Chiapas: The Anniversary of Oscar Romero’s Death Commemorated by Las Abejas

March 29, 2010

On March 22, the monthly commemoration of the massacre at Acteal, the Abejas civil organization sent a public communiqué to the national and international press, the civil society, the Other Campaign, human rights defenders and social and political organizations in remembrance of the 30th anniversary of the murder of Salvadoran bishop Oscar Romero that took place on March 24, 1980.

Referring to Romero as a “revolutionary of God,” the Abejas considered him “an example of how to struggle, because he never kept quiet despite all of the violence and repression, and never worried about what would happen to him.” In linking Romero’s efforts for peace and justice 30 years ago to those of today, the Abejas emphasized that this struggle “has not ended and will not end, because the monster that fought against him continues to devour organized communities, because the beast that killed men and women in El Salvador is still alive and is still killing many people in this country and throughout the world and its name is Capitalism and Neoliberalism.” In their communiqué, the Abejas establish a parallel between military support that the US gave the Salvadoran government in the 1970’s and 80’s and the present relationship between the US and Mexican governments. The communiqué includes a section of the letter that Romero wrote to the then US president Jimmy Carter just over a month before he was murdered: “I have an obligation to see that faith and justice reign in my country, I ask you, if you truly want to defend human rights: to forbid that military aid be given to the Salvadoran government.”

The Abejas also warned that the campaign against suspected “organized crime” in Mexico may serve in the future as a pretext for the deployment of the US military in Mexican territory. They denounced that this campaign is “part of a counterinsurgency policy and [moves toward] the criminalization of [social] organizations and organized peoples that are struggling against the system.”

They conclude the communiqué reminding their readers that “the monster is big but it is not immortal.” In high spirits they ask, “are we not a great many, the men and women who want peace, justice and human dignity? (…) all men and women have the right to live freely and speaking of justice, it cannot be permitted that a few may make decisions for our lives.”

For more information (in English):

Complete communiqué of Las Abejas (22/3/2010)

For more information from SIPAZ:

Acteal: March of Las Abejas in observance of International Women’s Day (11/3/2010)


Chiapas: road-block lifted and prisoners released in Mitzitón

March 26, 2010

On 24 March, adherents to the Other Campaign from Mitzitón, municipality of San Cristóbal de las Casas, published an open letter announcing that they had lifted the road-block they had erected since the detention of the Other-Campaign adherent Manuel Díaz Heredia by units of the Federal Attorney General’s Office (PGR).  The same letter announced the release of two police officers and three governmental officials from the Ministry for Social Development (SEDESOL) that Mitzitón Other-Campaign adherents had detained on the day of Díaz Heredia’s capture in an effort to win his release.  The authors of the communiqué agreed to await the end of the 144-hour period provided by constitutional law for a judicial solution to Díaz Heredia’s case, warning that they would engage in “more serious protest actions,” including a “permanent roadblock,” if their comrade were not to be released after that time.

On 25 March, Díaz Heredia was in fact released from the Amate prison, due to the presiding judge’s finding a lack of evidence for his participation in the trafficking of persons for which he had been charged.

For more information (in Spanish):

Open letter from Other-Campaign adherents in Mitzitón, in full (25 March)

Ejidatario and Other-Campaign adherent from Mitzitón released for lack of evidence (La Jornada, 26 March)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Chiapas: Risk of confrontation in Mitzitón following arrest of ejidatario (25 March)

Guerrero: Andrea Eugenio Manuel, indigenous activist and sister to Obtilia, is threatened with death

March 26, 2010

In her complaint filed before the Public Ministry on 19 March, Andrea Eugenio Manuel explained that, on 17 March at approximately 4:30pm, while she awaited friends in front of a vegetable grocer “a stranger approached and began taking pictures.  [Manuel] demanded an explanation of him, but he responded by saying, ‘Soon, you’re going to get fucked over'” (La Jornada).

