Mexico: Final declaration of the National Meeting of Human-Rights Defenders

October 29, 2010
In observation of the Mesoamerican Meeting of Human-Rights Defenders, there was held from 14 to 16 October in Mexico City the National Meeting of Human-Rights Defenders.  In this Meeting participated more than 60 human-rights defenders from 20 Mexican states associated with different movements and social organizations: feminist, indigenous, prisoners’ rights, sexual diversity, against feminicide, for rural development, for land-defense, etc.

This meeting was organized by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Mexico, Consortium for Parliamentary Dialogue and Equity Oaxaca, Associated for Justice (JASS) and the Table-Network of Women of Ciudad Juárez.

The final declaration emphasizes that “we confront a failed state that has renounced its obligation to guarantee the rights of the people and that repeatedly uses public institutions and resources to attack, criminalize, and make-vulnerable the work of those who defend human rights […]. The risk and attacks against rights-defenders [exists] the country over; the situation of rights-defenders is particularly worrying in the states of Chihuahua, Monterrey, Oaxaca, Chiapas, and Guerrero […].  The degree of impunity in which cases of aggression against our persons is alarming and sustains the culture of violence agianst rights-defenders.”

For more information (in Spanish):

Final declaration of the National Encounter on Violence against Rights-Defenders in Mexico (October 2010)


Guerrero: briefs – CETEG leader is detained; auctions to be held for La Parota: CFE

October 27, 2010

Following the protests of the State Coordination of Education Workers in Guerrero (CETEG) last week, agents of the Ministerial Police of the State (PME) of Guerrero detained Félix Moreno Peralta and Jorge García Hernández, two of the principal leaders of CETEG, on Sunday 24 October.  The two were accused of attacks on communication media.  The director of the PME, Fernando Monreal Leyva, said via telephone interview with La Jornada that the capture was made with an arrest order authorized by the primary judge from the judicial district of Tabares, from the port of Acapulco.  This would be the first arrest of 40 that are ordered against teachers accused of blocking the Sol highway and avenues in Chilpacingo, as well as for invading the government-palace of Chilpancingo to demand loans and work.

In an interview with the Sur de Acapulco, the CETEG spokesperson Ramón López expressed on behalf of CETEG his “rejection of this repression from the terror-government of the state; we see with sadness that they use these methods to stop mobilization.”  Protesting the detention of Félix Moreno and demanding his immediate release, the teachers of CETEG occupied educational installations in Chilapa, Tlapa, Acapulco, and Costa Chica, and they plan action against the harassment that the state government visits on social activists.   In a press-conference, leaders of civil and social organizations such as the Workshop for Communal Development (TADECO), miners of Taxco, the Guerrero Network of Civil Human-Rights Organizations, and CETEG, among others, reiterated their support for the arrested teacher-leader and denounced the repression suffered by social activists.

In other news, the Federal Commission of Electricity (CFE) has announced that in 2011 will be held auctions for the hydroelectric dam La Parota, located in Acapulco, a move that would imply the investment of nearly $900 million.  Alfredo Elías Ayub, director of CFE, assured that the project is a priority for the parastatal company, since it was integrated into the Budget of Costs of the Federation 2011; once it is approved definitively, the work of auctioning can begin.  Elías Ayub declared that “the approval [of the Congress of the Union] is there, but we have to have the people [ie, the ejidatarios] come to a position in which they clearly see the benefits [to such a project].”  For his part, Felipe Flores Hernández, spokesperson of the Council of Ejidos and Communities Opposed to La Parota (CECOP) announced that this organization will meet with members of the Commission of Energy of the House of Deputies and will request before the Congress of the Union that the budget requested by CFE not be approved.  Flores Hernández affirmed in a telephone interview with La Jornada that he is not surprised that the CFE has requested a budget to continue with the hydroelectric project.  He warned that, if the Congress of the Union does not attend to the application made by ejidatarios, they could radicalize their opposition to the dam, employing road-blocks to impede the movement of CFE personnel and vehicles.

