Chiapas: Anti-Mining Activist Mariano Abarca Killed

December 1, 2009

From EFE Agency

San Cristobal de Las Casas (Mexico), November 27 (EFE) – NGOs reported that an indigenous leader from the municipality of Chicomuselo, located in the mountains of the southern state of Chiapas, was shot and killed today by an unidentified person who attacked him in the doorway of his home.

Activist Mariano Abarca Robledo belonged to the Mexican Network of People Affected by Mining (REMA) in Chiapas and was the head of organizing the communities in the border region of Guatemala who demanded the shutting down of the Canadian mining company Blackfire.

REMA member Gustavo Castro reported the assassination took place Friday night when the leader was outside of his house talking with another REMA member named Orlando Velasquez, who was also injured in the attack.

According to statements by family, an individual riding a motorcycle opened fire on Abarca, hitting him in the head and chest.

The indigenous leader had been jailed for one week last August for a roadblock set up with his followers to impede the transfer of mining materials to an open pit barite mine operated by Blackfire in the community of Grecia.

For more information from SIPAZ:

Mining in Chiapas: A New threat for the survival of indigenous peoples (december 2008)


Oaxaca: Meetings and Accusations

November 30, 2009

On November 13th and 14th the Oaxacan Collective for the Defense of the Land convened a Second National Forum entitled: “Weaving Resistance in Defense of Our Land.” The meeting took place in the Mixe community of San Juan Jaltepec de Candayoc, in the municipality of San Juan Cotzocon. The objectives were to “exchange experiences in defense of land, territory and natural resources of indigenous people and communities, and explore the possibilities of joining forces to create a common defense.”

The final declaration emphasized: “that the lack of recognition of the autonomy over our land and territory, the lack of legal mechanisms for defense, and the false mediation of agrarian requests has resulted in innumerable agrarian conflicts between communities… Today Chiapas and Oaxaca are examples of an experiment in megaprojects and public policies that have only generated conflict, internal division in communities, looting of land and the violation of our rights… From the hearts of our people we declare that our communities and indigenous people are in resistance. We won’t be defeated by this new neoliberal offensive stripping us of our land. We profoundly believe in the value of our collectivity, of exercising authority as a service, of the collective ownership of the earth and the rebuilding of our land as people, as institutions that give us strength.”

In light of these outstanding issues a communiqué denouncing the intimidation of the people of Paso de la Reina was circulated on November 19, a few days before the Forum. The previous day a mass had been held in support of their cause and was presided over by the Bishop of Puerto Escondido.

Before that, on November 18, the “Meeting for Justice and Against Impunity: Cases Before the Supreme Court of Mexico” was held in the city of Oaxaca. The goal of the event was to analyze the Supreme Court’s resolutions in the cases of Lydia Cacho, Atenco, Acteal and Oaxaca, and the implications for the social movement, victims of repression, and defenders of justice and human rights.

The final resolution underlined the fact that in all the cases presented there was a “prevalence of deep-rooted impunity” and pointed out that “Mexican administrative bodies and legal officials are quick and expeditious when it comes to punishing and reprimanding citizens who are defending their rights against government abuses, but they’re slow and inefficient when it comes to correcting an injustice, and are practically powerless when it comes to trying to apply justice to a higher official.”

For more information:

Declaración de Jaltepec, Foro la resistencia por la defensa de nuestros territorios (14 de noviembre)

Denuncia Paso de la Reina

Pronunciamiento final del Foro por la Justicia y contra la Impunidad

For more information from SIPAZ:

Oaxaca: Rechaza asamblea ejidal autorización a la CFE para construcción de presa en Paso de la Reina

Oaxaca: Foro Tejiendo Resistencias por la Defensa de Nuestros Territorios


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

artesana

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.”

DSC02433

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.

DSC02438

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.

DSC02457

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)

On OCEZ-RC

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)




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