Andrea Eugenio Manuel has worked for years to defend the human rights of the Me’phaa people.  She has “served as translator […] in the cases of soldiers who raped Inés Fernández Ortega and Valentina Rosenda Cantú.  She has also accompanied indigenous women […] from Ayutla de los Libres in their public legal denunciations of units of the Mexican military that have harassed communities and violated their human rights.  Andrea also participated as translator in the denunciation and complaint process presented by 14 indigenous individuals from El Camalote, municipality of Ayutla de los Libres, who were forcibly sterilized by personnel of the Health Ministry” (La Jornada).

This latest death-threat directed at Andrea took place 11 days after she denounced similar aggression against her sister Obtilia, president of the Organization of the Me’phaa Indigenous People (OPIM).  Recently, the Tlachinollan Mountain Center for Human Rights, which has been accompanying OPIM in its condemnations of human-rights violations, has also been subjected to harassment.  Both organizations have since April 2009 been granted precautionary measures by the Inter-American Court on Human Rights.

Together with the Guerrero Network, the Tlachinollan Mountain Center for Human Rights and OPIM declare that “These increased death-threats and acts of harassment directed at human-rights defenders from Guerrero occur as a precursor to the hearing made by the Inter-American Court for Human Rights in the case of Inés Fernández Ortega during her hearings in April […].  We are concerned that obscure interest-groups are attempting to silence victims and witnesses just before the hearing that will be realized in the next few days, and that the State is trying to evade having to engage in an exhaustive investigation that would allow for the identification and sanctioning of those responsible.”

For more information (in Spanish):

Obtilia’s sister, who has supported complaints made by indigenous women raped by soldiers, is menaced with death (press release by Tlachinollan, OPIM, and the Guerrero Network, 22 March)

OHCHR condemns harassment and death-threats that persist against defenders in Guerrero (press release by United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, 23 March)

Indigenous activist is threatened with death in Guerrero (La Jornada, 23 March)

Tlachinollan:  The sister of OPIM’s Obtilia Eugenio is threatened (La Jornada, 23 March)

The UN condemns harassment of indigenous defenders protected by the CIDH (Cronica de Hoy, 24 March)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Guerrero:  New Threats against Obtilia Eugenio Manuel, president of OPIM and witness in the Ines Fernandez Ortega vs. Mexico case (17 March)

Chiapas: medical neglect in the case of Alberto Patishtán

March 25, 2010

On March 22, Professor Alberto Patishtán Gómez, a prisoner being held in Penitentiary No. 5 of San Cristóbal de las Casas and member of the Voice of Amate (La Voz de Amate), issued an open letter to the media, adherents to the Other Campaign, independent organizations, human-rights organizations, and the Sixth International denouncing the behavior of the various levels of the Mexican government in their handling of prisoners and his case in particular.  In a letter written from the hospital Vida Mejor in Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Patishtán, who received the the award of jTatic jCanan Lum from Bishop Emeritus Samuel Ruiz Garcia in January 2010, addressed the fact that Mexican jails are today “over-populated” due to systemic injustice and misapplication of the law. According to Patishtán, prisoners have lost “land, houses, money, work  [and] family” due to their incarcerations and are also “malnourished, neglected when they are sick and exposed to infections due to lack of preventative care.”

Patishtán also noted that due to the “neglect and bureaucracy” of “those responsible” for Penitentiary No. 5, he has lost vision in his right eye (the reason he is currently hospitalized).  In response, Patishtán demanded  that the authorities “immediately become involved in the treatment of the sick” and thus “cut or remove the bureaucracy” that he sees as “an enormous obstacle that prevents the treatment of those who are sick, indigenous or not.”

Patishtán concluded by demanding his “immediate and unconditional freedom,” due both to his innocence and delicate medical state.  He also  called on people to continue fighting for “Freedom and Justice.”

For more information (in Spanish):

Patishtán’s letter in full (22 March)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Chiapas:  Presentation of the “jTatic Samuel jCanan Lum” Honor (26 January 2010)

Chiapas:  Alberto Patishtan’s case generation action around the world (19 September 2009)

Chiapas: Risk of confrontation in Mitzitón following arrest of ejidatario

March 25, 2010

Following the arrest in the morning on 23 March of Manuel Díaz Heredia, an ejidatario of Mitzitón and adherent to the Other Campaign, by agents of the Federal Attorney General’s Office (PGR), a tense situation has developed in this community, municipality of San Cristóbal de las Casas.  Seeking Díaz’s release, adherents of the Other Campaign the same day detained two members of the State Preventive Police (PEP) and three officials from the Ministry for Social Development (SEDESOL, a federal institution) and also set up a roadblock on the Pan-American Highway between San Cristóbal and Comitán.  On 24 March, the Fray Bartolomé Center for Human Rights (CDHFBC) mentioned the possibility of a confrontation between Mitzitón residents and people who, according to CDHFBC, were amassing in the neighboring community of Betania, possibly to prepare a break-up of the aforementioned road-block.

