Oaxaca: presentation of report “Justice for San José del Progreso”

March 16, 2014

Presentación del libro "Justicia para San José del Progreso", Oaxaca, marzo de 2014 (@SIPAZ)

Presentation of book “Justice for San José del Progreso” Oaxaca, March 2014 (@SIPAZ)

In observance of the second anniversary of the murder of Bernardo Vásquez Sánchez, the Oaxacan Collective in Defense of Territory organized events in Oaxaca and Mexico City to publicly presents its report “Justice for San José del Progreso,” the fruit of a Civil Observation Mission carried out in November 2012.

The report speaks to the systematic human-rights violations produced by the imposition of the mining project which has been overseen by the Fortune Silver Mines company since 2006.  The report notes that, beginning at this time, the firm has enjoyed state and federal governmental support in its principal violation of the rights to life; to free, prior and informed consent; to public information; to respect for collective property and integrity of land; to free self-determination; to a clean environment; to communal health; to the rights of children, adolescents, and women; to association and meeting; to freedom and personal integrity; and to the right to the administration of justice and to the work of human-rights violations.  All these rights are recognized as such at the national and international levels.

The document includes recommendations for the federal, state, and municipal government.  Among these is found the stress on placing the rights of citizens above the interests of mining corporations and to guarantee the right to life, physical and psychological integrity of the people of San José del Progreso.  It also calls on the government of Canada to request that it assures that Canadian mining firms be called to justify themselves before the Canadian legal system due to human-rights violations committed outside the national territory.

For more information (in Spanish):

Demandarán a minera Cuzcatlán ante gobierno de Canadá (Página 3, 11 de marzo de 2014)

Cobertura de la presentación en la Ciudad de México: Minera canadiense y gobierno violan DH de habitantes en San José del Progreso, Oaxaca(PRODH)

Audio de la presentación del Informe en el IAGO

Video Exigen organizaciones cancelación de mina en San José del Progreso

Descarga el Informe de la Misión Civil de Observación: Justicia para San José del Progreso

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Oaxaca: Organizational call to the presentation of the Report of the Civil Mission of Observation: Justice para San José del Progreso (18 March 2014)

Oaxaca: Civil Observation Mission to San José del Progreso (30 November 2012)


National: Strong criticisms of Enrique Peña Nieto’s first year in office

December 8, 2013

enrique-peña-nieto-2

Enrique Peña Nieto. photo @enelareachica

On 27 November, the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) indicated  that during the first year of Enrique Peña Nieto’s term in office, there have been seen very few advances in terms of security and human rights, and that a great number of violations have taken place against fundamental rights that go completely unpunished.  On 26 November, Human Rights Watch announced by means of a public letter that the change in administration has been ultimately rhetorical and that the government “has not demonstrated significant advances in the investigation of past abuses of power, and new grave human-rights violations continue without redress.”

Human Rights Watch has identified cases that demonstrate that soldiers and police continue to commit serious abuses under Peña Nieto’s watch.  The open letter mentions the example of the “murder of three campesino leaders in Guerrero, who were found on 3 June, after having been taken against their will together with 5 others on 30 May.  The previous day, members of the social movement to which they belong had presented a formal denunciation before the authorities expressing their fear that the mayor and the chief of police might well have ordered the murders.”  The WOLA collective emphasized that the declarations of the government and good intentions have not resulted in concrete actions to date.  “Until there are more advances to combat the impunity which prevails in Mexico, the discourse of the government on human rights will continue to be little more than pretty words.”

For more information (in Spanish):

México: el decepcionante primer año de Peña Nieto (Human Rights Watch, 26 de noviembre de 2013)

Peña Nieto aplica la misma táctica de seguridad de Calderón: WOLA (La Jornada, 28 de noviembre de 2013)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Mexico: Insufficient attention from EPN to human rights (20 March 2013)

National: Polemical ascension to power of EPN ( 7 December 2013)


Chiapas: Acteal, Site of Conscience, Impunity and the Other Justice

January 4, 2010

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“We took our case before the highest court in the nation, (…) but all we encountered there was supreme impunity.”

