Oaxaca: Creation of tool for monitoring and denunciation about territorial rights

December 26, 2015



At the beginning of December was made public the creation of the Observatory of Territorial Rights, an initiative that has been promoted by Services for an Alternative Education (EDUCA A.C.), “focused on the monitoring, investigation, analysis, diffusion, and denunciation of violations of popular and communal rights to territories at the hands of transnational corporations, the State, and other power-groups.”

As EDUCA’s website notes, “the Observatory has as its general objective to influence State policies and public opinion so as to guarantee respect for the rights of the peoples and communities of Oaxaca by means of the monitoring of specific cases, the systematization of information, sessions of analysis with different sectors of society, and bulletins and journalistic information.” During this year, the Observatory will monitor the projects of “Paso de la Reina,” the construction of two dams in the Paso de la Reyna community; “San José,” or the construction of a subterranean mine in San José del Progreso; and “the Doctor,” for exploratory mining work in Magdalena Teitipac.

It bears mentioning that the attacks on environmental defenders has been on the rise during the past five years at least. According to the Second Annual Report on Attacks against Environmental Defenders, as compiled by the Mexican Center for Environmental Law (CEMDA), the attacks have worsened during the reign of Enrique Peña Nieto. In accordance with a proper media registry, 240 cases of attacks on environmental defenders have been observed, nearly half of which have taken place between April 2014 and May 2015, with the states of Sonora, Oaxaca, Mexico, and Guerrero being those with the highest number of incidents.

For more information (in Spanish):

Observatorio de Derechos Territoriales

Inicia Observatorio de Derechos Territoriales a partir de procesos de defensa en Oaxaca (8 de diciembre de 2015)

El Topil. Observatorio de Derechos Territoriales (Septiembre 2015)

Con EPN crecen agresiones contra defensores ambientalistas;“en el último año 109 ataques y una tendencia preocupante a la criminalización” (Revolución Tres Punto Cero, 9 de diciembre de 2015)

Oaxaca, primer lugar en agresiones a defensoras de derechos humanos (Sididh, 14 de diciembre de 2015)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Oaxaca: Detained and disappeared, anti-mining activists from San José del Progreso (12 December 2013)

Oaxaca: New death-threats directed against members of the CPUVO in San José del Progreso (7 June 2013)

Oaxaca: Civil Observation Mission to San José del Progreso (30 November 2012)

Oaxaca: access to the Cuzcatlán mine is blocked in San José el Progreso (16 May 2012)

Oaxaca: Actions, denunciations, and mobilizations in the case of San José del Progreso (3 April 2012)

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


National: Mexico, one of the most dangerous countries for environmentalists

June 12, 2014
Demostration against the Paso de la Reina Dam in Oaxaca (@SIPAZ)

Demostration against the Paso de la Reina Dam in Oaxaca (@SIPAZ)

The Mexican Environmental Law Center (CEMDA) announced that, between 2009 and 2012, 51 environmental activists were attacked in Mexico. 23 of those cases were murders and two are of forced disappearance.

Andrea Ulisse Cerami, responsible for Defense and Public Policy at CEMDA, also mentioned: “We have a record of cases but we believe there might be many more of them, because several defenders do not even report those aggressions. We believe that there are more; there are cases of persons that come to us and express that they are afraid to denounce. “

These attacks occur when communities oppose development projects of different types. The projects are imposed in their territories without consulting them, although they may imply the sale or abandonment of their lands.

According to Andrea Ulisse Cerami, Mexico is one of the most dangerous countries for environmental defenders, and it is among the 5 countries that have received the most complaints. The states with the highest number of reported assaults are Guerrero and the state of Mexico. The cases of Oaxaca and Chiapas, both rich in natural resources, are also notable. “There has been a number of complaints, mainly related to mining. The case of Mariano Abarca Romero, defender of indigenous peoples and anti-mining activist who was killed [in Chiapas], is one of them.”

Finally, the representative of CEMDA emphasized the failure to investigate and punish the perpetrators, “which is the main preventive measure that can be given.” “In the case of murders in recent years, none of them has been clarified. There is the problem of access to justice for environmental defenders. In fact the lack of punishment of those responsible is another measure that encourages new attacks because nobody seems to mind about them.”

For more information (in Spanish)

El CEMDA reporta 51 ataques a activistas del medio ambiente en tres años; hay 23 asesinados y dos desaparecidos (Sinembargo, 5 de junio de 2014)

Guerrero: briefs – NGOs present amicus brief to Inter-American Court on case of environmentalists; activist is detained

September 23, 2010

Teodoro Cabrera García and Rodolfo Montiel Flores (@TVSur)

On 10 September, the Mexican Center for Environmental Rights (CEMDA) and the Inter-American Association for the Defense of the Environment (AIDA) presented an amicus brief to the Inter-American Court on Human Rights (IACHR) in the case of the environmental activists Teodoro Cabrera García and Rodolfo Montiel Flores against the Mexican State.  The document emphasizes the importance of the work of environmental-rights defenders and identifies those responsible for attacks on such defenders in Meixco.  The document concludes by requesting that the IACHR “recognize the special importance of the work of Cabrera and Montiel Flores […], in particular given the lack of effective resources that exist for environmental protection,” “take into consideration the general context of attacks and harassment directed against human-rights defenders in Mexico,” and “declare the violation of the right of liberty of association of Cabrera García and Montiel Flores.”

In 1998, Teodoro Cabrera and Rodolfo Montiel founded the Organization of Ecological Campesinos of the Sierra de Petatlán and Coyuca de Catalán (OCESP) in the hopes of protecting the forests of the state of Guerrero.  In 1998 they were arbitrarily detained and tortured for their work.  Although released in 2001, they were not declared to be innocent.  The two activists appealed to the IACHR in 2010, asserting that Mexican authorities had done nothing to compensate them for their suffering nor to guarantee their security.

In other news, on Tuesday 14 September, a commando-group kidnapped Víctor Ayala Tapia, leader of the Free Front Hermenegildo Galeana, in the community of Papanoa from the municipality of Tecpan de Galeana, Guerrero.  In a press conference, Javier Monroy, leader of the Workshop for Communal Development (TADECO), reported that Ayala Tapia is member of the National Civic Revolutionary Association (ACNR) and that he led the occupation of city hall to demand a solution to the requests of the social court last week.  Monroy claimed that “we believe that the disappearance of our comrade constitutes an action taken by the municipal police and by groups of armed individuals dressed as civilians.” Ayala Tapia’s relatives released a communiqué in which they request that those who have the leader imprisoned release him.  “The relatives, fathers, brothers, wife, and friends of Víctor Ayala Tapia request those who have Víctor Ayala in their power to respect his life.  We have faith that you will come to realize that Víctor is innocent and that you will understand all that we are suffering.  His wife and children await his return, alive […].  We guarantee that the captors will suffer no revenge from anyone.” The document ends by listing the numbers 7424241431 and 7421063324 for those who wish to share information regarding the whereabouts of Ayala Tapia.  Enlace Zapatista released an Urgent Action on 14 September, demanding that the activist be presented alive immediately.

For more information (in Spanish):

CEMDA and AIDA letter to the Inter-American Court (10 September)

CEMDA and AIDA present case before the Inter-American Court on Human Rights in the case of Teodoro Cabrera Carcía and Rodolfo Montiel Flores against Mexico (Centro Pro, 17 September)

Relatives of Víctor Ayala call for his release; “he is a wholesome person” (La Jornada, 20 September)

Urgent Action (Enlace Zapatista, 14 September)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Guerrero: Briefs – AI pronouncement; Forum of Environmental Defenders (2 August 2010)