Guerrero: Disappearance of Activist in Tlapa de Comonfort Reported. Member of Regional Council of Agrarian Authorities in Malinaltepec

October 17, 2019

GuerreroPhoto @ Tlachinollan

In the afternoon of October 11th, a member of the Popular Front of La Montaña (FPM in its Spanish acronym) and the Movement for the Freedom of Political Prisoners of the State of Guerrero (MOLPEG in its Spanish acronym), Arnulfo Ceron Soriano, was reported missing in Tlapa de Comonfort.

According to a public complaint from the La Montaña Tlachinollan Human Rights Center, relatives reported that the last information they had about him was when Ceron Soriano “left his home to go to talk at a recovery center for Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), located in the Caltitlan neighborhood Tlapa de Comonfort city, Guerrero, where he never arrived.”

On October 12th, the van in which “the activist Ceron Soriano was traveling in the Magisterio neighborhood was found abandoned, even with the keys in it, without any further indication of him. Due to these facts, a complaint was lodged with the Office of the Special Prosecutor for Enforced Disappearance and Search for Missing Persons in the city of Chilpancingo, Guerrero, to which the investigation file number 12022510400165121019 was assigned.”

According to different newspapers 11 social organizations have stressed “that Cerón Soriano accused the mayor of Tlapa of having threatened him because of the defense he made so that street traders were not evicted.”

On October 13th, social and family organizations “took over the town hall of Tlapa to demand the mayor’s presentation of the indigenous leader and demanded that the Ministerial Police, the State, the National Guard begin an operation” to find the missing activist.

For its part, the State of Guerrero Human Rights Commission (CDHEG in its Spanish acronym), urged the corresponding agencies of the state and federal government, to speed up investigations.

During the same weekend, on Friday, Isaias “N”, president of the Commissariat of Paraje Montero Communal Assets, in the municipality of Malinaltepec, was killed, El Sol de Acapulco reported. The victim “had attended meetings in the morning that Friday and in the afternoon on his return he was murdered near the police station.” He was “member of the Regional Council of Agricultural Authorities in Defense of the Territory (CRAADT in its Spanish acronym), which opposes the mining exploitation of the region.”

For more information in Spanish:

ACCIÓN URGENTE: DESAPARECEN AL LUCHADOR SOCIAL DE LA MONTAÑA: ARNULFO CERÓN SORIANO (Tlachinollan, 13 de octubre de 2019)

Exhorta la CDHEG agilizar investigaciones por desaparición de Arnulfo Cerón Soriano (El Sol de Acapulco, 13 de octubre de 2019)

Un defensor de la montaña de Guerrero es asesinado y otro es reportado desaparecido el fin de semana (Sin Embargo, 14 de octubre de 2019)

Identifican a tres hombres asesinados en distintos hechos (El Sol de Acapulco, 14 de octubre de 2019)

For more information from SIPAZ:

Guerrero: Declaran libres de minería los municipios de Malinaltepec y San Luis Acatlán. (October 8, 2019)

Guerrero: Denuncian una “campaña de desprestigio” en contra de una abogada de Tlachinollan y una reportera del El Sur de Acapulco (11 de julio de 2019)

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Chiapas: Delimitation Conflict in Lacandon Jungle

October 16, 2019

LacandonPhoto @ Marcela Gonzalez

At a press conference that was held on October 7th, the authorities of Bienes Comunales Zona Lacandona “asked the federal government to resume the work of delimitation so that it is known how many of the 614,321 hectares established in the original decree of 1971 remain,” they said, with the aim of preserving the Lacandon Jungle.

They reported that “there have been three resolutions to date: the one obtained by the Lacandon community on November 26th, 1971, the second on November 23rd, 1982 with 558,037 hectares and the third on July 9th, 1988 where the agrarian body delivered only 501,106 hectares to the Lacandon community.”

The delimitation of the Lacandon Jungle, inside which is the Montes Azules Biosphere Reserve, “began in 2008, has advanced 444 kilometers and still to be delimited, 34 to close the polygon. More than 40 years have passed and the area has not been defined.”

They also mentioned that “there is also an agreement with the 52 ejidos that border with Bienes Comunales Zona Lacandona so that the lands are delimited, given that “if we do not have a common agreement, the forest cannot be conserved. That is why we seek dialogue with our neighbors, to take care of the interior and exterior (…), so that there is no conflict with the neighbors” and with members of organizations based in the surroundings,” La Jornada reported.

It should be remembered that the Lacandon Area is inhabited by Mayan Lacandones, Tzeltals and Choles and is made up of six locations: Naha, Metzaboc, Lacanja, Ojo de Agua Chankin, Palestine and Corozal Border.

