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

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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)

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Oaxaca: Activist Bettina Cruz is exonerated from federal charges

March 1, 2015

Bettina Cruz (@SIPAZ archivo)

Bettina Cruz (@SIPAZ archive)

In a press-conference, civil organizations reported that Bettina Cruz Velázquez, a human-rights defender who works with organizational processes opposed to the wind-energy megaprojects in the Tehuantepec Isthmus of Oaxaca, was exonerated of the charges that she had faced after a complaint submitted by the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE).

In 2012, she was arrested for having participated in a protest in front of a CFE installation, this being the institution which accused her of kidnapping and crimes against consumption and national wealth.  The charges were based on her supposed blockading of the entrance and exit to a group of CFE workers during a protest in front of one of the firm’s buildings.

While celebrating the resolution of this case, Santiago Aguirre, subdirector of the Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez Center for Human Rights, emphasized that this is an emblematic case of harassment that many other defenders suffer from in Mexico.

For more information (in Spanish):

Exoneran de cargos penales a la activista Bettina Cruz (La Jornada, 13 de febrero de 2015)

Absuelven a defensora de derechos humanos en Oaxaca (Milenio, 12 de febrero de 2015)

Absuelven de dos cargos a la activista Bettina Cruz (Ciudadanía Express, 12 de febrero 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)

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/National: Efforts to avert imprisonment of human-rights defender Bettina Cruz

October 1, 2014

Bettina Cruz (@SIPAZ archivo)

Bettina Cruz (@SIPAZ archive)

In a press conference held on 23 September, federal legislators called on the Federal Attorney General’s Office (PGR) to stop the looming incarceration of Oaxacan rights-defender Bettina Cruz Velázquez, who presently free faces accusations of kidnapping and crimes against consumption and national wealth.

It bears mentioning that on 22 February 2012, the defender was detained and incarcerated, accused of kidnapping and crimes against consumption and the national wealth, though she only participated in a protest a year previous opposing high electricity prices in Oaxaca.  On 24 February 2012 she posted bail and was released, but the legal process against her continues.

The legislators in question affirm that they “consider that the moves and process against Bettina represent acts of criminalization of social protest, illustrating the risky situations faced by persons who work to defend human rights.  Through this process, it has become clear that the justice system has deviated greatly against them, particularly those who work in defense of the land amidst the imposition of megaprojects.”

Beyond this, in a communique published on 25 September, Amnesty International (AI) warned that, if the judiciary power decided to imprison the rights-defender, it would “consider nominating her as a prisoner of conscience.”  AI stressed that the obligation of the Mexican authorities “is to guarantee that the justice system does not work in favor of the persecution of those who defend human rights, as revenge against their legitimate actions.”

For more information (in Spanish):

Piden legisladores a PGR evitar encarcelamiento de activista (Cimac Noticias, 23 de septiembre de 2014)

Carta completa de los legisladores (23 de septiembre de 2014)

No a la persecución judicial de las personas defensoras de derechos humanos (Amnistía Internacional, 25 de septiembre de 2014)

Campaña en twitter: etiqueta #JusticiaparaBettina

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Oaxaca: Various denunciations in the Tehuantepec Isthmus from community assemblies organized against wind-farms in their territories (6 September 2014)

Oaxaca: Confrontations in Álvaro Obregón community, Juchitán, leave several injured (15 March 2014)

Oaxaca: Opponents to wind-energy parks threatened with death in the Isthmus (2 March 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 (March 7, 2012)

Oaxaca: Death-threats against human-rights defenders (4 November 2011)


Oaxaca: Denunciations of harassment and death-threats against human-rights defenders in the Tehuantepec Isthmus

December 9, 2013

Bettina Cruz. Foto @Sipaz

Bettina Cruz. Photo @Sipaz

The National Network of Human-Rights Defenders in Mexico (RNDDHM), made up of 135 human-rights defenders from 20 states in the Republic, has in a communique expressed its concern for the attacks and acts of harassment that Oaxacan defenders of indigenous and land rights have recently faced.  This is particularly the case for Bettina Cruz Velázquez, member of the Assembly of the Indigenous Peoples of the Tehuantepec Isthmus in Defense of Land and Territory (APIITDTT), Sara Bartolo López, and María del Carmen Sánchez Martínez, members of the Popular Assembly of the Juchiteco People (APPJ).

