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Rage One (blog)

domingo, mayo 20, 2007

Mexico Week In Review: 05.14-05.20


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"


Mexico's federal government has expropriated more than 14,000
hectares of the Lacandon Selva, the lowland rainforest region of
southern Chiapas state. The expropriation, approved by the
Environment and Natural Resources Secretariat (SEMARNAT), came in
response to a request by the National Commission of Protected Natural
Areas for a new protected area adjacent to the existing Montes Azules
Biosphere Reserve. The Agrarian Reform Secretary has been authorized
to pay some 58 million pesos (about US$5 million) to compensate
landowners. The expropriation decree, published May 8 in the federal
government's Diario Oficial said the affected area included lands
titled to the Lacandon Community, which had officially "consented" to
the expropriation. More than 500,000 hectares were titled to the
Lacandon Community, including Lacandon Maya indigenous inhabitants,
by the federal government in 1971. Since then, there have been
numerous land conflicts between the Lacandon Maya and Highland Maya
settlers in the rainforest.

SEMANART Secretary Juan Elvira Quesada said consultations had been
held with communal landholders in the affected area, who agreed to
the expropriation. But this immediately raises the question of which
communities were consulted, as the Selva is a patchwork of
overlapping land claims.

The Chiapas environmental group Maderas del Pueblo called the decree
a "juridical aberration," noting that the text fails to precisely
delineate the borders of the affected lands. Maderas del Pueblo
contested government claims that that the decree had been promulgated
with the consent ARIC-I, the campesino organization that controls
lands on the edge of the Montes Azules reserve at Candelaria-Amador
Hernández. The Council of Traditional Healers and Midwives of Chiapas
(Compitch) issued a statement decrying the "treason of the Lacandon
Community," accusing it of accepting payments for lands it never used
or had a legitimate claim to. The Compitch statement called the
decree "madness, which has no environmental justification or
biological connection," and charged it is part of "a much broader
plan" to expropriate the lands of the rainforest settlers. It
especially cited recent decisions by the Agrarian Reform Secretariat
in favor of the claims of "cacique [political boss] Pedro Chulín,"
director of the "paramilitary" organization OPDDIC.

The Chiapas Network for the Defense of Land and Territory, made up of
ten local groups, issued a statement voicing their "total support"
for Lacandon Selva settlements resisting relocation. It also named
the OPDDIC and allied Indigenous Campesino Agricultural and Forestal
Union (UCIAF) as responsible for "new and ever more violent threats"
against the settler communities, including Zapatista "autonomous
municipalities." The Network is made up of the Xinich Committee, Casa
de la Mujer Ixim Anzetic, Fray Pedro Lorenzo de la Nada Human Rights
Committee, and other Chiapas popular organizations.

The expropriation comes with an escalation of military activity in
Chiapas. On May 11, some 500 federal police and army troops, backed
up with machine guns and a helicopter, raided houses in the
municipalities of Palenque and Benemérito de Las Américas, on the
edge of the Selva, arresting 17 in a crackdown on narco gangs.

Simultaneous with the Lacandon Selva expropriation, the Federal
Prosecutor for Environmental Protection (PROFEPA) announced a new
"Zero Tolerance" campaign against the illegal exploitation of timber
in Mexico's protected areas. The arrest of nine adults and one minor
were announced in a PROFEPA operation backed up by over 100 army
troops at the Lagunas de Zempoala protected area in the state of
Mexico. Since taking office in December, President Felipe Calderon
has mobilized army troops to several states to crack down on both
narco gangs and illegal logging in protected zones.

Source: 05/13


Police and Mexican army troops arrested four suspected members of a
criminal assault force that overran a town near the Arizona border
and set off fighting that left at least 22 dead in violence linked to
drug cartels. Luis Pena Molina, town secretary of Banamichi, said
that "helicopters are combing the whole area" looking for the
remnants of the estimated 50 gunmen who assaulted the nearby town of
Cananea, 30 miles south of the U.S. border. He said four gunmen had
been detained.

The violence began when men armed with assault rifles and riding in
10 to 15 vehicles pulled four lightly armed city police officers out
of their cars and executed them in a park. The assailants fled to the
nearby hills with authorities in pursuit. The gunmen ditched their
vehicles, commandeered horses and forced ranch hands to serve as
guides, according to an account from a man abducted by the armed
gang. An hours-long gun battle erupted between the gunmen and police
and soldiers. Fifteen assailants, five police officers and two local
residents were killed.

The invasion of Cananea - a town that helped spark the 1910 Mexican
Revolution when U.S. forces crossed the border to help put down a
miners' strike - showed the brashness and power of Mexico's ruthless
organized crime gangs.

The first outside authorities to arrive in Cananea found an eerie no
man's land where local law enforcement had melted away. "When the
state police arrived, there was not a single municipal police
officer," Sonora state Gov. Eduardo Bours said. "We had to take over
the command. There wasn't anyone there. They had all left." Bours
added that he had previously asked for a federal investigation of the
Cananea police force, apparently to determine whether it was
infiltrated by Mexico's Pacific Coast drug gangs Federal Public
Safety Secretary Genaro Garcia Luna blamed a turf battle between the
Gulf and Pacific drug gangs.

"An armed command first abducted a police patrol, then went out on
the streets of Cananea ... abducting policemen," Garcia Luna told
reporters. "It is a group linked to the Gulf cartel, waging a turf
battle with the Pacific people, for control of this territory." He
praised Sonora state officials for their "efficient" response. In
Cananea, there was little debate over the need for army troops: Mayor
Luis Carlos Cha Flores had formally requested that federal police
officers and army troops be sent to the town to restore order, the
government news agency Notimex reported.

