Oaxaca: The Gathering of Our Voices of Struggle and Resistance

November 24, 2008

On Novermber 15 and 16, 2008, SIPAZ attended a gathering titled “Our Voices of Struggle and Resistance” at the Ecological Center in Juchitán de Zaragoza located in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, Oaxaca. The 200 participants included various organizations such as the the Tepeyac Human Rights Center of the Isthmus of Tehuantpec, the June 14 Educator and Popular Collective, the Assembly for the Defense of Land and Territory, the Solidarity Group of La Venta, the Mexican Alliance for the Self-determination of the People, the Mexican Movement of those Affected by Dams and in Defense of the Rivers (MAPDER), the Mexican Anti-mining Network (REMA), the Union of Indigenous Communities in the Northern Zone of the Isthmus (UCIZONI) and Oaxacan Voices Constructing Autonomy and Liberty (VOCAL), as well as members of various communities in the region.

The themes that were discussed in the meeting included: Struggle and Resistance in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec; The Mesoamerican Project and its components (including the Wind Energy Project and super-highway infrastructure); Agrarian Deregulation such as the Program of Certification of Ejidal Rights (PROCEDE) and the constitutional rights being violated; the Economy of Deprivation and Mega-projects; the Ecological Debt. On the second day of the meeting the participants visited the La Venta II and La Venta IV wind farms.

The meeting ended with a final declaration in which they stated “We pronounce a clear NO to the highway, dam, mine, and transnational wind energy projects, because they do not contribute to the development of our communities, instead they displace us and deprive us of our land … they only bring economic benefit for businesses and the government”.

Below is audio (in Spanish) of Teodosio Ángel Molina of UCIZONI discussing the history of resistance in the area and his analysis to date.

For More Information (In Spanish):

Declaración final del Encuentro de Nuestras Voces de Lucha y Resistencia (16/11/08)

Página web de la UCIZONI


Oaxaca: La Venta IV Wind Farm

November 24, 2008

On November 16, within the framework of the meeting “Our Voices of Struggle and Resistance”, there was a tour of the La Venta II and La Venta IV find farms located in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, Oaxaca. Alejo Girón, a community member of La Venta, explained to those present which transnational companies are running the windmills and who is benefiting from the energy that they are producing.

The conflict in the area has existed for almost 20 years, during which more than 60 thousand hectares have been lost due to ‘rigged’ contracts in which community members and ejidatarios (communal land holders) were pressured by transnational companies as well as federal, state, and local officials to sign. These rental contracts allow the companies to rent the land for 60 years at the price of 150 Mexican pesos per year per hectare. The companies named by the community members and ejidatarios include the Spanish companies ENDESA, GAMESA, Unión FENOSA, PRENEAL, and IBERDROLA.

The community representatives have denounced the federal and state governments for not complying with Convention 169 of the ILO (International Labor Organization) which guarantees the right of indigenous peoples to be informed and consulted in relation to the Wind Energy Project in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. Because of this, the community members are denouncing not only the deceit on the part of the transnational companies but also on the part of the government and local authorities in the region.

The resistance to the Wind Energy Project has had some success in a few cases. 400 hectares of land have been regained from the Spanish corporation PRENAL and they have managed to halt the production of the wind park La Venta IV which was being carried out by CEMEX and ACCIONA ENERGIA through the EURUS project. In the video, the entire testimony of Alejo Girón at La Venta IV wind farm can be heard (in Spanish).

For More Information (In Spanish):

Declaración Final del Encuentro de Nuestras Voces de Lucha y Resistencia (16/11/08)

Pronunciamiento del Foro Regional Parque Eólico del Istmo: Impactos ambiental, económico, social y cultural de los proyectos privados de energía eólica (05/11/05)

Rechazo al Corredor Eólico del Itsmo de Tehuantepec, Oaxaca (27/09/05)

Chiapas: Latin American Meeting for Truth and Justice

November 24, 2008

On November 13, the Latin American Meeting for Truth and Justice was held in the community of Acteal, in the municipality of Chenalhó. More than 200 people from 18 different countries participated. The final declaration emphasized that the meeting had allowed “us to listen to each other and to find peace with Justice and Truth, in the face of structural violence and impunity which we live with on a daily basis”.

