cruz Espinosa, as well as for the PAN-PRD candidate for the state congress, Antonio Morales Messner.  According to journalists, a group of PRI militants found him with 3.5 million pesos in cash, and they made him walk barefoot through the center of Tila before turning him over to the authorities.

On the same day in San Juan Chamula, a presumed PRI militant who was carrying 400 electoral ballots marked in favor of the PRI was also detained.  He has been held by Federal Attorney General Office’s Special Prosecutor for Electoral Crimes.  In the same municipality, residents of the community of Rancho Narváez detained officials for hours due to the fact that 8000 electoral ballots were missing; they were released once state officials produced the missing ballots.

Furthermore, in the morning of 4 July, Francisco Girón Luna, president of the National Union of Autonomous Regional Campesino Organizations (UNORCA), was killed en route to Cruz Pilar, in the municipality of Tenejapa.  Girón Luna held no political office, but he had links to the municipal authorities of the PRD.

Another homicide that could be related to 4 July occurred on 5 July in the city of Palenque, where Hugo Messner Ocaña, nephew of the PAN-PRD coalition’s local-congress candidate, Antonio Morales Messner, and ex-member of the present state administration, was killed.  Messner Ocaña had been a political operator of the state government in Yajalón, in the northern zone of the state.  Regardless, the authorities responsible for investigating this crime refused to provide information regarding the motive for the murder, claiming that they did not want to hinder ongoing investigations.

For more information (in Spanish):

Final results of the elections in Chiapas (Instituto de Elecciones y Participación Ciudadana del estado de Chiapas)

Relative calm during elections in Chiapas, Baja California, and Coahuila (La Jornada, 5 July)

UNORCA requests investigation into murder of leader in Chiapas (La Jornada, 5 July)

PRI leader is detained with 3.5 MDP; the money was for the “buying” of votes in Chiapas (Proceso, 5 July)

Investigations continue into murder (Cuarto Poder, 7 July)


Guerrero – Briefs: PGJE denigrates the killing of Lorenzo Fernandez; NGOs continue to pressure for the release of Raul Hernández

July 12, 2010

Two years and five months after the murder of Lorenzo Fernández Ortega, brother of Inés Fernández Ortega, who was raped by soldiers in 2002, the Attorney General of the State of Guerrero (PGJE) has presented a homicide suspect. The PGJE has concluded that the killing resulted from a conflict that arose during a drinking binge.

The defense has argued that on February 9, 2008, Lorenzo was subject to enforced disappearance.  A day later, he was found dead – with his body showing visible signs of torture – in the river that runs through the city of Ayutla. Lorenzo was a member of the Organization of the Me’phaa Indigenous People (OPIM) and played an important role in defending human rights of indigenous people from their region. He actively campaigned to denounce the acts carried out against his sister, Inés Fernández, and supported the denunciations in the case brought before the Commission for the Defense of Human Rights (CODDEHUM) concerning the 14 indigenous women of El Camalote who were forcibly sterilized by the Ministry of Health in 1998.

In a July 5th communiqué, the Tlachinollan Mountain Center for Human Rights, the Guerrero Network of Human-Rights Organizations (Red Guerrerense), and OPIM denounced that Tlachinollan, as collaborator in the case, only had a limited access to the advances of the investigation and that the conclusion that the homocide had been the result of a drinking binge denigrates Lorenzo Fernandez as a defender of human rights.

On the same day, Amnesty International (AI) released an Urgent Action demanding the immediate release of political prisoner Raúl Hernández, a member of OPIM.  He was detained on April 17, 2008 and accused of the murder of Alejandro Feliciano García, committed on January 1, 2008. On June 30, 2010, the judge presiding over the trial of this defender of human rights and indigenous peoples closed the evidentiary phase of his trial for murder. The crime-scene investigation conducted by the judge confirmed that the statements of witnesses who claimed that Raul Hernandez was present at the time of the murder were unreliable. AI called on civil society to demand the release of Hernandez from the PGJE in a letter to be sent before August 14, 2010. (See Urgent Action below).

Finally, on July 6th, the Solicitor’s International Human Rights Group (SIHRG) published a report regarding the situation of Raúl Hernández. In the report, the organization emphasized that the incarceration of Hernández was based on lies and that there exists no evidence of his participation in the criminal acts for which he has been accused. The SIHRG expressed profound worry over the case of Hernández and claimed it to be willing to take further measures to protect the human-rights defender.