Source: Associated Press: 05/18


Gunmen fatally shot a high-ranking intelligence official as he was on
his way to work at the Attorney General's Office, officials said.
Jose Nemesio Lugo, who investigated drug and migrant smuggling, among
other issues, was shot numerous times, several in the head, while he
was driving to work, said a spokesman at the city prosecutor's office
who was not authorized to give his name. The assailants fled and no
arrests have been made. Witnesses told police at least three gunmen
were involved.

Lugo last month was named general coordinator of the attorney
general's National Center of Planning, Analysis and Information for
the Combat of Crime. He previously headed a unit that investigated
the trafficking of minors, illegal migrants and organs within the
Attorney General's Office, according to an official there who was not
authorized to give his name. Under former President Vicente Fox, Lugo
was director of airports, seaports and border crossings for the
federal Public Security Department, a police agency. He also worked
for the Federal Preventative Police as director of a unit
investigating the trafficking of drugs, contraband, migrants and

The official said it was not yet clear if Lugo's death was linked to
his work. Drug gangs have increased their attacks in recent weeks,
opening fire on police and soldiers in response to President Felipe
Calderon's nationwide crackdown on organized crime. Calderon's
government has sent more than 24,000 soldiers to areas plagued by
drug violence.

Source: Associated Press: 05/14


Protesters demanding the resignation of the governor of Oaxaca
marched to the center the colonial state capital and vowed to block a
major folk festival for a second year running. A year to the day
after the start of a bitter teacher's strike that paralyzed Oaxaca
city for five months, several thousand leftist activists and teachers
walked peacefully to the downtown plaza they seized last year.

A representative of the protesters vowed to disrupt the annual
Guelaguetza festival, a top attraction traditionally held on the last
two Mondays in July. Tens of thousands of people, including many
foreign tourists, attend the festival that dates back as far as the
1700s. The threat to block the festival appeared to be a direct
challenge to Gov. Ulises Ruiz, whose resignation the protesters are

The conflict that began on May 15, 2006 as a strike by teachers
seeking higher pay, quickly grew into a broader movement known as the
People's Assembly of Oaxaca, or APPO. It included Indian groups,
students, farmers and left-leaning activists who claim Ruiz rigged
his electoral victory and has repressed opponents.

On Tuesday, protest spokesman Florentino Lopez told local media that
the APPO has already decided to block the Guelaguetza, a weeklong
folkloric event celebrating the music, artisanship and cuisine of
several Oaxaca Indian groups. Oaxaca's tourism industry, and the
festival in particular, provides much of the city's income.

Source: Associated Press: 05/16


A pilot project to place a high-tech network of surveillance towers
along a stretch of the U.S.-Mexico border has met boisterous
opposition in this Arizona town, where some residents call it "Big
Brother." The U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency is installing
a network of nine towers with ground radar and night vision cameras
to monitor a 28-mile (45-km) stretch of border near Arivaca,
southwest of Tucson. It is the first trial for the communications and
technology arm of the government's Secure Border Initiative announced
in 2005. Dubbed "SBInet," authorities say it will be extended across
some 6,000 miles of the Mexican and Canadian borders in segments in
coming years.

Residents of this remote, high desert ranching town of 1,500 people
have packed four public meetings in recent weeks to oppose the
project, which is due to go live at the end of next month. "It's like
Big Brother. It will place the whole town under surveillance,"
community activist C Hues told Reuters as residents gathered for a
meeting with CBP and Border Patrol representatives. "The government
will be able to watch and record every movement we make, 24 hours a
day. It will be like living in a prison yard," she added.

Residents of the community are particularly concerned about one
98-foot (30-meter) tall tower topped with cameras and radar that will
be placed just south of the town, which lies about 12 miles from the
border. "Why are they doing it here and not at the border? It's
horrifying, it makes no sense," said Melissa Murray, a gallery owner
from nearby Tubac.

Last year, about 1.1 million people were arrested crossing the border
illegally from Mexico, more than a third of them through the heavily
trafficked desert corridor south of Tucson, Arizona. The Border
Patrol said the system, which is being built by aerospace giant
Boeing under a contract estimated at some $2 billion, is a necessary
step to close the border to illegal entrants and allow agents to
promptly identify and capture illegal immigrants and drug smugglers.
Information captured by the towers -- including live images giving
GPS locations of any intruders -- will be streamed live via satellite
from command centers in Tucson and Sells to Border Patrol agents with
laptops patrolling nearby. Eventually it will be integrated into a
wider network, including a fleet of Predator B unmanned surveillance
drones. "We need to have eyes on what's happening here," said Tucson
sector Border Patrol spokesman Jesus Rodriguez. "We are not placing
the town under surveillance, but we will be watching whatever is
walking north to the town," he added.

Some ranchers around the former gold and silver mining community
favor the project, which they say is needed to stem the flow of
illegal immigrants, who they said cut cattle fences and dump trash.
Some local residents predicted that the technology would meet with
opposition in other rural areas as it is rolled out along the rest of
the state's border with Mexico by the end of 2008. "It's not just
Arivaca," high school teacher Luke Brannen said. "It's going to
affect a lot of people in other communities in the future. They're

Source: Reuters: 05/16

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: 05.14-05.20

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