Chiapas: The Viejo Velasco massacre three years later

November 18, 2009

Hundreds of Chol and Tzeltal indigenous people marched in the city of Palenque on November 13th to commemorate an attack against the people of Viejo Velasco Suarez three years ago. Four people died and four more disappeared when some Lancadon tried to evict the residents of Viejo Velasco from their land.

The same organizations that  to formed the Civil Observation Mission in Montes Azul at that time delivered a statement and denounced “the shameful acts committed by officers of the state and a paramilitary-style group of indigenous people, that resulted in the Viejo Velasco massacre”.

The statement was read in several indigenous languages during a religious service presided over by Father Geronimo “Xel” that revisited the events of that day when “close to 40 people in civilian clothing from the community of Nueva Palestina entered Viejo Velasco with a group of about 300 uniformed people carrying high caliber rifles, and proceeded to physically attack the indigenous people.”

The statement also documented the impunity in the case and stated: “Those of us who have been witnesses can testify to the inefficiency of the investigations carried out by the government of Chiapas, who haven’t provided an effective way to guarantee necessary legal protection to the massacre’s victims. The State Ministry of Justice has failed to carry out its work in a serious and effective manner with notorious procedural anomalies that have obstructed the right to access to justice, to the truth, to repair the damage, which leads us to believe in a possible cover-up to protect the material and intellectual perpetrators of the massacre.

For more information (in Spanish):

Pronunciamiento Público conjunto a 3 años de impunidad de la Masacre de Viejo Velasco, Selva Lacandona

More information from SIPAZ:

November 2006 : Confrontation in the borders of the Montes Azules Reservation leaves at least 4 dead (Urgent Action from SIPAZ, November 2006)

Enfrentamiento en los límites de la Reserva de Montes Azules deja un saldo de por lo menos 4 muertos. (Acción Urgente de SIPAZ, noviembre de 2006)

Chiapas: The OCEZ-RC sit-in, twelve days later

November 13, 2009
@Expreso de Chiapas

Since Monday October 26th about 150 members of OCEZ-RC (Emiliano Zapata Campesina Organization, Carranza Region) have maintained a sit-in in the center of San Cristobal de Las Casas to denounce intimidation by the military and police in their region, and to demand the release of their members: Jose Manuel Chema Hernandez Martinez was arrested on September 30th, while Jose Manual de la Torre and Roselio de la Cruz Gonzalez were apprehended on October 24th. All three are accused of stealing, causing damage and criminal association, among other charges.

On October 29th Amnesty International asked the Mexican government to investigate the complaints against the Chiapas police, who are accused of torturing OCEZ leaders. Amnesty International also asked for the guarantee of a fair trial for Jose Hernandez Martinez who remains unable to communicate since being transferred to a maximum-security prison 2000 kilometers from Chiapas.

On October 30th in “a desperate measure to call attention and obtain the release of our fellow members,” participants from the sit-in occupied the offices of the United Nations (UN) in San Cristobal de Las Casas. The OCEZ members explained that the occupation was a “peaceful act related to international rights against forced internal displacement.” They said they were afraid police and soldiers would conduct raids in their communities in Venustiano Carranza.

UN official Arnaud Peral said “the UNDP has determined the peaceful nature of the protest up until now, despite the imposition of having their headquarters occupied, and has asked the authorities not to proceed with any forced removal based on the principal of respect for the inviolability of United Nations offices.” However, he stated that the UN would join “the negotiation process once the offices were vacated, and once the framework for dialogue as well as representation of the occupying group had been clarified.”

On November 4th prisoners Jose Manuel de la Torre Hernandez and Roselio de la Cruz Gonzalez asked that those occupying the UNDP offices vacate the building. That same day the National Front in the Struggle for Socialism (Frente Nacional de Lucha hacia el Socialismo, FNLS) denounced the “fact that the last two OCEZ-RC members who were arrested (Jose Manuel de la Torre Hernandez and Roselio Cruz Gonzalez) had agreed to change their lawyer Lic. Marcos Lopez Perez, are spreading the news that they weren’t tortured and now ‘ask’ their fellow members to vacate the UNPD offices is undeniably proof of the terrorism of these supposed state authorities. It’s obvious they were subject to pressure and threats to take these positions.” They also pointed out “the FNLS doesn’t rule out that the repressive strategy being used against the OCEZ-RC – which has been used to facilitate the militarization of their region – is part of the declared intentions of the Governor Juan Sabines in the sense that he is going to create the ‘social conditions’ necessary to give access to transnational mining extraction in Chiapas.”

