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Rage One (blog)

domingo, abril 15, 2007

Mexico Week In Review: 04.09-04.15


Published since 1994, 'Mexico Week In Review' is a service of the
Committee of Indigenous Solidarity (CIS). CIS is a Washington, D.C.
based activist group committed to the ongoing struggles of Indigenous
peoples in the Americas. CIS is actively supporting the struggles
of the Indigenous peoples of Mexico while simultaneously combating
related structures of oppression within our own communities.

To view newsletter archives, visit:

"Para Todos, Todo; Para Nosotros Nada"


Army harassment is reported at both of the ecological reserves recently declared by the Zapatista rebels at opposite ends of Mexico-one at Cerro Huitepec in the southern Chiapas Highlands; the other at El Mayor, Baja California, just south of the US border. In both cases, Mexican and international volunteers have established "peace camps" in support of the local indigenous peoples seeking to reclaim their rights to sustainable use of the lands. In Chiapas, the local Fray Bartolome de Las Casas Human Rights Center issued a statement protesting incursions into the Cerro Huitepec reserve by army vehicles.

In Baja California, volunteers at El Mayor report that an army helicopter has been circulating above the encampment. Some people were able to videotape an over flight, revealing masked men aboard the chopper filming the encampment. They also report men in civilian dress entering the camp in the very early morning to write down the plate numbers of volunteers' vehicles.

Source: 04/12/2007


Representatives of dozens of ejidos (agricultural collectives) in the northern zone of Mexico's Chiapas state issued a statement denouncing the approval of illegal sales of collective lands. The protesters, mostly Chol Maya from the municipalities of Tila and Salto de Agua, accused the federal Certification Program for Eijdo Rights and Land Titles (PROCEDE) of skirting regulations by approving sales which had not been agreed upon by all collective members, as required by law. The statement said the illegal sales have "left entire families without their patrimony."

The protest comes as related conflicts in the Lacandon rainforest of Chiapas, stronghold of the Zapatista rebels, have already come to violence. Government talks with the Zapatistas have been at a standstill for years. The long-stalled Zapatista peace plan was to address precisely these issues, by giving indigenous peoples constitutional autonomy on their own lands. On April 3, Luis H. Alvarez, head of President Felipe Calderon's Commission for the Development of Indigenous Peoples (CDI), told reporters that "the Zapatista National Liberation Army is not the intermediary" for the Calderon government's relationship with Mexico's indigenous peoples, and does not represent them.

Source: 04/12/2007


Florentin Melendez, president of the Interamerican Human Rights Commission (CIDH), in Mexico on an official visit, registered protest on the Mexican government's policy for indigenous peoples. He said the pre-NAFTA reform of the Mexican constitution's Article 27, allowing privatization of collective lands, has had a "destructive" effect on indigenous culture. He especially cited the example of Chiapas, where the "individual parcelization" of collective lands has broken up communities, left many without land, and sparked a violent struggle over conflicting claims.

Source: 04/14


A proposal to establish a private security force training camp on the US-Mexico border is stirring controversy. The camp in question would be set up in San Diego County, California, by the North Carolina-based military contractor Blackwater USA. Now undergoing official review is a plan for an 824-acre training camp envisioned for a site near the small town of Potrero, California, which is located several miles north of the Baja California municipality of Tecate. The proposed campsite is close to an area called the "Mushroom Zone," where undocumented workers are known to cross the border, and near a wilderness area. According to reports, Blackwater seeks approval for a camp operated by 60-100 former military personnel who will train up to 300 students at a time in firearms, urban assault techniques and other skills. If opened, the facility is expected to include dormitories, 15 shooting ranges and a helicopter-landing pad.

Residents of Potrero, a town of about 900 people, are voicing their opposition to the camp. Reportedly, about half the registered voters in Potrero have signed a petition against the proposed facility. Resident Carl Meyer told a San Diego television station that the camp could disturb animals in the zone, while another unidentified resident expressed concern about noise.