In recent days through another press conference in San Cristobal de Las Casas, Lacandones indigenous people denounced that “there are serious tensions in the Lacandon Jungle, so the government’s intervention is urgently required to avoid a confrontation (…) rights of the Lacandon ethnic minority are at risk; its territory and the conservation of its jungle too.”

They mentioned that the new authorities of communal property are unknown “because, they said they were promoted and imposed with the advice of old corrupt leaders and voted only by the Chol and Tzeltal ethnic community members, without the participation of the Lacandon ethnic group (…) and now intend to draw a new polygon different from that recognized by the community, thus affecting the territorial rights of the Lacandons, without being consulted for such purposes and jeopardizing, by deforestation, the integrity of the Montes Azules Biosphere Reserve” Proceso magazine reported..

For more information in Spanish:

Lacandones piden intervención de AMLO para rescatar la Reserva de la Biosfera Montes Azules (Proceso, 8 de octubre de 2019)

Autoridades comunales de Zona Lacandona solicitan respeto a DH (La Jornada, 11 de octubre de 2019)

Piden que se delimite área para preservar Selva Lacandona en Chiapas (La Jornada, 7 de octubre de 2019)

For more information from SIPAZ:

Chiapas: Pemex to Provide Resources in Perpetuity to Preserve the Lacandon Jungle (September 16, 2017)

Chiapas: Peace Network calls for “inclusive processes in the use, conservation and management of the Biosphere Reserve of Montes Azules” in the face of the increasing problematic in the Lacandon Jungle (June 10, 2014)

Chiapas: Federal and state governments announce imposition of territorial order in Lacandon Jungle (June 2, 2014)

Chiapas: historic accord in the Lacandon Zone (May 3, 2014)

Chiapas: Residents of the Lacandona Jungle on alert in light of advancing delimitation work (March 16, 2014)


Chiapas: Second Suspected Leader of Armed Gang in Santa Martha, Chenalho Arrested

October 14, 2019

ChenalhoPhoto @ Gaby Coutinho

After the State Attorney General’s Office (FGE in its Spanish acronym) arrested Mr. Efrain Ruiz Alvarez last month, another alleged leader of an armed group of the Santa Martha community, Chenalho was arrested by ministerial policemen, Enrique Lopez Perez, in recent days.

The arrests are related to the old agrarian conflict between residents of the Santa Martha community and the municipality of Aldama. Both alleged leaders are accused “of firing heavy caliber guns against residents of villages in Aldama.” In the case of Lopez Perez, he is accused “of the crime of attacks on peace (…) in October 2015 shooting with a firearm towards the community of Tselejopotoptic, which caused the displacement of families from Aldama.”

It should be remembered that on June 4th, in Tuxtla Gutierrez, constitutional and traditional authorities of Aldama and Chenalho, accompanied by Governor Rutilio Escandon Cadenas and the federal undersecretary for Human Rights, Alejandro Encinas Rodriguez, signed a non-aggression pact that they expected would put an end to an initially agrarian conflict over 60 hectares of territory between both municipalities that has lasted more than four decades, which has caused dozens of deaths and hundreds of displaced families.

Despite signing of the pact, different sources reported that attacks followed by both parties.

According to information from La Jornada residents of Aldama “commented that since Ruiz Alvarez was arrested, firing of high-caliber firearms from Santa Martha to places in that municipality has reduced.” But that the situation remains tense since “after the arrest of the leader, representatives of Santa Martha have threatened to hold their neighbors from Aldama to exchange them for the detainee.”

For more information in Spanish:

Detienen a líder de grupo armado de Santa Martha en Chenalhó  (La Jornada, 6 de octubre de 2019)

Detienen a líder del grupo armado Santa Martha en Chiapas (La Jornada, 13 septiembre de 2019)

Detienen a presunto líder de grupo armado de Chenalhó (Diario de Chiapas, 8 de octubre de 2019)

Detienen a presunto dirigente de grupo armado de Chenalhó, Chiapas (El Universal, 13 de septiembre de 2019)

For more information from SIPAZ:

Chiapas: Sigue la violencia entre Aldama y Chenalhó a pesar de pacto de no agresión. (8 de junio de 2019)

Chiapas: Firman pacto de no agresión autoridades de Aldama y Chenalhó (5 de junio de 2019)

Chiapas: encuentran cuerpo del síndico de Aldama quien fungía como alcalde de dicho municipio (6 de mayo de 2019)


National: Mexico Sixth Most Dangerous Country for Environmentalists According to Global Witness; 12 Activists Killed in 2019

October 13, 2019

Environment@Cuartoscuro

According to data from the human rights organization Amnesty International, at least 12 environmental activists were killed in Mexico since the beginning of the year to date. Seven of those murders were carried out in the month of January alone. With five attacks in Oaxaca and four in Chiapas, these two states have become the most dangerous regions for environmentalists.

