National/International: International organizations call Mechanism for Protection for Human-Rights Defenders and Journalists into question

May 16, 2015

Mecanismo

In a communique published on 29 April, international human-rights organizations expressed their concern that the National Mechanism for the Protection for Human-Rights Defenders and Journalists in Mexico is “leaderless,” putting at risk its beneficiaries and applicants.  This acephalous situation has to do with the resignations in February and March of 2015 of Víctor Manuel Serrato, former director of human rights, and Lía Limón, subsecretary for juridical affairs and human rights at the Governance Ministry (SEGOB).

The groups warn that, “though Roberto Campa Cifraín has been named as the new subsecretary for juridical affairs and human rights, nearly two months have passed since the departure of the director on human rights, and there is little clarity regarding when this position will be covered once again in a permanent fashion.  The absence of management within the institution puts the Mechanism under a great deal of pressure and makes difficult the function for which it was established, thus increasing risk to human-rights defenders and journalists (both beneficiaries and applicants).”

The International Human Rights Federation (FIDH), International Service for Human Rights (ISHR), Jass  (Associates for Justice), the Latin America Working Group Education Fund, Peace Brigades International (PBI), the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), and the Global Organization against Torture (OMCT) have similarly expressed consternation amidst the serious lack of implementation of the Mechanism due to reduced budgets (according to members from the Consultative Council, the analysts within the Mechanism have themselves had to cover their travel expenses since October 2014), the lack of a physical space within the institute’s office to attend to beneficiaries and applications, the lack of follow-up training provided to the members of the Mechanism who work on temporary contracts.  They have also pointed to the lack of clarity in terms of criteria for review of cases, the lack of preventative measures, and the impunity in the cases of attacks on human-rights defenders and journalists.

To address these problems, the organizations make the following recommendations: to find a replacement director on human rights, to guarantee greater transparency within the operations of the Mechanism, in terms of the criteria that are used to accept or reject cases, and considering the follow-up that is done when precautionary measures are provided, as well as to improve the means by which the analyses of risk are carried out, to respond in a timely fashion to applications, and to guarantee the physical and psychological integrity of all human-rights defenders and journalists “who are at risk as a result of their legitimate work, and who find themselves in high-risk situations during this latest crisis of leadership and the other problems that have been identified in terms of the implementation of the Mechanism for Protection.”

For more information (in Spanish):

“Acéfalo” el mecanismo de protección a activistas y comunicadores, denuncian ONG (Proceso, 30 de abril de 2015

Mecanismo de protección acéfalo pone en alto riesgo a defensores y periodistas: Brigadas de Paz (Página3, 30 de abril de 2015)

Comunicado conjunto: Organizaciones internacionales identifican fallas preocupantes en la implementación del Mecanismo Nacional de Protección a Personas Defensoras y Periodistas en México (OSC, 29 de abril de 2015)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

National/International: PBI and WOLA publish report on Mechanism of Protection for Human-Rights Defenders and Journalists in Mexico (10 February 2015)

National: A delicate moment for the Mechanism for the Protection of Rights Defenders and Journalists (30 March 2014)


Oaxaca: Attack on members of the Assembly of Indigenous Peoples of the Isthmus in Defense of Land and Territory (APIIDTT) by construction workers tied to the Wind-Energy Firm of the South

May 14, 2015

índice

In a communique published on 4 May, members of the Mesoamerican Initiative of Human-Rights Defenders (IM-Defensoras), which is comprised of more than 690 human-rights defenders from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, and Nicaragua denounced that the activists Bettina Cruz Velázquez and Rodrigo Peñaloza from the Assembly of Indigenous Peoples of the Isthmus in Defense of Land and Territory (APIIDTT) were persecuted and intimidated by armed men who work in construction for the Wind-Energy Firm of the South on 16 April.

The events took place as Bettina Cruz Velázquez and Rodrigo Peñaloza were heading home after participating in a meeting with the Council that was being held in Juchitán, where Katia Puga was also present, being a representative from the Energy Secretariat (SENER).  The activists were verbally attacked and followed by a group of construction workers linked to the Wind-Energy Firm of the South.

The communique stresses that “these events took place even as Bettina Cruz is a beneficiary of the precautionary measures awarded by the Mechanism for Protection for Human-Rights Defenders and Journalists, as put on by the Governance Ministry (SEGOB), and which, according to Bettina Cruz herself, failed her, for she pressed the ‘Panic Button’ provided by the Mechanism during the confrontation, but it malfunctioned […].  We should also not forget that Bettina Cruz has just finished with a prolonged process of criminalization on the part of the State, during which she was accused of fabricated charges for the sole reason of punishing and making difficult her work in defense and promotion of human rights in the communities of the Tehuantepec Isthmus that resist the imposition of the wind-energy megaproject that threatens their lands.”

