Chiapas: press conference regarding the events in the ejido of San Sebastián Bachajón

April 30, 2009

Interview with the comisionado of the ejido of San Sebastián Bachajón (In Spanish)

On April 24 a press conference took place in the Human Rights Center Fray Bartolomé de las Casas (CDHFBC) with members of the ejido of San Sebastián Bachajón, who are adherents to the Other Campaign. The members of the ejido of San Sebastián Bachajón denounced the detention in arraigo (pre-charge detention) of 8 men, detained and held incommunicado between April 13 and 18. They also denounced the actions of members of the Organization for the Defense of the Rights of Indigenous and Campesinos (OPDDIC) who collaborated with the Federal and State police during the repression of a roadblock in protest, and the destruction of the tollbooth at the entrance to Agua Azul on April 17.

The CDHFBC expressed concern regarding the militarization which the state has carried out and of the use of public security forces and laws to “discourage the population from organizing in defense of their human rights”. The Center also denounced that “in the last few months we have seen that the Mexican Government, on Federal, State, and municipal levels, has begun a policy of persecution and criminalization of movements and organizations of social dissidents”.

“The inhabitants of the ejido of San Sebastián Bachajón, adherents to the Other Campaign, are part of an indigenous movement, which has opposed neoliberal plans involving the use of their land and exploitation of natural resources. For many years the region of Agua Azul has been a tourist zone whose many attractions have been administered and used by the tzeltal peoples of Bachajón. As an important part of the ecotourism project and the part of the Rivera Maya, it has been a focal point of the State Government for international investment.”

The case of the tzeltal people of San Sebastián Bachajón is an example of what is happening all over Latin America with native peoples who “reclaim their rights to the land and to auto-determination”.

“The context of these events shows a clear picture of the counterinsurgency, implemented by the Mexican Government and carried out by the Mexican Army and the Federal and State Public Security Forces”. The CDHFBC stressed that “the police operation was carried out with the help of military intelligence, which was revealed to CDHFBC by members of the State Government”.

Finally, it is important to mention that the eight detained under arraigo (pre-charge detention) continue in the house of arraigo “Quinta Pitiquito” in Chiapa de Corzo. The Center denounced that the system of arraigo, which since the judicial reform of June 2008 is constitutional in Mexico, continues being a “systematic violation of human rights” and that the house of arraigo is “a place of coercion and torture”.

For More Information (in Spanish):

Política de represión implementada por el Gobierno Mexicano contra indígenas del pueblo tseltal de la región de Agua Azul, Chiapas, CDHFBC (24/04/2009)

Palabras de los ejidatarios de San Sebastián Bachajón adherentes de La Otra Campaña EZLN (24/04/2009)

Boletín, Detención arbitraria de indígneas tseltales de Bachajón, Chilón, CDHFBC (16/04/2009)

Boletín, Operativo policíaco en contra de indígenas manifestantes de Bachajón, CDHFBC (17/04/2009)

Noticia, Solicitud de medidas cautelares ante detención arbitraria, CDHFBC (17/04/2009)


Oaxaca: military incursion in San Miguel Panixtlahuaca

April 30, 2009

On April 23, two different sources published information about a military incursion in the indigenous community Chatina de San Miguel Panixtlahuaca, district of Juquilia on the coast of Oaxaca. Oaxacan Voices Building Autonomy and Liberty (VOCAL) denounced that “at nine in the morning, 15 trucks full of armed and hooded soldiers of the Federal Army arrived” surrounding the community “with roadblocks (… ) not allowing anyone to enter or leave, and in addition they began to search houses looking for weapons”.

On the website “Punto y Aparte” the operation was also mentioned as part of a “national campaign of disarmament”. Nevertheless, members of Section XXII stated that more than a routine campaign, the presence of 300 members of the military “with their faces covered” was actually related to the fact that they brought photos of “three people who they were searching for, in relation to a supposed guerrilla camp operating in the zone since 2000”. They fear that the state is being turned into a “laboratory for the Mexican Army, which has been ordered by Felipe Calderón to find and kill members of the Popular Revolutionary Army (EPR)”.

The operation seemed to have ended without anyone detained, but it left the population alarmed. VOCAL denounced in their communiqué that the military incursion is part of “the repression which the State and Federal Government continues carrying out against the communities, people, and organizations which rose up against the government of Ulises Ruiz in 2006, especially because in this community there was participation in 2006, when the uprising of the peoples of Oaxaca began”. In addition, they stated in the communiqué that the events are also related to the resistance the people have shown to the hydroelectric dam project “Paso de la Reina” and also to 3 other dam projects which are being built in the land of indigenous peoples of Oaxaca.

For More Information (In Spanish):

Ejército federal sitia la comunidad de San Miguel Panixtlahuaca, VOCAL (23/04/2009)

Militares ponen en estado de sitio a la población de San Miguel Panixtlahuaca, Punto y Aparte (24/04/2009)

Denuncian sitio militar en Panixtlahuaca; versiones de que buscarían eperristas, Centro Prodh (24/04/2009)

México: Informe sobre la militarización en Oaxaca, Red de información para organizaciones indígenas de México

Chiapas: Urgent Action: Concern for the lives and judicial situation of detainees. Criminalization of social protest and of the work of human rights defenders.

