National: Tensions in Ostula in light of possible transfer of Commander Cemeí

September 10, 2015

(@Cuartoscuro)(@Cuartoscuro)

Tensions in the Nahua community of Santa María Ostula, Aquila municipality, Michoacán, have not ceased since an Army group entered on 19 July to arrest the commander of the communal police, Cemeí Verdía Zepeda, as it attacked a communal blockade, in an act that left a girl of 12 years of age dead, and 10 others injured.

According to Ojarasca, the government announced that it would enter to disarm the communal police (PC).  In light of this threat and the four arrest-orders against the PC commanders, Ostula strengthened its communal defense.  “There are communal-defense patrols all day.  New support commissions are being organized, and the assemblies are determining the way forward,” declared Gregorio Santos García, spokesperson of the community.  Different sources documented testimony regarding the presence of shock-groups and Navy in the region surrounding Ostula.  Santos García added that “we are not confronting them, and we will not do so.  We will instead dialogue.  They are soldiers, and we are not.  What they seek is for us to respond with violence, but we will not.  We will respond with organization.”  In declarations made by Germán Ramírez Sánchez, the substitute commander of the communal police during the absence of Cemeí: “I am saddened because instead of going after the criminals, they come against a community and its self-organization, when all we seek is justice.”

Beyond this, there were developments in the case of the arrest of Commander Cemeí Verdía. He was absolved of the accusation of homicide and bearing of arms for the exclusive use of the Army but then immediately accused of robbery.  This change could lead to his being transferred to the Lázaro Cárdenas prison in Michoacán, where members of the Knights Templar cartel are held.  This is the precise group that the Ostula PC has been organizing against.  The residents of the community fear for the life of the commander, in case the transfer is carried through.

In a communique, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) manifested its concern regarding the allegations of the participation of public forces in grave acts of violence in Mexico, including the events of 19 July in Ostula.  In this way, it reiterated that the affairs that have to do with citizen security should be the sole task of civilian police forces, given that the armed forces are trained for national defense against an external aggressor, and so lack the training to observe the law.  “Moreover, the history of the region shows that the intervention of the armed forces in internal security questions generally is accompanied by human-rights violations.”  It should be stressed that the murder of the Hidilberto girl and the damages incurred by the other 10 injured persons continue to go unpunished, thus contradicting the agreements made with the government.

For more information (in Spanish):

Ostula, en Michoacán, no puede bajar la guardia (Ojarasca, 8 de agosto de 2015)

Comunitarios de Ostula se niegan a desarmarse (La Jornada, 7 de agosto de 2015)

Tensión en Ostula tras movimientos y bloqueos de grupos de choque (DesInformémonos, 7 de agosto de 2015)

CIDH expresa su preocupación respecto de alegaciones de participación de la fuerza pública en hechos de violencia en México (CIDH, 7 de agosto de 2015)

Ostula exige que Cemeí Verdía Zepeda no sea trasladado al penal de Lázaro Cárdenas porque temen por su vida (DesInformémonos, 4 de agosto de 2015)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Nation: Denunciations of new attacks against indigenous community of Santa María Ostula, Michoacán (10 June 2015)

Nation: A minor murdered and ten others wounded in Santa María Ostula (16 August 2015)

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Nation: A minor murdered and ten others wounded in Santa María Ostula

August 16, 2015

(@CurartOscuro)

(@CurartOscuro)

On 19 July, a 12-year old minor was shot in the Nahua community of Ostula. municipality of Aquila, Michoacán. Hidelberto Reyes García was in a shop when he was hit by a bullet fired by a military convoy comprised of 30 vehicles. According to the official version of the events, the soldiers were shooting in the air. During a press conference, the land commissioner Agustín Vera declared that the army was not provoked by the communards: “They acted in an arbitrary manner.” He also repudiated the official version: “The military troops shot in the air so people would get out of the way and they shot civilians.” Of the ten wounded people four are minors. One of the victims has disabilities, and another one is more than 60 years old. They were injured by bullets and tear gas.

