National: UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights to Water and Sanitation Concludes Visit to Mexico

May 21, 2017

Water.pngChildren transporting water in an indigenous community in Oaxaca. Photo: @Jose Luis de la Cruz

From May 2nd to 12th, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights to Water and Sanitation, Leo Heller, visited Mexico.

Various social organizations exposed inequality in access to water, as they said in a statement: “Notably, these policies have promoted their monopoly, privatization and unsustainable management, including the overexploitation and contamination of water resources on which rural and urban communities depend to live with dignity, leading to multiple and repeated violations of human rights to drinking water and sanitation and other related human rights such as health, by the actions and omissions of both public and private players.”

One of the places visited by the Rapporteur is Chiapas, where he held meetings with state officials, as well as with activists and non-governmental organizations who denounced that FEMSA’s Coca-Cola bottling plant “is obliterating large amounts of water from the inhabitants of San Cristobal de Las Casas, in Chiapas, and the amount left available for the inhabitants has no quality, Dr. Marcos Arana Cedeño, director of the Ombudsman’s Office for the Right to Health in the state claimed. (…) The last problem noted, he stressed, is of particular concern and claimed that the Coca-Cola plant extracts 6,112 cubic meters of water every day; that is to say, 16 million liters of the vital liquid in the municipality, a sufficient quantity to supply 200,000 inhabitants with 80 liters per person daily during a year.”

The Rapporteur publicly presented his preliminary impressions and conclusions on May 12th. He said that in Chiapas he observed indigenous women collecting water “from sources clearly hazardous to their health.” He said: “Indigenous people I spoke to denounced the lack of services and pollution of the water sources on which they depend due to the largely unregulated activities of mining, industry and hydrocarbon extraction companies. Therefore, I call on the Mexican government to urgently expand and improve access to water and sanitation, because despite advances in this area, there is no real provision of such services in homes and in the most marginalized communities, such that it is necessary to give the highest priority to this strategic sector and to guarantee the necessary resources to expand and improve the service for all, including numerous communities in a situation of abandonment. “

The rapporteur was struck by the situation in San Cristobal de Las Casas, where untreated sewage flows into the irrigation canals that supply water to vegetable and fruit crops, which are sold in the city’s markets. “It is really shocking. I went to visit the final discharges of the sewage and is very worrisome, (…) the population consumes the pollutants that the city has generated,” he protested.

Even so, the Mexican government boasts that infrastructure provides access to water and sanitation to more than 90% of the population.

In September, the Rapporteur will submit the complete Mission report with recommendations for the Mexican State to the United Nations Human Rights Council .

For more information in Spanish:

En Chiapas, se violenta el Derecho Humano al Agua Potable y al Saneamiento (OSC, 15 de mayo de 2017)

El agua en México, un “problema crónico”: relator de la ONU (Proceso, a 12 de mayo de 2017)

Comunidades indígenas, víctimas del insuficiente sistema nacional de agua: ONU (Desinformemonos, a 12 de mayo de 2017)

Relator de la ONU para el Derecho al Agua inicia visita en Chiapas (Proceso, a 10 de mayo de 2017)

Evaluarán acceso al agua y saneamiento en México (Centro de Información de las Naciones Unidas, a 26 de abril de 2017)

El acceso a servicios de agua y saneamiento asequibles (Leo Heller, marzo de 2017)

Coca-Cola se bebe el agua de 200 mil habitantes de San Cristóbal de las Casas, acusa especialista (SinEmbargo, a 6 de mayo de 2017)

Las etnias de Chiapas casi sin agua pero ahogadas en Coca-Cola (Proceso, a 5 de febrero de 2016)

“El ataque que ahora nos hace el mal gobierno es el corte de agua y luz eléctrica que hicieron a nuestros compañeros”: Las Abejas de Acteal (Centroprodh, a 10 de mayo de 2017)

For more information from SIPAZ:

Chiapas : Foro “Servicios de Agua en Tuxtla Gutiérrez” denuncia el “deficiente servicio que se brinda por parte del SMAPA”

Chiapas: Ciudadanxs de Tuxtla Gutiérrez están preocupados por el tema del agua potable

Chiapas: Zinacantán contra la privatización de su agua y el despojo de su manantial

Nacional: Relator Especial de la ONU visita a México para evaluar la situación de Derechos Humanos