The rights-defenders demanded that authorities “guarantee the security and physical and moral integrity of Bettina Cruz Velázquez and other members of the Assembly of Indigenous Peoples of the Isthmus in Defense of Land and Territory; prevent, prosecute, and sanction dutifully all acts of aggression, coercion, and threats directed against members of the Assembly; and guarantee the observance of free, prior, and informed consent to the indigenous peoples of Juchitán with respect to the institution of the wind-energy project being advanced by the Wind-Energy Firm of the South according to established international standards.”

For more information (in Spanish):

Eolica del sur, con hombres armados intimida a opositores (Regeneración, 6 de mayo de 2015)

Nueva agresión a defensora tensa conflicto con empresa eólica (CIMAC Noticias, 5 de mayo de 2015)

Defensoras de Derechos Humanos condenan agresión de activista a manos de empresa eólica (Oaxacatrespuntocero, 4 de mayo de 2015)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Oaxaca: Activist Bettina Cruz is exonerated from federal charges (1 March 2015)

Oaxaca/National: Efforts to avert imprisonment of human-rights defender Bettina Cruz (26 de septiembre de 2014)

Oaxaca: Denunciation of harassment and death-threats against human-rights defenders in the Tehuantepec Isthmus (9 December 2013)

Oaxaca: Detention and subsequent release of rights-defender Bettina Cruz Velázquez (7 March 2012)


Oaxaca: Second Day for the People, Water, Life, and Land

April 23, 2015

21201_372173506308640_7328536163098942884_n

In observance of the Second Day for the People, Water, Life, and Land on 10 April, there was held a Meeting of Experiences for Consultation amidst Infrastructural and Developmentalist Projects in the city of Oaxaca de Juárez.  Representatives from indigenous and campesino peoples and members and organizations of civil society hailing from the states of Oaxaca, Puebla, Chiapas, Tabasco, Jalisco, Nayarit, Colima, Veracruz, and Distrito Federal met “to discuss and analyze the exercise of our right to decide about legislative and administrative measures as well as ‘developmental’ projects which affect our lands and territories, putting at risk our ways of life.”

At this meeting, the organizations and social processes defending land and territory shared their experiences, including the use of “closed season” for the use of water in the Central Valleys of Oaxaca; the El Zapotillo dam in Jalisco; the wind-energy projects in the Tehuantepec Isthmus; the Las Cruces (Nayarit) and Paso de la Reyna (Oaxaca) dam projects and the “Independence Aqueduct” in Sonora; the hydroelectric dams in Puebla and Veracruz; and the Plan for Territorial Exploitation on the Usumacinta River in Chiapas and Tabasco. As a central question, the great difficulty of implementing consultative processes vis-a-vis megaprojects was debated, given that “the Mexican State is promoting a series of consultations that do not respect international standards, but rather lead to a climate of harassment against communal defenders who oppose these projects,” as participants expressed in a final document.  They added that the “information we receive is only partial and distorted; it does not allow us to have a clear understanding of what the impacts are of said projects.  Furthermore, the process that continues is rigged, as there is no guarantee of impartiality.  The result is a number of simulated consultations.  In this way, we denounce the interference of power-groups and armed bands that are allied to the firms within this consultative process.”

For more information (in Spanish):

Pronunciamiento del Encuentro de Experiencias de Consulta ante Proyectos de Infraestructura y Desarrollo (Educa, 10 de abril de 2015)


Oaxaca/National: authorities attempt to repress “Migrant Way of the Cross”

April 23, 2015

Ciudad Ixtepec (@SIPAZ archivo)

Ciudad Ixtepec (@SIPAZ archive)

The “Migrant Way of the Cross,” comprised of about 400 Central American migrants and activists, began on 24 March in Chiapas and arrived a week later in Oaxaca.  After spending five days at the Migrants’ Home in Ciudad Ixtepec, it planned to leave on 9 April toward Mexico City.  The plan there was to meet with human-rights organizations and a group of senators toward the end of denouncing the human-rights violations that undocumented migrants, principally Central American in origin, face while traversing the country en route to the United States.

However, the migrants were not allowed to leave Ciudad Ixtepec, as units from the federal police and the National Institute on Migration (INM) erected three checkpoints in the zone and threatened the bus operators, warning that they would arrested for human trafficking.  For this reason, the operators refused to transport the migrants.

The priest Alejandro Solalinde denounced these actions as a “boycott” and a demonstration of what migrants suffer.  A dialogue table was then agreed to that would include Ardelio Vargas Fosado, head of the INM, to negotiate the transit of the 400 migrants to Mexico City.  Nonetheless, to date no agreement has been come to, and the risk continues that the members of the caravan will be deported.

