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: Jotolá, Freed detainees and new threats

November 23, 2009

On November 10th, Chiapas authorities freed four people accused of attacks against a lawyer from the Human Rights Center, Fray Bartolomé de las Casas (Centro de Derechos Humanos Fray Bartolomé de las Casas (CDHFBC)) and indigenous members of The Other Campaign.  The attacks happened on September 18th in the ejido (cooperatively owned land) of Jotolá, in the municipality of Chilón. The arrest of the attackers was highly publicized, but they stayed in jail only for one week.  Yesterday, the attackers returned to the community and, according to members of The Other Campaign, threatening to take revenge. “Between one and three in the morning, the freed members of the Institutional Revolutionary Party [PRI] were seen inebriated and making threats outside of a house of the mother of Cándido Cruz, one of the members of The Other Campaign and a witness in the criminal proceedings against the freed attackers.” Also, members of The Other Campaign explained that “Later, when some of the women of Jotolá were traveling along the highway, the brothers Cruz Méndez and other members of the Organization for the Defense of Indigenous and Peasant Rights (Organización para la Defensa de los Derechos Indígenas y Campesinos (OPDDIC)) shouted ‘the members of The Other Campaign will be killed one by one and the women will be raped.’”

CDHFBC warned the cooperative ejido framers of The Other Campaign and their families of the imminent risk of attack by members of OPDDIC and asked the state government to take precautionary measures for the community.

In a press release about these latest events, CDHFBC also made “an emphatic denouncement of governor Juan Sabines Guerrero because this latest act of impunity confirms that the administration of the justice system is being used to suppress social protest . . . , and on the other hand conceal paramilitaries.”

For more information (in spanish):

For more information form de SIPAZ:
-SIPAZ: Urgent Action; Armed attack on  Human Rights workers in  Jotolá, Chiapas

    (24th of September 2009)

Chiapas: Arrest and high-alert situation in Jotolá (november 2009)

Guerrero: Prison sentence for David Valtierra, founder of Radio Nomnda

November 19, 2009

radio no

On November 12 David Valtierra Arango, one of the founders of the community radio station Nomndaa (The Word of Water), was handed down a prison sentence. Valtierra had been accused of wrongfully depriving Ariosta Rocha of his freedom. Rocha is the brother of Aceadeth Rocha Ramirez, a local PRI deputy and the ex-mayor of the municipality of Xochistlahuaca.

Since November 5 David Valtierra had reported that there was an arrest warrant against him, as well as 30 Amuzgo indigenous people, all for the same reason.

Since 2002 the people of Xochistlahuaca have organized their own autonomous government, put in place to maintain their own customs and traditions. They accused then-mayor Aceadeth Rocha of the misuse of funds. Two years later, in December 2004, the community radio project “The Word of the Water” began transmitting in the Amuzgo language – the first of its kind in Guerrero. Since that time, founders of the radio station like David Valtierra have had to face persecution and harassment from state and federal officials.

The Montana Tlachinollan Human Rights Center emphasized the following: “Aceadeth Rocha has played an important role in this climate of repression by starting a pirate radio station without any trouble (and with the backing of the Guerrero government) with the clear intention of blocking the Radio Nomndaa signal.” Tlachinollan denounced the arrest of David Valtierra as “an attack against freedom of expression. This is evidence of a government that uses the justice system to knock down whoever is fighting for indigenous people and the political opposition. The investigation against David Valtierra and the members of the Xochistlahuaca Community Front are supported by proof that is fabricated, inconsistent and tainted from the beginning. All of which points to this as an act criminalization of human rights defenders.”

For more information:

– Dictan auto de formal prisión a fundador de la radio comunitaria Ñomndaa (Centro de Derechos Humanos de la Montaña Tlachinollan)

– Formal prisión a fundador de radio indígena (La Jornada, 13 de noviembre)

For more information from SIPAZ:

Xochistlahuaca (Website)

Chiapas: Attacks and threats against the community of Roberto Barrios and Caracol V

November 18, 2009

On November 15th, 2009, the Nueva Semilla Good Government Committee of the Roberto Barrios Caracol V (in northern Chiapas) published a communiqué denouncing a series of threats and attacks against the Caracol, specifically against the autonomous Zapatista school in Roberto Barrios.

During the most recent aggression, the communiqué said, “on October 20th at 6:00 pm two people named Carlos Mendez Mendez and Luciano Mendez Mendez arrived at the Caracol and threatened the students by cocking their nine millimeter pistols and pointing them in the direction of the students. The two men wore federal army uniforms and have been seen passing by wearing guns at their waist. The commander of the armed forces sends his soldiers to train these people from the communities who are tricked and convinced to create violence and the disintegration of community life.”

They added: “On October 26, 2009, unidentified people robbed the craft store belonging to our companeros and located in front of the Caracol gate in the community of Roberto Barrios, one of our support bases.”

The Good Government Committee linked this recent harassment to “the ecotourism project to establish businesses for the economic interest of tourism companies. The school is on land located at the entrance of the Bascan River waterfalls and the bad government is involved in this project and acting through the employees of the bad government. Luis H. Alvarez, Hugo Garcia and Jesus Caridad.”

