National: Tensions in Ostula in light of possible transfer of Commander Cemeí

September 10, 2015


Tensions in the Nahua community of Santa María Ostula, Aquila municipality, Michoacán, have not ceased since an Army group entered on 19 July to arrest the commander of the communal police, Cemeí Verdía Zepeda, as it attacked a communal blockade, in an act that left a girl of 12 years of age dead, and 10 others injured.

According to Ojarasca, the government announced that it would enter to disarm the communal police (PC).  In light of this threat and the four arrest-orders against the PC commanders, Ostula strengthened its communal defense.  “There are communal-defense patrols all day.  New support commissions are being organized, and the assemblies are determining the way forward,” declared Gregorio Santos García, spokesperson of the community.  Different sources documented testimony regarding the presence of shock-groups and Navy in the region surrounding Ostula.  Santos García added that “we are not confronting them, and we will not do so.  We will instead dialogue.  They are soldiers, and we are not.  What they seek is for us to respond with violence, but we will not.  We will respond with organization.”  In declarations made by Germán Ramírez Sánchez, the substitute commander of the communal police during the absence of Cemeí: “I am saddened because instead of going after the criminals, they come against a community and its self-organization, when all we seek is justice.”

Beyond this, there were developments in the case of the arrest of Commander Cemeí Verdía. He was absolved of the accusation of homicide and bearing of arms for the exclusive use of the Army but then immediately accused of robbery.  This change could lead to his being transferred to the Lázaro Cárdenas prison in Michoacán, where members of the Knights Templar cartel are held.  This is the precise group that the Ostula PC has been organizing against.  The residents of the community fear for the life of the commander, in case the transfer is carried through.

In a communique, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) manifested its concern regarding the allegations of the participation of public forces in grave acts of violence in Mexico, including the events of 19 July in Ostula.  In this way, it reiterated that the affairs that have to do with citizen security should be the sole task of civilian police forces, given that the armed forces are trained for national defense against an external aggressor, and so lack the training to observe the law.  “Moreover, the history of the region shows that the intervention of the armed forces in internal security questions generally is accompanied by human-rights violations.”  It should be stressed that the murder of the Hidilberto girl and the damages incurred by the other 10 injured persons continue to go unpunished, thus contradicting the agreements made with the government.

For more information (in Spanish):

Ostula, en Michoacán, no puede bajar la guardia (Ojarasca, 8 de agosto de 2015)

Comunitarios de Ostula se niegan a desarmarse (La Jornada, 7 de agosto de 2015)

Tensión en Ostula tras movimientos y bloqueos de grupos de choque (DesInformémonos, 7 de agosto de 2015)

CIDH expresa su preocupación respecto de alegaciones de participación de la fuerza pública en hechos de violencia en México (CIDH, 7 de agosto de 2015)

Ostula exige que Cemeí Verdía Zepeda no sea trasladado al penal de Lázaro Cárdenas porque temen por su vida (DesInformémonos, 4 de agosto de 2015)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Nation: Denunciations of new attacks against indigenous community of Santa María Ostula, Michoacán (10 June 2015)

Nation: A minor murdered and ten others wounded in Santa María Ostula (16 August 2015)

Chiapas: Meeting of CNI communities in Chiapas with adherents to the Sixth Declaration

September 10, 2015

pozol(@Pozol Colectivo)

On 27 July communities pertaining to the National Indigenous Congress (CNI) from Chiapas met with adherents to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandona Jungle, written by the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN).  The meeting was held in the community of Cruztón, Venustiano Carranza municipality, Chiapas, where the communities of the CNI-Chiapas discussed the problems they confront.

Present at the meeting were the Las Abejas Civil Society, the ejidatarios from Tila, and constituent groups of the Semilla Digna (“Dignified Seed”) organization.  In a joint pronunciation, they expressed solidarity with the communities of San Francisco Xochicuautla, Mexico State, for the plundering of their lands; Santa María Ostula, Michoacán, where the Army killed a girl of 12 years of age and arrested a commander of the communal police; and with the communities pertaining to the La Garrucha caracol that live on lands appropriated by the EZLN and have faced several attacks by paramilitaries.  In the communique, the CNI affiliates declared themselves in favor of autonomy, the defense of Mother Earth, and resistance gainst megaprojects.  In this way, they also demanded the release of the spokesperson for the Yaqui nation, Mario Luna, and the appearance with life of the 43 forcibly disappeared students from Ayotzinapa.