For more information (in Spanish):

Fracasan negociaciones para continuar Viacrucis del Migrante (La Jornada, 11 de abril de 2015)

Viacrucis del Migrante parte de Oaxaca rumbo al DF (El Universal, 9 de abril de 2015)

El Viacrucis del Migrante avanza rumbo al DF (La Jornada, 9 de abril de 2015)

Impiden salida del Viacrucis del Migrante encabezado por Solalinde (La Jornada, 9 de abril de 2015)

INM boicotea vía crucis migrante, denuncia Solalinde (SDP Noticias, 9 de abril de 2015)

Sale Viacrucis del Migrante hacia el DF pese a operativos del INM (Agencia Quadratin, 9 de abril de 2015)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

National/Chiapas/Oaxaca/Tabasco: Founding of the Collective of Defenders of Migrants and Refugees (23 April 2015)

Mexico/National: Honduran migrant dies of drowning in presence of INM agents, says La 72 (22 March 2015)

Mexico/Tabasco: INM agent’s legal demand against Fray Tomás González(13 November 2014)

Mexico/Chiapas: Caravan of Central American Mothers, “Bridges of Hope,” in San Cristóbal (16 December 2014)

National/Chiapas: Massive raids against migrants and attack on human-rights defenders (3 May 2014)


National: Launch of initiative “Society responds” amidst the “crisis of impunity, corruption, and human-rights violations”

April 21, 2015

myt

On 26 March, a forum entitled “Society responds: Proposals to confront the crisis of impunity, corruption, and human-rights violations” was held in Mexico City.  The first part of the event was an open dialogue to characterize the situation experienced in the country, while the second focused on initiatives supported by more than 30 civil organizations.

“Civil society responds” is offered as “an initiative that seeks to intervene in public debate to establish a civil agenda amidst the crisis of impunity, corruption, and human-rights violations that include alternative proposals for legislative reform, institutional reconstruction, and concrete actions based in lessons learned and successful experiences from other countries that have passed through similar crises.”

Some of the proposals include “to strengthen the ministerial institutions that investigate grave human-rights violations, to overcome the obstacles inhibiting the observance of the International Convention for the Protection of All People against Forcible Disappearance, to guarantee the correct institution of the new penal-justice system, changing practices as well; to retire the armed forces from security tasks; to reformulate public policy to prevent, sanction, and eradicate gender violence, using specific strategies to deal with crimes committed by State agents; to approve the pending normative tasks in terms of transparency and protection of personal data; and to guarantee processes for transparent public institutions, among other measures.”

For more information (in Spanish):

Estas son las 20 propuestas de la sociedad civil contra la impunidad (Animal Político, 27 de marzo de 2015)

Menos queja y más propuesta… lanzan un sitio con ideas ciudadanas para ‘salvar’ a México (Animal Político, 26 de marzo de 2015)

Página Web: http://www.sociedadresponde.org/


Oaxaca: 3 years after the murder of Bernardo Vásquez, Fortune Silver forecasts large profits

April 21, 2015

INFOGRAFIA_-03

3rd Infographic regarding mineral extraction @ Educa

Three years after the murder of Bernardo Vásquez Sánchez, spokesperson for the Coordination of the United Peoples of the Ocotlán Valley (COPUVO), who was ambushsed on 15 March 2012, COPUVO members held a peaceful protest outside the Cuzcatlán mine in San José del Progreso for the anniversary of the attack, demanding that the intellectual author of the murder be revealed.  “There is still no justice for those who have been attacked.  On the contrary,  Fortune Silver Mines has announced its expansion.  This is the result of the authorities ignoring the case, which has significantly affected the human rights of the community,”  said a relative of the slain activist.

This declaration makes reference to the fact that Fortune Silver has reported that, for 2016, the Cuzcatlán mine will become one of the 15 most productive mines of Latin America, due to the investment of $30 million that will be made in 2015 to improve infrastructure and equipment, so as to increase daily production by 50%.  The firm indicated that it presently produces about 2,000 tons of silver and gold daily, placing it among the 20 most exploited regions in the country.  For 2016, the vision is that this number rise to 3,000 daily tons.

Nonetheless, Services for an Alternative Education (EDUCA) has published three infographics regarding the establishment of mineral firms in Mexico, toward the end of sharing data about the problem that leads to mineral extraction in the country.  EDUCA documents that the governments of Vicente Fox and Felipe Calderón sold off 52 million hectares to mining firms, corresponding to 26% of the national territory.  According to the General Coordination on Mining, a branch of the Economy Ministry, 870 mining projects are currently registered.  Oaxaca finds itself in 8th place.  The top three slots are for Sonora, Chihuahua, and Guanajuato states, which have 210, 113, and 95 mining projects, respectively.  Beyond this, EDUCA indicates that the profits seen by the San José del Progreso municipality amount to 1% of the 1.7 billion pesos that the Canadian firm Fortune Silver Mines expects to gain through its exploitation of silver and gold.  The conditions under which such concessions have been granted have involved the death of 4 individuals and the degradation of the social fabric of the local community.

