Chiapas: journalists denounce slander-campaign directed at them

July 30, 2010

Mandujano (@ Flickr)

On 23 July, journalists Isaían Mandujano and Ángeles Mariscal, correspondents in the state of Chiapas for the magazine Proceso and the daily newspaper La Jornada respectively, denounced a recent campaign of slander organized against their persons and their work; they claim this campaign to have actively involved media-sources dependent upon the state government of Chiapas.  Indeed, the Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression and Attention to Human-Rights Defenders that pertains to the Human-Rights Commission of Mexico City (CDHDF) made public its repudiation of the campaign of defamation that has targeted Mandujano and Mariscal, for, in its analysis, the work of both journalists has led them both to be harassed and intimidated by state authorities in Chiapas.

Mandujano and Mariscal have disclosed that they recently have been covering different social organizations in Chiapas that, according to the CDHDF’s communiqué, “have differences of perception and of criteria with local authorities, [that] have expressed criticisms, value-judgments, and considerations that could bother some public servants of the state government.”  As a result, they have experienced a campaign of defamation against them by means of different media-sources, including those pertaining to the state government, for example the Chiapas Radio System.  In light of this, the CDHDF has declared authorities to have the obligation to “abstain from exercising all means, whether direct or indirect, that can limit the right of the governed to knowledge and the right of freedom of expression of people in general, and of journalists in particular.”  In its communiqué, the organization denounced that “acts like these contribute to the inhibition of journalistic exercise, freedom of expression, and the right to information, in addition to increasing the risk faced by those who engage in journalism in the state of Chiapas, as in the country generally.”  This position is shared by the Foundation for the Freedom of Expression, which on 23 July demanded “the intervention of governor Sabines so that instructions be carried out by those responsible for them, towards avoiding the use of public resrouces for the limitation of freedom of expression.”

For more information:

CDHDF repudiates campaign against correspondents (El Universal, 23 July)

CDHDF communiqué (23 July)

Fundalex rejects aggression against journalists in Chiapas (Redacción Poblanerías, 23 July)


Chiapas: several members of the VII teachers’ section arrested and subsequently subjected to house arrest

July 26, 2010

Víctor Hugo Zavaleta en una manifestacion en San Cristóbal @ Moyses Zúñiga, La Jornada

On 16 July in the city of Tuxtla Gutiérrez were arrested the teachers Pedro Gómez Bamaca and Carlos Misael Palma López, from the Democratic Teachers’ Block from Chiapas associated with the National Coordination of Education Workers (CNTE) that pertains to the VII Section of the National Union of Educational Workers, as well as the doctor Víctor Hugo Zavaleta, from Section 50 of the Union of Workers of the Health Secretariat, in addition to the director of the Emiliano Zapata Proletarian Organization (OPEZ), Caralampio Gómez Hernández, and six other members of this organization.  In accordance with an Urgent Action released by the Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Center for Human Rights, the arrests were made arbitrarily and result from the mobilization of the arrested in the capital of the state of Chiapas in addition to the solidarity these protests received from other organizations.

Among the demands made by the Democratic Block was the call for the release of professor Alberto Mirón Vázquez, arrested on 7 July 2010, on the charges of criminal association during a sit-in and a protest in May and June of this year.  One of the reasons for the mobilizations has been the controversial manner by which the savings account of the magisterium has been managed.  Furthermore, the Democratic Block has denounced the imposition of Rosendo Galíndez Martínez as the new secretary of the VII Section of the SNTE, according to one of its communiques.

To date, Alberto Mirón Vázquez, Pedro Gómez Bamaca, and Carlos Misael Palma López remain under house arrest, while six members of the OPEZ and Víctor Hugo Zavaleta were released.

With regard to Caralampio Gómez Hernández, the OPEZ publicy denounced his arraignment and subsequent transference to CERSS. no. 14 “El Amate,” in Cintalapa de Figueroa; due to a riot in this prison, the security of the director of OPEZ is feared for.

For more information (in Spanish):

Chiapas: the state government promotes the expansion of the cultivation of agrofuels

July 26, 2010

The 14 July conference (@ La Crónica de Hoy)

On Wednesday 14 July there was held the forum “Flight-Plan toward Sustainable Biofuels for Aviation in Mexico” in the International Center of Instruciton (CIIASA) in the Chiapas.  The meeting was arranged for by the organization Airports and Auxiliary Services (ASA), a group associated with the Secretary of Communication and Transportation (SCT) of the state of Chiapas.  In the conference participated Gilberto López Meyer, director general of ASA; Sandra Herrera Flores, sub-secretary of Environmental Fomentation and Normativity of the Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT); and Adrián Fernández Bremauntz, president of the National Institute of Ecology (INE).  Juan Sabines Guerrero, governor of the state, also attended and participated in the event.  The objective of the conference, according to López Meyer, was to “integrate the perspectives and talents of the participants”–members of governmental, private, and academic institutions, as well as world experts linked to aeronautical and energy firms–towards the promotion of a larger vision for the use of agrofuels in Mexico’s aviation sector.