Since the year 2007, these human-rights defenders have together with others been carrying out a struggle in defense of the rights of indigenous peoples and their rights in light of the attempts by large multinational corporations (such as Fenosa Natural Gas and Mareña Renewables) to build large wind-energy parks on communal lands, without providing for free, prior and informed consent to the Ijkoots and Binnizá indigenous peoples who have been affected by the projects–as corresponding laws mandate.

The Network has demanded that Oaxacan state governor Gabino Cué Monteagudo guarantee the work of these rights-defenders free from harassment, reprisals, and death-threats by establishing and applying the necessary means to achieve this end.

In this way, the Network calls for guarantees for “members of the APIITDTT and the APJJ to have security measures to protect their lives and territory.  The rights of the people to defend their land and to decide not to allow the construction of wind-energy parks on their communal territory [must also be guaranteed].  [Moreover,] the rights of the people to free, prior, and informed consent [must be respected].”

For more information (in Spanish):

Denuncian campaña de hostigamiento contra defensoras de derechos humanos en el Istmo (Ciudadanía Express, 4 de diciembre de 2013)

Denuncian campaña de intimidación en contra de indígena de Tehuantepec (La Jornada, 5 de diciembre de 2013)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Oaxaca: Closing off of communal paths and police operation over construction of wind-energy park (9 December 2013)

Oaxaca: The Popular Assembly of the Juchiteco People denounces attack on wind-energy camp (26 October 2013)

Oaxaca: New threats of displacement from Playa Vicente (25 October 2013)

Oaxaca: Death by gunfire of opponent to wind-energy projected promoted by multinational Fenosa Natural Gas (20 August 2013)

Oaxaca: “The Isthmus at the Crossroads” Seminar (20 August 2013)

Oaxaca: Attacks on those opposed to the wind-energy park in the Tehuantepec Isthmus (4 August 2013)

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


Oaxaca: Tension maintained in the Tehuantepec Isthmus

November 26, 2011

(@tierrayterritorio.wordpress.com)

On 4 November 2011, opponents of the Wind-Energy Project of Unión Hidalgo in the Tehuantepec Isthmus, Oaxaca, presented a legal denunciation for injuries, gunshots, dangerous assault, and death-threats before the municipal agent of La Venta, Ventura Ordaz Santiago.

In a press-release the opponents recalled that on 28 October, members of the Assembly of the Peoples of Isthmus for the Defense of the Land and Territory, as well as members of the Committee of Resistance to the Wind-Energy Project of Unión Hidalgo, organized a peaceful protest in the La Venta-Unión Hidalgo section of the Pan-American Highway, against the construction of turbines on their lands.  During this protest, they distributed flyers to inform about the problem confronted by the “Piedra Larga” wind-energy project.  In this sense, they denounced that members of the La Venta community who are in favor of the wind-energy project arrived and threatened the opposing group.  The protestors reported that a group of men armed with pistols and machetes arrived to the place and beat some of the assembled, among them Bettina Cruz Velázquez and Juan Regalado Martíneza, whom they kicked, threw to the ground, and threatened with death.  15 minutes after having left, one of the men linked to the armed group, Reynaldo Ordaz Velásquez, died due to gunshot wounds under vague circumstances in the same place.  The authorities arrived after the homicide and the members of the group close to the municipal agent of La Venta alleged that the protestors were responsible for the crime, a version that was followed by local media.

In their communiqué, the opponents expressed that “In light of this situation the communities and organizations signed below lament the loss of a life and we categorically reject violence.  Regardless, Mr. Ordaz Santiago and the attackers have falsely accused the deceased Mr. Regalado Martínez and Mr. Rodrigo Flores Peñaloza of the Assembly of Indigenous Peoples, whom we find completely free of responsibility.  We insist that the investigation into the death of Ordaz Velásquez be profound and impartial, and that those responsible be juridically processed and punished.  We roundly criticize the climate of persecution that makes it possible that the state-government, the caciques, and the wind-energy companies use this event to criminalize peaceful social protest.”