On November 5th the OCEZ announced that they had proposed that the Government Secretary of Chiapas, Noe Castanon Leon, set up a working group “to ease tensions and show good faith” in order to find a solution to their demands and the occupation of the United Nations offices. This initiative may take place as early as this weekend.

For more information:

Acción Urgente de Amnistía Internacional

– Solicita AI que se indaguen denuncias de tortura contra líderes de la OCEZ (La Jornada, 29 de octubre)

– Toman oficinas de la ONU (Cuarto Poder, 31 de octubre)

– Descartan líderes de la OCEZ-RC toma del PNUD (Milenio, 4 de noviembre)

Posición del FNLS antes el conflicto de la OCEZ-RC (Carta abierta, 4 de noviembre)

– Propone la OCEZ mesa de distensión (La Jornada, 6 de noviembre)

For more information from SIPAZ:

Chiapas: Organizations and social movements descend on San Cristobal to call for justice (octubre 2009)

Chiapas: Prisoner forced to transfer to maximum-security prison in Tepic, Nayarit (october 2009)

Chiapas: OCEZ leader from the Venustiano Carranza Region captured(october 2009)

Chiapas: More prisoners released for Acteal Massacre. Abejas petition the IACHR

November 10, 2009

Abejas en la CIDH

On November 4, Mexico’s Supreme Court (SCJN, Suprema Corte de Justicia de la Nación) ordered the immediate release of nine people who had been accused and sentenced as perpetrators of the Acteal Massacre, in a vote of four to one. At the same time another 16 prisoners received protection under the law, among them two who had confessed to participating in the killing. This decision means the multi-judge court (Tribunal Colegiado) will have to make a new ruling in the case without using evidence thrown out by the SCJN, which according to the SCJN was illegally obtained by the Attorney General’s Office (PGR, Procuraduría General de la República). Now the accused will be judged only for the crimes of homicide and injury, not for the use of firearms used exclusively by the military. In their ruling, the SCJN also threw out six requests for legal protection in the same case.

At the same time the group Las Abejas (The Bees, Organización Sociedad Civil Las Abejas) as well as members of Human Rights Center Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas A.C. (Frayba) delivered evidence about the case to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) in Washinton D.C. The two groups denounced “the impunity that the Mexican state has facilitated through the Supreme Court” and they asked the IACHR to draw attention to the case. The case had already been presented to the IACHR in February 2005 but had been on hold while waiting for internal legal appeals to run their course in Mexico. The result of those appeals has been the release of 29 people identified as responsible for the Acteal Massacre between August and November 2009.

Frayba also asked for the IACHR to “implement provisional measures to help the survivors of the Massacre as well as the leaders of Las Abejas in light of the imminent risk to their lives and personal safety due to possible retaliation and/or revenge by the recently released perpetrators of the Massacre, because paramilitary groups are in possession of firearms in the region.”

For more information:

For more information from SIPAZ:

Special Report on the Case of Acteal (August 30, 2009) – The Supreme Court (SCJN) Ruling: an irreproachable ruling judicially, a highly questioned decision based in the historical and actual context

Chiapas: Attack on K’inal Antsetik

November 10, 2009


Sorry for the delay in translating this post, regretfully still a topical subject.

On September 26, 2009, the K’inal Antsetik Women’s Leadership Center (Tierra de Mujeres) in San Cristobal de las Casas was attacked.

According to the statement provided by K’inal, on Saturday, September 26th at 8pm, at least one unidentified individual, dressed completely in black with his face covered with a ski mask, entered from some neighboring property and he (or them) sprayed white gasoline on some of the wooden main beams of the construction that was being built and set them on fire.

The people who live in the facilities and were there at that time were able to put out the fire with buckets of water.

It is important to underline that this was not the first attack on this organization, which dedicates itself to promoting the struggle for respect for women’s rights and combating all types of violence against women. One of its members, Yolanda Castro Apreza (who is also part of FNLS), has been the victim of repeated assaults and, at the end of 2008, her home was broken into. Also, there were reports of individuals in the K’inal Antestik Center who were offering money in exchange for information about Yolanda Castro. Finally, the reports mentioned that in the most recent days, the state Attorney General was understood to be creating a case against Yolanda Castro, falsely imputing crimes against her with the goal of criminalizing her role as a human rights defender.