For More Information (In Spanish):

El pronunciamiento de la Sociedad Civil Las Abejas del 13 de noviembre de 2008

Guerrero: Amnesty International adopts the cases of the 5 detained members of the OPIM as prisoners of conscience

November 24, 2008

The 5 members of the OPIM whose cases were adopted by Amnesty International

On November 11, Amnesty International Mexico (AI) published a press release which called for unconditional freedom for the 5 members of the OPIM (Indigenous Me’phaa People’s Organization, Organización del Pueblo Indígena Me’phaa) who were detained 7 months ago for the killing of Alejandro Feliciano García, which occurred on January 1.

AI declared that they would adopt the case of the 5 members as prisoners of conscience after they concluded an extensive investigation. According to AI, a prisoner of conscience is “any person jailed for their race, religion, ideology, skin color, language, or sexual orientation, while they haven’t defended the use of or practiced violence. Often, prisoners of conscience are adopted as examples of the peaceful defense of human rights which they practice and which has caused their detention”.

AI considers the evidence presented against the 5 prisoners ‘fabricated’ as well as noting that the Public Prosecutor’s Office (Ministerio Público) which investigated the case worked directly with the regional cacique (local political boss) who had publicly threatened members of the OPIM in the past. In addition, they emphasized that the Federal Attorney General’s Office (PGR, Procuraduría General de la República) had appealed the pardon that a federal judge recently granted to the 5 detainees, without presenting new evidence against them. According to AI, this evidence demonstrates the existence of political motives behind the continued imprisonment of the 5 detainees.

Amnesty International’s Mexico investigator, Rupert Knox commented that “This story shows a common cause in the human rights abuses in Guerrero”

For More Information:

Urgent Action by Amnesty International (AI, 11/14/08)

Amnesty International adopts the 5 detainees as prisoners of conscience (AI, 11/11/08

For More Information from SIPAZ:

Guerrero: Federal government overturns appeal granted to 4 of the 5 detained members of OPIM (SIPAZ, 11/6/08)

Guerrero: prisoners of the OPIM are released (SIPAZ, 10/22/08)

Guerrero: Human rights defenders in Ayutla held in prison for nearly two months (SIPAZ, 6/13/08)

SIPAZ Website- Civil Society: OPIM

Chiapas: Raids at the homes of FNLS members

November 24, 2008

An FNLS banner in San Cristobal de Las Casas [Source: FNLS]

On November 12, 2008, the houses of two members of the National Front for the Fight for Socialism (FNLS, Frente Nacional de Lucha por el Socialismo) were broken into. The house of Yolanda Castro Apreza of the Movement of Popular Resistance of the Southeast (Movimiento de Resistencia Popular del Sureste, MRPS-FNLS) is located in San Cristabal de las Casas while the house of Jaime González González of the Regional Front Against Privatization (Frente Regional Contra las Privitazaciones, FRCP-FNLS) is located in Motozintla.

In the case of Jaime González González, documents of the FNLS and some other valuable items were robbed. Yolanda Castro Apreza found the door of her house open but none of her belongings were taken. According to the FNLS, ‘this eliminates the possibility of a common robbery. Nevertheless taking into account what happened to our comrade in Motozintla, the message of hostility from the government is obvious.”

These events occurred two days after a press conference held by the FNLS in which they criticized the federal and state governments.

For More Information (In Spanish):

Acción Urgente (FNLS, 13/11/08)

Blog del FNLS

Guerrero: The Popular Gathering “Water, Energy and Alternative Energies” Concludes in Cacahuatepec.

November 12, 2008


The Papagayo river, site of the planned La Parota hydroelectric project

November 6 through 8, national networks, social organizations and communities from the states of Guerrero, Campeche, Chiapas, Chihuahua, Distrito Federal, Estado de México, Jalisco, Nayarit, Oaxaca, San Luis Potosí and Veracruz, participated in the Popular Gathering “Water, Energy and Alternative Energies” which took place in the community of Aguacaliente, in the Communal Lands of Cacahuatepec, municipality of Acapulco, Guerrero. The gathering was organized by the Mexican Movement of People Affected by Dams and in Defense of Rivers (MAPDER, Movimiento Mexicano de Afectados por las Presas y en Defensa de los Ríos), the No to Mining Mexican Network (REMA, Red Mexicana No a la Minería) and the Mexican Alliance for the Self-Determination of the People (AMAP, Alianza Mexicana por la Autodeterminación de los Pueblos), among others.