For more information (in Spanish):

Encuentro de las comundades del CNI de Chiapas en Cruzton integrante de Semilla Digna (Kolektivo Zero, 27 de julio de 2015)

Desde la zona Norte, Altos y centro de Chiapas, se solidarizan con Ostula Michoacán, Xochicuautla Edomex Y EL EZLN (Pozol Colectivo, 27 de julio de 2015)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Nation: Denunciations of new attacks against indigenous community of Santa María Ostula, Michoacán (10 June 2015)

CNDH: PGR’s investigation of Iguala case continues to be lacking: CNDH (10 September 2015)

Nation: A minor murdered and ten others wounded in Santa María Ostula (16 August 2015)

National: Inauguration of the First World Festival of Anti-Capitalist Resistance and Rebellion (30 December 2015)

Mexico: Denunciations of new attacks against indigenous community of Santa María Ostula, Michoacán

June 10, 2015

(@Koman Ilel)

(@Koman Ilel)

On 26 May, the Commission for the Defense of the Common Lands of Santa María Ostula, Aquila municipality, Michoacán, denounced that the day prior, it had suffered a new attack at the hands of the Knights Templar Cartel. It expressed that this represents “not only an alarm in terms of security, but also in terms of the very existence of our communal organization and ability to continue as a people.”

It warned that “newly, the Knights Templar Cartel is seeking to destroy our communal organization, for this attack coincides with the new actions taken by the community, beginning on 23 May, when a new agrarian order was consolidated in the recovered lands of Xayakalan.”

It should be noted that, though the Santa María Ostula community has organized itself to exercise its own forms of justice and self-defense, it has experienced harassment and attacks since 2009, when communards recovered approximately 1,300 hectares. It has also seen the consequences of mass-deforestation due to the operations of transnational corporations during 2012-2013.

The commission demanded respect for its communal police and the life and integrity of the general commander and coordinator of the self-defense units of the coastal and mountainous regions of Michoacán, Cemeí Verdía, as well as punishment of those responsible for the attacks on the community, and “respect for autonomy and lands belonging from time immemorial to the indigenous community of Santa María Ostula.”

For more information (in Spanish):

Comunicado de la comisión para la Defensa de los Bienes Comunales de Santa María Ostula (Centro de Derechos Humanos Fray Bartolomé de las Casas, 26 de mayo de 2015)

Reporta policía comunitaria enfrentamientos en Michoacán (El Universal, 26 de mayo de 2015)

Boletín 3 sobre los hechos en Santa María Ostula, Michoacán (Radio Zapatista, 30 de mayo de 2015)

Mexico: New murder of person linked to the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity

December 13, 2011

Trinidad de la Cruz (@MPJD)

On 7 December 2011 was found the body of Trinidad de la Cruz, leader of the community of Xayakalan, Michoacán, following his kidnapping the previous day by a group of armed men who took him while he was being accompanied by members of the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity (MPJD).  Since 6 December, a commission of 12 persons from the MPJD had found themselves in the zone to participate in a community assembly in Santa María Ostula.

It should be remembered that Santa María Ostula has been besieged by paramilitary groups since 2009, when the communards retook close to 1300 hectares that had been seized from them by “small property-owners” in La Placita, Michoacán.  The community has organized its own “communal police,” asserting its right to exercise its own forms of justice and self-defense.  This situation has resulted in the death of 27 persons and the disappearance of five others.  On 7 October, Pedro Leyva was also murdered, just before participating in the second dialogue between the MPJD and President Felipe Calderón.

The MPJD has announced that it will suspend a series of actions it had planned during these days to call attention to the high level of vulnerability experienced by human-rights defenders.

For more information (in Spanish):

– Hallan cadáver del líder comunero de Michoacán tras plagio por comando(La Jornada, 7 December 2011)

– Hallan muerto a activista plagiado; ‘levantan’ a dos ecologistas en Guerrero(Proceso, 7 December 2011)

– Hallan muerto a activista secuestrado en Michoacán(El Universal, 7 December 2011)

– “Levantan” a miembro del Movimiento por la Paz con Justicia y Dignidad (Proceso, 7 December)

– Muerte, amenazas o descalificación, lo que se ofrece a demandantes de justicia: MPJD (La Jornada, 7 December)

– Otro asesinato de un defensor de derechos humanos (Boletín de prensa del MPJD, 7 December)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Mexico: Member of the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity is murdered (18 December 2011)

Mexico: Second meeting of the MPJD with the Executive (18 October 2011)

Mexico: Second meeting of the MPJD with the executive

October 18, 2011

Castle of Chapultepec (@MPJD)

On 14 October, three months after the first meeting, President Felipe Calderón and members of the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity (MPJD) held a second dialogue in the Castle of Chapultepec in Mexico City.  It lasted 6 hours, twice as long as expected.  The meeting resulted contentious even before beginning, when photos of the victims were shown to the MPJD committee and when Javier Sicilia rejected submitting to the revision that the presidential Major State requested of him so as to access the Castle.

