Oaxaca: Verdict of the Popular Community Trial against the Mexican State and the mining companies

January 4, 2019


On December 10th, on the International Human Rights Day as part of a political act in front of the Government Palace villages in Oaxaca-City, communities and organizations that participated in the “Popular Community Trial against the State and Mining Companies in Oaxaca” last October publicly presented the final verdict.

It should be remembered that in the Popular Community Trial participated 52 communities who presented 22 cases of affectations caused by mining in 5 of the state’s regions including – says the verdict- “irreversible affectations to the ecosystem, river contamination, fractures in the social structure and generalized insecurity in the regions, where those mining projects operate through mining companies, shock groups and state authorities”.

The verdict put forward the necessity to rescind the 322 concessions and the 41 valid mining projects within the State “as those were imposed without previous, free and informed consent by the communities and while violating our right to self-determination and autonomy to our cultural integrity, to administrate and control our territories and to maintain the collective property of our lands and communal natural goods”.

Equally, it demanded the immediate suspension of the issue of quarrying rights “until a new legal framework has been elaborated that fully and effectively respects the indigenous people’s rights as they were established in international treaties and the Constitution, until the repeal of the current mining law and others that protect the relations with that industry”. Likewise, it urged the authorities to pass laws and public policies which protect the indigenous people’s rights, which recognize them as subjects to public rights and include the in effective mechanisms of integral reparations for the caused damage.

The legal judgment also put forward the necessity to protect those who defend their territories so that they can do so in “conditions of liberty and security” and it demanded that “the politics of criminalization against the social protest are stopped, that the people responsible for assassinations are punished and that the disappeared territorial activists are presented alive immediately as well as the suspension of arrest warrants issued for the same reasons, individual and collective threats”.

The political act ended proclaiming “Yes to life, no to mining!” and “Neither gold nor silver, mining kills!”.

The report about the civil trial details that until 2017 there haven been registered 42 mining projects by 38 companies from Canada, the United States, Peru, Australia and Mexico. 36 of them in stage of exploration, 2 in development, one was postponed and 2 are already in the phase of commercial exploitation.

For more information in Spanish:

Oaxaca territorio prohibido para la minería”: exigencia de pueblos, comunidades y organizaciones frente al nuevo gobierno federal (Pronunciamiento e Informe, 10 de diciembre de 2018)

Juicio Popular Comunitario contra el Estado y las Empresas Mineras (Vídeo, 10 de diciembre de 2018)

Comunidades indígenas de Oaxaca exigen la prohibición total de la minería en el estado (Animal Político, 10 de diciembre de 2018)

Demandan pueblos que Oaxaca sea territorio libre de minería (NVI Noticias, 12 de diciembre de 2018)

Oaxaca, territorio prohibido para la minería”: exigencia de comunidades al nuevo gobierno (Desinformémonos, 10 de diciembre de 2018)

Repudian proyectos de mineras en Oaxaca (La Jornada, 11 de diciembre de 2018)

For more information from SIPAZ :

Oaxaca: Popular Community Trial against the State and the Mining Companies Held (October 16th, 2018)

Oaxaca: Popular Community Trial against the State and the Mining Companies Held

Oaxaca: Anuncian juicio popular contra empresas mineras. (9 de agosto de 2018)

Oaxaca: Another 2 October with 52 “arbitrary” arrests

October 10, 2015

Foto @ Proyecto AmbulantePhoto @ Proyecto Ambulante

Following the march on 2 October in Oaxaca de Juárez to commemorate the massacre of students in Tlatelolco in 1968, 52 individuals were arrested, including 10 women and minors.

