Mexico: 5 years since the massacre of 72 migrants in San Fernando, Tamaulipas

September 11, 2015

La 72 Hogar Refugio Para Personas Migrantes @VICE “La 72,” Refuge Home for Migrants @VICE

Five years ago, on 23 August 2010, 72 bodies of migrants appeared in San Fernando, Tamaulipas. 58 men and 14 women, principally from Central and South America, were kidnapped and executed in a ranch in San Fernando, close to the border with Texas. The indignation over the case was immediate. San Fernando recalled all those who are made invisible during their passage through Mexico in search of a new life. Since that time, the authorities have arrested a number of individuals but have not published information regarding whether anyone has been sentenced. Amnesty International (AI) has warned that the lack of investigation in the case “gives a green light to the criminal groups that terrorize and murder those who cross Mexico in search of security and a better life.” AI also hypothesizes that those responsible belong to criminal gangs, and it suspects that many of these worked in collusion with local security agents.

In Tenosique, Tabasco, the year after these events transpired, in honor of the 72 victims, there was founded the “72 Refuge Home for Migrants,” which provides housing for migrants en route to the U.S. AI specified that, since the massacre in San Fernando, hundreds of other men, women, and children who sought to reach the United States via Mexico have been harassed, disappeared, kidnapped, raped, forced into sexual slavery, and massacred.

For more information (in Spanish):

La historia de la 72: Un mensaje de esperanza frente a masacres de migrantes (VICE, 25 de agosto de 2015)

Masacre en San Fernando: lo que la PGR le oculta a las familias (Proceso, 22 de agosto de 2015)

A 5 años de masacre de 72 migrantes en San Fernando, caso sigue impune: Amnistía Internacional (Animal Político, 22 de agosto de 2015)

Falta de justicia a cinco años de una masacre convierte a México en una ‘zona de riesgo’ para migrantes (Amnistía Internacional, 21 de agosto de 2015)

Denuncia Amnistía impunidad a cinco años de la masacre de San Fernando (Proceso, 21 de agosto de 2015)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

National: Four years after the massacre of San Fernando, “La 72” denounces new operations against migrants (2 September 2014)

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Oaxaca: Demand for the immediate release of Damián Gallardo

December 30, 2014

Damian_Gallardo_Martinez

In August 2014, the UN Work-Group on Arbitrary Detentions called on the Mexican government to release the indigenous human-rights defender Damián Gallardo Martínez, who is being held in a maximum-security prison in Puente Grande, Jalisco, and so “put an end to this situation of multiple rights-violations,” as well as “provide appropriate means of compensation for this person.”  The resolution was also sent to the Unitary Tribunals based in El Salto, Jalisco, which cover legal motions regarding kidnappings and organized crime

The Committee of Relatives and Friends of Damián Gallardo, the Mexican League for the Defense of Human Rights (LIMEDDH-Oaxaca), Services for an Alternative Education (EDUCA), Consorcio for Parliamentary Dialogue and Equity Oaxaca, the New Women’s Collective, and the Oaxacan Citizens’ Initiative make public a communique in which they stress that “both motions [in his favor] are in progress, such that in this strict sense, the resolution is adequate for Damián Gallardo Martínez to be released immediately.  If he continues to be held, the responsibility for his illegal privation of liberty will be in the federal judicial power, for having violated the principles of control of conventionality against the rights-defender.”  Furthermore, they denounced “the permissibility of the actions of the Mexican State, which beyond systematically violating human rights, demonstrate a marked lack of interest in observing its international obligations and repeatedly guard silence in light of the indications and challenges that have been targeting it.  In this sense, we demand the immediate release of Damián Gallardo Martínez.”  They added that the case “effectively shows the systematic practice of criminalizing social protest and imprisoning social activists, practices that each day become more common and evident in the country, as well as the the practices of torture, arbitrary detention, and abuse of the justice system” against human rights-defenders.”