For more information:

Denuncia Pública K´inal Antsetik

More information from SIPAZ:

Chiapas: Concern regarding threats faced by human rights defenders

Chiapas: Organizations and social movements descend on San Cristobal to call for justice

October 31, 2009

On Monday October 26th, 2009, the Cathedral Square in San Cristobal de Las Casas was the scene of much activity and mobilization as three organizations and social movements arrived in the center of town, one after another. The three groups – the “community of Faith (Pueblo Creyente)–Tzotzil Region, The Other Campaign, and the Emiliano Zapata Campesina Organization-Carranza Region (OCEZ-RC) – each had distinct demands that came down to the same basic message: there is no justice in Chiapas. Some demanded that “paramilitaries” charged in the Acteal Massacre remain in jail, while others asked for the release of social leaders who have been “arbitrarily detained.”


The Community of Faith–Tzotzil Region had organized a “Pilgrimage for Peace and real Justice” in solidarity with the Acteal Abejas. Together they called on the Supreme Court of Mexico to refrain from freeing any more of the prisonners accused as material perpetrators of the Acteal massacre of 1997. Five hundred people from the Highlands of Chiapas participated. At the end of the pilgrimage, mass was celebrated in the Cathedral by the Bishop of San Cristobal, Father Enrique Diaz Diaz, along with parish priests from the area.

According to journalists’ sources the Supreme Court of Mexico is expected to make a decision in the cases of 31 prisoners in jail for their participation in the Acteal Massacre of December 22nd, 1997. The media has reported that some of the prisoners could be released for violations to their human rights during the court process, despite the fact that Abejas members have identified them as material perpetrators of the crime. If the prisoners are released, they would add to the 20 persons who were already released August 12th as a result of another Supreme Court decision.


During the morning of October 26th about 200 Other Campaign followers – the majority indigenous – gathered at the San Cristobal bus terminal to begin a march into the city. They demanded the release of political prisoners, referring in particular to prisoners from the Front for the People in Defense of the Land (FPDT) in San Salvador Atenco (Estado de Mexico), the Civil Resistance Movement of non-payment for electric energy from Candelaria (Campeche), two tseltal members of the Other Campaign from San Sebastian Bachajon (Chiapas) and Alberto Patishtan, from the Voice of El Amate (Chiapas). The march, which was carried out as part of a national mobilization organized by the Other Campaign, came to an end in the Cathedral Square after the mass of the Community of Faith. Residents of the communities of San Sebastian Bachajon and Jotola, among others, also took the opportunity to speak to those gathered.


While Other Campaign followers were still carrying out their meeting, 100 members of the Campesina Organization Emiliano Zapata – Carranza Region (OCEZ-RC) arrived at the Cathedral. They demanded the release of three of their “compañeros” who are presently jailed, as well as a stop to all harassment by the state government toward their organization. They announced the beginning of a sit-in in the Cathedral Square as a pressure tactic to resolve their demands, beginning October 26th for an indefinite period of time.

OCEZ said that ever since the arrest of one of their leaders, Jose Manuel Hernandez Martinez, on September 30th, the harassment in their communities has been relentless. At dawn on October 24th the Attorney General of State Justice (PGJE) arrested other members of their group: Roselio de la Cruz Gonzalez and Jose Manuel de la Torre Hernandez were arrested without being served arrest warrants. On October 25th a joint military and police search for drugs and firearms was carried out in Laguna Verde. Laguna Verde, along with neighbouring community 28 de Junio, are communities where members of OCEZ-RC live. Out of fear for their lives the residents had asked for the presence of human rights observers who were witnesses during the raid and concluded that no illicit objects were found.

For more information:

On the Pilgrimage of the Community of Faith and ‘Las Abejas’

Comunicado de Las Abejas de la conferencia de prensa del 22 de octubre 2009

La SCJN resolverá este miércoles sobre los recursos pendientes del caso Acteal (La Jornada 27/10/09)

Se manifiestan contra la SCJN… (Expreso de Chiapas 27/10/09)

On the Other Campaign March

ONG exigen la liberación de los presos políticos en el país (La Jornada (27/10/09)


Comunicado de la OCEZ-RC: En la madrugada detienen a dos miembros de la OCEZ Carranza la policía

Acción Urgente del Centro de Derechos Humanos Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas

Exige la OCEZ libertad para 3 de sus dirigentes (La Jornada 27/10/09)

For more information from SIPAZ

Journey of the “Community of faith”: Reflection and action on a changing reality (August 2009)

Special Report on the Case of Acteal (August 30, 2009) – The Supreme Court (SCJN) Ruling: an irreproachable ruling judicially, a highly questioned decision based in the historical and actual context

Chiapas: The Abejas Denounce the Harassment of the Chiapas Government (october 2009)

