Oaxaca: arrest of cleric following killings of PRI functionaries in San José el Progreso

June 30, 2010

On 19 June, a confrontation occurred between the municipal authorities and residents of the communities of San José el Progreso, El Cuajilote, and Maguey Largo, in the municipality of San Jose del Progreso, Ocotlán, that resulted in the death of two people, incluying the mayor, Óscar Venancio Martínez (PRI), and the health-minister, Félix Misael Hernández, in addition to two injured and twelve detained.  Martín Octavio García Ortiz, priest of the region, was also detained while en route to hold mass in San José el Progreso and was transferred to the State Attorney General’s Office (PGJE), which charged him with instigating the murders committed on the 19th.

Residents of San José el Progreso have organized themselves in the People United for the Defense of Nature and Popular Autonomy in the Valley of Ocotlán and have been demonstrating to defend their land and natural resources.  They have been especially critical of the exploitation of the mine La Trinidad, property of the Mexican-Canadian firm Cuzcatlán.

The Diocese Commission for Justice and Peace of the Archidiocese of Antequera-Oaxaca, the Bartolomé Carrasco Briseño Regional Center for Human Rights (Barca), and the Citizens’ Initiative of Oaxaca have condemned the ambush that resulted in the detention of Martín Octavio García and have denied that he is responsible for the homicides.  In a communiqué released on 19 June, Barca contextualizes the events within the conflictivity that has been seen in the region due to the divisions that have resulted from the mineral exploitation carried out by Cuzcatlán.  Barca stresses that there has been a campaign of defamation against Martín Octavio García within this context–he has been referred to as an “agitator” and has even been linked to the Popular Revolutionary Army (EPR).  José Luis Chávez Botello, archbishop of Oaxaca-Antequera, has expressed his support for Octavio García, as several representatives of the Catholic Church have done in the past amidst calls for his dismissal.  Chávez Botello has committed himself to making clear Octavio García’s innocence in the present case against him.

For more information (in Spanish):

Urgent Action Bartolomé Carrasco Briseño Regional Center for Human Rights (19 June)

Mayor of San José del Progreso dies in row with residents (La Jornada, 20 June)

PGJE: there are 10 arrested after ambush against town-councillors (Universal, 21 June)

Call to process priest identified as responsible for killing of Oaxacan councillor and minister (La Jornada, 24 June)

Oaxaca: priest rejects charge of homicide (La Jornada, 25 June)

The immediate release of Martín García Ortiz, priest of San José del Progreso, is demanded (ADN Sureste, 25 June)

Archbishop pide indagar la verdad sobre acusaciones a párroco (Crónica de Hoy, 25 de junio)

Minerïa en Oaxaca: Raíz de la violencia (Colectivo Oaxaqueño en Defensa de los Territorios)


Guerrero – Briefs: Detention of FODEG member, Raúl Hernández recieved threats and announcement of the commemoration of the massacre at Aguas Blancas

June 30, 2010

On the morning of June 21, Bertoldo Martínez Cruz, member of the Front of Democratic Organizations  of the state of Guerrero (FODEG), was accused of  alleged robbery and other grievances by the City Council of Ayutla. He was released later that same day after it was demonstrated that his arrest was based on charges that Attorney General of Guerrero had retired in 2001. However, Bertoldo Martinez, who is also the coordinator of the Collective Against Torture and Impunity (CCIC), said that his detention “was not a mistake” and that in fact it was ordered three months ago. Bertoldo Martínez has been known as a member of the social struggle since 1973, when he was a political prisoner and tortured during the last years of the 90s, for his work against impunity in the case of Aguas Blancas. In a press conference, the Governor of Guerrero, Zeferino Torreblanca Galindo, denied that his government has criminalized social struggle and affirmed that they will continue to detain people with arrest warrants against them.