During the event, Fernández Bremauntz claimed that replacing hydrocarbon-based fossil fuels with agrofuels for aviation would represent an opportunity to diminish the intensity of greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions in Mexico’s aviation sector, which is estimated to represent some 1.3 percent of the total GHG emissions of the country.  He added that the “proper path is the one that Chiapas has adopted,” given that it is the state that has most promoted the cultivation of agrofuels in Mexico: it has dedicated 50,000 hectares to the production of palm-oil and 10,000 to jatropha.  López Meyer asserted that the expansion of cultivation of agrofuels “would, if carried out, result in a better quality-of-life for the residents of this planet.” The governor, for his part, expressed his wish that the commitment of his government to producing agrofuels be replicated elsewhere; he also claimed that the example set by his government in this sense could serve to check the problems of poverty in Mexico and climate change in general. During the conference were proposed goals that envisioned agrofuels to provide for 1 percent of national demand for the year 2015 (an amount that would entail the production of 40 million liters annually) and 15 percent of such demand by 2020 (or 700 million liters).  The construction of four agro-refineries, as well as the massive expansion of the cultivation of agrofuels, would be needed to meet such targets.

This commitment to promote agrofuels clearly is not just an initiative of the governor of Chiapas.  In a meeting that Sabines Guerrero had with López Meyer at the beginning of July, he recognized that his government’s expansion of agrofuel-production followed from the vision set forth by the president of the Republic, Felipe Calderón; he asserted that the state of Chiapas will always remember President Calderón as the great promoter of agrodiesel.  Carlos Pedredo Rodríguez, president of the Junta of Political Coordination of the state congress of Chiapas and coordinator of the Parliamentary Group of the PAN in the congress, asserted in mid-July that “the experience that Chiapas is undergoing in the use of biofuels [sic] is highly positive.”

Seen from other points of view, however, the commitment of the government of Chiapas to expanding the production of agrofuels, as well as the prospect that such be replicated in other parts of the country, could bring with it serious threats to food security in general, and in particular for those already vulnerable to malnutrition, given that in many cases the cultivation of agrofuels competes with the production of crops destined for human consumption.  It is for this reason that Jean Ziegler, Special Rapporteur for the UN on the Right to Food between 2000 and 2008, came to declare the production of agrofuels to represent a “crime against humanity.”

For more information (in Spanish):

ASA realizes forum of Sustainable Biofuels for Aviation (La Crónica de Hoy, 15 July)

The federal government seeks to incorporate the use of biofuels in aviation (SEMARNAT press release, 14 July)

Chiapas, national example in use of biofuels (Chiapas Hoy, 16 July)

The project of biofuels in Chiapas is the vision of President Calderón: Juan Sabines (La Crónica de Hoy, 3 July)

Chiapas in the vanguard of use of sources of alternative energy: Carlos Pedrero (Chiapas Hoy, 19 July)

Oaxaca: attack against the community of Zimatlán de Lázaro Cárdenas

July 26, 2010


On Wednesday 22 July, residents of Zimatlán de Lázaro Cárdenas, municipality of Putla Villa Guerrero, denounced that a group referred to as being of paramilitary origin from the neighboring town of San Sebastián Nopalera, municipality of Santa Lucía Monteverde, fired on its community, seriously wounding Jaime Jiménez Cruz, 40 years of age.  The two communities, which are located in the Mixteca region of the state of Oaxaca, have experienced conflict over agrarian issues.  Several residents of Zimatlán attempted to evacuate the zone in light of the threat of aggression, but they could not do so, given their encirclement by the aggressor group.

To facilitate the evacuation of children, women, and the elderly from the community, residents of Zimatlán requested that the Center for Human Rights and Assessment of Indigenous Peoples (CEDHAPI) organize a humanitarian caravan to leave on Saturday, 24 July.  They also requested that the state’s public security force and its General Secretary of Government guarantee the security of the displaced; furthermore, they requested that the Commissiojn for the Defense of Human Rights send a representative to the area.  For its part, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights asked that the government of Oaxaca produce a report regarding the situation lived in Zimatlán; authorities responded by saying that the affected had been granted security, and that “criminal acts are being investigated.” It should be mentioned that in a recent communiqué CEDHAPI claimed that state authorities had not responded to the calls made by the residents of Zimatlán to detain the actions of the aggressor group.