The first intervention was made by Emilio Álvarez Icaza, ex-ombudsman of Mexico City, who set the tone by qualifying the governmental responses to the movement’s demands as “painfully poor” and demanding that the government redouble its efforts to work in favor of the victims of insecurity.  Furthermore, he asked that a minute of silence be had in memory of the victims, among them Pedro Leyva, a member of the MPJD, who was killed in Santa María Ostula, Michoacán, on 6 October.

The priest Miguel Concha challenged the present military strategy that “may have caused irreparable damage to the country.  One of the phenomena that this militarized vision has created that we do not want is the rise of paramilitary groups that engage in social cleansing.  These groups are at least tolerated by the federal, state, and municipal governments; we hope they are not directly promoted by them.”

Javier Sicilia challenged for his part “this militarization [which] has left more dead than all the totalitarian regimes […].  We do not know if you want truthfully to begin the path of peace.”  He stressed the nonexistent response that his proposals have met with.  He requested that the executive revise the creation of the Special Prosecutorial Office for Attention to Victims of Violence, which has no budget at all, nor structure or resources; he also demanded a map of route to see how much time the Army will be deployed in the streets.  He stressed that the government has not attended to the demands of the citizenry nor of the migrants who are victimized by the National Institute for Migration.  Furthermore, he reiterated the necessity of creating a Commission of Truth to make justice for the thousands of victims.  Before finishing his speech, Sicilia made a call to the citizenry to carry out acts of peaceful civil resistance, and he called for a national mobilization on 31 October to demonstrate the will for peace.  This mobilization is also to include photos and names in plazas and cemeteries, such that those who have died will not be forgotten.

Felipe Calderón accompanied by his cabinet insisted that it was the people who requested the presence of the Army in the streets.  He rejected the idea that there is an authoritarian state: “It is not the State that kills and systematically represses and mutilates victims.”  He recognized regardless that “it is true that [the State] has not observed its function of protecting the people.”  He pronounced himself in favor of a law for victims, recognizing that the victims suffer the violence of criminals and also “the inefficiency of the State at all levels.”

Regarding the demilitarization of public security, Calderón insisted that until there are trustworthy and strong police the Army will continue to be in the streets: “Only when there are trustworthy and human police, public ministers, and judges will we have a secure Mexico.  If these institutions of security do not exist, we will never have the security or justice to which we aspire.”  He rejected the idea that there exist paramilitary groups.

Thanking the assembled for the possibility of this second meeting, Calderón recognized the gap between the citizens and their governors.  He noted that “it is the task of all” to close this gap by means of dialogue, and that it is important to “speak with each other, listen to each other, and attempt to understand each other.”  Regardless, the meeting concluded without the likelihood that there be a next one.

For more information (in Spanish):

La tentación fascista amenaza la civilidad, alerta Sicilia a Calderón (La Jornada, 15 October)

Está fracturado el Estado por decisiones erróneas de políticos: Sicilia(Proceso, 14 October)

FCH: el gobierno no reprime ni asesina (El Universal, 15 October)

Una jornada de diálogo sin acuerdos (El Universal, 15 October)

Acusa Sicilia disensos con Gobierno (La Reforma, ‎14 October)

Mi gobierno no es represor ni autoritario: el Presidente (Milenio, 15 October)

Los desacuerdos marcan la reunión entre Sicilia y el presidente Calderón (CNN México, 15 October)

Discurso de Javier Sicilia en el 2do encuentro del MPJD con el Poder Ejecutivo en el Castillo de Chapultepec (14 October)

Discurso de Emilio Álvarez Icaza en el 2do encuentro del MPJD con el Poder Ejecutivo en el Castillo de Chapultepec (14 October)

Discursos en audio del 2do encuentro del MPJD con el Poder Ejecutivo en el Castillo de Chapultepec

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Mexico: Movement for Peace rejects change in dialogue format with Felipe Calderón (30 de septiembre de 2011)

Mexico: Caravan for Peace concludes after journeying to Tabasco, Veracruz, and Puebla (28 September 2011)

Chiapas: Caravan to the South Day 2 (26 September 2011)

Chiapas: Day 1 of the Caravan to the South (26 September 2011)

Oaxaca receives Caravan to the South (23 September 2011)

Chiapas: Annunciation of the Caravan to the South in Chiapas (23 September 2011)

Guerrero – briefs: organizations will welcome the Caravan to the South of the Movement for Peace (22 September)

Mexico: March “Steps for Peace” (19 August)