Chiapas: Prisoner forced to transfer to maximum-security prison in Tepic, Nayarit (october 2009)

Chiapas: OCEZ leader from the Venustiano Carranza Region captured(october 2009)

Campeche: National Meeting for the Liberation of Political Prisoners of Candelaria, Campeche

October 27, 2009

Imagen de la conformación de la Red Nacional de Resistencia Civil a las Altas Tarifas de la Energía Eléctrica, mayo de 2009

On September 13th, 14th, and 15th, the National Meeting for the Liberation of Political Prisoners of Candelaria was held in Campeche, in the capital of the same state, in solidarity with the five prisoners of Candelaria and the villagers of San Antonio Ébula, all from the state of Campeche. The five detainees from the “Movement in opposition to high electrical energy prices” in Candelaria who had been violently detained this past July 10th, accused of kidnapping, among other crimes, were freed on bail on September 23rd.

The meeting, in which six national organizations and twenty-eight organizations from nine Mexican states participated, among them several from the state of Chiapas, also brought solidarity with the villagers of San Antonio Ébula, who have been deprived of their own land by people contracted by the local businessman Eduardo Escalante with the complicity of the state government.

In the public pronouncement made at the end of the meeting, they emphasized that the encarcerated of Candelaria are “political prisoners of conscience because they have been deprived of their freedom for defending the rights of the people,” since they demand a just rate for electrical energy service. Moreover, the participants of the meeting denounced the conduct of the law enforcement authorities who, “have violated the human rights of our ‘compañeros’ . . . and, above all, have been clear in criminalizing civil disobedience and any other kind of organization that tries to defend the rights of the people.” They announced that they will take action to pressure and demand the freedom of the detainees. This means that a large part of the organizations participating in the meeting will become part of the National Network of Civil Resistance to High Electrical Energy Prices, which was formed last May in San Cristóbal de Las Casas, and who have made mutual solidarity one of their principles in the vein of “One for all and all for one.”

In this context, Elmer Castellanos Velázquez and Guadalupe Lizcano Gómez were freed on bail due to the resolution of their legal defense’s appeal. Sara López González, Joaquín Aguilar Méndez and Guadalupe Borjas Contreras are still in jail, each of whom are from the Candelaria “Movement in opposition to high electrical energy prices.”

For more information (in Spanish)


Acción Urgente: Libertad inmediata e incondicional a l@s pres@s políticos de Candelaria, Campeche


Oaxaca: Supreme Court decision in Oaxaca case

October 23, 2009

La Policía Federal Preventiva en la ciudad de Oaxaca en 2006 Fuente:

On October 14th the Supreme Court of Mexico (SCJN) made a decision regarding human rights violations by authorities during the Oaxaca conflict of 2006 and 2007. The decision finds the governor at the time, Ulises Ruiz Ortiz, responsible for human rights violations.

With a vote of seven to four, the Supreme Court holds the Oaxacan governor responsible for human rights violations committed by state police during the conflict that lasted from May 2006 until June 2007. However, a proposal submitted by Ministers Juan N. Silva Meza, Jose de Jesus Gudino Pelayo and Jose Ramon Cossio was rejected. Their proposal sought to include Vicente Fox, then president of Mexico, as well as Minister of the Interior, Carlos Abascal and Public Security Minister, Eduardo Medina Mora in the list of those responsible for allowing an unmanageable situation that exposed the population to situations that put their human rights at risk. The Supreme Court Minister Jose Ramon Cossio said now it will be up to Felipe Calderon and the Mexican Congress to decide whether or not they will proceed with a political trial against the Oaxacan Governor.

Ruiz Ortiz said he disagrees with the Supreme Court decision, calling into question whether or not Fox should have been included. Members of the Popular Assembly for the People of Oaxaca (APPO), who had asked for Ruiz Ortiz’s resignation during the conflict, insisted on the Oaxacan governor’s responsibility for human rights violations. The Secretary of section 22 of the National Education Workers Union (SNTE) Gabriel Lopez Chinas, said the ex-secretary general Jorge Franco Vargas and the ex-public attorney Rosa Lizbeth Cana Cadeza should also be put to trial for being the operators “of unlimited repression against the Oaxacan people.” Section 22 of the SNTE – which brings together teachers from all over Oaxaca – suffered repression from the state government on June 14th, 2006. That repression resulted in the creation of the APPO, which integrated different social, political and indigenous organizations that confronted state authorities during the second half of 2006 to demand the resignation of the governor, whom they accused of suppressing social, political and indigenous organizations.

For more information:

More Information from SIPAZ:



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 965 other followers