Nacional: Visita no oficial del relator especial de la ONU sobre la Situación de las y los defensores de Derechos Humanos


Oaxaca: COPUVO Denounces Harassment by Municipal Authorities and Mining Company

May 15, 2017

COPUVO.pngValle Ocotlan (Photo @COPUVO)

In a statement issued on May 9th, the Coordinator of the United Nations Ocotlan Valley United Peoples Coordinator (COPUVO in its Spanish acronym) reported harassment and threats when it sought to hold a regional meeting against mining in San Jose del Progreso, “where for eight years [the inhabitants] have defended their territory against the “San Jose” mining project, promoted by the Cuzcatlan company, a subsidiary of the Canadian Fortuna Silver Mines.

It said that prior to this meeting, the current mayor of San Jose del Progreso, Servando Daaz Vasquez, “publicly threatened our organization, communities in the region and civil organizations” proposing “not to allow the population to enter to hold a forum.” He added that Diaz Vasquez asked the state and federal police “to place a ring of officers and a filter at the check point at the town so as to prevent the entrance of the organizations the following Mat 7th…”

Accordingly, the Ombudsman’s Office for Human Rights of the People of Oaxaca (DPHPO in its Spanish acronym) requested precautionary measures in favor of human rights defenders from the various civil and community organizations that would attend said meeting “for which there was State Police Agents presence during May 6th and 7th in the community; it is important to note that the State Police was also protecting the mining project with security forces during these dates.”

COPUVO denounced that “behind the campaign of threats and harassment of our movement, the mining company Fortuna Silver Mines is involved, who in its intent to expand to other ejidos and communities in the region has criminalized and violated our rights to autonomy, to the territory, to the freedom of protest, among the most important. This company has irrationally extracted our common goods and caused violence, destroying the peace and harmony that existed among our peoples.”

 For more information in Spanish:

COPUVO denuncia amenazas por parte de empresa minera y autoridades de San José del Progreso (COPUVO, 9 de mayo de 2017)

Mineras generan conflictividad en Oaxaca y Chiapas (Contralínea, 11 de mayo de 2017)

 For more information from SIPAZ:

Oaxaca: Se exige justicia para el defensor comunitario Bernardo Vásquez Sánchez, asesinado hace 5 años (23 de marzo de 2017)

Oaxaca: Comunidades afectadas por el proyecto minero “San José” toman oficinas de SEMARNAT (1 de marzo de 2017)

 


Chiapas: Meeting of Peoples to Exchange Experiences of Threats of Territorial Dispossession from Megaprojects

May 15, 2017

Peoples.png

From 4 to 6 May, the Peoples’ Meeting was held to exchange experiences facing threats of plunder of our territories by megaprojects in the municipal seat of Chicomuselo, Chiapas, which was co-convened by the Fray Bartolome de las Casas Center for Human Rights, the Digna Ochoa Human Rights Center, the International Service for Peace (SIPAZ) and the Samuel Ruiz Committee for the Promotion and Defense of Life, under a joint project of Pax Christi International.

In a final statement, participants from Chiapas and Oaxaca denounced that the processes of defense of the Earth and Territory of which they are a part have brought them the “consequence of repression, intimidation, threat, persecution, Imprisonment and the murder of community human rights defenders. Those who have decided to defend life and Mother Earth are at constant risk under the threats of businessmen, organized crime and the State in its three levels of government that only favor the paths of impunity, injustice, inequality, plunder, exploitation, contempt for our native peoples, communities and ejidos.”

As a result they demanded:

  • “Respect for the autonomy and self-determination of peoples in Chiapas and Oaxaca based on Article 2 of the Constitution and international conventions, as well as guaranteeing the physical integrity of those who defend life, Mother Earth and nature.
  • The cancellation of death projects in our territories that only bring destruction, plunder, poverty, disease, community conflicts and divisions.
  • The cancellation of arrest warrants, criminal charges, legal proceedings against defenders of the Earth and the Territory, as is the case of compañeros from Acacoyagua, Chicoasen and Tecpatan.”