On Dec. 22, 1997, 300 people prayed for peace when 45 of them were massacred by paramilitaries, a result of the low intensity warfare that the government implemented against the zapatista rebels and their sympathizers.

Twelve years later, this “State crime” which has been denounced by General J.F. Gallardo, continues in impunity. None of the planners of the massacre were found guilty and this year several of those who carried out the massacre were released. Denied justice and an official history, the Abejas Civil Society (La Sociedad Civil Las Abejas) held the Forum of Conscience and Hope, Building the Other Justice… (Foro de Conciencia y Esperanza, Construyendo la Otra Justicia…) on Dec. 21, 2009. The Other Justice (A grassroots alternative to the official justice system)is that which remains in the historic memory of the people. The Other Justice does not seek punishment but rather repentance and reconciliation as was stated by the president of the Abejas. “The conscience is a very strong force in the construction of the other justice,” he said, “we have to begin with our own conscience,” “continue with the conscience of the people in general,” and “Finally, although it is the most difficult, (…) to touch the conscience of the aggressors.” As a result, the following day Acteal was declared a “Site of the Conscience of Humanity,” according to the banner hung above the entrance to the site “for inspiration for all of those that struggle for peace and an indelible memory for future generations.”

To make sure that the massacre at Acteal is never forgotten, on Dec. 21 the director of the Fray Bartolome de las Casas Human Rights Center (CDH Frayba) read the names of each of the 45 victims aloud. On Dec. 22, the representative from the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Mexico defined the massacre as “the bloodiest event in Mexico’s recent history” and denounced: forgetfulness and impunity are not the response expected from a democratic State which respects human rights. The bishop of the San Cristobal de Las Cases diocese, who celebrated the commemorative mass on Dec. 22, stated in his homily “It is a mockery and shameful that due to minor legal issues, 29 individuals have been exonerated [after committing] this horrendous crime (La Jornada, 23/12/09).

In the presence of more than 600 peoples, a large number of priests and social organizations from Chiapas and other states, in addition to a strong presence of international solidarity, the Abejas shared their path, their pain and their hope through a small theatre production and a long declaration in which they reiterated their vindication not solely for justice, but for peace. “We don’t want a war that will cost the blood of millions of brothers and sisters. We want a new revolution, but not a violent one, so that we can have liberty, justice and peace and to take back the land from those who are plundering and destroying it.”

Listen to the Forum of Conscience and Hope, Building the Other Justice (in Spanish):

Ponencias del “Foro de Conciencia y Esperanza, Construyendo la Otra Justicia…”, 21 de diciembre de 2009 (blog de Las Abejas)

Programa de Radio con las conclusiones del encuentro (blog de Las Abejas)

For More Information:

Acteal: sembrando paz y esperanza (artículo de Milenio Online, 21/12/09)

Acteal, sitio de conciencia (Boletín 41 del Centro de Derechos Humanos Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas, 22/12/09)

Acteal sitio de conciencia: un recordatorio de la impunidad en México (artículo de La Jornada, 22/12/09)

“Una burla”, el desenlace jurídico del caso Acteal: Arizmendi (artículo de La Jornada, 23/12/09)

Pide Alto Comisionado de ONU al Estado poner fin a impunidad en caso Acteal (artículo de La Jornada, 22/12/09)

Foro de Conciencia y Esperanza, la Otra Justicia (artículo de Indymedia Chiapas, 22/12/09)

Sites of Conscience webpage

For More Information from SIPAZ:

The Massacre at Acteal (SIPAZ documents)


MEXICO: 61 Years After the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

December 15, 2009

Sixty-one years after the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and 11 years after the UN’s declaration on human rights defenders, several organizations dedicated to the defense and promotion of human rights are reporting the current situation in their respective states as well as at the national level.