April 28, 2009

The International Service for Peace has expressed major concerns regarding a series of events beginning with the detention of 6 indigenous Tzeltales, inhabitants of the Ejido San Sebastián Bachajón, in the municipality of Chilón, Chiapas. The detainees suffered, among other things: torture and mistreatment; lack of access to fair judicial process, such as a translator who spoke their language; being held incommunicado; and misrepresentation by media sources.

In response, members of the Other Campaign of the ejido San Sebastián Bachajón organized a roadblock to demand the liberation of the detainees. A few days later, two people, who were reported to have disappeared for a number of days, were detained as well. In addition, a number of cases of repression and criminalization of social protest and of human rights defenders who were working on the cases were denounced.

Read the Urgent Action online

For More Information (In Spanish):

Boletín, Detención arbitraria de indígneas tseltales de Bachajón, Chilón, CDHFBC (16/04/2009)

Boletín, Operativo policíaco en contra de indígenas manifestantes de Bachajón, CDHFBC (17/04/2009)

Noticia, Solicitud de medidas cautelares ante detención arbitraria, CDHFBC (17/04/2009)

Denuncia local – Solidaridad de MOCRI-CNPA con ejidatarios de Bachajón (17/04/2009)

Acción Urgente: Privación arbitraria de la libertad, tortura, tratos o penas crueles, inhumanos y degradantes a adherentes de La Otra Campaña de San Sebastián Bachajón, municipio de Chilón, CDHFBC (19/04/2009)

Acción Urgente: 11 hombres recluidos sin cargos en un centro de detención conocido como “Quinta Pitiquito”, Amnistía Internacional (21/04/2009)

Oaxaca: David Venegas is absolved of all crimes on April 20

April 28, 2009

On Monday, April 20 David Venegas Reyes “Alebrije” was cleared off all charges regarding supposed possession of cocaine and heroine, which ended the two year long criminal process in which he was jailed for 11 months. David Venegas was freed on March 5, 2008 “completely exonerated of the crime of burning buildings on November 25, but still charged with the crime of possession of cocaine and heroine with intent to sell”. He has been out of jail for more than a year under conditional freedom, which means that he had to appear before a judge once every 15 days.

Oaxacan Voices Building Liberty and Autonomy (VOCAL) stated in their press release on April 21 that the sentence, “far from being a sign of that the Mexican judicial system is functioning, was a result of the strength of the popular movement and the solidarity of people from all over Mexico and the world. The judicial system in Mexico is sick to its guts and it is an instrument of the government used to repress those who fight for justice and liberty”.

It is important to remember that since his liberation in March of 2008, David Venegas has worked for the liberation of other “political prisoners” in Oaxaca and in Chiapas, where he showed his solidarity with the protest in front of the Government palace in Tuxtla in March of 2008, which was protesting for freedom for the prisoners in hunger strike. On April 12, a Cultural Political Week was organized by the family and friends of political prisoners, as well as members of the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca (APPO) in support of the liberation of the prisoners of the APPO: Víctor Hugo Martínez, Miguel Angel García, Pedro Castillo Aragón, and Juan Manuel Martínez.

For More Information:

Judge Declares APPO Adviser David Venegas Innocent of Drug Charges, Kristin Bricker, Narconews, (4/21).

For More Information (In Spanish):

“Obtenemos la libertad de absoluta de David Venegas  “alebrije”, VOCAL (21/04/2009)

Chiapas: Concern about the coming Supreme Court decision in the case of Acteal

April 28, 2009

On April 20, the Organization “Civil Society of Las Abejas” protested the possibility that the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN) would grant appeals to 12 “paramilitaries” who were convicted after the massacre of Acteal, which occurred on December 22, 1997*. If they were given appeals, they would be released. In a press conference which took place in the offices of the Human Rights Center “Fray Bartolomé de las Casas” (Frayba) in San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, representatives of the civil organization and witnesses of the massacre insisted that the 12 jailed men were among those who carried out the killing, which has been questioned by the legal defense of the jailed men.

Las Abejas denounced that the 12 prisoners accused 9 other men, among them Antonio López Hernández, who is a member of Las Abejas and a main witness because of his information about “how the arms were distributed among the paramilitaries, and because of this he was accused of being responsible”. According to the organization of the victims of the massacre, the legal defense has tried to involve the survivors, accusing them of having arms, and has made various contradictions, such as identifying members of Las Abejas as Zapatistas and accusing them of having planned and participated in the massacre of their own family members. Las Abejas reject the version proposed by the Mexican State and by various media sources that the massacre was the result of a religious conflict. In their press release, the stressed that the responsibility for the crime lies with those who occupied high public positions during the time of the massacre, such as the Mexican President, Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de León; the Secretary of Government, Emilio Chauyffet Chemor; the Secretary of National Defense, General Enrique Cervantes; Commander of the VII Military Region (located in Chiapas) and Commander of Special Force Rainbow, Mario Renán Castillo; as well as various state and municipal level authorities.