Owned by millionaire Erik Prince, Blackwater defines itself as the "most comprehensive professional military, law enforcement, security, peacekeeping and stability operations company in the world." Author and journalist Jeremy Scahill, who has written a new book about the company, regards Blackwater as the world's largest mercenary army. According to Scahill, Blackwater USA holds a $300-million State Department contract to provide security for Iraq. Military contractors in the country receive up to $1,000 per day, according to a General Accounting Office report cited by Scahill in a recent article. Killed or wounded personnel from Blackwater and other military contractors are not included in the official US military casualty list.

In addition to its work in Iraq and Afghanistan, Blackwater was contracted to provide security in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. On the West Coast, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has held discussions with the company about providing emergency disaster relief operations. "Blackwater now envisions itself as the FedEx of defense and homeland security operations," writes Scahill. There was no immediate word about the possible missions of graduates from a future Blackwater US-Mexico border camp. The San Diego County government will have the final word over whether or not the proposed Blackwater camp opens.

Sources: Frontera NorteSur (FNS): 04/09; El Universal/Frontera/La
Jornada /Notimex: 04/06


A federal appeals court in San Diego has ruled for the US and against Mexico in a decision involving millions of gallons of precious water. A three-judge panel of the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals says the US government can line a major canal along the border with concrete to keep millions of gallons of water from seeping south. It cites a law signed by President Bush last year ordering the project to begin.

Backers say it could meet the water needs of more than 500,000 homes in fast-growing San Diego County. Opponents of the concrete lining say it will devastate Mexican farmers who rely on the canal's seepage to replenish their underground water supply. The 82-mile-long canal, fed water by Colorado River water, was completed in 1942. It feeds crops along both sides of the border. The court says Mexico already gets a guaranteed share of Colorado River water under terms of a 1944 treaty and is entitled to no more.

Source: Associated Press: 04/10


Heads of state from eight nations, plus Nicaragua's vice-president, arrived in the Yucatan Peninsula city of Campeche for a quick two-day "summit" aimed at re-energizing the Plan Puebla Panama (PPP), an ambitious regional development project proposed by former President Vicente Fox in 2001. The meeting was called by President Calderon, who also arrived in Campeche (capital of the state of the same name) and treated his guests to dinner. The president pointed to the reunion as the beginning of a renewed Mexican interest in its Central American neighbors. "It's time for us to move closer to our fellow Latin American countries, especially those in Central America," Calderon said. "It's time for Mexico to assume its responsibility . . . for regional leadership." Pursuing the Plan Puebla Panama is a step in that direction, he said.

Joining Calderon were the presidents of Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Panama and Colombia, as well as the prime minister of Belize. Nicaragua President Daniel Ortega is not attending the summit; his country is represented by its vice-president, Jaime Moreno. They were met by heavy security around Campeche's main convention center. A three-meter high metal fence has been erected around the site, which is being guarded by 1,500 federal police and 1,500 soldiers in the special presidential division known as the Estado Mayor. Foreign secretaries from PPP member nations also arrived, along with governors from nine Mexican states.

The PPP calls for a development corridor from central Mexico through Central America and into Colombia. As originally envisioned, private investment and multilateral development banks would finance highways, maquiladora-style industry, energy development and other infrastructure projects. Progress has been slow, however. PPP critics worry about transnational corporations using the project to take advantage of cheap local labor to extract profits. The environment, critics claim, will be the biggest victim.

Source: El Universal: 04/10


Mexican union activists and members of social and political organizations rejected the Summit of Heads of State of the Puebla Panama Plan (PPP) underway in Campeche. Demonstrators protested against the meeting of heads of State from Mexico, Colombia and Central American countries that is being held at the Campeche-based Convention Center, as well as against the agreements to be reached during the gathering they consider undermine the autonomy of countries in the area. Hundreds of members of the riot police and of the Navy and the Federal Preventive Police try to prevent protesters, including members of the Frente Amplio Progresista (Broad Progressive Front), to advance. The members of the FAP, a legislative, government coalition pf Mexican left wing parties, founded in the wake of presidential elections in 2006, strongly criticize PPP, as it only benefits large foreign investors, mainly the US. The PPP groups Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Belize, Honduras, Costa Rica, Guatemala, El Salvador and Colombia, who joined as an observer in November 2004.