On the 22nd of June, Amnesty International (AI) released an Urgent Action in support of the prisoner of conscience, Raúl Hernández, who had recieved threats from inmates in the jail of Ayutla de los Libres. In the Urgent Action, AI asked the authorities to provide protection  to Raúl Hernández  and requested again his immediate release for having been detained unjustly. Moreover, Raúl Hernández, through the Tlachinollan Human Rights Center of the Montaña, sent a letter to the Superior Court of Justice (TSJ), on 21 June. In his letter, Hernández requested that the TSJ end the process with a fast and just sentence, in consideration of the fact that his lawyers have evidence showing his innocence. Raúl Hernández, member of the Organization of the Indigenous Me’phaa People (OPIM), was incarcerated in 2008, accused of murdering an army informant. He was adopted as a prisoner of conscience by AI because of his wrongful imprisonment.

Finally, the leader of the Popular Organization of Producers of Guerrero (OPPEG), Luis Enriquez Olivares, reported that 15-years after the slaughter of Aguas Blancas,  a rally will be convened commemorating massacre on the days of June 27th and 28th with 25 organizations attending. The event starts June 27 with a political-cultural event and will continue the next day with a caravan that will end with an offering of flowers and holding a mass for the fallen.

For more information (in Spanish):

Detienen a Bertoldo Martínez activista del FODEG (Medios Informativos , 21 de junio)

BOLETIN DE PRENSA Colectivo Contra la Tortura y la Impunidad (http://www.contralatortura.org (CCTI, 21 de junio)

Mi arresto no fue por una confusión, se ordenó desde hace tres meses: Bertoldo (La Jornada, 23 de junio)

Condenan organizaciones la detención de Bertoldo y de maestros cetegistas (El Sur de Acapulco, 25 de junio)

No negociaré órdenes de arresto con nadie, advierte Torreblanca Galindo (La Jornada, 23 de junio)

Acción Urgente Amnistía Internacional (22 de junio)

Urge proteger la vida de Raúl Hernández: AI (La Jornada, 22 de junio)

Hernández exige sentencia al Tribunal (La Jornada, 23 de junio)

Carta completa de Raúl Hernandez al Tribunal Superior de Justicia

Llama OCSS a que candidatos no usen matanza de campesinos como foro (La Jornada, 22 de junio)

Asegura OPPEG que habrá un solo acto por la matanza de Aguas Blancas (La Jornada, 24 de junio)

Chiapas: Communiqué of Las Abejas of Acteal in observation of the monthly commemoration of the 1997 massacre

June 28, 2010

On 22 June 2010, in commemoration of the Acteal massacre, the Civil Society Las Abejas of Acteal made public a communiqué claiming that “since Felipe Calderón decided to launch his war against drug-trafficking, our country has bled day by day.  The news no longer is that there have been executions but that a new record has been achieved in the number of killed, in the cruelty of murder, or in the lies of the authorities.  As long as the bad government continues telling the blind that it is winning this war, the dead will have neither name nor memory; each massacre on the new day eras the news of the previous one.”

For this reason, Las Abejas claim “that we are not tired of repeating the same thing every month, because if we do, that which is occurring in our country will to occur:  that is, that the dead of yesterday be forgotten for the dead of today and so on every day, until we get used to impunity and forgetting.  For this reason we say No to the forgetting of the Acteal massacre and all other massacres!”

The communiqué also stresses the following:  “We clearly see that this is not a change of strategy but rather the continuation of the same, the same strategy taken up by the successive bad governments:  to mislead the people with prettified words, with hollow promises, and gifts.  They offer money, used blankets, and expired medicines.  With this they want to divide the people and put an end to their struggles–in this case, those of the Zapatistas and Las Abejas.  The saddest thing of all is that they take advantage of the need and lack of consciousness exhibited by many of our brothers and sisters to make them fall into such traps.  It’s very sad to see sheep speaking of the goodness of wolves.”