Manuel Díaz Heredia was detained in the morning of 23 March on the charge of migrant-trafficking (a federal crime) and taken to the Center for Social Re-Integration for the Sentenced (CERSS) No. 14, known as “El Amate.”  According to CDHFBC, Díaz was beaten during the journey to the prison.  The charges against Díaz were reportedly brought forth by Carmen Díaz Gómez, a former Mitzitón resident who was expelled from the community three years ago.  Significantly, Díaz Gómez presented the same accusations made against him by Mitzitón ejidatarios who are adherents to the Other Campaign in the past.

Mitziton ejidatarios who adhere to the Other Campaign publicly denounced Díaz Heredia’s arrest, which they see as an act of criminalization of the defense of their territory, and announced the measures they had taken in response in the hopes of effecting Díaz Heredia’s release:  the detainment of several governmental officials as well as the roadblock on the Pan-American Highway, which physically divides the community.  They denounced the arrest as a ploy by the state government to force a return to negotiations and to “make us resign ourselves to the fact that our territory will be used for the construction of the San Cristóbal-Palenque highway and the widening of the road” to Comitán.

In CDHFBC’s view, it is “important to mention that as of yet no public servant has approached the Mitzitón ejidatarios to inform him/herself of the demands that led to the highway-roadblock.  This is of course not the first time that indigenous groups associated with governmental projects are used to effect eviction, dispossession, control, and recovery–in this case, the raising of the roadblock.”

It should be mentioned that, on 18 March, the attorney Miguel Ángel de los Santos Cruz presented an invitation to dialogue from the state government, an appeal that was rejected by adherents to the Other Campaign.  In their public communiqué released on 22 March, the adherents declared that “the government knows well the agreements we’ve made in our community.  We have said many times that we don’t want paramilitary groups and delinquents to continue harming and kidnapping people, and that we want our rights as indigenous people to be respected.  We don’t want the bad government’s violence directed against our community for religious reasons to be covered up.  We aren’t a group of people; we are a people who deserve respect.”

For more information (in Spanish):

Risk of confrontation is reported due to indigenous roadblock in Mitzitón (La Jornada, 24 de marzo)

Public denunciation of ejidatarios-Other Campaign adherents regarding the detention of Manuel Diaz Heredia (23 de marzo)

Federal agents arrest Other Campaign adherent in Mitzitón, Chiapas (La Jornada, 24 de marzo)

Public denunciation of ejidatarios-Other Campaign adherents regarding meddling of Miguel Ángel de los Santos Cruz (22 de marzo)

Mitzitón authorities declare De los Santos to be government palero (La Jornada, 23 de marzo)

CDHFBC report:  Aggression and torture in Mitzitón (12 March)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Another confrontation in Mitzitón (9 March 2010)

Chiapas:  Denunciation of Attempted Kidnapping in Mitzitón (26 February 2010)

Chiapas:  Indigenous Communities demand a stop to repression for defending their territory (28 August 2009)

Chiapas:  Person dead after brutal attacks in Mitzitón (29 July 2009)

Mexico: The UN, US and the EU Point Out Failure to Respect Human Rights and Recent Serious Violations

March 22, 2010

In the last few weeks, the Mexican government has received severe questioning at the international level regarding human rights.

