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