Regarding things that happen in their own municipality, Las Abejas also denounced that “another thing that we would say to the manipulated people is that the bad government doesn’t even comply with its promises.  For example, last year Governor Sabines told the communities of Chenalhó that he would pay the outstanding debt owed by those who had not paid for electricity, as they were in resistance; he promised that from that point forward a new account would be begin from zero.  This is totally untrue, as the electricity-receipts continue being high and continue to have the previous debt […].  So that the bad government and the CFE knows, all the members of the civil organization Las Abejas who have electricity do not pay for it, because it belongs to us, since the bad government has a historical debt to indigenous peoples.”

The communique concludes in the following way: “The problem is that the bad government wants to do things not WITH the people but rather WITHOUT and even AGAINST the people.  That’s the way it is with the struggle against drug-trafficking and also in the ‘development’ proposals.  The government now wants to tell us where to live (in the Rural Cities), what to cultivate (plants to provide for cars and trucks instead of corn for our families), how to live and even how to think.  But it is not hte bad government that will tell us how to live and what to think.  We know this thanks to the wisdom of our ancestors as well as our own experience.  We know, then, that there is no need to sell our Mother Earth; there is however a need to defend it and care for it in light of the mega-projects that the bad government imposes in our lands.”

For more information (in Spanish):

Las Abejas’s Communiqué in full (22 June 2010)

Guerrero: Leader of the OFPM liberated

June 25, 2010

The leader of the Organization for the Future of the Mixteco People (OFPM), Álvaro Ramírez, who had been detained by Ministerial Investigative Police (PIM) on Sunday, June 6, was liberated on Saturday, June 12. He had been accused of the murder of Andrés Feliciano Modesta as well as the attempted murder of Policarpo Patriarca Agustín, but without evidence of his involvement in the crimes, he was acquitted six days after his incarceration in the prison of Ayutla de los Libres.  For the OFPM, it is clear that the Mexican state is persecuting the indigenous organization, and thus trying to stop their work to defend human rights. In fact, after his liberation Álvaro Ramírez denounced the Guerrerense Governor, Zeferino Torreblanca Galindo for forming a pact to stop the OFPM – in alliance with the cacique, Policarpio Patriarca Agustín of Ayutla de los Libres. In a joint press release on June 14, the Guerrerense Network of Civil Society Organizations and the Tlachinollan Center for Human Rights of the Montaña, also noted the work of repression against the OFPM by the government of Torreblanca.

For more information (in Spanish):

Torreblanca, aliado de caciques: OFPM (La Jornada, 15 de junio)

En Guerrero, dejan en libertad al líder indígena mixteco Álvaro Ramírez (La Jornada, 14 de junio)

La libertad del dirigente mixteco Álvaro Ramírez evidencia la persecución que sigue enfrentando la OFPM (Boletin de prensa Red Guerrerense de Organismos Civiles  de Derechos Humanos / Tlachinollan: 14 de junio)

For more information from SIPAZ (In English):

Guerrero – Briefs : Police detain a leader of the OFPM/ Anniversary of El Charco (June 19, 2010)

Chiapas: 7 months after the beginning of harassment directed at members of Enlace Comunicación y Capacitación of Comitán

June 23, 2010

Seven months after the harassment, abuse of authority and torture suffered by Adolfo Guzmán Ordaz, Margarita Guadalupe Martínez Martínez and their children, Enlace Comunicación y Capacitación released a communiqué that includes a summary of past events.  In the communiqué, the organization once again demands that those responsible for these acts be punished.

Despite the preventive measures granted to the Ordaz-Martínez family–which include a permanent protective escort–Enlace affirms that “we consider such measures not to eliminate the vulnerabilities of Margarita, Adolfo, and their family; on the contrary, in certain circumstances they have exacerbated such vulnerability.  An example of this occurred on Friday 4 June, when Margarita found herself in a house in Comitán: while she was there, her escort was investigated on three successive occasions during a 2-hour period, with each investigation being more intimidating.” The communiqué noted moreover “a halt in the juridical advance of the case,” and that “these actions demonstrate the incapacity and lack of security-guarantees granted to human-rights defenders by the Mexican State.”