For more information (in Spanish):

– Comunicado de la JBG Roberto Barrios

– Agreden y filman a alumnos del Caracol de Roberto Barrios (La Jornada, 16 de noviembre de 2009)

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)

Chiapas: The OCEZ-RC sit-in, twelve days later

November 13, 2009
@Expreso de Chiapas

Since Monday October 26th about 150 members of OCEZ-RC (Emiliano Zapata Campesina Organization, Carranza Region) have maintained a sit-in in the center of San Cristobal de Las Casas to denounce intimidation by the military and police in their region, and to demand the release of their members: Jose Manuel Chema Hernandez Martinez was arrested on September 30th, while Jose Manual de la Torre and Roselio de la Cruz Gonzalez were apprehended on October 24th. All three are accused of stealing, causing damage and criminal association, among other charges.

On October 29th Amnesty International asked the Mexican government to investigate the complaints against the Chiapas police, who are accused of torturing OCEZ leaders. Amnesty International also asked for the guarantee of a fair trial for Jose Hernandez Martinez who remains unable to communicate since being transferred to a maximum-security prison 2000 kilometers from Chiapas.

On October 30th in “a desperate measure to call attention and obtain the release of our fellow members,” participants from the sit-in occupied the offices of the United Nations (UN) in San Cristobal de Las Casas. The OCEZ members explained that the occupation was a “peaceful act related to international rights against forced internal displacement.” They said they were afraid police and soldiers would conduct raids in their communities in Venustiano Carranza.

UN official Arnaud Peral said “the UNDP has determined the peaceful nature of the protest up until now, despite the imposition of having their headquarters occupied, and has asked the authorities not to proceed with any forced removal based on the principal of respect for the inviolability of United Nations offices.” However, he stated that the UN would join “the negotiation process once the offices were vacated, and once the framework for dialogue as well as representation of the occupying group had been clarified.”

On November 4th prisoners Jose Manuel de la Torre Hernandez and Roselio de la Cruz Gonzalez asked that those occupying the UNDP offices vacate the building. That same day the National Front in the Struggle for Socialism (Frente Nacional de Lucha hacia el Socialismo, FNLS) denounced the “fact that the last two OCEZ-RC members who were arrested (Jose Manuel de la Torre Hernandez and Roselio Cruz Gonzalez) had agreed to change their lawyer Lic. Marcos Lopez Perez, are spreading the news that they weren’t tortured and now ‘ask’ their fellow members to vacate the UNPD offices is undeniably proof of the terrorism of these supposed state authorities. It’s obvious they were subject to pressure and threats to take these positions.” They also pointed out “the FNLS doesn’t rule out that the repressive strategy being used against the OCEZ-RC – which has been used to facilitate the militarization of their region – is part of the declared intentions of the Governor Juan Sabines in the sense that he is going to create the ‘social conditions’ necessary to give access to transnational mining extraction in Chiapas.”

On November 5th the OCEZ announced that they had proposed that the Government Secretary of Chiapas, Noe Castanon Leon, set up a working group “to ease tensions and show good faith” in order to find a solution to their demands and the occupation of the United Nations offices. This initiative may take place as early as this weekend.

For more information:

Acción Urgente de Amnistía Internacional

– Solicita AI que se indaguen denuncias de tortura contra líderes de la OCEZ (La Jornada, 29 de octubre)

– Toman oficinas de la ONU (Cuarto Poder, 31 de octubre)

– Descartan líderes de la OCEZ-RC toma del PNUD (Milenio, 4 de noviembre)

Posición del FNLS antes el conflicto de la OCEZ-RC (Carta abierta, 4 de noviembre)

– Propone la OCEZ mesa de distensión (La Jornada, 6 de noviembre)

For more information from SIPAZ:

Chiapas: Organizations and social movements descend on San Cristobal to call for justice (octubre 2009)

Chiapas: Prisoner forced to transfer to maximum-security prison in Tepic, Nayarit (october 2009)

Chiapas: OCEZ leader from the Venustiano Carranza Region captured(october 2009)

Chiapas: Arrests and high-alert situation in Jotola

November 13, 2009

Diego Cadenas Gordillo (Director del CDHFBC)

On November 7 the Human Rights Center Fray Bartolome de Las Casas (Frayba) denounced the fact that members of the Organization for the Defense of Indigenous and Campesino Rights (Organizacion para la Defensa de los Derechos Indigenas, OPDDIC) were threatening to burn down the houses of members of the Zapatista-led “Other Campaign” in the community of Jotola, Chilon municipality. This latest action is apparently in retaliation for the arrest of four OPDDIC members by the state police on November 4th. The four are presumably linked to the attack against Frayba lawyer Ricardo Lagunes Gasca on September 18th and are accused of depriving him illegally of his freedom, injury and attempted murder.

On November 7 Frayba’s Director Diego Cadenas Gordillo said he had received reports that OPDDIC had two tanks of gasoline, presumably to be used to light the homes of the Other Campaign members on fire. Cadenas said that given the risks to the Other Campaign members he’d asked state authorities to implement preventive measures “to safeguard the rights, physical well-being, and the lives of the people involved in the conflict.”

For more information:

Alerta el Frayba (Expreso, 8 de noviembre)

For more information from SIPAZ:

Urgent Action: Armed attack on human rights workers in Jotola (Chiapas September 24th, 2009)