Mexico: Forum on “Military Cooperation, the Democratic Process, and Human Rights”

May 29, 2009

On May 19th, the Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez Center for Human Rights (Centro ProDH) convened a forum to “reopen the debate, from diverse perspectives, on the impact of military aid from the United States on militarization and human rights in Mexico.” As the forum opened, the director from Centro ProDH expressed grave concern at the increasing militarization of the country.

The Centro ProDH asserted that the creation of bilateral political-military accords can be considered a first violation of community rights as these types of accords are made without the participation of those they will affect (thereby violating access to information and consultation). Furthermore, the Centro ProDH called attention to the fact that although the requisite standards for human rights laid out in the 2009 Mérida Initiative (which froze fifteen percent of promised funds) have not been met, additional funds are being negotiated (somewhere between $66 and $470 million) without any conditions being laid out to assure human rights.

Everyone agreed that the current military politic not only provokes direct violations of human rights, but also obscures the underlying issues that affect these rights, especially economic, social, cultural, and environmental rights. According to the ex-General F. Gallardo, the biggest threat facing Mexico at this point does not stem from land rights, but from the collapse of the health, education, and justices systems that has come about due to the failing of the democratic system and the illegitimacy of its leaders. The Tlachinolan Center for Human Rights exposed various cases that illustrate ruptures in Mexico’s judicial system. The Centro ProDH proposed the creation of a database (“No more abuses”) that would be accessible to all human rights organizations in order to document human rights violations and to develop a more visible political impact.

For more information, please visit:

The website for the Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez Human Rights Center


Chiapas: Open Forum “Threats against the land, indigenous territories, and indigenous peoples in South South-East Mexico”

May 29, 2009

May 22nd, 2009


On May 18th, almost 200 participants joined together for an open forum for reflection and analysis of “threats against the land, indigenous territories, and indigenous peoples in the south south-east of Mexico” at CIDECI—University of the Land in San Cristobal de Las Casas. During this meeting various groups presented their experiences of organizing to defend land and territory in the states of Chiapas, Oaxaca and in Guatemala. Sharing these experiences exposed a problem shared by the rural population—especially indigenous peoples—in southern Mexico and their neighbors to the south: the re-vindication of their right to land and territory in the face of government and corporate projects that exploit the area’s natural resources.

Luis Abarca from the Movement of Popular Resistance of the Southeast (MRPS) opened the talks with this organization’s fight to defend land and territory through civil resistance against high electricity prices and privatization programs like PROCEDE, among others. Mercedes Oliveira from the Center for Women’s Rights of Chiapas focused her presentation on the plight of indigenous women in Chiapas, emphasizing that though the fight continues, there are still very few women landowners and that indigenous women in general continue to suffer exclusion and discrimination at the hands of men.

Ana María García of the Service for an Alternative Education (EDUCA) spoke of the problems faced by indigenous communities in Oaxaca. Similar to those in Chiapas, these communities are met with high electricity bills, and are confronted with hydroelectric projects like “Paso de la Reina” and mining industries. These projects are taking over indigenous territories and have sparked organization within indigenous communities to combat further projects of this kind.

Broadening the perspective of the forum, the participants from Atch Mol spoke of the situation caused by the Montana mining company in the state of San Marcos, Guatemala. This mining enterprise covers over 20 km squared and has, among other things, contaminated the local water supply. Atch Mol has implemented consciousness raising programs in affected communities and has also conducted interviews in the area which confirm a total rejection of the mining project. In the neighboring country, construction of hydroelectric plants and planting of African Palms for fuel purposes proffer other problems that this country shares with southern Mexico.

During this meeting, various representatives from communities in Chiapas also spoke up to denounce the problems that were at the heart of this meeting. A representative of the Adherents of the Other Campaign from the San Sebastián Bachajón ejido denounced plans to construct a highway from San Cristóbal to Palenque which would affect the ejido. Because they have organized to defend their territory, the Adherents have as of late experienced strong repression with seven members being imprisoned. Representatives from the region of Motozintla denounced the exploitation of land by the Chicomuselo mine which has affected communities adjacent to this operation. The participation of the above mentioned as well as that of other communities enriched this meeting and complemented the analysis given by the scheduled speakers by adding the knowledge of local actors and their take on concrete problems.

This Open Forum was convened by Service and Consultants for Peace (Serapaz), Commission for the Support of Community Unity and Reconciliation (CORECO), Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Human Rights Center, and International Service for Peace (SIPAZ).

