Oaxaca: Tension maintained in the Tehuantepec Isthmus


On 4 November 2011, opponents of the Wind-Energy Project of Unión Hidalgo in the Tehuantepec Isthmus, Oaxaca, presented a legal denunciation for injuries, gunshots, dangerous assault, and death-threats before the municipal agent of La Venta, Ventura Ordaz Santiago.

In a press-release the opponents recalled that on 28 October, members of the Assembly of the Peoples of Isthmus for the Defense of the Land and Territory, as well as members of the Committee of Resistance to the Wind-Energy Project of Unión Hidalgo, organized a peaceful protest in the La Venta-Unión Hidalgo section of the Pan-American Highway, against the construction of turbines on their lands.  During this protest, they distributed flyers to inform about the problem confronted by the “Piedra Larga” wind-energy project.  In this sense, they denounced that members of the La Venta community who are in favor of the wind-energy project arrived and threatened the opposing group.  The protestors reported that a group of men armed with pistols and machetes arrived to the place and beat some of the assembled, among them Bettina Cruz Velázquez and Juan Regalado Martíneza, whom they kicked, threw to the ground, and threatened with death.  15 minutes after having left, one of the men linked to the armed group, Reynaldo Ordaz Velásquez, died due to gunshot wounds under vague circumstances in the same place.  The authorities arrived after the homicide and the members of the group close to the municipal agent of La Venta alleged that the protestors were responsible for the crime, a version that was followed by local media.

In their communiqué, the opponents expressed that “In light of this situation the communities and organizations signed below lament the loss of a life and we categorically reject violence.  Regardless, Mr. Ordaz Santiago and the attackers have falsely accused the deceased Mr. Regalado Martínez and Mr. Rodrigo Flores Peñaloza of the Assembly of Indigenous Peoples, whom we find completely free of responsibility.  We insist that the investigation into the death of Ordaz Velásquez be profound and impartial, and that those responsible be juridically processed and punished.  We roundly criticize the climate of persecution that makes it possible that the state-government, the caciques, and the wind-energy companies use this event to criminalize peaceful social protest.”

One day prior, Amnesty International (AI) expressed its concern regarding the possibility that the state government use the death of Ordaz Velázquez to unjustly process protestors and dissuade future protests.  The organization recalled that the industrial and development projects which affect indigenous and campesino communities of Mexico are undertaken frequently without providing believable information to the affected indigenous communities, without having consulting them or obtaining their free and informed consent.

For more information (in Spanish):

Interponen denuncias penales por violencia en el Itsmo de Tehuantepec (Boletín de prensa, 4 November 2011)

Opositores a proyecto eólico en Oaxaca presentan denuncia penal por amenazas (La Jornada, 4 November)

Preocupa a Amnistía Internacional procesamiento injusto contra activistas de Oaxaca (Proceso, 2 November)

Comunicado de prensa de UCIZONI (29 October 2011)

Boletín de prensa de la Asamblea de los Pueblos Indígenas del Istmo de Tehuantepec en Defensa de la Tierra y el Territorio (29 October 2011)

For more information (in Spanish):

Oaxaca: Death-threats against human-rights defenders (4 November 2011)

Oaxaca: Indigenous individuals from the Isthmus denounce threats by Spanish firm in response to their opposition to planned construction of wind-plants (5 July 2011)

Oaxaca: Possible conflict regarding wind-energy projects in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec (18 January 2011)

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