Cemel Vardía Cepeda, commander of the community police of Ostula and general coordinator of the self-defenses of three municipalities, was arrested the same day of the attack. He was accused of carrying weapons reserved to the army as well as of burning ballots during the July 7th elections. “A member of the self-defenses declared that government authorities requested him to appear at a meeting in the village of La Placita, municipality of Aquila, where he was detained and moved to Morelia and soon afterwards to the maximum security prison in Tepic, Nayarit,” said a member of the self-defense forces. During the same operation, which involved more than a thousand police and federal authorities, other members of the self-defenses were detained and their radios and weapons confiscated. Members of police authorities have expressed their support for the accused, arguing that his weapons had been given to him by the government, since Cemel was part of the Rural Force. They understand this detention as an attempt to weaken the community’s self-defense system.

It is important to remember that Ostula recovered around 300 hectares of land on June 29, 2009, exercising its right to autonomy as a Nahua village and against drug-trafficking and mining exploitation. Since that time, 32 communards have been murdered and 5 have disappeared.

Several communiqués in social media showed support for the people of Ostula, demanding investigation and justice for the victims and the wounded of the Nahua community. Some of them are the joint communiqué of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) and the National Indigenous Congress (CNI), or the one released by the Network for the Rights of Children in Mexico (REDIM).

For more information:

Comunicado urgente de la comunidad indigena de Ostula (La Jornada Michoacán, 19 de julio de 2015)

Denuncian que agresión del Ejército contra nahuas fue arbitraria (Sididh, 21 de julio de 2015)

Embestida del ejército contra la comunidad nahua de Santa María Ostula(SubVersiones, 20 de julio de 2015)

El niño muerto en Ostula estaba comprando pañales: familiares (La Jornada, 21 de julio de 2015)

Despiden al niño que mató el Ejército; sus amigos protestan: “Queremos que nos cuiden, no que nos maten” (Revolución tres punto cero, 21 de julio de 2015

Tres muertos, entre ellos dos niños, saldo del ataque del Ejército en Aquila (Proceso, 20 de julio de 2015)

Al grito de “¡Vivan los Templarios!” soldados atacaron en Aquila: comuneros (Proceso, 21 de julio de 2015)

Sepultan en Michoacán al niño baleado por militares (La Jornada, 22 de julio de 2015)

Comunicado conjunto del CNI y el CCRI-CG del EZLN sobre el ataque de fuerzas federales contra la comunidad indígena de Santa María Ostula.(Enlace Zapatista, 22 de julio de 2015)

Inadmisibles los ataques y ejecuciones extrajudiciales de niñas, niños y adolescentes a manos de policías y militares: REDIM (Redim, 20 de julio de 2015)

For more information from SIPAZ:

Mexico: Denunciation of new attacks against indigenous community of Santa María Ostula, Michoacán (10 June 2015)


Mexico: Denunciations of new attacks against indigenous community of Santa María Ostula, Michoacán

June 10, 2015

(@Koman Ilel)

(@Koman Ilel)

On 26 May, the Commission for the Defense of the Common Lands of Santa María Ostula, Aquila municipality, Michoacán, denounced that the day prior, it had suffered a new attack at the hands of the Knights Templar Cartel. It expressed that this represents “not only an alarm in terms of security, but also in terms of the very existence of our communal organization and ability to continue as a people.”

It warned that “newly, the Knights Templar Cartel is seeking to destroy our communal organization, for this attack coincides with the new actions taken by the community, beginning on 23 May, when a new agrarian order was consolidated in the recovered lands of Xayakalan.”

It should be noted that, though the Santa María Ostula community has organized itself to exercise its own forms of justice and self-defense, it has experienced harassment and attacks since 2009, when communards recovered approximately 1,300 hectares. It has also seen the consequences of mass-deforestation due to the operations of transnational corporations during 2012-2013.

The commission demanded respect for its communal police and the life and integrity of the general commander and coordinator of the self-defense units of the coastal and mountainous regions of Michoacán, Cemeí Verdía, as well as punishment of those responsible for the attacks on the community, and “respect for autonomy and lands belonging from time immemorial to the indigenous community of Santa María Ostula.”

For more information (in Spanish):

Comunicado de la comisión para la Defensa de los Bienes Comunales de Santa María Ostula (Centro de Derechos Humanos Fray Bartolomé de las Casas, 26 de mayo de 2015)

Reporta policía comunitaria enfrentamientos en Michoacán (El Universal, 26 de mayo de 2015)

Boletín 3 sobre los hechos en Santa María Ostula, Michoacán (Radio Zapatista, 30 de mayo de 2015)