For more information, please visit:

Ponencia de Ana María García (EDUCA)

Chiapas: eco-tourism project divides the community of Jolaco in the Northern Region

May 20, 2009

In the community of Jolaco, in the municipality of Tila in the North of Chiapas, a struggle is taking place “against capitalism the destroyer of nature and humanity”. Diego Martínez López, a ch`ol catechist and member of the organization of displaced persons, Kichan Kichañob, member of the Other Campaign, is a member of the ejido and owner of a few hectares in the ejido which holds a special treasure: a spring, caves, and a river with beautiful waterfalls. The people of the community have always shared the region and bathed in it. In the heart of the mountain, the beginning of the river is hidden within hundreds of meters of caves and caverns covered in stalactites and stalagmites. There in the deep of the mountain, the community religious authorities meet to pray and burn candles during the drought.

For a long time, people from the city and other communities have come to the waterfalls to bath. Diego had never taken measures against the people who came to visit, although it did bother him when people came and dirtied the stream. However lately, Diego and the organization Kichan have come upon a new problem. In 1998, the government tried to pave a road that crosses Diego’s field of coffee bushes to enter the waterfalls. They promised him 50,000 pesos in order to build the road, and he accepted it. They tore down fruit trees and coffee bushes, but they never paid him back for the damage. Finally the plans for building the road were suspended. Less than a year ago, they returned to build it as part of the eco-tourism project driven by the government. The plan divided the community. Diego and Kichan Kichañob decided not to support the project, while the other part of the community was in favor the construction of the road and the completion of the eco-tourism project on the banks of the river. In addition, the municipal government of Tila stated a plan to allow a bottling company to use the spring.

Diego continues insisting that the waterfalls and the river belong to their ancestors and to their families, as well as the community. He does not want to sell his land and says that he will continue defending his rights. Nevertheless, the other part of the community insists that the waterfall is communal property belonging to the whole community, and because of this they are demanding that the eco-tourism project be accepted. The conflict seems to be threatening the autonomy of the community and the disagreement between the two groups over the future of the waterfall is dividing the community.

Chiapas: National Network of Civil Resistance against the High Prices of Electricity is formed

May 20, 2009

On May 16 and 17, a meeting of organizations from 7 Mexican states took place in order to organize a National Network of Civil Resistance against the High Prices of Electricity. This meeting took place in CIDECI- University of the Earth in San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas, and representatives of 20 organizations from Campeche, Chiapas, Chihuahua, the Federal District, Guerrero, Oaxaca, and Veracruz attended in order to organize a united front against the privatization and high prices of electricity.

After a short recuperation of the history of civil resistance and the struggle against electricity prices in various parts of Chiapas since the Zapatista uprising in 1994, the representatives of each organization shared their experience of struggle and the situations they are dealing with. In addition, the organization analyzed the government policy regarding electrical energy, and that during two decades there have been various legal reforms which helped the process of privatization of electricity, which in Mexico is administered by the state.

The objectives of the National Network of Civil Resistance against the High Prices of Electricity are to: “Strengthen our processes of resistance against the high prices of electricity through coordination at a national level which implies: organization and co-ordination, communication, solidarity, sharing of experiences, learning, widening of the network. Struggle for the respect and compliance with the San Andres Accords. Struggle against the privatization of electrical resources.”

The Network will be run under the following principals: “Independent of the government and political parties, democratic and militant; in Solidarity: `if one is attacked, they attack all of us’; non-negotiation with the government except involving prisoners: recognize and respect our differences and diversities. Reclaim the electrical energy for the people”.

For More Information:


Artículo de La Jornada sobre la Conformación de la Red Nacional de Resistencia Civil a las Altas Tarifas de la Energía Eléctrica (In Spanish)

Refusing to Pay for the Lights: Local Struggle against Privatization – SIPAZ Report, December 2004

Oaxaca: Reports- police operation/ new aggressions against the Human Rights Center/ precautionary measures for activist and his family

May 14, 2009
Marcelino Coache, the threatened activist

Marcelino Coache, the threatened activist

In a recent communiqué from the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca (APPO), they denounced that since the morning of May 8, there has been a major mobilization of the Federal Preventative Police (PFP) in the streets of the City of Oaxaca, especially in the Center. They stated that the police are camped in the Hotel Parador Crespo, two blocks from the Oaxacan autonomous solidarity house for self-sufficiency, CASOTA.