The Network of Female Activists and Human-Rights Defenders from Oaxaca demanded the release of the human-rights defenders Rocío Celeste Martínez Gregorio and Fidel Desiderio Martínez, who were detained “illegally and arbitrarily” as they were en route to a work meeting that was to take place at the offices of the Defense Institute for Human Rights of the Oaxacan People (DDHPO). Of the arrested persons, the Network of Female Activists declared, in their communique, that “only four persons are awaiting the resolution of their juridical situation: the defender Rocío Celeste Martínez Gregorio, his comrade Fidel Desiderio Martínez, Irving Pérez Monjaraz, and Julio Eder Luria Vásquez; [they have clearly been victims] of efforts to criminalize the social movement, accused as they are of causing damage when there is no evidence of this.” According to local media, subsequently it became known that these four had been transferred to different jails before the legal processes had been completed, and even in spite of all lack of evidence against them.

It bears mentioning that Rocío Celeste and Fidel graduated recently from the Institute for Sociological Investigations at the Autonomous Autónoma Benito Juárez University of Oaxaca (UABJO), and both “have played important roles in the student movement in Oaxaca and have carried out actions in solidarity with victims of human-rights violations and political prisoners,” as the Network of Female Activists noted. In addition, they have worked to advance communal defense and have worked together with the New Women’s Collective, which promotes the rights of the women and communal participation.

For more information (in Spanish):

Petición de Change.org: Libertad a Defensores de Derechos Humanos detenidos el 02 de Octubre en Oaxaca

México: Trasladan a penales centrales a 4 de las personas detenidas en Oaxaca el pasado 2 de octubre (Kaos en la Red, )

Oaxaca: 40 desaparecidos, detenidos en la marcha del 2 de octubre (Centro de Medios Libres, 3 de octubre de 2015)

Exige red de mujeres activistas libertad a defensores de derechos humanos detenidos en Oaxaca (Revolución TRESPUNTOCERO, 5 de octubre de 2015)

Defensoras de DH exigen inmediata liberación de defensora de DH Rocío Celeste Martínez Gregorio y Fidel Desiderio Martínez (Consorcio Oaxaca, 4 de octubre de 2015)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Oaxaca: 75 arrests following march on 2 October (11 October 2014)

National: More confrontations and repression against social movement, 2 October (25 October 2013)

Oaxaca: New death-threats against Eva Lucero Rivero Ortiz from UCIDEBACC

September 13, 2015


@Network of Activist Women and Human-Rights Defenders of Oaxaca

On 26 August, Eva Lucero Rivero Ortiz, human-rights defender and spokesperson for the Civic Democratic Union of Neighborhoods and Communities (UCIDEBACC), an organization located in Pinotepa Nacional, received a death-threat: “REFLECT: YOU WILL BE A RED NOTE. IT WOULD BE BETTER IF YOU SHUT UP. YOU KNOW WHAT WORKS FOR THEM.” On 24 August, the Twitter account of InfoMED Agency published comments seeking to delegitimize the work of the defender and the UCIDEBACC. Beyond this, on 3 September, Eva Lucero was followed in Oaxaca City by someone who had previously defamed and intimidated her.

It should be mentioned that Eva Lucero Rivero Ortiz had received death-threats beginning in 2013 and suffered an assassination attempt in Pinotepa Nacional, in addition to numerous attacks on members of her family.

For more information (in Spanish):

ACCIÓN URGENTE: Red de Defensoras de DH denuncia amenazas de muerte y hostigamiento contra defensora de DH Lucero Rivero (Consorcio Oaxaca, 7 de septiembre de 2015)

México: Nuevas amenazas de muerte contra la Sra. Eva Lucero Rivero Ortiz (Organización Mundial Contra la Tortura, 9 de septiembre de 2015)

México: Nuevas amenazas de muerte contra Eva Lucero Rivero Ortiz (Ciudadanía Express, 9 de septiembre de 2015)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Oaxaca: Harassment and death-threats directed against members of the Democratic Civic Union of Neighborhoods Colonies and Communities (UCIDEBACC) (1 March 2014)

Oaxaca: Communique by Consorcio in light of multiple attacks by the State (2 July 2012)

Oaxaca: More than 500 cases of torture and 26 executions: Truth Commission

June 29, 2015

(@ADN Sureste)

(@ADN Sureste)

On the ninth anniversary of the attempt to displace the teachers’ sit-in at the zócalo in Oaxaca de Juárez in 2006, on 14 June there was held a public session at the Oaxaca Truth Commission (CVO). 14 witnesses presented testimony, while members of the CVO, including its president Alejandro Solalinde, as well as the journalist Carmen Aristegui and the Mexican representative of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Javier Hernández Valencia, were also present.