On March 8 and 9, the UN Human Rights Committee held a session in New York. Ten years after presenting its last report on the advances made in compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Mexican government—which signed on to the agreement in 1981—presented its fifth periodic report to the UN Human Rights Committee some five years late. The experts that make up the committee questioned the Mexican State on its implementation of the measures laid out by the Covenant including different aspects such as: militarization, military tribunals, arraigo (pre-charge detentions), passed crimes and the disappearance of the Special Prosecutors Office for Passed Social Movements (FEMOSSP, Fiscalía Especial para los Movimientos Sociales del Pasado), torture, prison conditions, international treaty hierarchies, violence against women, a framework regulating abortion, protections for journalists and human rights defenders, rights for gays, lesbians and transgendered people (LGBT), as well as the situation concerning indigenous peoples’ rights and the application of Article 33.

In addition, on March 11, the US State Department published their “2009 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices.” The section on Mexico confirms that, in general, the government has respected human rights, however it also recognizes a deterioration of the human rights situation in the country sighting cases of arbitrary executions, impunity within the penal system, confessions obtained under torture, attacks on journalists, as well as complaints of forced disappearance carried out by the military.

Finally, on the same day, the European Parliament in Strasburg adopted a resolution titled “The Escalation of Violence in Mexico” by a vote 53 in favor, 2 opposed and 3 abstentions. In the resolution the European Parliament expressed its concern for the current level of violence in Mexico, the climate of impunity within the country as well as attacks against human rights defenders, journalists and women. The resolution called for the Mexican government to adopt policies that guarantee freedom of the press, protections for human rights defenders, security for women and put an end to the impunity enjoyed by security forces and abuses of power.

For More Information:

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

2009 Human Rights Report: Mexico (US State Department, 11/3/2010)

European Parliament resolution on the escalation of violence in Mexico (11/3/2010)

For More Information in Spanish:

Aumentaron los casos de violaciones a los derechos humanos en México, afirma EU (Jornada, 12/3/2010)

Preocupa al Parlamento Europeo la escalada de violencia en México (Jornada, 12/3/2010)

Condena UE creciente violencia en México (Reforma, 12/3/2010)

Eurocámara llama a frenar violencia en México (Universal, 12/3/2010)

Preocupa a Parlamento Europeo violencia e impunidad en México (Revista Proceso, 11/3/2010)

Critica Parlamento Europeo falta de compromiso para defender DH de las mujeres (CIMAC Noticias, 10/3/2010)

Chiapas: Public Denunciation on Ranchería Amaytic from Garrucha JBG

March 19, 2010

As of March 16, zapatista support bases from Ranchería Amaytik located in the Ricardo Flores Magón autonomous municipality have been followed and threatened with eviction and death by some 200 member of the  Organization for the Defense of Indigenous and Campesino Rights (Opddic, Organización para la Defensa de los Derechos Indígenas y Campesinos). The Good Government Council (JBG, Junta de Buen Gobierno) “The Path of The Future” of the Garrucha caracol, recently denounced the actions of armed members of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI, Partido Revolucionario Institucional) and the Opddic who are following “our compañeros” in an attempt to apprehend them. The women are alone in their homes and they are threatening them, telling them they will kill all of their livestock and that they will be evicted.

The JBG explains the events leading up to this conflict stating that it began on August 25, 2002 with “a problem [concerning] the separation of a couple in Ranchería Amaytic,” in the Ricardo Flores Magón autonomous municipality in which autonomous authorities intervened. Lorenzo Martinez Espinoza, a spokesperson for the autonomous council and Jacinto Hernandez Gutierrez, an autonomous agent, “were murdered with a firearm and machetes and sticks after leaving the place.”

According to the communiqué “the murderers” left the community and sought refuge in the Peña Limonar ejido. The autonomous authorities would not allow them to continue living in the Ranchería Amaytic. On March 15 of this year, the PRI members attempted to return accompanied by people from Peña Limonar, Yoc Navil, Pamanavil, San Antonio Catarraya, Ranchería Ganxanil and Nueva Providencia.

The JBG concludes: “We will defend our compañeros and our land with a solution in agreement with our customs; we do not want problems, we will always seek out a solution that springs from the area where the problem arose, but the bad government always gets in the way and that is when it becomes impossible to solve the problem because of course this is part of their plan known as counterinsurgency.”

For More Information (Spanish):

Garrucha JBG Denunciation

Opddic supports the return of suspects in 2002 murders to Amaytik (La Jornada, 18/3/2010)