For more information (in Spanish):

Complete communiqué from Enlace (11 June 2010)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Chiapas: Wife of Adolfo Guzmán Ordaz, Member of Enlace, Comunicación y Capacitación, Margarita Martínez: Beaten, Kidnapped and Threatened with Death (26 February 2010)

Chiapas: new harrassment of a member of the civil organization Enlace, Capacitación y Comunicación, AC (13 January 2010)

Oaxaca: following the caravan “Bety Cariño and Jyri Jaakkola” to San Juan Copalá

June 21, 2010

On June 8, the humanitarian support caravan “Bety Cariño and Jyri Jaakkola,” composed of some 300 people, left from the Oaxacan municipality of Huajuapan for San Juan Copalá to deliver between 30 and 35 tons of food to the autonomous municipality that has for months been surrounded by members of the group Union for the Social Welfare of the Triqui Region (UBISORT for the Spanish acronym), which is linked to the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). The caravan was not able to enter the community due to a blockade that UBISORT members had created on the road to San Juan Copalá; the road-block was made up of a line of stones at the location of  La Pavimentada and a group of Triqui women guarded by armed men, including Rufino Hernandez Juarez, leader of UBISORT.

Participating in the caravan were residents of San Juan Copalá, members of the Other Campaign, deputies from the PRD and PT, members of the Mexican Alliance for the Self-Determination of Peoples (AMAP), the Mexican Union of Electrical Workers (SME), the Mexican Action Network on Free Trade (RMALC), other civil society organizations, members of the Catholic church, human rights groups, environmentalists from various Mexican states, as well as journalists and European observers. The caravan was escorted by 500 officers of the State Preventative Police (PEP), who according to accounts recommended that the members of the caravan desist from continuing in face of the UBISORT road-block. After hearing gun shots fired near the blockade, the caravan leaders concluded that conditions were lacking to continue and so decided to return to Huajuapan to ensure the safety of the caravan members.

According to the analysis of Jorge Albino Ortiz, a representative of San Juan Copalá and coordinator of the caravan, state police laid a “fence” on the road to the autonomous municipality on June 8 precisely to protect UBISORT. He asserted that the police actions against the caravan show the state government’s support for this organization and added that the state administration acts in this way to negate the autonomous project that has been developed in the municipality since 2007.

According to Romualdo Wilfrido Mayrén Peláez, coordinator of the Diocesan Commission for Justice and Peace with the archdiocese of Oaxaca, there has since 8 June been considered the possibility that the International Red Cross and the United Nations deliver the tons of food currently stored in Huajuapan to San Juan Copalá.  He also mentioned the  prospect of organizing another caravan, this one composed entirely of women.

The area remains very tense. In the words of Triqui activist Marcos Albino, “Triqui children have not had been able to have childhoods, given the climate of violence encouraged by the governor Ulises Ruiz.” Mayrén Peláez, legal representative of the archdiocese of Oaxaca, has argued that “what is happening in San Juan Copala is a war: there are disappearances, deaths and aggressions.” For his part, the PRD legislator, Alejandro Encinas, announced in early June that he expected the Organization of American States and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to appoint a representative to document human-rights violations in the area.

Solidarity marches also took place on the 8th in Mexico City, Queretaro, and Oaxaca de Juarez. The demonstrations in Mexico City, organized by female Triquis, students, and members of civil society organizations, were met by riot police who attacked their members. In Queretaro, the demonstrators demanded security guarantees for the caravan as well as a speed-up of the investigation by the Federal Attorney General’s Office (PGR) in San Juan Copalá. In Oaxaca de Juarez, members of Oaxacan Voices Constructing Autonomy and Liberty (VOCAL) engaged in a roadblock, during which electoral propaganda promoting the candidacy of Eviél Perez Magaña (PRI-Green Ecologist) in state elections to be held in early July was burned. According to David Venegas, a member of VOCAL, these activities were coordinated with the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca (APPO).