The CVO is an autonomous organization that seeks to clarify the repressive historical events that took place in Oaxaca between 14 June 2006 and 30 May 2007, the time period covering the displacement of the teachers from Section 22 of the National Coordination of Educational Workers (CNTE) from the sit-in they had undertaken to demand better working and educational conditions. This police operation was ordered by the then governor, Ulises Ruiz Ortiz, and gave rise to the creation of the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca (APPO), a social movement that opposed the PRI-led government.

According to an advance copy of the CVO’s report, there were at least 500 cases of torture and 26 executions of social activists and those connected to the struggle. The public session gave voice to the testimony of women who lost their husbands, families that continue to seek out their disappeared, and political prisoners. According to Solalinde, the gravity of the acts is reflected well in the various testimonies that were presented, even if many other victims did not share their experiences out of fear. The public audience, which Javier Hernández Valencia understood as “a first step toward justice,” affirmed words such as those of Carmen Aristegui: “What should happen in the near future must incorporate the truth and memory, but above all justice, as Oaxacan society has sought out now for nearly a decade.” The CVO will put together a final report, to be presented before the judiciary in March 2016. The aim is to pressure authorities to put an end to the impunity of the acts, which represent crimes against humanity, in the view of Solalinde and his lawyer and assessor, Cuauhtémoc Ruiz.

On the same day of the public audience, a march organized by the CNTE took place, with the participation of 10,000 people. Protestors sought to commemorate the attempted displacement of 2006 and repeated their call for justice, the cancellation of articles 3 and 73 of the Constitution, and the cancellation of the educational reforms. They also protested in favor of boycotting the assessment exams for teachers that have been announced by the Secretary for Public Education (SEP).

For more information (in Spanish):

Hubo 500 casos de tortura y 26 ejecuciones en Oaxaca: Comisión de la Verdad (La Jornada, 12 de junio de 2015)

Ciudadanos de Oaxaca exigen justicia por el desalojo policial de 2006(CNN México, 14 de junio de 2015)

Confirman 26 ejecuciones y 500 torturados durante movimiento magisterial en Oaxaca (La Jornada, 15 de junio de 2015)

Sesión Pública de Comisión de la Verdad de Oaxaca, ejercicio inédito e importante: Aristegui (Educa, 15 de junio de 2015)

CNTE rememoró intento de desalojo del zócalo en el 2006 (e-Consulta, 14 de junio de 2015)

Comisión de la Verdad de Oaxaca (16 de junio de 2015)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Oaxaca: Commemoration of seventh annivesary of APPO (24 June 2013)

Oaxaca: Sixth anniversary of the beginning of the 2006 social conflict (20 June 2012)

Oaxaca: Presumed killer of Brad Will is detained (5 June 2012)

Oaxaca: Representative of Organization of Indigenous Zapotec Peoples (OPIZ) suffers assassination attempt

October 26, 2013

Juan Sosa Maldonado. Foto @Foro Político

Juan Sosa Maldonado. Photo @Foro Político

During the morning of 16 October in Oaxaca de Juárez, Juan Sosa Maldonado, representative of the Organization of Indigenous Zapotec Peoples (OPIZ), suffered an assassination attempt which left him uninjured.

The attempt took place as he was traveling with his family in a car, when a motorcyclist opened fired on the automobile, with none of the three gunshots hitting any of the occupants of the moving vehicle.