In Chiapas, the Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Human Rights Center (Frayba) published a special bulletin in which they denounced the fact that in the state “the defense of human rights is subject to intimidation, attacks and killings.” After recounting the harassment suffered by human rights defenders Frayba concludes: “This year the work done in defense of human rights has been criminalized to the point of considering human rights defenders participants in organized crime or part of a supposed subversive network to destabilize the government in 2010.”

In Oaxaca, the “Bartolomé Carrasco Briseño” Regional Human Rights Center, made a public declaration in which they highlighted the state’s current situation “drowning in impunity, corruption, human rights violations and social decomposition.” They questioned the state government denouncing that: “In the Fifth Report issued by the Oaxacan State Government it is evident that this is a government made up of a small group, with an explicit goal of appropriating territories in order to turn Oaxaca into a personal dictatorship.”

In Guerrero, in a press conference held by the Guerrero Network of Human Rights Civil Organizations (Red Guerrerense de Organismos Civiles y de Derechos Humanos) in Chilpancingo, a number of campesino, indigenous, social and human rights organizations presented a joint statement. The document, titled “People and Rights Trampled On,” states that “In Guerrero the shadowy era of the dirty war continues to repeat, because governments allowed the army to return to poor regions were there have been armed uprisings. (…) Today the reappearance of the army throughout the state of Guerrero is a form of punishment against new insurgent movements. (…) We social and civil organizations that have documented serious violations of the fundamental rights of the most vulnerable sectors of the population, are facing not just a slander campaign against our work as human rights defenders but we are also suffering surveillance, harassment and threats carried out with the sole purpose of putting a stop to our work, silence our denunciations and violate our right to defend human rights and fully exercise freedom of expression.”

At the national level, the Early Warning Network (Red de Alerta Temprana) together with other organization, published a report titles Panorama of the Current Situation of Human Rights Defenders in Mexico. In the conclusions they warn: “We consider that [the government] is implementing a strategy to identify human rights defenders and their organizations as ‘enemies’ of the system and identifying the political affiliation of the victims and rights defenders in order to criminalize their actions. Through the use of threats, harassment, murder attempts, arbitrary detentions and the application of arrest warrants against these individuals they are trying to create an environment of tension and fear with the clear objective of polarizing the collective work of these organizations, creating divisions and diminishing or ending the work they do. There is a pattern of aggression that corresponds to a psychological operation of terror.”

For Mor Information:

“Tlachinollan” Human Rights Center of the Montaña: Who defends human rights defenders? (10/12/09)

In Spanish:


Chiapas: Anti-Mining Activist Mariano Abarca Killed

December 1, 2009

From EFE Agency

San Cristobal de Las Casas (Mexico), November 27 (EFE) – NGOs reported that an indigenous leader from the municipality of Chicomuselo, located in the mountains of the southern state of Chiapas, was shot and killed today by an unidentified person who attacked him in the doorway of his home.

Activist Mariano Abarca Robledo belonged to the Mexican Network of People Affected by Mining (REMA) in Chiapas and was the head of organizing the communities in the border region of Guatemala who demanded the shutting down of the Canadian mining company Blackfire.

REMA member Gustavo Castro reported the assassination took place Friday night when the leader was outside of his house talking with another REMA member named Orlando Velasquez, who was also injured in the attack.

According to statements by family, an individual riding a motorcycle opened fire on Abarca, hitting him in the head and chest.

The indigenous leader had been jailed for one week last August for a roadblock set up with his followers to impede the transfer of mining materials to an open pit barite mine operated by Blackfire in the community of Grecia.

For more information from SIPAZ:

Mining in Chiapas: A New threat for the survival of indigenous peoples (december 2008)


Oaxaca: Meetings and Accusations

November 30, 2009

On November 13th and 14th the Oaxacan Collective for the Defense of the Land convened a Second National Forum entitled: “Weaving Resistance in Defense of Our Land.” The meeting took place in the Mixe community of San Juan Jaltepec de Candayoc, in the municipality of San Juan Cotzocon. The objectives were to “exchange experiences in defense of land, territory and natural resources of indigenous people and communities, and explore the possibilities of joining forces to create a common defense.”