For more information (in Spanish):

Joint communiqué by Tlachinollan, the Guerrero Network, and OPIM (5 July)

Amnesty International campaign for the release of Raúl Hernández

Amnesty International Urgent Action: Key moment in the trial for murder of activist (5 July)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Guerrero: Briefs–CECOP receive precautionary measures; Report on human rights; Civil society organizations continue asking for the liberation of Raúl Hernández (5 July 2010)


Chiapas: Mitzitón ejidatarios demand relocation of members of the “Army of God”

July 12, 2010

For five days, ejidatarios (collective land holders) of Mitzitón adhering to the Other Campaign blocked the Pan American Highway in the section that connects  San Cristóbal de Las Casas with Comitán, demanding the relocation of a group of “non-cooperatives” from the group “Army of God” who are connected with the evangelical church “Eagle Wings” outside of the community. The blockade was lifted on the night of July 5 after a meeting with representatives of the state government who committed themselves to resolve the demands of the ejiditarios from the Other Campaign.

The ejidatarios stated: “For 13 years we have denounced the criminal acts of these people and we are no longer willing to continue waiting. These neighbors of ours came to live in our community and now they want to take advantage of our forests and our land, but they do not cooperate or comply with community agreements; they do not participate in collective works or meet in our assemblies. Instead, they traffic in people and harass and threaten. They are armed and they killed our compañero Aurelio, kidnapped our agent and police along with another compañero, the three were tortured severely, and threatened with being burnt. “ Finally, an agreement was reached on July 5, in which the state government promised to resettle members of the Army of God; subsequently, the blockade was lifted. However, the next day, adherents to the Other Campaign publicly expressed their discontent, given that the time-table of one month, a condition granted to the ejidatarios orally, does not appear in the written agreement.

The blockade of the Pan American Highway had begun on July 1st and recently, the group of “non-cooperatives” had cut down trees without permission from the authorities of the ejido and had also made threats against the adherents to the Other Campaign. Faced with the demands of the Mitzitón ejidatarios, state administrators proposed a meeting at the negotiating table in Tuxtla Gutiérrez, a proposal rejected by adherents to the Other Campaign, who suggested that an eventual negotiation should take place in the community itself so that all voices could be heard in assembly. Then the state government proposed the relocation of the entire community and the concurrent transformation of the land into a forest reserve while also threatening to forcibly remove the blockade. In response, the Human Rights Center Fray Bartolome de Las Casas issued an Urgent Action on that day. Different media sources indicated that the the general secretary of Government, Noe Castañón, insisted that the ejidatarios lift the blockade and denied that the state government was aware of the aformentioned allegations.  Finally, on July 4, the ejidatarios accepted the proposal for negotiations, under the conditions that representatives of various bodies of state administration be present and that they be held in the community of Mitzitón.

According to previous public denunciations of the ejidatarios, the alleged “non-cooperatives” have in previous years engaged in the smuggling of undocumented persons, with the result that several occasions, the group now belonging to the Other Campaign had made these traffickers available to the authorities, though these cases were never pursued.  The conflict worsened in 2009 when ejidatarios publicly rallied against the San Cristóbal-Palenque highway project that would, if carried out, affect their community. There were on several occasions thereafter situations of confrontation; during one of them, a group of “non-cooperatives” killed Aurelio Díaz Hernández, this on July 21, 2009. The most recent conflict regarded the felling of trees without permission of the ejido authorities, which last February 28 resulted in both groups detaining three of the opposing group, respectively, who were all released the following day.

Communiques of the Mitzitón ejidatarios (in Spanish):

We give the Chiapas government a month to comply with the Mitzitón ejidatarios (6/07/2010)

Second response of ejidatarios of Mitzitón to the state government (4/07/2010)

Response of Mitzitón ejidatarios to the governor of Chiapas (2/07/2010)

Urgent Action (in Spanish):

Urgent Action: Imminent risk of repression against the indigenous of Mitzitón (Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Center for Human Rights, 1/07/2010)

For more information (in Spanish):

Mitzitón Tzotziles who demand withdrawal of paramilitaries lift road-block (La Jornada, 7/07/2010)

Chiapan indigenous individuals lift road-block (El Milenio, 6/07/2010)