Source: Prensa Latina: 04/10


A Mexican court ordered the reinstatement of ousted mineworkers union leader Napoleon Gomez Urrutia, more than a year after the government turned him out of office based on complaints of corruption. The unanimous ruling by three-judge tribunal marks the latest chapter in a stormy and often bloody battle that caused some of the most serious strikes in recent years, as Gomez Urrutia's supporters battled what they claimed was government intervention in internal union affairs.

The government-supported union leaders who replaced Gomez Urrutia accused him of having misappropriated $55 million that mining company Grupo Mexico paid to the union as part of the 1990 privatization of two of the company's copper mines. The money was to have been distributed among 10,000 union workers. In the end, the judges said the Labor Department had overstepped its authority and failed to comply with established procedures in ousting Gomez Urrutia in February 2006, and ordered him returned to the top post of the National Mine and Metal Workers Union. It was not clear whether the ruling could be appealed. The current, government-supported union leadership was not immediately available for comment.

Gomez Urrutia is believed to have fled Mexico after steps were taken to prosecute him on charges relating to the alleged misappropriation of funds. But his supporters battled on in his behalf, and the dispute led to a five-month, sometimes violent strike in 2006 at Mexico's largest liquid steel plant, the Sicartsa plant in the Pacific port of Lazaro Cardenas, as well as at copper mines.

Source: Associated Press: 04/11


Family members of Rafael Santiago Cruz are expected to bury their loved one in Mexico City sometime over the coming weekend. A staff member of the US-based Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC), the 28-year-old activist was found dead in a union office located in the northern Mexican city of Monterrey on April 9. Amado Medina, public safety chief for Monterrey, was initially quoted in the Mexican press as saying that no signs of violence or forced entry were detected at the scene of Cruz's apparent murder. But FLOC members tell a different story. "He was tied up and beaten to death," said Leticia Zavala, the FLOC's international vice-president. "If that's not violence, I don't know what violence is."

In a telephone interview with Frontera NorteSur, Zavala said that Cruz arrived in Monterrey about one month ago to help administer the FLOC's campaign with Mexican H-2A guest workers who are recruited for contract labor in US agriculture. According to Zavala, the FLOC has a contract that covers upwards of 7,400 H-2A workers who are employed in 27 crops in North Carolina, principally in tobacco, sweet potatoes, cucumber and Christmas trees. Most of the guest workers hail from the Mexican states of Hidalgo, San Luis Potosi, Nayarit and Durango, Zavala said, adding that the temporary field hands travel to Monterrey, where a US consulate is located, in order to obtain legal work documents. A native of southern Oaxaca state, Cruz first became active with the FLOC while he was working in the United States ten years ago, Zavala said. "He was a lively person. He loved music," Zavala recalled. "He was a good Christian. He was working to support his mom and his younger brothers."

Although the union has not seen a police report about Cruz's death, Zavala affirmed that the FLOC's cross-border organizing work had ruffled the feathers of migrant traffickers and others. She said that the FLOC has experienced previous episodes of harassment and office break-ins in Mexico, but that the overall situation had been quiet during the past two months.

Union members are concerned that the larger climate of violence and impunity in the Monterrey region could impede an investigation of Cruz's murder, the FLOC leader said. Gangland-style executions have left at least 48 people dead in Monterrey since the beginning of the year. On April 12, the Mexican army engaged in a shoot-out with possible drug traffickers that left one person dead and two arrested in Marin, a municipality located about 30 miles northeast of Monterrey. FLOC members are urging that the Nuevo Leon Office of the State Attorney General conduct a thorough investigation of Cruz's murder. According to Zavala, the union is receiving backing from the US AFL-CIO and Ohio Representative Marcy Kaptur to prompt the US Department of State to get involved in the Cruz case. Mexican non-governmental organizations are also speaking out on the FLOC's behalf. "There are very few organizations like FLOC that defend the dignity and rights of workers who have seen the necessity of emigrating to the United States, and that's why we regard an injury to them as an injury to the entire society," said Consuelo Morales of Citizens in Support of Human Rights. "We show our support for the rest of the members of the FLOC who work in any part of the republic and in the United States, and we make a firm call to the authorities of all levels to take the measures within their power to guarantee the integrity of these worker defenders and their families."