For more information (in Spanish):

CETEG takes offices of the SEG in Tlapa y Acapulco (La Jornada de Guerrero, 26 October)

Two CETEG leaders are detained (La Jornada, 25 October)

Two leaders of the CETEG teachers are detained (El Sur de Acapulco, 25 October)

In 2011 auctions will be held for La Parota, says the CFE (Milenio, 20 October)

Opponents to La Parota will appeal to the IACHR (La Jornada, 27 October)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Guerrero: Briefs – CECOP receives precautionary measures; Report on human rights; Civil society organizations continue asking for the liberation of Raúl Hernández (5 de julio)

Guerrero: Briefs – CECOP demonstrates before the Senate / Press-conference on the cases of Inés and Valentina is held (27 May)

Chiapas: judiciary demands that mine exploited by Blackfire remain closed

October 27, 2010

Protest against mining-company Blackfire Exporation Ltd. (@Common Frontiers Canada)


On Tuesday 19 October the judiciary power of the federal declared that the barite mine located in the ejido of Grecia, municipality of Chicomuselo, Chiapas, should remain closed until the Canadian companhy Blackfire, concessionary of the mine, comply with the environmental regulations demanded by the Secretary of Environment, Living, and Natural History (Semavihn) of Chiapas.  This decision is the result of an appeal advanced by Semavihn against a decision granted to Blackfire on 30 April that authorized the re-opening of the mine that was closed following the killing of Mariano Abarca, leader of local opposition to mining-exploitation, on 27 November 2009.

This latest decision by the judiciary was welcomed by the bishop of the diocese of San Cristóbal, Felipe Arizmendi Esquivel, who stressed that “as long as there is evidence for the environmental degradation caused by [the mine], such a mine that hurts society and only benefits a few managers cannot continue working.”  He added that he thought that the decision to keep the mine closed would lower the tensions and worries of the people of the area affected by Blackfire’s mine.

The judicial decision comes a week after a march held in Chicomuselo by the Emiliano Zapata Campesino Organization-National Coordination for the Ayala Plan (OCEZ-CNPA), the Coordination of Autonomous Organizations of the State of Chiapas (COAECH), and the Movement for National Liberation (MLN) in which it is estimated that participated some 2000 protestors.  The march, which sought to reject the previous decision authorizing the re-opening of the mine exploited by Blackfire, denounced that the mining operations bring no benefits for local people.  Protestors also expressed their solidarity with the priest Eleazar Juárez Flores, who has been threatened with death for having accompanied groups opposed to the mine.

For more information (in Spanish):

Barite mine in Chiapas will continue closed until it follows regulations (La Jornada, 20 October)

It is important that the mine continue to be closed (Cuarto Poder, 25 October)

Conflict against firm continues (Cuarto Poder, 18 October)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Chiapas: Death-threats directed against the Chicomuselo parish (13 October 2010)

Chiapas: the Peace Network presents report on Chiapas’ border zone (13 October 2010)

Chiapas: Canadian delegation investigates mining abuses (2 April 2010)

Chiapas: Anti-mining activist Mariano Abarca killed (1 December 2009)

Chiapas: Morelia JBG denounces new aggressions against Zapatista support-bases near Agua Clara

October 26, 2010

On 24 October, the Good-Government Council (JBG) of Morelia, Chiapas, denounced an aggression carried out with firearms against Zapatista support-bases in the El Salvador resort in the Comandanta Ramona autonomous municipality adjacent to the Agua Clara ejido (Salto de Agua).  In the events that occurred on 22 October was detained one of the aggressors, Manuel Pérez Gómez, who was held for attacks and assaults on the Ocosingo-Palenque highway.

The denunciation mentions that “these criminals are advised by the ex-soldier Carlos Jiménez López, who comes from the Alan Sac Jun ejido (Chilón)” and reminded that “on 18 April 2009 the police detained Miguel Vásquez Moreno, Zapatista support-base, and six adherents to the Other Campaign.  They were taken to the El Amate prison and were released for lack of evidence.  The JBG here announces that last May these same aggressors were taken captive by autonomous justice but suceeded in escaping while serving their term for crimes committed.”

The JBG adds that “it can be very clearly seen that the 3 levels of the bad government–federal, state, and municipal–do nothing in light of these acts that intimidate the people.  The fact of the matter is that the perpetrators are free, doing what htey want, while our social-activist brothers and sisters have been taken behind bars for the crime of demanding justice and liberty for all.  The lying governments lie when they say they will fight organized crime, for we see exactly the opposite; they cover-up, protect, and organize their ex-soldiers together with youth from communities toward the end of destroying our roots and planting intranquility in our indigenous forms of self-organization.”