Finally, they invited “the peoples, communities, ejidos, grassroots organizations, the men and women of this country, to maintain their struggle, their resistance and to organize, not to surrender, not to sell out, and not to let themselves be cheated. It is important to join together our struggles in any geography against this capitalist system and the system of death. Land is an inheritance of our ancestors, and we must guard it and defend it. Our peoples and organizations have firmly decided to defend life, territory and the environment, because the future of our country is at risk. “

 For more information in Spanish:

Pronunciamiento completo (Chicomuselo, 6 de mayo de 2017)

For more information from SIPAZ:

Pronunciamiento de participantes en Taller/Encuentro sobre la Transformación No-violenta de Conflictos en Defensa de Nuestros Territorios (19 de abril de 2016)

 


Chiapas: Ejidos and Communities in the Zoque Area March against Mining Projects

May 4, 2017

Mining.pngMarch for land water and life, Ixtacomitan (Photo@Alianza Mexicana contra el fracking)

On April 28, the “March for Land, Water and Life” was held, in which representatives of ejidos and Zoque communities from Ixtacomitan participated, with the objective of expressing their rejection of the bidding process of 84,500 hectares of lands on which 12 conventional gas oil wells would be drilled in large parts of the north of the state of Chiapas. Round 2.2 of the Energy Secretariat and the National Hydrocarbons Commission will end in July.

The Zoque Language and Culture Center and the Zoque Peoples Network have denounced the flaws in the work of the supposed “consultation” as well as the constant conditioning of government support to influence this.

For more information in Spanish:

Proceso ilegal de consulta denuncian indígenas zoques para licitación de ronda 2.2 de la Sener (Desinformémonos, 1ero de mayo de 2017)

Marchan en Ixtacomitán contra perforación de pozos (Chiapas Paralelo, 29 de abril de 2017)

Video y marcha contra el megaproyecto de 12 pozos petroleros (Espoir Chiapas, 27 de abril de 2017)

For more information from SIPAZ:

Chiapas: Libre activista zoque, Silvia Juárez Juárez (7 de abril de 2017)

Chiapas : denuncian criminalización de defensores de la Madre Tierra en zona zoque (1 de marzo de 2017)

Chiapas : comunidades zoques se oponen a extracción de hidrocarburos en el norte de Chiapas (20 de octubre de 2016)


Oaxaca: Three Community of San Blas Atempa Begin Blockade against Illegal Megaproject

May 4, 2017

San Blas.png“Puente Madera Burns”, Photo@Educa Oaxaca

On April 24th, three communities started a road blockade on the Tehuantepec-Juchitan stretch in the Ithmus, due to the non-compliance with the commitments acquired by the authorities on April 12th. The communities of Puente Madera, Rancho Llano and Loma Bonita, in the municipality of San Blas Atempa, oppose the imposition of a wind farm by the Secretariat of National Defense (SEDENA) on communal lands, extraction of stone material in the Cerro Iguu’, one of their ancestral ceremonial centers, as well as the sanitary landfill in the Pitayal.

 Due to this, they demanded negotiations to resolve the question the compliance by the state government, with the minutes of agreementsof April 12th, 2017. In a statement, the General Assembly of the Binniza People denounced that the exploitation of their resources is happening without their consent. It pointed out that “the only culprits of the political-social situation currently being experienced in the Zapotec municipality of San Blas Atempa are the municipal government, the state government and the federal government, for wanting to impose above the will of the indigenous peoples, their plots of pillage and plunder, both neoliberal and militaristic.”

For its part, the Tepeyac Human Rights Center issued an alert to warn that “Puente Madera Burns” in which it denounced that “municipal agent David Hernandez Salazar and the comunero Jorge Rasgado Lopez, were threatened with death by the hitmen and attackers Cesar Morales Toledo and Victor Ramirez (mercenaries at the service of the city council), characters who have also burned grasslands of the community in the vicinity of the blockade to intimidate the people in struggle.”

As regards context, the Articulation of Indigenous Peoples of the Oaxacan Isthmus in Defense of the Territory to which San Blas Atempa belongs has denounced that the second phase of wind farm expansion in the Isthmus aims to almost triple the current wind energy production in the region, with some 1,900 wind turbines on 22 wind farms. It pointed out that, for several years, it has seen how wind farms have been imposed in their communities which have seriously affected their life, culture and natural assets, violating the social fabric of communities.