For more information (in Spanish):

Ver la infográfica 1 (Educa)

Ver infografía 2 (Educa)

Datos de extracción minera alertan sobre pérdida de territorio nacional(Educa, 12 de marzo de 2015)

Oaxaca, en el top 15 de productores de oro y plata en AL; meta para el 2016 (Noticias Net, 13 de marzo de 2015)

Pedirán antimineros de Ocotlán diálogo con el gobierno local (Noticias Net, 16 de marzo de 2015)

Marchan por líder antiminero asesinado (Noticias Net, 14 de marzo de 2015)

Para más información de SIPAZ:

Oaxaca: presentation of report “Justice for San José del Progreso” (16 March 2014)

Oaxaca: Murder of the spokesperson of the Coordination of the United Peoples of the Ocotlán Valley (25 March 2012)

Oaxaca: Two opponents of mining in San José del Progreso are fired on (8 February 2012)

Mexico: “Mined land, the defense of the rights of communities and of the environment” (14 December 2011)

Oaxaca: Coordination of United People of the Ocotlán Valley close entrance to silver mine in San José del Progreso (14 March 2011)

Oaxaca: Civil Mission of Observation “Water is Life; Let us Defend its Existence” (8 September 2010)


Oaxaca: More harassment and threats during the second phase of the wind-energy consultation in the Tehuantepec Isthmus

March 22, 2015

Juchitán de Zaragoza, foto de archivo @ SIPAZ

Juchitán de Zaragoza, @ SIPAZ archive

Mariano López Gómez, member of the Popular Assembly of the Juchiteco People (APPJ), Héctor and Gloria Sánchez López, directors of civil and political organizations from Juchitán, and David Henestrosa, a columnist covering the Tehuantepec Isthmus, have denounced that they have suffered harassment and threats during the second phase of the wind-energy consultation, which began on 3 March in Juchitán de Zaragoza.  They claimed that they were booed and insulted by people in attendance, but they indicated in particular Eduardo Centeno, the legal representative of the Southern Wind-Energy firm (previously, Mareña Renewables Capital), such that they will submit a penal denunciation holding the wind-energy firm responsible for whatever could happen to them and their families.  Mariano López added that the CTM construction union is bringing “yes-men” to the forum who “obey the interests of the PRI, some PRI property-owners, and other abusers.  They are not taking into account the women’s groups, artisans, or fisher-people.”

The consultation process for the installation of the wind-energy park has been gravely challenged since its start in November 2014.  The Assembly of Indigenous People of the Tehuantepec Isthmus in Defense of Land and Territory (APIIDTT), in a letter written to the former United Nations Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples, James Anaya, affirmed that it does not oppose wind-energy, “but its use should be based in the form and means of life of the indigenous peoples and communities, promoting communal control,” as has been ignored byt he government and the firms that have installed 21 wind-energy parks by means of “injustice, abuse, and the illegal occupation of our communal lands.”

Beyond this, the organizations Project for Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ProDESC), the Project on Organization, Development, Education, and Investigation (PODER), and the Gobixha A.C. Committee for the Comprehensive Defense of Human Rights (Código DH) documented in a second report from the Observation Mission the “worrying procedural vices” related to the observance of the right to consultation and free, prior, and informed consent, as well as the rights to participation and information on the part of indigenous peoples.  They detected more than 20 security incidents, including threatening phone-calls and text messages, vigilance, and acts of intimidation in homes, verbal aggressions, and threatening actions taken by armed persons.

For more information (in Spanish):

Denuncian asistentes a consulta eólica hostigamiento de empresa eólica Del Sur (Página 3, 4 de marzo de 2015)

Foro de consulta indígena en Juchitán con tintes violentos (Romo Noticias, 4 de marzo de 2015)

Vicios procesales y violaciones a derechos humanos caracterizan consulta sobre proyecto eólico en Oaxaca (Prodesc, 23 de febrero de 2015)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Oaxaca: Consultative process in the Tehuantepec Isthmus challenged on several fronts (16 December 2014)

Oaxaca: Mareña Renewables to cancel wind-energy project in San Dionisio del Mar (15 January 2014)

Oaxaca: Meeting of Peoples in Resistance for the Defense of Territory in the Tehuantepec Isthmus (17 May 2013)

Oaxaca: Confrontation over supposed “approval” of wind-energy park in San Dionisio del Mar (8 January 2013)

Oaxaca: judge concedes motion against wind-energy project in San Dionisio del Mar (21 December 2012)


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 922 other followers