It bears mentioning that Damián Gallardowas arrested on 18 May 2013, accused of having participated in a group of kidnappers supposedly comprised of members of Section 22 and the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca (APPO).  However, in accordance with information provided by the UN Work-Group, it has been shown that “the arrest and detention of Damián Gallardo Martínez are arbitrary” on three distinct levels.  The document also stresses that “the arrest of this person seems to be motivated by the activities in which he has been engaged in service of the indigenous peoples to whom he belongs,” and it notes that the defender signed a confession after “having been subjected to threats, acts of intimidation, and torture.”  As regards the denunciations and evidence presented about other abuses, the experts determined that the allegations of torture must be forwarded to the UN Special Rapporteur.

For more information (in Spanish):

Comunicado de Prensa (Educa Oaxaca, 16 de diciembre de 2014)

Llama ONU a Peña a poner en libertad a activista oaxaqueño (Proceso, 16 de diciembre de 2014)

ONU pide a Peña Nieto liberar a Damián Gallardo para poner fin a violaciones múltiples (Página 3, 17 de diciembre de 2014)

Confirma la ONU tortura en contra de profesor oaxaqueño (W Radio, 16 de diciembre de 2014)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Oaxaca: 16 months after the imprisonment of Damián Gallardo, and following call from UN, there is no response from the Mexican State (12 October 2014)

Oaxaca/National: Assault on teacher Damián Gallardo in a prison of Jalisco (13 June 2014)


Chiapas: Denunciation of torture for 3 arrested members of the San Sebastián Bachajón ejido

October 1, 2014

Conferencia de prensa, 24 septiembre 2014 @ SIPAZ

Press conference, 24 September 2014 @ SIPAZ

On 16 September, three indigenous persons from the Virgen de Dolores community located within the San Sebastián Bachajón ejido were arrested by municipal police of Chilón, being adherents to the EZLN’s Sixth Declaration of the Lacandona Jungle.  Those arrested denounced having suffered torture and cruel and inhumane treatment toward the end of having them confess under compulsion to the crimes with which they had been charged.

The indigenous persons of Bachajón indicated that the operation was a revenge attack, given that one of the police who arrested the three Tseltales is a close friend of Sebastián Méndez Hernández, who is imprisoned in the El Amate jail for having participated in the murder of the indigenous man Juan Carlos Gómez Silvano on 21 March 2014.  On this occasion, the residents of Virgen de Dolores captured the murderous police officer and handed him over to the authorities, such that they claim that this fabrication of crimes (torture and kidnapping) is in reality vengeance from the municipal police.  Beyond this, one of the arrested is a brother to Juan Carlos Gómez Silvano.

In the end, a judge from Ocosingo assigned a bail of 300,000 pesos to each of the detainees.  This is an amount that is impossible to cover, given the economic situation of those arrested.

For more information (in Spanish):

Información urgente de Comunidad Virgen de Dolores‏ (Blog Viva Bachajón, 20 de septiembre de 2014)

Denuncia del Ejido San Sebastián Bachajón (Enlace Zapatista, 29 de septiembre de 2014)

Boletín: Tortura a indígenas tseltales Adherentes a la Sexta Declaración de la Selva Lacandona (Chiapas Denuncia Pública, 24 de septiembre de 2014)

Denuncian tortura tres prozapatistas presos en Chilón (Proceso, 19 de septiembre de 2014)

Denuncian captura y desaparición de tres tseltales en Chilón (Chiapas Paralelo, 17 de septiembre de 2014)

Fijan fianza de $300mil pesos a detenidos de La Sexta Bachajón (Koman Ilel, 18 de septiembre de 2014)

Denuncian agresión de policías a tres ejidatarios de San Sebastián Bachajón (La Jornada, 18 de septiembre de 2014)

Torturan a los tres indígenas tzeltales reportados como desaparecidos en Chilón, Chiapas (Somos el Medio, 20 de septiembre de 2014)


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)