Juan Sosa Maldonado, a former political prisoner, was detained and tortured by the Judicial State Police in 1998, accused of having pertaining to the Popular Revolutionary Army (EPR).  The activist has been acting to defend prisoners from the Loxicha region who have been accused of pertaining to the EPR and have spent 17 years imprisoned for that reason.  He has moreover denounced the forced disappearances and extrajudicial executions which have taken place in Oaxaca.  It is for these reasons that Sosa Maldonado motivated this latest attack on his person and that of his family.

The Defense Agency for the Human Rights of the People of the Oaxaca has released precautionary measures for the protection of the OPIZ representative and his family.

For more information (in Spanish):

Sufre atentado dirigente de organización zapoteca en Oaxaca (La Jornada, 16 de octubre)

Atentan contra activista indígena en Oaxaca (Proceso, 16 de octubre)

Sufre atentado Juan Sosa Maldonado (Noticias Oaxaca, 17 de octubre de 2013)

Chiapas/Oaxaca: Marches against violence against women and femicide

October 26, 2013

Marcha en Oaxaca. Foto @Subversiones

March in Oaxaca. Photo @Subversiones

Marches against violence against women and femicide took place during the weekend of 12-13 October in Oaxaca de Juárez, Oaxaca state, and in San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas.

The march in San Cristóbal, included within a “Campaign against violence against women and femicide in Chiapas,” had as its objective to show the relationship which exists between the violence exercised against women and the prevailing patriarchal-capitalist system, which has in fact been strengthened by the neoliberal policies imposed by the federal government in the country.

In a communique released for the occasion, there is indicated that the structural reforms promoted by the government worsen poverty for the majority of families, women, and men of the country.  The economic crisis modifies the patriarchal model of the man as provider and chief of the family, thus implying a crisis in the traditional gender and power relations which leads to an increase in violence on the part of men against women as a means of maintaining traditional relations of power and subordination.  The synergization of the structural factors which incentivize violence, the construction of new forms of personal relations, and the demand on the State to govern for all the people (rather than a small group of large firms) and to guarantee the right to life and the rights of women are all important means by which to eradicate violence against women and femicide, notes the communique.

In Oaxaca dozens of women marched through the center of the city, this being the main action carried out by the collective “Radical Antipatriarchal Action.”

“We have decided to organize ourselves, being women of different sectors, ages, and places of origin, but we all share this common lack of conformity, anger, and rage toward the violence we experience,” noted members of the women’s collective.

“Radical Antipatriarchal Action” seeks to demonstrate all types of violence which are exercised against women, whether they be physical, psychological, symbolic, economic, structural, or what have you, and they propose self-defense and autonomy as means of changing the situation of subjugation, oppression, and violence which they suffer: “Solely through ourselves will we be able to create change, only through ourselves will we exit and raise our voices to be heard […].  In light of this all, we say ‘basta,’ we rebel, and we decide to organize ourselves outside of institutions like political parties, NGOs, and governmental agencies, given that these in their majority reproduce the same logic of the patriarchal system which oppresses us.  We believe in our own capacity to act collectively.”

For more information (in Spanish):

Comunicado 12 de Octubre: Campaña contra la violencia hacia las mujeres y el feminicidio en Chiapas (Observatorio Frontera Sur de México, 12 de octubre de 2013)

Mujeres conforman frente “anti-patriarcal” contra violencia feminicida en Oaxaca (NSS Oaxaca, 13 de octubre de 2013)

Oaxaca: “¡No somos pobres mujeres, sino mujeres fuertes, que no se conforman, no callan y luchan!” (Subversiones, octubre de 2013)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Chiapas: Careful, patriarchy kills! Presentation of the “Campaign against violence against women and femicide in Chiapas” (3 October 2013)

Chiapas: Women declare alert over gender violence (20 July 2013)

Chiapas: Increase in feminicide and State Accord for Gender Equality (22 April 2013)

Chiapas: Colem Group of Women take action against feminicide (19 October 2012)

Oaxaca: Events and marches in observance of International Women’s Day

March 20, 2013


On 8 March in Oaxaca state, there were had several marches and events to observe International Women’s Day.  The state of Oaxaca is one of the states with the highest increase in number of feminicides.  During the course of the year 2013, the Institute of Oaxacan Women has reported 11 homicides against women.