Dialogue between ejidal assembly of Mitzitón and government of Chiapas begins (La Jornada, 6/07/2010)

Ejidal assembly of Mitziton accepts dialogue with Chiapas government (La Jornada, 5/07/2010)

Chiapas government offers dialogue, not the investigation of denunciations, to Tzotzil group (La Jornada, 4/07/2010)

Chiapas: indigenous of Mitzitón continue road-block on the Pan-American Highway (La Jornada, 3/07/2010)

Tzotziles of Mitzitón denounce aggression and abuse by part of evangelicals from Army of God (La Jornada, 3/07/2010)

Indigenous block road in Chiapas (El Universal, 3/07/2010)

Indigenous block road in Chiapas, request relocation of Protestants (La Jornada, 1/07/2010)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Chiapas: road-block lifted and prisoners released in Mitzitón (26 March 2010)

Chiapas: Risk of confrontation in Mitzitón following arrest of ejidatario (25 March 2010)

Chiapas: Another confrontation in Mitzitón (9 March 2010)

Chiapas: Denunciation of Attempted Kidnapping in Mitzitón (26 February 2010)

Chiapas: Indigenous Communities demand a stop to repression for defending their territory (28 August 2009)

Chiapas: Person dead after brutal attacks in Mitzitón (29 July 2009)


Oaxaca: Coalition “United for Peace and Progress” defeats PRI in state elections

July 12, 2010

Eviel Pérez Magaña (@ La Jornada)

On Sunday 4 July, state elections for executive and legislative offices were held in Oaxaca, as in 12 states of the Mexican Republic.  In the case of Oaxaca, the coalition “United for Peace and Progress,” comprised of the PAN, PRD, PT, and Convergencia parties, defeated the PRI-Verde Ecologista alliance, winning the office of governor as well as the mayorship of the capital and the majority of representatives in the state Congress.  The governor-candidate of this unusual coalition (including parties of left and right), Gabino Cué Monteagudo, beat the PRI candidate Eviel Pérez Magaña by a margin of 8 percentage points, putting an end to 80 years of PRI rule in Oaxaca.  The State Electoral Institute estimated participation to have reached 56% in the elections.

Although  many observers feared conflicts related to election results in Oaxaca, Pérez Magaña accepted his defeat the following day, though he stressed in his concessionary speech that the PRI continues being the most single popular party in Oaxaca, given that it received 550,000 votes in these elections, or 250,000 more than did the PAN.  He emphasized the need for reconciliation between the representatives and electors of both alliances, indicating that it is “now the moment” to “contribute to the unity of the people.”  Similarly, Cué Monteagudo declared last Monday that “[w]e are promoters of peace, and so we will always call for reconciliation.”  The same day as his victory Monteagudo declared that “we have attained a historical dream” in defeating the PRI but also called on PRI members not to “have fear” of the new administration.  This position was also adopted by the leader of the PT, Daniel Juárez, who claimed that the conflicts that were seen during the six-year term of present governor Ulises Ruiz Ortiz in 2006 should be left to the past.

Some came to question that this call for reconciliation, meant to maintain the stability of the state, could mean impunity for the exiting regime.  Cué has declared that the next Oaxaca government “will obey the law” and that it will “be intolerant against corruption.”  He has also called for a transparency law “that will actually allow people to be sure of where it is that public resources are being spent,” but regarding the question of the exiting governor Ulises Ruiz, Cué has limited himself to stating the following:  “If there is a crime that must be investigated, let it be investigated; if there is a crime for which to punish, let us punish.”

In the northwestern Triqui region of the state, which has suffered high levels of violence in recent months, there had been seeing until 4 July itself if there existed conditions for the installation of electoral booths.  Rufino Juárez Hernández, director of the Union for Social Welfare of the Triqui Region (UBISORT), declared that there was a need for the Secretary of Public Security (SSP) to engage in a special operation to promote the installation of such booths in Tierra Blanca, Cerro Pájaro, and San Juan Copala.  Juárez Hernández added that UBISORT members would do everything possible to ensure that Triqui citizens be able to exercise their constitutional right to vote.

Before the elections the SSP indicated that the autonomous municipality of San Juan Copalá represented a “red alert” in electoral terms.  To date authorities of the municipality have not expressed their views on the election results other than to denounce in general terms the “electoral apparatus” for having given birth to “despicable authorities like Ulises Ruiz Ortiz” and others.