For more information (in Spanish):

Paramilitary attack in the Mixteca of Oaxaca is denounced; one injured (La Jornada, 23 July)

Chiapas: military harassment of the OCEZ-RC

July 26, 2010

On Thursady 22 July, the Emiliano Zapata Campesino Organization-Carranza Region (OCEZ-RC) released an urgent action denouncing a military incursion into its region of influence in the state of Chiapas.  According to its communiqué, on 21 July a vehicle pertaining to the Secretary of the Navy of Mexico approached the barrier that OCEZ-RC had installed at the entrance of the community; the vehicle carried some 40 camouflaged soldiers led by a commandant who did not identify himself.  Upon arriving at the barrier, the truck-commander, accompanied by 4 soldiers, approached the community guard-house and asked those present how many residents, teachers, and children lived in the community, as well as how many international observers were to be found there.

After this, the military truck returned to the principal highway between Ingenio Pujilitic and the municipal center of Venustiano Carranza, where it was intercepted by an OCEZ-RC commission that inquired into its presence.  The troop-commander informed the members of the commission that he had received federal orders to patrol the region, and he indicated that constant patrols would soon be carried out, per federal orders.  The soldiers filmed the commission’s members during the exchange.

The OCEZ-RC sees in this occurrence the failure of the promises made by Juan Sabines Guerrero, governor of the state of Chiapas, on 26 November 2009, when he met with OCEZ-RC in negotiations at which he committed himself to warn federal military and police units not to approach the OCEZ-RC’s zone of influence. The 21 July operation probably had the support of the state government, conclude those of OCEZ-RC, given that “we know well that only at the request of the state government will federal military units move around the state, above all in remote areas.” Indeed, the communiqué refers to Sabines Guerrero as being “RESPONSIBLE FOR THE DESTABILIZATION OF OUR MUNICIPALITY.”

In its communiqué, the OCEZ-RC demands that Felipe Calderón, president of the Republic, “order his military units to abstain from entering our territory” and call on Sabines Guerrero to “fully comply with everything he offered” in the 26 November 2009 dialogues regarding the “DEMILITARIZATION OF OUR TERRITORY,” “REPARATIONS FOR DAMAGES CAUSED BY MILITARY AND POLICE OPERATIONS, SEARCHES, ARBITRARY DETENTIONS AND VIOLATIONS OF HUMAN RIGHTS AGAINST THE OCEZ-RC,” “SOLUTION TO OUR AGRARIAN DEMANDS,” and “SOCIAL DEMANDS OF THE OCEZ-RC.”

For more information (in Spanish):

Complete communiqué of the OCEZ-RC, 22 July

Oaxaca: violent eviction of vendors associated with the APPO in Oaxaca de Juárez

July 22, 2010

The zócalo of Oaxaca de Juárez, following the police operation (@ Noticias de Oaxaca)

On Tuesday 19 July–one of the first days of the celebration of the traditional festival Guelaguetza in the state of Oaxaca–conflicts broke out in the zócalo and the Alameda de León in Oaxaca de Juárez between vendors and units of the municipal police.  According to witnesses, at around 11am on the 19th municipal inspectors arrived at la Alameda accompanied by police-officers; they demanded that informal vendors associated with the organization “June 14” leave the place, a demand that the vendors refused to obey.  In response to this, a police operation to displace nearly 100 vendors from the zócalo was undertaken, as between 100 and 300 police units employed tear-gas and pepper-spray toward this end.  Witnesses say that some of the vendors responded by throwing rocks, chairs, and tables at the Terranova restaurant, property of relatives of the PRI ex-candidate for mayorship of the city, Beatriz Rodríguez Casasnova, while masked youth confronted the police.  Once the police operation ended, police-officers stationed themselves in both places to prevent the return of the vendors.  The operations as a whole resulted in two people being injured and eight being detained; among the eight were four minors.