A similar process can be observed worldwide. After the Philippines (30 defenders killed in 2018), Colombia (24), India (23), Brazil (20) and Guatemala (16), Mexico with 12 is the sixth most dangerous country in the world for environmental defenders, according to Global Witness NGO reports. In 2017, 15 defenders were killed and in 2018 another 14.

The first victim of the year was Sinar Corzo Esquinca, a water, housing and health rights activist, who also defended the victims of the 2017 earthquake in Oaxaca and Chiapas. He died on January 3rd from gunshot wounds in Arriaga, Chiapas, after he was shot.

Among the other victims were the environmentalists Noe Jimenez Pablo, Jose Santiago Lopez, Rafael Murua Manriquez, Gustavo Cruz Mendoza, Samir Flores, Eulalia Lilia Diaz, Luis Armando Fuentes, Telosforo Santiago Enriquez, Jose Luis Alvarez Flores and the human rights lawyer Juan Quintanar Gomez, who was killed in the center of the city of Oaxaca on the way to his office.

“These attacks (against indigenous people) are almost 80% of the cases. In the case of Oaxaca, Puebla and Michoacan, 100% of those attacked are indigenous,” said Gustavo Sanchez, the director of the Mexican Network of Forest Farmers Organizations (MOCAF in its Spanish acronym).

Of the 14 activists killed in 2018, eleven were people from native villages according to Antonio Medina, representative of the Indigenous Tourism Network of Mexico (RITA in its Spanish acronym), given that 50% of Mexican territory belongs to indigenous peoples, meaning that a large part of the mines, material banks, water reserves and biodiversity of the country are part of their heritage and they are particularly affected by the megaprojects of the Mexican State.

In the face of the great aggression against environmentalists, the NGO Amnesty International recently launched the “No More Murders: Raise your Voice for Environmentalists in Mexico” campaign. According to its website, “it will be based on petitions, events and the dissemination of information and audiovisual materials through social networks, to denounce the murders of environmental defenders in Mexico.”

“This campaign is our way of highlighting the violence faced by environmental defenders in Mexico and recognizing their invaluable contribution to the health of the planet and the wellbeing of its inhabitants given the the disastrous effects of extractive exploitation, industrial pollution and climate change,” explained Erika Guevara Rosas, Director for the Americas of Amnesty International.

For more information in Spanish:

12 ambientalistas y defensores han sido asesinados este año; Oaxaca y Chiapas, los estados más peligrosos (Animal Político el 7 de octubre de 2019)

El 80 % de los activistas ambientales asesinados en México son indígenas (Infobae el 1 de agosto de 2019)

México, el sexto país más peligroso para defensores del medio ambiente; hubo 14 asesinatos en 2018 (Animal Político el 29 de julio de 2019)

México: Amnistía Internacional lanza campaña para urgir al Estado que proteja a las personas defensoras del medio ambiente (Amnistía Internacional el 1 de octubre de 2019)

For more information from SIPAZ:

Chiapas: Environmentalist Nora Lopez Murdered in Palenque (August 27, 2019)

Chiapas: denunciation of criminalization against environmental activists in San Cristóbal de Las Casas (January 4, 2019)

Chiapas/Tabasco: Ecologist Jose Luis Alvarez Flores Murdered (June 17, 2019)

Chiapas: Denuncian ataque contra defensor de los derechos humanos en San Cristóbal de las Casas (10 de junio de 2019)

National: 21 Environmental Defenders Murdered in 2018 (CEMDA) (April 1, 2019)

National: CEMDA 2017 Report Shows Increase in Vulnerability of Environmental Defenders (March 26, 2018)


Oaxaca: Conflict in Mixe Region between Inhabitants of San Pedro and San Pablo Ayutla and Tamazulapam del Espiritu Santo Continues

July 31, 2019

MixePhoto @ Red TdT

Last June, in the framework of the commemoration of the second anniversary of the armed attack, perpetrated against residents of San Pedro and San Pablo Ayutla, the Gobixha Human Rights Integral Defense Committee (Codigo DH in its Spanish acronym) and the National Network of Civil Organizations All Rights for Everyone (Red TdT in its Spanish acronym) visited the affected area.

The “attack” occurred on June 5th, 2017, the result of an agrarian conflict between the people of San Pedro and San Pablo Ayutla and Tamazulapam del Espiritu Santo. During the conflict “Luis Juan Guadalupe lost his life. In addition, six people were injured by gunfire and four women were held and tortured by local authorities.”