For more information (in Spanish):

The Morelia JBG denounces new aggressions against Zapatista support-bases while the bad government protects criminals (communiqué of the Morelia JBG, 24 October)

New aggressions with firearms against Zapatista support-bases are denounced (La Jornada, 26 October)

Chiapas: Las Abejas indignant over the release of 15 of those responsible for the Acteal massacre

October 26, 2010

On Friday 22 October, in observation of the monthly commemoration of the 1997 massacre, the civil organization Las Abejas of Acteal held a press-conference.  During the press-conference, José Alfredo Jiménez, president of the directive table of the organization, read aloud a communiqué written by Las Abejas regarding the recent release of 15 individuals said to have been participants in the 22 December 1997 massacre in Acteal.  The massacre left a total of 49 indigenous people killed, 4 of them not yet born.  Those released were granted the remisión parcial de la pena, and they were awarded liberty.  The communiqué of Las Abejas expresses its indignation regarding the decision of the “bad government of Juan Sabines and Felipe Calderón,” mentioning that “it is very clear that they feel a great need to release the material authors of the massacre, because there is concern and fear on the part of the massacre’s intellectual authors that the paramilitary prisoners confess that the order they received to attack and terrorize the Abejas and Zapatista communities in fact came from the bad government of Ernesto Zedillo, Emilio Chuayfet, and their collaborators.”

With the release last year of 34 prisoners previously held on the same charges, given that 49 individuals have been released out of the 80 arrested between 1997 and 1998.  Las Abejas denounced that the release of these prisoners implies the return of many of them to Acteal or nearby, meaning that the sense of insecurity among the survivors of the massacre has increased.  Las Abejas explain that “given this situation, we don’t know what will happen to us, because it bothers them that we continue to denounce the paramilitaries and that the world knows that the weapons used in the massacre are now buried in communities, since the government never carried out the disarmament that we have long called for.”

For its part, the Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Center for Human Rights released a communiqué on the question, expressing its take on the strategy of the government in its attempt to bury the Acteal events: “the protection of the Mexican State for the perpetrators of the massacre is clear and resounding, given its insistence on covering up the events of 22 December 1997, the day on which this crime of state occurred, with the result of denying the actions taken by paramilitary groups in the Highlands and North of Chiapas during the internal armed conflict that is to date unresolved, in which the strategy of counterinsurgency was made clear.” The Center also stressed the lack of commitment among public functionaries in investigating the events: “The protection extends from the investigation to the intellectual authors of the massacre, all of whom were public officials during that time: Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de León, president of the Republic; Emilio Chuayfett, Secretary of Governance; Mario Renán Castillo, commander of the Seventh Military Region; General Enrique Cervantes, Secretary for National Defense; Julio Cesar Ruiz Ferro, governor of the state of Chiapas; Homero Tovilla Cristiani, Secretary of Government of the State of Chiapas; Uriel Jarquín Gálvez, Subsecretary of the State Government of Chiapas; among others.”

For more information:

Las Abejas of Acteal pronounce themselves on the recent release of material authors of the Acteal massacre (Las Abejas, 22 October)

15 individuals responsible for the Acteal massacre are released (Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Center for Human Rights, 21 October)

Video of Las Abejas’ press-conference:

Las Abejas call for the further release of those responsible for the Acteal massacre to be avoided (La Jornada, 23 October)

Arizmendi criticizes the incremental release of indigenous individuals sentenced for the Acteal case (Noticias México, 17 October)

The release of 15 more indigenous individuals is carried out (Cuarto Poder, 15 October)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Chiapas: Las Abejas’ day for justice and truth (13 August 2010)

Chiapas: Communiqué of Las Abejas of Acteal in observation of the monthly commemoration of the 1997 massacre (25 de junio)

Oaxaca: Heriberto Pazos Ortiz, leader and founder of MULT, is killed

October 26, 2010

On Saturday 23 October Heriberto Pazos Ortiz, leader and founder of the Movement of Triqui Unification and Struggle (MULT), was killed in Oaxaca de Juárez.  The killing of Pazos Ortiz, who in 2003 was also co-founder of the Party for Popular Unity (PUP), which is considered the only indigenous political party on the American continent, comes less than two weeks after a march carried out in Oaxaca de Juárez by thousands of MULT members and sympathizers to promote peace in the Triqui region of Oaxaca and a day after the killing of Catarino Torres Peresa, the general secretary of the Committee for Citizen Defense (Codeci), in the city of Tuxtepec.  Torres Peresa was one of the first prisoners from the Oaxacan teachers’ movement linked to the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca (APPO); he had also been imprisoned in the federal Center for Social Readaptation of the Altiplano, in Almoloya de Juárez, in the state of Mexico.