The final declaration emphasizes the importance of the unification of distinct struggles against electricity generating mega-projects as well as mining projects throughout the country. The call for unification was made in order to halt the destructive impacts of such projects which include forced displacement of entire communities, environmental degradation and the undoing of the social fabric in those regions affected.

The declaration also highlights concrete achievements made during the gathering including participation in civil resistance by refusing to pay electricity bills, the creation of a national campaign against the privatization of water and other energy sources (such as the case of PEMEX) and the decision confront transnational mining in Mexico. In addition, it demands the cancelation of hydroelectric projects such as La Parota in Guerrero, El Zapotillo in Jalisco and Paso de la Reina in Oaxaca. It also calls for a cease to the wind energy project in the Tehuantepec Isthmus, Oaxaca and a closing of the Blackfire Exploration mines in the municipality of Chicomuselo, Chiapas as well as the San Xavier mines in the municipality of Cerro de San Pedro, in San Luis Potosí.

The last sentence of the declaration asks an important question: “What are we going to celebrate in 2010, which marks the bicentennial anniversary of national independence as well as the 100 year anniversary of the Mexican Revolution, when new forms of slavery and exclusion have grown and proliferated in the country as well as the subjugation to neo-colonial interests represented by major corporations who have looted our nation of its wealth?”

More information:

Final declaration of the Popular Gathering “Water, Energy and Alternative Energies” (In Spanish, 08/11/08)

Guerrero: SIPAZ and Tlachinollan Human Rights Center of the Montaña launch international mission to document human rights violations (SIPAZ, 08/03/08)

Guerrero: Suspension of La Parota Hydroelectric Dam Project (SIPAZ, 18/09/07)

SIPAZ Website: Civil Society – La Parota

Guerrero: Federal government overturns appeal granted to 4 of the 5 detained members of OPIM

November 7, 2008


Vidulfo Rosales Sierra of CDHM Tlachinollan at the Thematic Hearing on Complaints regarding the criminalization of human rights defenders in Guerrero, Mexico at the IACHR [Source: IACHR]

On November 3, the Federal Public Prosecutor (Ministerio Público Federal) submitted an appeal which contested the decision of the Eighth District judge seated in Acapulco, who had granted an appeal for 4 of the 5 detained members of the Indigenous Me’phaa People’s Organization (OPIM, Organización del Pueblo Indígena Me’phaa). According to the judge, there was no evidence that the four detainees had committed the murder of Alejandro Feliciano García, which occurred on January 1 of this year.

The Tlachinollan Human Rights Center of the Montaña (CDHM Tlachinollan) stated in a press release on November 5 that, “This demonstrates that the state and federal executive branch retain their policy of criminalizing and fabricating evidence: Even when a federal body such as the Eighth District Court has ruled that there is no evidence, the executive branch uses the public prosecutor to keep them deprived of their freedom”.

Along this line, the CDHM Tlachinollan emphasized that the Director General of Human Rights and Democracy of the Secretary of Foreign Relations (SRE), Alejandro Negrín tried “to present a false image in front of the international authorities” when he recently spoke in front of a thematic hearing of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) on the Criminalization of Human Rights Defenders in the State of Guerrero. Negrín stated that the federal justice system had corrected the mistakes of the state judicial system, “He also wanted to announce that the indigenous human rights defenders from the OPIM had already been released, in order to ingratiate himself with the IACHR commissioners”.

The press release of the CDHM Tlachinollan stressed that “The reality is that the federal, like the state government preserve a pattern of criminalization and fabricating evidence in order to put the social problems defined by [human rights] defenders into a judicial context and present a false image before the international authorities that are in place to respond to the [human rights] defender’s issues”.

More Information:

Political conspiracy against the OPIM (CDHM Tlachinollan, 11/05/08)

Press Release from the 133rd Session of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR, 10/31/08)

More Information from SIPAZ:

Guerrero: Prisoners of the OPIM are released (10/22/08)

Guerrero: The IACHR requests another extension to precautionary measures for members of OPIM/OPIT (7/22/08)

Guerrero: Human rights defenders in Ayutla held in prison for nearly two months (6/13/08)