Through a statement, the organizations announced that: “Two years after these events, we found that Ayutla Mixes do not have a connection to their spring (Jënanyëëj), because their water and pipe system was destroyed, causing lack of the vital fluid, mainly affecting children and older adults, who have consistently presented profiles of gastrointestinal diseases.” According to the statement, also, “attacks and disqualifications against defenders have been present, including Elena Gil, academic and defender of the Ayuuk language and culture, who has repeatedly received death threats, as well as other people in  the community who have been victims of aggressions and intimidation in order to silence them, details of which we reserve because of the fear they show.”

They mentioned that according to official documents “27 families of the community have been stripped of their homes and land by an agrarian invasion of more than 200 hectares that seeks to cross the boundaries recognized by both communities.”

In addition, they informed that, in the disputed spring “an installation has been built unilaterally by the state authorities, according to the complaint of the local authorities, to replace the one that was allegedly dynamited on August 25th, 2017 by Tamazupalam and that may collate with archive photos. Given these facts, the state authorities such as the Secretary General of Government (SEGEGO) and the Attorney General of the State of Oaxaca, have ignored and progress is unknown on the complaints filed, violating the right to security and physical integrity of the residents of Ayutla, and her access to justice, with investigations related to the law.”

Currently, Ayutla is still without water despite more than 30 meetings and a “historic agreement” between the two communities [which was denied by the Ayutla authorities]. Also, it should be remembered that recently, the General Secretary of Government (SEGEGO) sent the State Water Commission (CEA in its Spanish acronym) to reconnect the water to Ayutla.

Codigo DH and the Red TdT called:

  • “To the State Government to give priority to the solution to the agrarian conflict and guarantee at all times access to justice for victims, security against the risk of violence and new dispossession, as well as respect for the history and documents that keep the memory of the boundaries between both communities.
  • To the General Secretary of Government, we demand that you adhere to the agreements signed and recognized by both communities, including May 2018, to avoid new acts of violence and dispossession towards settlers who have suffered repeated violations of their human rights. We also demand the cessation of attacks and disqualifications against defenders.
  • To the State Water Commission to guarantee the completion of water reconnection works for Ayutla. It has been more than two years without a drinking water service that violates their human right to water and health, mainly for children and the elderly.
  • To the Attorney General of the State of Oaxaca, to continue with the investigations for the clarification and punishment of those responsible for the acts perpetrated on June 5th, 2017, guaranteeing at all times free access to their victims’ information.
  • To the Secretary of Public Security of the State of Oaxaca, to guarantee the security and help the population of San Pedro and San Pablo Ayutla given the risk of future aggressions.
  • To national and international Human Rights organizations to be aware of the events that may arise in the following weeks.”

For more information in Spanish:

Para Ayutla no hay fiesta, ni agua; solo duelo, injusticia y riesgo de más violencia ante la inacción gubernamental (Codigo DH, 18 de julio de 2019)

Sin solución conflicto por agua en zona mixe (Imparcial Oaxaca, 26 de julio de 2019)

Justicia y agua, para Ayutla (NVI Noticias, 26 de julio de 2019)

Denuncian inacción gubernamental en Ayutla (Red TdT, 18 de julio de 2019)

For more information from SIPAZ:

Oaxaca: Enfrentamiento entre pobladores en la región Mixe. (June 8, 2017)


International/National/Chiapas: Director of Internal Displacement Monitoring Center Highlights Problem in Mexico

July 31, 2019

DisplacementCamp for displaced persons from Colonia Puebla in SCLC @AlexandraBilak

On July 24th, Alexandra Bilak, director of the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center (IDMC in its Spanish acronym), visited displaced people from Puebla ejido in the municipality of Chenalho.

The IDMC is an internationally recognized organization that publishes figures and analysis on internal forced displacement (FID). This organization visited the camp where FID victims are currently living in San Cristobal de Las Casas.

Excelsior newspaper reported that during her visit Bilak “heard testimonies of women and men who are going through this process, as part of a global report. She also noted the conditions in which these families are, in order to know the methodology with which they are cared for and to support the states that are engaged in the matter.”

On the visit, Bilak highlighted that it is a great injustice that they have been displaced for three years “with limited services and under constant threat of new violence.”

During her visit to Mexico, she also met with the Ministry of the Interior (SEGOB in its Spanish acronym), the Mexican Commission for Assistance to Refugees (COMAR in its Spanish acronym), the United Nations and other international organizations. She stressed that a first step to address internal displacement in Mexico is to have reliable figures on the phenomenon, which currently do not exist. Without these figures, Bilak pointed out that the magnitude of the problem is not known, nor how it affects children, or is related to sexual violence.