 For more information in Spanish:

Se profundiza conflicto en San Blas Atempa, Oaxaca (Contralínea, 26 de abril de 2017)

Pronunciamiento de comunidades de Puente Madera, Rancho Llano y Loma Bonita, San Blas Atempa (Radio Pozol, 24 de abril de 2017)

Arden terrenos comunales de Puente Madera para exigir suspensión de parque eólico de la SEDENA (Página 3, 24 de abril de 2017)

Se agudiza en el Istmo de Tehuantepec inconformidad por proyectos eólicos (Despertar de Oaxaca, 3 de abril de 2017)

For more information from SIPAZ

Oaxaca: Se amparan pueblos del Istmo contra Zona Económica Especial (ZEE) (23 de marzo de 2017)

Oaxaca: comunidades del Istmo presentan amparo ante la ZEE (17 de noviembre de 2016)


Chiapas: Miners Cause Community Division in Chicomuselo

May 4, 2017

Chicomsuelo.pngSigns against mining exploitation (Photo@Frayba)

In a bulletin published on April 26th, the Samuel Ruiz Committee for the Promotion and Defense of Life expressed concern “at the strategy implemented by mining employees to confront campesinos of the ejido Ricardo Flores Magon, municipality of Chicomuselo, who oppose the mining activity,” which, not coincidentally, “is the road that leads to Ejido Grecia of the same municipality, and is the place where until 2009 the Canadian Black Fire kept extracting the mineral known as Barita that to this date is suspended.”

 The Committee said that about 70 people were offered gifts for Children’s Day, 50,000 pesos and the construction of social works such as drinking water, a clinic, and a Cobach College among other things, in exchange for “a contract of agreements which must be approved by a public notary whereby they allow the passage”, and in addition they were “asked to appoint a commission of people in charge of protecting it in its passage through the communities against any unforeseen [events].

The Samuel Ruiz Committee for the Promotion and Defense of Life also recalled that “the opposition of the communities of the municipality of Chicomuselo to mining projects began in 2008 in the face of environmental damage caused by the Canadian mining company Black Fire, and they have currently organized as a civil society to carry out surveillance operations to stop the entry of mining companies, such that to accept the proposal would be promoting a confrontation between campesinos that could result in a greater problem.

 For more information in Spanish:

Mineros promueven división comunitaria en Chicomuselo (Boletín informativo, 26 de abril de 2017)

 

For more information from SIPAZ :

Chiapas: Comunidades de Chicomuselo denuncian incursiones de empresas mineras (25 de mayo de 2016)

Chiapas: Denuncian reinicio ilegal de actividades mineras en Chicomuselo (29 de enero de 2014)

 


Oaxaca: Eleven Ejidatarios Arrested in Eviction of French EDF Wind Farm

May 4, 2017

Wind farm.png(Photo@Noticias, Voz e Imagen)

On April 23rd, some 80 members of the State Police and the State Investigation Agency (AEI) arrested 11 ejidatarios from Santo Domingo Ingenio who had been blockading the Cinco Palmas wind farm belonging to the French electricity company EDF Energies Nouvelles for two months for alleged “extortion”, and at the request of said company. The blockade, organized in demand of 30 thousand pesos for each of the 214 people who rent their land to the project, put 52 towers out of a total of 80 installed out of service. In response, Zapotec inhabitants of this locality initiated the blockade of the federal highway that communicates to Oaxaca with the state of Chiapas to demand the liberation of its ejidatarios.

EDF’s regional manager, Rafael Cacho Lopez, had previously stated that the company does not have the subsidy requested by the comuneros in its contracts, and that the sum of this resource is earmarked annually for social support, such as the rehabilitation of classrooms, among other things.

For their part, the protesters denounce that, since 2013 when the project started, successive municipal governments have kept these millions.

For her part, the head of the office of the General Secretariat of the Government of Oaxaca (SEGEGO), Carmelita Ricardez Vera, said that “Institutions must guarantee the rule of law; they, as ejidatarios, signed an agreement that is in force and does not stipulate any extra resources, as they claim. That is why we say that it is the leaders and not the ejidatarios who want to blackmail the companies.”

 For more information in Spanish:

Acusan a líderes de ejidatarios de extorsionar a empresas eólicas (La Jornada, 25 de abril de 2017)

Detienen a 11 ejidatarios por bloqueo a parque eólico en Oaxaca (Proceso, 23 de abril de 2017)

Detienen a 11 personas en desalojo de bloqueo a parque eólico en Oaxaca (Radio Formula, 23 de abril de 2017)