The march that occurred in Oaxaca de Juárez was carried out by more than 1500 persons, including teachers from Section 22 of the National Educational Workers’ Union (SNTE) and members of social organizations.

In San Pedro Amuzgos, more than 200 women organized to march through the principal streets of the community, demanding respect for their rights and a halt to violence against women.  For its part, the Committee of Comprehensive Defense of Human Rights Gobixha (Código DH) presented the campaign “Pain is never love” as part of its activities to prevent violence against women in the region, given that it maintains an office in San Pedro Amuzgos.

It should be mentioned that in 2012 the Oaxacan state Congress approved the reforms to the Penal Code which classify the crime of feminicide, sanctioning it with 40 to 60 years imprisonment.  However, this law has not been sufficient to halt violence against women, given that every 4 days there is registered a feminicide in Oaxaca.  Over the course of the administration of Gabino Cué Monteagudo so far, there have been observed 176 feminicides, as denounced by the Union of Indigenous Communities of the Northern Zone of the Isthmus (UCIZONI).

For more information (in Spanish):

176 Feminicidios en el gobierno de Gabino Cué: Ucizoni (Frontera Sur, 5 de marzo de 2013)ç

Oaxaca: 11 femenicidios; crece el odio hacia mujeres (Tiempo en Línea, 7 de marzo de 2013)

Desfilan mujeres en San Pedro Amuzgos exigiendo el respeto de sus derechos (CodigoDH, 9 de marzo de 2013)

Obligan a desnudarse a mujeres y niños en cárcel de Oaxaca(Excelcior, 10 de marzo de 2013)

Marchan S-22 y organizaciones sociales hacia el Zócalo de Oaxaca, piden respetar derechos de las mujeres (ADN Sureste, 8 de marzo de 2013 

Oaxaca: Irregularities in the new Chedraui store

October 7, 2011

Photo @ ADN Sureste

On 14 September the Chedraui Commercial Group inaugurated a new store located in the Reforma neighborhood of Oaxaca de Juárez.  Governor Gabino Cué Monteagudo participated in the opening ceremony of the store, which is the the third-largest of this chain placed in the Oaxacan capital.  “Closing markets is not how we will be more competitive, but rather through opening the possibility that all participate and welcome all who come from outside, sustainable and with good services,” he noted.

Antonio Chedraui Eguía, director-general of the chain, said that in all the country there exists no other auto-service store as green as the one opened in the Reforma neighborhood, given that it captures and utilizes rainwater to supply gardens, roofs, walls, and sanitary use, by means of a rain cistern of 530,000 liters, beyond having a water-treatment plant.

In opposition, residents of the Yalalag neighborhood installed a protest-site outside the Palace of Governance to manifest their opposition in light of the complicity of state and municipal authorities with the Chedraui firm, which in their view has violated all sorts of regulations in the construction of the new local store.

In a press-release, they claim that the effects of the construction of the store have been serious, given that it releases its wastewaters into the drainage system that crosses the area, provoking a site of constant infection that is open-air.  They recalled that for 15 years neighborhood groups have demanded that authorities convert the land of the Sarmiento family, nearly abandoned, into a public park and Cultural Center, an action that beyond being denied has served so that they regarded the space with business-like eyes, resulting in the 2008 permit granted by then-mayor José Antonio Hernández Fraguas to Chedraui for construction, despite the violation of laws and federal, state, and municipal regulations by the company.

This occasion resulted in the cutting down of 185 trees during the night of 18 July, some of which had lived for over a century.  This action was penalized with a 10-million peso fine that was subsequently reduced to 10 percent some months later.  It was for this reason that the protestors began a sit-in in front of the Palace of Governance on 1 September, demanding an audience with Gabino Cué, hoping to resolve the problem which they say hurts the health of those who reside in the zone in which has been built the store, causing irremediable damage to the environment.