The final declaration emphasized: “that the lack of recognition of the autonomy over our land and territory, the lack of legal mechanisms for defense, and the false mediation of agrarian requests has resulted in innumerable agrarian conflicts between communities… Today Chiapas and Oaxaca are examples of an experiment in megaprojects and public policies that have only generated conflict, internal division in communities, looting of land and the violation of our rights… From the hearts of our people we declare that our communities and indigenous people are in resistance. We won’t be defeated by this new neoliberal offensive stripping us of our land. We profoundly believe in the value of our collectivity, of exercising authority as a service, of the collective ownership of the earth and the rebuilding of our land as people, as institutions that give us strength.”

In light of these outstanding issues a communiqué denouncing the intimidation of the people of Paso de la Reina was circulated on November 19, a few days before the Forum. The previous day a mass had been held in support of their cause and was presided over by the Bishop of Puerto Escondido.

Before that, on November 18, the “Meeting for Justice and Against Impunity: Cases Before the Supreme Court of Mexico” was held in the city of Oaxaca. The goal of the event was to analyze the Supreme Court’s resolutions in the cases of Lydia Cacho, Atenco, Acteal and Oaxaca, and the implications for the social movement, victims of repression, and defenders of justice and human rights.

The final resolution underlined the fact that in all the cases presented there was a “prevalence of deep-rooted impunity” and pointed out that “Mexican administrative bodies and legal officials are quick and expeditious when it comes to punishing and reprimanding citizens who are defending their rights against government abuses, but they’re slow and inefficient when it comes to correcting an injustice, and are practically powerless when it comes to trying to apply justice to a higher official.”

For more information:

Declaración de Jaltepec, Foro la resistencia por la defensa de nuestros territorios (14 de noviembre)

Denuncia Paso de la Reina

Pronunciamiento final del Foro por la Justicia y contra la Impunidad

For more information from SIPAZ:

Oaxaca: Rechaza asamblea ejidal autorización a la CFE para construcción de presa en Paso de la Reina

Oaxaca: Foro Tejiendo Resistencias por la Defensa de Nuestros Territorios


Chiapas: The Viejo Velasco massacre three years later

November 18, 2009

Hundreds of Chol and Tzeltal indigenous people marched in the city of Palenque on November 13th to commemorate an attack against the people of Viejo Velasco Suarez three years ago. Four people died and four more disappeared when some Lancadon tried to evict the residents of Viejo Velasco from their land.

The same organizations that  to formed the Civil Observation Mission in Montes Azul at that time delivered a statement and denounced “the shameful acts committed by officers of the state and a paramilitary-style group of indigenous people, that resulted in the Viejo Velasco massacre”.

The statement was read in several indigenous languages during a religious service presided over by Father Geronimo “Xel” that revisited the events of that day when “close to 40 people in civilian clothing from the community of Nueva Palestina entered Viejo Velasco with a group of about 300 uniformed people carrying high caliber rifles, and proceeded to physically attack the indigenous people.”

The statement also documented the impunity in the case and stated: “Those of us who have been witnesses can testify to the inefficiency of the investigations carried out by the government of Chiapas, who haven’t provided an effective way to guarantee necessary legal protection to the massacre’s victims. The State Ministry of Justice has failed to carry out its work in a serious and effective manner with notorious procedural anomalies that have obstructed the right to access to justice, to the truth, to repair the damage, which leads us to believe in a possible cover-up to protect the material and intellectual perpetrators of the massacre.

For more information (in Spanish):

Pronunciamiento Público conjunto a 3 años de impunidad de la Masacre de Viejo Velasco, Selva Lacandona

More information from SIPAZ:

November 2006 : Confrontation in the borders of the Montes Azules Reservation leaves at least 4 dead (Urgent Action from SIPAZ, November 2006)

Enfrentamiento en los límites de la Reserva de Montes Azules deja un saldo de por lo menos 4 muertos. (Acción Urgente de SIPAZ, noviembre de 2006)


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