In a statement released on June 10, the editors of La Jornada asserted that impunity in Oaxaca, experienced in relation to the Triqui region, reflects that “the rule of law [there] is nonexistent.” For his part, Miguel Concha, president of the Human Rights Center Fray Francisco de Vitoria, said that the inability of the new caravan to enter San Juan Copalá “confirms that there are armed groups that are out of control or protected by the government Oaxaca,” a conclusion that is shared by David Peña, of the National Association of Democratic Lawyers, who said in an interview that “in this region of Oaxaca there is an absence of the rule of law […]. There, the one who commands an armed group, is clearly paramilitary.” Peña added that “we can’t conceive that an armed group has more power and control in the region that both governments [i.e. state and federal]. “

For more information (in Spanish):

With road-blocks and shots the humanitarian convoy is prevented from reaching San Juan Copala (La Jornada, 9 June)

They are protected by the police (La Jornada, 10 June)

The real war of the Mexican government, against indigenous peoples: a special report (La Jornada, 12 June)

The International Red Cross is asked to take supplies to San Juan Copala (La Jornada, 10 June)

The prospect that a female-only caravan be sent to Copala is considered (La Jornada, 9 June)

Security in San Juan Copala worsens; attacks reach other communities, it is said (La Jornada, 3 June)

Solidarity marches in 3 locations (La Jornada, 8 June)

Riot-police in the capital obstruct march in support of aid-caravan (La Jornada, 9 June)

Copala: violence and power-vacuum (La Jornada, 10 de junio)

Blog of the Autonomous Municipality of San Juan Copala

Cyber-action for San Juan Copala: All with the Caravan Bety Cariño and Jyri Jaakkola

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Oaxaca: On the “International and National Humanitarian Caravan Bety Cariño and Jyri Jaakola” to San Juan Copala (8 June 2010)

Oaxaca: The Peace Network’s Communiqué on the Caravan to San Juan Copala (9 June 2010)

Chiapas: Judicial Harassment of Human-Rights Defender

June 21, 2010

Manifestación Consejo Autónomo dela Costa (@CDH Digna Ochoa)

On 18 June, the Observation-Institution for the Protection of Human Rights, which is associated with the World Organization Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), requested the intervention of the Mexican government in light of acts of judicial harassment against Nataniel Hernández, director of the Digna Ochoa Human-Rights Center, in the coastal region of Chiapas.

On 11 June, Nataniel Hernández was called before the Public Ministry; he arrived on the 15th, there to be informed that an investigation had been undertaken into his participation in a road-block in the municipality of Pijijiapan in April.  This road-block had been organized by several community organizations engaging in civil resistance against high electricty-prices; they form the Autonomous Regional Council of the Coastal Zone of Chiapas.  During the interrogation that lasted three hours, Hernández admitted having been presented at the road-block, given that “in his capacity as director of the Digna Ochoa Human-Rights Center, […] his presence as an observer had been requested, so that he could document any rights-violation that could occur during the event”.

In a joint communiqué, the Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Human-Rights Center and the Digna Ochoa Human-Rights Center find that “the investigations of the Federal Attorney General’s Office in the city of Arriaga, Chiapas, constitute acts of harassment against Mr. Nataniel, linked to his work in defense and promotion of human rights.  We fear that the Federal Public Minister Angel Sandoval Lara turn the case over the corresponding judge and concurrently request an arrest-order against the director of the Digna Ochoa Human-Rights Center.”

For more information (in Spanish):

Joint bulletin Digna Ochoa Human-Rights Center, Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Human-Rights Center (16 June)

Urgent Action from the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH, 17 June)

Digna Ochoa Human-Rights Center Blog