On December 7, about 35 military personnel aboard three Hummer vehicles entered the community of La Morena, municipality of Petatlan, using their weapons and causing panic among residents. According to testimonies, men and teenagers rushed to the nearby hills, while women, children and elders gathered in their homes, which were raided by the military. In February, Adolfo Torres Rosas was killed by soldiers, while Anselmo Torres Quiroz and Huber Vega Correa were arrested. Both are currently imprisoned in the prison of Acapulco for alleged drug crimes. In recent months, the harassment against the Cruz Torres family has focused on the intermittent and threatening presence of military in their community, as well as on the promotion of rumors suggesting that the Torres Cruz family is involved in kidnappings, a denunciation that hasn’t been properly reported to the civil authorities.
In a press release of December 7, the Collective Against Torture and Impunity (CCIC) and the Workshop for Community Development (TADECO), demanded to the authorities, among other things: to cease harassment against the Torres family, the immediate departure of the Army from the indigenous community of La Morena, and not to use the discourse of the struggle against drug trafficking to conceal acts of harassment and intimidation against the communities of the Sierra of Guerrero. Similarly, on 21 December, the World Organization Against Torture (OMCT) expressed concern about the situation in La Morena sending out an urgent action. It reiterated that to date nothing is known about the new investigation into the circumstances of the death of Adolfo Torres Rosas, and it denounced violence during the arrest and detention of Anselmo Torres and Huber Vega, who have presumably been victims of abuse and torture.
Moreover, on December 15, Social and Civil Organizations, sent a letter to the Ministry of the Interior (SEGOB), expressing concern about the threats occurred against members of the Organization of the Me’phaa Indigenous People (OPIM) on November 28. OPIM’s members have accompanied Inés Fernández and Valentina Rosendo, me’phaa indigenous women who were raped by soldiers in 2002, whose cases were recently resolved by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (CoIDH) against the Mexican State. These organizations emphasized that “in light of the recent threats, a prompt and full compliance with the sentences of the CoIDH [against the Mexican state] becomes crucial to prevent that unfortunate new facts may occur.”
On another hand, the Monitor of Civil Police and Public Safety Corps in the mountains of Guerrero (Monitor Civil), which was created three years ago, made public the fact that it documented 384 cases of police abuses. It mentioned that the ministerial authorities are the police that most violates the fundamental rights of citizens in the Mountain region (179 registered cases). From the experience of the Civil Monitor, institutional conditions of this corporation lead to police abuses, since the absence of internal and external mechanisms of control and accountability allows ministerial elements to violate human rights and legality without punitive consequences. The most frequent violations perpetrated by the police corps were arbitrary detention (122 cases), extortion (87 cases) and cruel inhuman and degrading treatment (59 cases). To a lesser extent, there were other also violations such as torture (6 cases), extrajudicial execution (3 cases), unlawful entries (22 cases) and the imposition of excessive fines (31 cases). The Civil Monitor issued a report on the status of the police in the mountains of Guerrero through which it seeks to establish guidelines for a democratic reform of the police.
Finally, on December 20, the CoIDH condemned the Mexican state for violating the rights of freedom, integrity, judicial guarantees and judicial protection of Rodolfo Montiel and Teodoro Cabrera, known as “the campesino ecologists.” The court ruling noted that the Mexican government must make a criminal investigation into the alleged acts of torture that Rodolfo Montiel and Teodoro Cabrera have denunciated. In addition, within two months, it will have to compensate the farmers for all the damages they have suffered, as well as for the cost of medical and psychological treatments they have received.
In 1999, Rodolfo Montiel and Teodoro Cabrera were arrested by the military, for their fight against deforestation in the Sierra de Petatlán, and according to their testimonies, they were tortured. In 2004, the case of “the ecological campesinos” was presented to the American Commission on Human Rights and in 2009 it was taken by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (CoIDH). The ruling of the CoIDH also ratified that Mexico should reform the Code of Military Justice, to exclude the jurisdiction of military courts for crimes related to human rights violations.
For more information (in Spanish):
– México: Preocupación por la seguridad de los habitantes de la comunidad de La Morena en Petatlán, en particular por los familiares del Sr. Javier Torres Cruz, Estado de Guerrero, México. (Acción Urgente Organización Mundial contra la Tortura, OMCT, 21 de diciembre)
– CIDH falla a favor de campesinos ecologistas (El Universal, 20 de diciembre)
For more information from SIPAZ (in English)
– Guerrero: The Civil Monitor documents 117 cases of police abuse (December 3, 2008)