In the meetings that resident-groups held with authorities, it was evident that the entire process has been plagued by irregularities, inconsistencies, and lack of political will and administrative capacity.  Many of them proceeded to present resources to revoke administrative consent as well as to follow a number of legal channels to cancel the permit.  They showed that the store is completely unnecessary in the zone, and that 10 good jobs will be lost for each one generated by the firm.

Carlos Armando Martínez Cernas, president to Yalalag, denounced that this store committed itself to planting trees and initiating an ecological program but has not done so to date.  He assured that the drainage passes through this community and noted that in accordance with decision by assembly, if no response is made they will close the network so that authorities become conscious of the problem.

For more information (in Spanish):

Resurgen inconformidades sociales contra Chedrahui, NSSOaxaca, 1 September 2011

Denuncian anomalías por construcción de la tienda Chedraui, NSSOaxaca, 1 September 2011

Crece Chedraui en Oaxaca; ya tiene 7 tiendas, ADN Sureste, 14 September 2011

Oaxaca: La violencia de Chedraui, Zapateando, 2 September 2011

Asiste Gabino Cué a la apertura de Chedraui Reforma, Ciudadanía Express, 15 September 2011

OAXACA: LA VIOLENCIA DE CHEDRAUI, Proyecto Ambulante, 1 September 2011

Embargan predio a Chedraui en Oaxaca, La Jornada, 28 August 2008

Chedraui vuelve a las andadas, La Jornada, 6 September 2010

Oaxaca: la violencia de Chedraui, Indymedia, 4 September 2011

Piden clausura de Chedraui en Oaxaca; viola la ley, Oaxaca día a día, 21 September 2011


Ecocidio chedraui oaxaca, Youtube, 28 August 2010

Ecocidio Chedraui (Francisco Verástegui) Oaxaca, Youtube, 25 July 2008

OAXACA: BOICOT A CHEDRAUI, Youtube, 15 October 2008

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Oaxaca: UN publication on right to consultation and megaprojects is presented (5 July 2011)

Oaxaca: Confrontation between protestors and police during visit of Felipe Calderón – teachers mobilize themselves

February 20, 2011

On 15 February, protestors comprised largely of teachers from Section 22 of the National Union of Educational Workers (SNTE) and other social activists clashed with state and federal police while attempting to enter the zócalo of Oaxaca de Juárez to express their rejection of the visit by President Felipe Calderón to the city. At least 28 people were injured, including teachers, journalsits, photographers, and police. The mobilization was organized in response to the presidential decree made on 14 February that tuition for private schools would be made tax-free, a move that social sectors have interpreted as yet another assault on public education.

The following day, teachers from Section 22 of the SNTE struck in Oaxaca de Juárez and several regions of the state, blocking more than 37 highway points of the Oaxacan state in protest of the repression. In the capital, directors of the democratic teachers union led by Azael Santiago Chepi challenged the declarations made the same day by Governor Gabino Cué that “infiltrator groups provoked violence,” affirming this to be “a demagogical argument to justify repression.” On the other hand, they demanded the resignation of three state functionaries as a condition for the re-starting of dialogue with the state government. The State Attorney General’s Office (PGJE) initiated seven investigations into crimes committed during the confrontations, while 17 members of the popular movement who had been detained were released because they were found not to have committed any crime.

On 17 February, Gabino Cué Monteagudo rejected calls to apologize to the state teachers union as well as to sack Irma Piñeyro Arias, secretary of Government, Marco Tulio López Escamilla, secretary of Public Security, and Bernardo Vásquez Guzmán, director of the State Institute of Public Education in Oaxaca. He claimed that “if someone should be apologized to for the situation lived recently in the center of the city of Oaxaca [the confrontation on Tuesday between state and federal police and teachers], it would be to the people in general, who have given us the responsibility of assuming a role in the process of democratic transition—both to the authorities and other sectors.”