In addition, Frayba, the legal representative of the survivors of the massacre, released an Urgent Action stating the risks involved if the 12 men are liberated. For human rights defenders, “the violent actions which took place as part of the massacre constitute a crime against humanity, which was part of a counterinsurgency strategy planned and carried out by the Mexican State”. They state that within the context of the counterinsurgency carried out by the Mexican Government, “the State created, financed, trained, and harbored paramilitary groups which carried out systematic attacks against the civil society”. Frayba asked that the civil society declare itself against the continuing counterinsurgency strategy and against paramilitary groups, because “there is now a risk that their violent actions will continue”. If the appeal were given to the 12 paramilitaries, they would be freed immediately without the possibility of challenging the decision. The SCJN is the highest institution in the Mexican judicial system, and according to the law no one can be judged twice for the same crime.

*It is important to remember that during the massacre in Acteal, in the municipality of Chenalhó, on December 22, 1997, 45 people were killed, the majority women and children, and that 4 of the women were pregnant. To date, Las Abejas continue calling for justice, because according to them, all of those involved in the crime have not been prosecuted, especially the intellectual authors of the crime.

For More Information (In Spanish):

Denuncia de Las Abejas (20/04/2009)

Acción Urgente: Riesgo de que liberen a paramilitares responsables de la Masacre de Acteal, Frayba (20/04/2009)

Impunidad y responsabilidad de las autoridades públicas en el caso Acteal, SIPAZ, Boletín de febrero de 2008

Audios de la conferencia de prensa (20/04/2009)

“ Pretenden liberar a 12 asesinos de Acteal: Frayba”, La Jornada (21/04/2009)

Oaxaca: Forum Building Resistence in Defense of Our Territory

April 27, 2009

On April 17 and 18 the “Forum Building Resistance in Defense of Our Territory” took place in the municipality of San Pedro Apóstol, Ocotlán, Oaxaca, which convoked more than 400 people. Indigenous communities in Oaxaca and from other states, as well as state, national, and international organizations (including SIPAZ) met together to discuss and reflect on “the government attempts to promote megaprojects involving “development”, inversions, and politics which try to exploit our territory and natural resources”. From Chiapas, members of the Human Rights Center Fray Bartolomé de las Casas, as well as members of the communities of Cruztón, Comalapas, and San Cristóbal attended.

In the Political Declaration from the Forum, the communities and organizations stated that “in the face of this threat, organizing processes on a local and regional level must be improved to defend our territory. In this National Forum, we declare ourselves against these government actions as well as against private companies which try to exploit our wealth.”

In the discussion tables, the participants discussed and reflected on the conditions in communities and in various states; they agreed “not only to deal with one issue, but with all”. The recognized problems included the privatization of land and natural resources, environmental contamination, the construction of dams, the contamination of the corn, and privatization of water. They emphasized that “the water is sacred, one should not have to ask to have it, it belongs to everyone, and we cannot privatize it”.

Finally, the Political Declaration declared itself “against all megaprojects and government politics which attack our territories, community institutions, and natural resources” and in particular in favor of the permanent suspension of the Mining Exploitation Project of San José Progreso, Ocotlán; the Hydroelectric Dam Project Paso de la Reina in the coast of Oaxaca, the Dam El Zapotillo, and the Hydroelectric Dam of La Parota, Guerrero.

For More Information:

Forum of People in Resistance, Nancy Davis, Narconews, 4/19.

In Spanish:

Declaración Política del Foro Tejiendo Resistencias (19/04/2009)

Exigen comunidades indígenas cancelar tres hidroeléctricas, La Jornada (20/04/2009)

Oaxaca: event against feminicide

April 27, 2009

On April 17, in Oaxaca City, more than 20 organizations protested the killing of women and called for an investigation into the ongoing feminicide in Oaxaca. During a press conference, the attending organizations demanded justice for the murdered women. According to the press release, during this year there have been “13 killings in Oaxaca” and “impunity continues in Oaxaca”. They demanded that “the attorney general’s office immediately begin an investigation into the killing of women” as well as put a stop to “the machismo (sexism) which permeates the government and continues claiming the lives of women”.

They denounced that “according to the report on Violence Against Women in Oaxaca by the Federal House of Deputies, Oaxaca is second place in the number of killings of women and children. 549 women were killed in the last 10 years. According to the official statistics, on average almost 5 women (4.8) are killed each month in Oaxaca.”

Finally, the organizations signed a declaration which “urges the implementation of a law dealing with violence against women”.

Interview with Laura Jiménez García of Consorcio (In Spanish):

For More Information (In Spanish):

Boletín de prensa, Consorcio (17/04/2009)

“En Oaxaca asesinan a 1 mujer cada 8 días, consignan los medios”, El Sur (17/04/2009)