In addition, she drew attention to the lack of an official government authority to monitor internal displacement and attend to those affected. In her presentation, Bilak also posed challenges and advances on the adoption of a general law on the subject that could be based on the experience of other countries, and request the support of organizations for the elaboration of this.

The coordinator of COMAR, Andres Ramirez Silva, “stressed that the institution in charge, for example, serves foreigners who request shelter, but there is no institution that cares for the internally displaced in Mexico (…) emphasized that the general law in the matter, will have to create the budget and the structures that see to the phenomenon, as well as clarify the role that COMAR will play in the issue of internal displacement, since its operational capacity has been limited to foreign flows.”

For more information in Spanish:

“Crimen Desplazó en México a 380 mil personas” El Universal, 24 de julio de 2019.

Realiza IDMC informe de desplazados en Chiapas Excelsior, 25 de julio de 2019.

Urgen en México leyes y recursos para atender desplazamiento forzado Mi Punto de Vista, 23 de julio de 2019.

For more information from SIPAZ:

Chiapas: Interceptan hombres armados a integrantes del CDH Ku’untik y un desplazado del ejido Puebla. (June 24, 2019)

Nacional/Internacional: Piden CIDH y ONU crear ley para atender a víctimas de desplazamiento forzado (April 18, 2019)

National: Deputies Declare Forced Displacement a Crime (April 15, 2019)

Nacional/Chiapas: la Comisión de Pueblos Indígenas de la Cámara de diputados exhorta a diversas autoridades a resolver la problemática causada por el Desplazamiento Forzado Interno (February 19, 2019)

Chiapas: State Congress asks the government to address the issue of forced displacement; displaced people from Colonia Puebla return to San Cristóbal de Las Casas (October 30, 2018)

Chiapas: Nace la organización “Coordinadora de Personas Desplazadas del Estado de Chiapas” (July 25, 2018)


Oaxaca: Indigenous Communities Celebrate “Guelaguetza” against Extractivism

July 29, 2019

Guela1

On July 23rd, 2019, several Zapotec communities of the Central Valleys, members of the “Non-Mining Front, for a Future of All”, organized an alternative Guelaguetza in San Martin de los Cansecos, Oaxaca. This was the first Guelaguetza of the Peoples of Oaxaca against mining that began with a traditional ritual of gratitude to Mother Earth.

“What they are looking for in this event is to recover the essence of the Cerro Mondays Festival, where with cooperation, love of neighbor and an attitude of sharing nature and life, they seek to reinforce the social fabric that unite us as indigenous communities.”

Marcos Leyva Madrid of the organization Services for Alternative Education (Educa in its Spanish acronym) mentioned that during the event “the towns and communities affected by mining projects and concessions celebrate life, autonomy, resistance processes and community alternatives that they are exercising within their territories.”

Guela2Photo @ SIPAZ

People and agricultural authorities from nine municipalities participated in the alternative Guelaguetza. The program included a forum, spaces for reflection for the communities about the defense of their lands against extractivism, and there were also cultural spaces.

It should be remembered that there are more than three hundred mining concessions in Oaxaca, which represent five percent of the state territory. Communities and civil organizations attribute damage to the environment and the social fabric of the communities to the extractivist model, among other consequences. In addition, they highlight the criminalization of defenders of the land, by extractive companies and the government, with the aim of protecting their economic interests.

According to the magazine Proceso, the Cuzcatlan mining company which is three kilometers away in San Jose del Progreso, also organized a Guelaguetza to “justify that it promotes traditions, gives employment and generates development.” The company is related to the Canadian company Fortuna Silver Mines.

For more information in Spanish:

Celebran comunidades indígenas la Guelaguetza antiminera en Oaxaca (EDUCA, 23 de julio de 2019)

Realizan en Valles Centrales la primera Guelaguetza de los Pueblos de Oaxaca contra la Minería (Proceso, 22 de julio de 2019)

Con Guelaguetza alternativa, protestan en Oaxaca contra mineras (La Jornada, 22 de julio de 2019)

For more information from SIPAZ:

Oaxaca: “Negamos el desarrollo que nos niega a nosotros”: Concluye Tercer Encuentro Estatal de Pueblos, Comunidades y Organizaciones “Aquí Decidimos Sí a la Vida No a la Minería” (May 22nd, 2019)

Oaxaca: Cabildo municipal anuncia el territorio de Magdalena Ocotlán prohibido para minería (April 11th, 2019)

National: No Cancellations but No More Mining Concessions in Mexico – AMLO (March 24, 2019)