For more information (in Spanish):

Teachers and police engage in confrontation during visit by Calderón to Oaxaca (La Jornada, 15 February)

Teachers reject visit of Calderón to Oaxaca (El Universal, 15 February)

Journalist is shot in Oaxaca (El Universal, 15 February)

Secretary of security is beaten in Oaxaca (El Universal, 15 February)

Teachers announce mega-sit-in in Oaxaca (El Universal, 15 February)

SNTE blocks 37 highway-points in Oaxaca (El Universal, 16 February)

Cué sees radicals infiltrating confrontations (El Universal, 16 February)

“2006 cannot return to Oaxaca” (El Universal, 16 February)

Police and activists clash in Oaxaca; 18 are injured (El Universal, 16 February)

Cué rejects calls for apologies and resignation of 3 officials, as demanded by dissidents (La Jornada, 18 February)

Oaxaca: Civil Mission of Observation “Water is Life; Let us Defend its Existence”

September 8, 2010

From 16 to 18 August there was held a civil mission of observation in the central valleys of the state of Oaxaca that investigated the problem of water in this region.  Named “Water is Life; Let us Defend its Existence,” the mission, organized by the Center for Indigenous Rights Flor y Canto A.C., visited the indigenous communities of El Porvenir, San Pedro Mártir, San Pedro Apóstol, La Barda Paso de Piedra, San Felipe Apóstol, and San Antonino Castillo Velasco in the districts of Ocotlán de Morelos and Zimatlán de Álvarez.

The mission’s organizers presented their principal findings and conclusions in a press conference held in Oaxaca de Juárez on 19 August.  Directing themselves to “national and state media,” “indigenous peoples and communities of Oaxaca,” “human-rights and civil-society organizations,” and “society in general,” they stressed the “serious problems of violations of economic, social, cultural, and environmental rights” suffered by residents of the visited communities, above all because of “water scarcity and pollution of rivers, streams, and wells.”  According to members of the mission, these problems are linked with an “alarming” decrease in agricultural production in the region as well as to the phenomenon of “increasing migration.”  Furthermore, the authors of the communiqué observed that “the majority of these communities lack the economic resources needed to promote actions that contribute to the resolution of environmental problems,” although they emphasize that, in light of the problems related to water in the region, indigenous campesinos “have not had their arms crossed.”  Instead, they are “developing actions to recharge aquifers:  building water-capture devices, filtration-wells, dams, as well as cleaning paths, streams, and rivers,” with the result that “sub-surface water has been recharged, meaning that water-levels have increased.”

The civil mission of observation criticized governmental and business policies related to the question of water in the area:  “the major part” of the problems of “environmental pollution, water scarcity, lack of adequate projects and economic resources” are attributed to “the lack of public policies on the part of federal and state authorities.”  The communiqué stressed in this sense the “lack of sensibility among public servants” as significant.  Similarly, it criticizes the policy of benefiting large transnational corporations, especially mining corporations, that have been granted concessions to exploit the natural resources found in central Oaxaca, in addition to the governmental tendency to repress oppositional actions on the part of campesinos who oppose the pollution that results from the operation of mining firms.  In addition, the communiqué expresses concern for the lack of treatment of the Atoyac River, through which flows waste from Oaxaca de Juárez.

In light of the water problem investigated by the mission, the communiqué demands the following:  “The respect of the economic, social, cultural, and environmental rights of the indigenous communities of Ocotlán de Morelos and Zimatlán de Álvarez”; “the recognition of the work of integral care for the environment by means of the strengthening of aquifers realized by indigenous communities of the Valley of Ocotlán and Zimatlán”; “the thorough recognition of the rights of indigenous peoples regarding natural resources, land and territory, as stewards and guardians of such”; “the immediate implementation of a clean-up project of the Atoyac Rive”; and “the recognition and strict respect of the right to previous consultation, free and informed, and to self-determination, that campesinos of the Central Valleys of Oaxaca have.”

For more information (in Spanish):

Press-release, 19 August

Video of 19 August press-conference

Video Civil Mission of Observation “WATER IS LIFE; LET US DEFEND ITS EXISTENCE”