The communiqué stressed that: “The size and similarity of the operation to that which took place in 2006 in the city obliges us to alert all the people in solidarity about the possibility of more repression, especially because the same Hotel was used as lodging by federal agents in Oaxaca during the operation carried out by the Federal Preventative Police in 2006.”

In addition, in a Urgent Action on May 11, the Committee of November 25 (Comité 25 de noviembre), an independent civil organization created for legal defense and human rights during the many aggressions that took place during the conflict of 2006 in Oaxaca, denounced new aggressions and delays in justice in the investigation of these aggressions by the office of the Attorney General of the Republic (PGR).

Finally, on May 8, the Inter-American Human Rights Commission (IAHRC) granted precautionary measures to Marcelino Coache Verano and his family. In March of 2009, Coache Verano, a social leader and member of the Free Union of Workers in Service of the Municipality of Oaxaca de Juárez, denounced that he had been abducted, taken to an unknown location, and then burned with cigarettes on sensitive parts of his body. His family also denounced that they have received telephone threats since April of 2009. In Inter-American Commission requested that the Mexican State take the necessary measures to protect the lives and safety of Coache and his family, as well as inform the IAHRC of the actions taken.

For More Information (In Spanish):

Comunicado de la APPO

Acción Urgente del Comité 25 de Noviembre

Actualización de la Acción Urgente de Amnistía Internacion: Marcelino Coache y Defensores de DDHH Oaxaca

More Information from SIPAZ:

Oaxaca: Amnesty International testifies about the abduction and torture of a member of the APPO, SIPAZ Blog, 3/12/09.

Oaxaca: New threats in the case of Marcelino Coache, SIPAZ Blog, 5/4/09.

Chiapas: Communique from the Good Government Council of Morelia regarding the 8 detainees and the situation in the Zot’z Choj zone

May 13, 2009

On May 7, 2009, the Good Government Council “Corazón del arcoíris de la esperanza” of Caracol IV “Torbellino de nuestras palabras” of Morelia released a new communiqué demanding the immediate freedom of those detained in San Sebastian Bachajón, who are presently incarcerated in the CERSS No. 14 (El Amate), and they also denounced the “campaign of counterinsurgency” being carried out by the government of Sabines in a number of municipalities in the Zot’z Choj zone.

Regarding the detainees, they denounced: “By the incompetence of Juan Sabines and of his oppressors, they have unjustly tortured our comrades while the real criminals are free in their houses and we want to publically declare the incompetence of the repressive government. (…) In addition, we who work in the Good Government Council, humbly would like to show our capability to carry out real justice”. They stated that they had in custody two people who themselves denounced those who had hired them, “the real attackers”. They added that: “These people are the real criminals who had been attacking those on the highway between Ocosingo and Palenque, and that the police patrolling the highway have only obstructed justice, however they have succeeded in violating the rights of our comrades”

To Read the complete communique (In Spanish):

Chiapas: the 8 indigenous tseltales of San Sebastián Bachajón are indicted

May 13, 2009

Source: CDHFBC (In Spanish)

On May 8, the Human Rights Center Fray Bartolomé de las Casas (CDHFBC) stated that they had been notified of indictments against Alfredo Gómez Moreno, Gerónimo Gómez Saragos, Antonio Gómez Saragos, Pedro Demeza Deara, Sebastián Demeza Deara, Gerónimo Moreno Deara, Miguel Demeza Jiménez, members of the Other Campaign, and Miguel Vázquez Moreno, Support Base of the EZLN, of the ejido San Sebastián Bachajón in the municipality of Chilón.

In the morning, around 350 members of the ejido of San Sebastian Bachajón organized a protest march in the municipal capital of Ocosingo in order to demand the liberation of the 8 indigenous tseltales who are still detained in the State Center for Social Rehabilitation (CERSS) No. 4 ‘El Amate’ in Cintalapa, Chiapas.

For More Information (In Spanish):

Boletín – Violaciones al debido proceso en la defensa de indígenas tseltales, CDHFBC,07/05/2009.

Consignan en el penal de El Amate a ocho simpatizantes del EZLN y la otra campaña, La Jornada,08/05/2009.

Formal prisión a ocho indígenas tzeltales en Chiapas, Proceso,08/05/2009.