In light of the murder of Pazos Ortiz, the political leadership of MULT has denounced that the attack that killed the MULT leader was a “surgical operacion that came from the State.” It expressed its fear that a higher level of violence could be experienced in the Triqui region as a result of the killing.  Following the attack, MULT sympathizers blocked roads and principal streets in Oaxaca de Juárez.  Gabino Cué Monteagudo, gobernor-elect of Oaxaca, attended the funeral of Pazos Ortiz and there expressed his solidarity with MULT members, promising that he would not allow “the unspeakeable attack to go unpunished” once his administration takes power on 1 December.  “Aggressions against social activists and leaders, like the killing of Pazos Ortiz, enormously degrade the social fabric,” he added.

For more information (in Spanish):

Social leader Catarino Torres is killed in Oaxaca (La Jornada, 22 October)

The execution of leader and founder of MULT in Oaxaca is reported (La Jornada, 23 October)

MULT: attack on Pazos could find bring about escalation of violence in the region(La Jornada, 24 October)

The killing of Heriberto Pazos will not go unpunished: Gabino Cué (La Jornada, 24 October)

Gabino Cué promises that his government will investigate the killing of Pazos Ortiz (La Jornada, 25 October)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Oaxaca: new ambush in Triqui region against individuals who had been granted precautionary measures by the IACHR (20 October)

Oaxaca: the autonomous municipality of San Juan Copala is dismantled (30 September)

Mexico: Controversial, Calderón’s initiative to reform the military tribunal

October 25, 2010

On 18 October, President Felipe Calderón sent to the Senate of the Republic an initiative to reform the Military Penal Code that would modify Mexico’s military tribunals in such a way as to have soldiers who commit crimes of torture, forced disappearance, and sexual violence be tried in civilian courts.  Human-rights organizations criticized the initiative as being insufficient, given that it does not do away with the prevailing impunity regarding violations committed by the military and ignores other types of human-rights violations.

This initiative of the Federal Executive claims that the prosecution of the crimes of torture, rape, and forced disappearance be taken up by the federal Public Ministry (PM).  Toward this end would be created the Military Ministerial Police, subordinate to the PM.  The public servants who commit the crime of forced disappearance would face a sentence of between 20 and 50 years without possibility of pardon or early release.

International human-rights organizations claimed that the proposed reform is insufficient.  The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Mexico asserts that the initiative opens a path toward observing the sentences handed down by the Inter-American Court on Human Rights (IACHR) in the cases of Rosendo Radilla (forced disappearance) and Valentina Rosendo and Inés Fernández (sexual violence committed by soldiers); regardless, though, the Office considers the reform to be lacking, given that it does not cover all crimes committed by soldiers against civilian populations, a position also shared by Amnesty International.  In the same sense, the UN Special Rapporteur for the Independence of Teachers and Lawyers, Gabriela Knaul, denounced that the reform does not include grave crimes, such as that of extrajudicial execution.

For their part, different Mexican human-rights organizations expressed in a joint bulletin that the proposed reform maintains the conditions that favor impunity with regard to abuses by the armed forces against civilians.  They explain that the proposal does not harmonize internal legislation with international law, stressing that the IACHR sentences would not be observed with this reform, given that the IACHR has “called for reform of article 57 of the Military Penal Code, considering that the military tribunal is not competent to judge under any circumstances any crime committed by soldiers against civilians.” For their part, on 21 October, civil and social organizations from the state of Guerrero released a communiqué on the question, remembering that “the four sentences [of the IACHR] against Mexico (the case of a cotton camp; the case of Rosendo Radilla; the cases of Inés Fernández and Valentina Rosendo) have to do with soldiers who have violated human rights; three of these four processes have taken place in the state of Guerrero.”

For more information (in Spanish):

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):