Source: Frontera NorteSur (FNS): 04/12

By Brenda Norrell

Subcomandante Marcos and 10 Comandantes from Chiapas were welcomed by O'odham and friends in the state of Sonora and departed for the Cucapa Peace Camp to uphold Indigenous fishing rights. Marcos discussed the Intercontinental Indigenous Conference, planned for northwest Mexico for the fall of 2007. During an interview, Marcos said he hopes the Intercontinental gathering will "touch the hearts and recuperate the souls." "When Indigenous Peoples come together from all regions, they will realize that money means nothing when compared to the values of Indigenous Peoples."

The Zapatista delegation was enroute to the Cucapa (Cocapah) Peace Camp in Baja California, in the Cucapa community of El Mayor, 40 miles south of Mexicali near the Arizona/California border. The camp has been underway since fishing season began in March and continues through May. The delegation of Mayan Comandantes from Chiapas included four women and six men. Comandantas Kelly, Susana, Yolanda and Dalia and Comandantes Tacho, David, Eduardo, Guillermo, Emiliano and Masho.

Speaking in Spanish and English, Marcos said the Cucapa people have lived in their territory for 9,000 years and were fishing long before Spain, the United States or Mexico existed. "They take care of the land, the air, the water, trees, the natural world."

Marcos said the government of Mexico has falsely accused the Cucapa of destroying the natural world. At the same time, the Mexican military pretends to be fighting the drug traffickers. "The Mexican Army is not fighting against drug dealers. They are fighting against Indian people." "The Cucapa are doing the same thing they have been doing for 9,000 years. The Cucapa and other Indian people called for this camp in defense of nature. So they can fish without detentions or being put in jail," Marcos said.

Marcos visited the Indian tribes in northwest Mexico during the Zapatistas' Other Campaign in the fall of 2006. The neighboring Quilihua women had taken a vow to stop having children and become extinct rather than try to survive without their ability to fish.

"We said we will come and stay with you, without guns, only with our words," Marcos said during the interview Sunday. Marcos said the world has not responded to the desperation of Indigenous Peoples. "The United Nations does not have ears to hear that pain."

Marcos urged American Indians in the United States to unite with Zapatistas in the struggle for Indigenous rights. Marcos said before the days of politicians and enterprises, Indian people were here. "We, the Indian people, lived here on this land. The money people came and brought drugs, prostitution and all of the diseases of the money people," Marcos said in English. Marcos pointed out that the Tohono O'odham people live on both sides of the international border, in Sonora, Mexico and in Arizona in the United States. "But it is the same people. If the O'odham in Mexico and the O'odham in the United States come together, they can realize a force more powerful than money."

Marcos said that even when Indian people have money, there are those that say, "An Indian is an Indian." "No matter how much they say they love us, it is not true. They can not love us because of the color of our skin." Marcos called on Indigenous Peoples to claim their destiny as Guardians of the Earth. "Everything that is life will be killed. We must join the fight to save the earth. The gods gave us that mission. We must take care of the earth together, but with respect for our differences, Yaqui, Mayo, Tzetzal. Each people have their own identity, depending on their culture." "The people with money said we are a barbarous people, but our people are people of peace. We fight only if they attack us. The government thinks we are failures, but they have to know that we are Guardians of this land."

Source: 04/10

The above articles were originally published and copyrighted by the
listed sources. These articles are offered for educational purposes
which CIS maintains is 'fair use' of copyrighted material as
provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law.

end: Mexico Week In Review: 04.09-04.15

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