For his part, Felipe Calderón received the election results gratefully, asserting that “[t]hat of last Sunday was a vote for the institutions; it was a vote for legality; it was a vote for democracy; it was a vote for peace.”

For more information (in Spanish):

Electoral participation reaches 56%: IEE (El Imparcial, 5 July)

Opposition coalition wins majority in Oaxaca Congress (La Jornada, 5 July)

Leading with 8.35 points, Cué removes PRI from Oaxaca after 80 years (La Jornada, 6 July)

I accept the will of Oaxacans: Eviel Pérez after conceding defeat (La Jornada, 6 July)

Cué calls for reconciliation in Oaxaca (El Universal, 5 July)

Cué requests that PRI recognize election result to allow for the reconstruction of Oaxaca (La Jornada, 4 July)

PAN, PRD, PT y PCD call for reconciliación (El Imparcial, 5 July)

Oaxaca: If Ulises committed crimes, we will go for him: Cué (El Universal, 6 July)

Calderón: the elections constituted a message of the rejection of violence (La Jornada, 6 July)

If there is security we will install election-booths: UBISORT leader (Diario Despertar, 3 July)

UBISORT will look into installation of election-booths for 4 July (Diario Despertar, 25 June)

Authorities identify ’20 red alerts’ before Oaxaca elections (La Jornada, 3 July)

UBISORT paramilitaries shoot two women and a girl in San Juan Copala (28 June)

PRI experienced ‘de-Penó’-ization in Oaxaca, Sinaloa, and Puebla, assures the PAN’s Santiago Creel” (La Jornada, 6 July)


Mexico: Atenco prisoners released

July 12, 2010

On June 30th, the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation ordered the immediate release of  the 12 members of the Front of Peoples in Defense of the Land of Atenco, who faced sentences of 31 to 112 years in prison, and had been taken into custody by police in May of 2006 during the protests against the displacement of flower vendors in the state of Mexico.

The decision of the court was made finding that the Attorney General of the State of Mexico (PGJEM) brought charges against the detainees stemming from shaky and false premises. Prosecutors also used illegal evidence to impute the crime of kidnapping. Additionally, the minister Juan Silva Meza affirmed that the sentences could have been “a form of institutional makeup to criminalize social protest, a way to punish the opposition”.

In the case of nine of the people from Atenco held in the Molino de Las Flores state prison, with lesser penalties, the release was immediate. On the other hand, in the case of the three leaders held in the federal prison of Altiplano, by the 1st of July, the federal Secretary of Public Security (SSP) stated that Ignacio del Valle, Felipe Álvarez y Héctor Galindo, will remain in prison facing still four more criminal proceedings for the crimes of aggravated robbery, injury and damage to public property, looting, and attacks on roads and transportation.

Finally they were liberated and arrived in Atenco on July 2nd, where some 500 people were awaiting their arrival, accompanied by the other newly released members of the FPDT who had been liberated on the 30th. The daughter of Ignacio del Valle, América del Valle – who just last June 24 left for the Embassy of Venezuela to seek political asylum from the two arrest warrants against her for the same offense in 2006 –  did not attend.

The Governor, Enrique Peña Nieto, said that his administration will have “absolute respect” for the resolution of the court to liberate the prisoners of Atenco. In an interview afterward, he rejected that it was a setback for his government and added that the interest “was none other than the restoration of order and peace… and therefore, the sanctions against those who participated in terms of the law and in conformity with the law acted, and under the law was passed.”

Furthermore, Amnesty International (AI) demanded a thorough investigation into the officials involved in the investigations related to the Atenco case, to be in accordance with the decision of the Court, who improperly used the justice system and thus caused the violation of due process for the 12 detainees at those events.

For more information (in Spanish):

12 Atenco prisoners released (La Jornada, 1 July)

Court orders liberty for Atenco prisoners (El Universal, 2 July)

SSP: three Atenco leaders will continue imprisoned (Proceso, 1 July)

AI demands punishment of functionaries for Atenco case (Proceso, 1 July)

Released leaders of the FPDT are received in Atenco (La Jornada, 2 July)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Mexico City: Second Phase of Our Prisoners First campaign launched (13 May 2010)

Atenco: repression in San Salvador Atenco, 4 years on (11 May 2010)


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