One day prior, Amnesty International (AI) expressed its concern regarding the possibility that the state government use the death of Ordaz Velázquez to unjustly process protestors and dissuade future protests.  The organization recalled that the industrial and development projects which affect indigenous and campesino communities of Mexico are undertaken frequently without providing believable information to the affected indigenous communities, without having consulting them or obtaining their free and informed consent.

For more information (in Spanish):

Interponen denuncias penales por violencia en el Itsmo de Tehuantepec (Boletín de prensa, 4 November 2011)

Opositores a proyecto eólico en Oaxaca presentan denuncia penal por amenazas (La Jornada, 4 November)

Preocupa a Amnistía Internacional procesamiento injusto contra activistas de Oaxaca (Proceso, 2 November)

Comunicado de prensa de UCIZONI (29 October 2011)

Boletín de prensa de la Asamblea de los Pueblos Indígenas del Istmo de Tehuantepec en Defensa de la Tierra y el Territorio (29 October 2011)

For more information (in Spanish):

Oaxaca: Death-threats against human-rights defenders (4 November 2011)

Oaxaca: Indigenous individuals from the Isthmus denounce threats by Spanish firm in response to their opposition to planned construction of wind-plants (5 July 2011)

Oaxaca: Possible conflict regarding wind-energy projects in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec (18 January 2011)


Oaxaca: Death-threats to human-rights defenders

November 4, 2011

Parque eólico en el Istmo de Tehuantepec @ La Jornada

Wind-farm in Isthmus of Tehuantepec @ La Jornada

On 21 October, approximately 50 workers from the hydroelectric firm Wind Development of Mexico (DEMEX) entered the lands of the indigenous Zapotec community Unión Hidalgo and threatened the human-right defenders Bettina Cruz Velázquez and Maribel González with death.  These two are accompanying the property-owners who oppose the Wind Corridor of the Isthmus (CEI).

The Urgent Action released by the Project on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights A.C. (PRODESC) indicates that “since 24 May of the present year harassment and death-threats directed against the community opposed to the project have worsened, given that a group of dissident owners met in an assembly called for by the Committee of Resistance against the Wind Project of Union Hidalgo, Oaxaca, and decided to request that the firms suspend this project in light of the great and irreparable damage inflicted on the environment, their lands, and natural resources.  Since this date, the work has been suspended, but regardless, the firm has maintained strong pressure against these owners and has rejected to close the rental contracts even though these depend on the will of the community.  It is important to stress that the owners of the lands in Unión Hidalgo, Oaxaca, signed rental contracts with DEMEX by means of trickery.  At no time did the firm report in accordance with established international accords regarding prior informed consent for the community regarding the destructive consequences that this project would imply for the land, nor did it give a sense of the magnitude of the wind-project or what this would imply for the cultivation of crops on these lands.”  The PRODESC document specifies that as an antecedent of these death-threats, on “18 October, Mr. Jaime de la Cruz Gómez, known as ‘el Mocho,’ together with Jaun Altamirano, workers for Wind Development of Mexico (DEMEX), which is affiliated with the transnational Spanish firm Energy Renewal, were accompanied by ministerial police from the State Agency of Investigation (AEI) from the state of Oaxaca and a group of persons from other communities who had been offered work threatened to enter to work on the lands of the owners who are opposed to the wind-project in Unión Hidalgo.”

For more information (in Spanish):

Acción Urgente de PRODESC (21/10/2011)

Comunicado de la Asamblea de los Pueblos Indígenas del Istmo en Defensa de la Tierra y el Territorio (18/10/2011)

La Jornada: Firmas eólicas intentan robar tierras de indígenas en el Istmo (23/10/2011)

NSS Oaxaca: Ejidatarios impiden trabajos del proyecto eólico Piedra Larga (22/10/2011)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Oaxaca: Indigenous individuals from the Isthmus denounce threats by Spanish firm in response to their opposition to planned construction of wind-plants (5 July 2011)

Oaxaca: Possible conflict regarding wind-energy projects in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec (18 January 2011)