Those who were evicted, in addition to those who were subject to the dismantling of their kiosks by the police, pertain to the social organizations Venustiano Carranza, June 14, Organization of Conscious Vendors in Support of the Magisterium, and APPO, in addition to independent vendors.  The displaced vendors had installed themselves in the zócalo and la Alameda last Friday in preparation for the festivities associated with the Guelaguetza celebration.  Alberto Quezadas Jiménez, chief of Oaxaca’s state police, stated that the deployment of the police had been requested by municipal authorities, given that the vendors in question lacked official permission to remain in the plaza.  The governor of Oaxaca, Ulises Ruiz Ortiz, said in an interview on Tuesday that the eviction of the vendors sought to “guarantee security for tourism and Oaxacans.”  Following the events, Ruiz Ortiz made a call for tranquility to prevail and declared that the Guelaguetza celebrations should continue without pause.

For more information (in Spanish):

Eviction in the Zócalo (El Imparcial, 20 July)

Violent Guelaguetza (El Imparcial, 20 July)

Eviction of vendors in the zócalo of Oaxaca leaves 8 arrested (La Jornada, 19 July)

Vendors are evicted in the capital of Oaxaca; 2 injured, 8 arrested (La Jornada, 19 July)

Ulises Ruiz visits the zócalo following the eviction of vendors (Noticias de Oaxaca, 19 July)

Oaxaca: update on the case of Padre Martín

July 19, 2010

Padre Martín Octavio García Ortiz (@ Ciudadanía Express)

Martín Octavio García Ortiz, a priest associated with the parish of San Pedro Apostól in the community of San José el Progreso, municipality of Ocotlán, Oaxaca, was released by the Oaxaca State Attorney General’s Office (PGJE) during the morning of Wednesday, 30 June, after having been held by the PGJE following his capture by a group of militants on 19 June, the same day that a conflict left two government officials dead and 11 arrested in San José el Progreso. Padre Martín, who has been called an agitator in opposition to the operations of the mining company Cuzcatlán, was held by the PGJE for 48 hours following their initial reception of him so that “his juridical situation could be resolved”; he was released at the end of the month for lack of evidence tying him to the killings on 19 June–this, after strong efforts were made by the Catholic Church and non-governmental human-rights organizations to press for his release.

On 5 July, Padre Martín released a communiqué directed at “all the peoples of the parish of San Pedro Apostól” and “friends who have followed my case.”  In the communiqué, written from “some place in [the] exile” in which the priest finds himself, Padre Martín distances himself from the presentation of the situation of San José el Progreso that he sees being promoted by the media and the three levels of government–municipal, state, and federal.  He declares that “the parish never, in this entire process, has said or insinuated that we are the leaders in the struggle against the Cuzcatlán mining company”; referring himself “to [his] brothers of the community of San José,” he says that he “could in no way be [their] leader,” that “those who live in communities must be the principal protagonists of their organization.”  Stressing that he is not “the one who directs the organization” of United People of the Ocotlán Valley, he asks forgiveness of the members of this organization, given that he does not “want them to think that [he wanted] to take advantage of their work and efforts, considering that the media has indicated [him] always to be the sole leader of the totality of the movement that you have created.”  Padre Martín denounces the common tendency engaged in by the government as well as dominant interests of finding a “white-skinned mestizo” to be the “ideologue of everything,” who “manipulates the poor Indians [sic] who know nothing.”

In any case, the priest does admit that he has participated in the movement of opposition to mining operations in San José; he says that he is “responsible only for having brought to light the good and the bad implicated in the work of mineral extraction.”  Within this context Padre Martín emphasizes that “the ecological question is one that we have prioritized much, in light of the situation experienced in our region,” especially given “one of the greatest dangers”: mining.  He claims that the government, Cuzcatlán, and “their puppets” “fear that the people come to learn about and defend their rights, with the aid of the parish,” and that the people “become critical of reality and of the actions of the powerful of our time.”  He concludes his communiqué by calling on his readers not to participate in the buying of products of mineral origin, given that such products require that “millions of liters of water [be] polluted with cyanide or sulphur,” and that mining operations imply “the tears of mothers, husbands, fathers, men, and women who have some relative who has been imprisoned or tortured for having defended their land and territory from mining interests.”  The priest stresses that “now is the time to continue forward, not to have fear”: “Although they have hurt the shepherd, the sheep must continue being organized, walking along their path.”  He closes by saying that “[n]ow is the time in which the sword be unsheathed, to begin the serious struggle.”

For more information (in Spanish):

Peaceful solution to community conflicts (La Jornada, 10 July)

PGJE releases Padre Martín García Ortiz (Ciudadanía Express, 30 June)

Complete communiqué of Padre Martín, 5 July (MS Word)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Oaxaca: arrest of cleric following killings of PRI functionaries in San José el Progreso (30 June)