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Rage One (blog)

domingo, marzo 16, 2008

Mexico Week In Review: 03.10-03.16

Mexico Week In Review: 03.10-03.16
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"


The Chontal Maya community of Villa Vicente Guerrero, in Centla
municipality of Mexico's oil-rich Gulf Coast state of Tabasco, has
declared itself an "autonomous municipality" in a letter to the Sixth
Commission, civil wing of the Zapatista rebel movement in neighboring
Chiapas state to the south. The declaration said Vicente Guerrero, in
remote swamplands of the Rio Grijalva delta, is withdrawing from all
government institutions in response "abandonment" by the official
authorities despite "the extraction of millions of barrels of
petroleum and natural gas" on local lands. The community also cited
human rights abuses, including the arrest of seven residents by
federal police in connection with a supposed attempt to illegally
detain government functionaries. The statement said the seven were
"brutally tortured."

Source: 03/10


Armando Villareal, a prominent farm activist in the state of
Chihuahua, has been murdered. The 50-year-old head of the
Agrodinamica Nacional organization was shot to death March 14
gangland-style in broad daylight while driving with his son in the
rural town of Nuevo Casas Grandes. According to preliminary reports,
Villareal was ambushed by another vehicle containing a masked man
attired in military-style clothing. The assailant fired repeated
shots from an AK-47 assault rifle, killing Villareal. The farm
leader's 18-year-old son survived the attack. Max Correa, the leader
of the Central Campesina Cardenista organization, demanded that the
state and federal governments punish the perpetrators of Villareal's
assassination. "The movement (Villareal) headed and the
declarations he made affected many interests of agricultural
speculators and those who benefit from big importations of basic
grains," Correa said.

A controversial figure, Villareal led a group of farmers with a
significant presence in the northwestern section of Chihuahua state.
The region where Agrodinamica Nacional is active is embroiled in
disputes over power rates, water resources and drug trafficking.
Villareal was perhaps best known for leading repeated protests
against Federal Electricity Commission charges for use of water
wells. As a result of his militant activities, Villareal was
imprisoned for more than one year beginning in 2002. The farm leader
proclaimed himself the first political prisoner of the Vicente Fox
era. Most recently, Villareal participated in the revived movement
against the North American Free Trade Agreement. He was involved in
the Pancho Villa tractorcade that traveled between Ciudad Juarez and
Mexico City last January. "He waged a fierce struggle to lower the
costs of electrical energy for the farmers so they could produce in
better conditions," said Fernando Flores, a member of the Democratic
Campesino Front of Chihuahua.

The son of Mexican General Armando Villareal Maya and a former
student of the closed Hermanos Escobar Agricultural School in Ciudad
Juarez, Villareal was active in politics. In 2007, he ran an
unsuccessful campaign for the state legislature on the ticket of the
Convergencia party. In 2006, the Chihuahua state leader of
Convergencia, Ciudad Juarez lawyer Sergio Dante Almaraz, was shot to
death in almost exactly the same manner as Villareal-on a public
thoroughfare during daytime hours. The Convergencia organization is
part of the Broad Progressive Front that supports former presidential
candidate Andres Manuel Lopez, and it is currently involved
organizing a mass protest against the privatization of Mexican oil
set for March 18 in the Mexican capital. Villareal's lawyer, Sergio
Conde Varela, said his client and companions were followed by
unidentified individuals after leaving the Ciudad Juarez airport last
Thursday. The group had just returned from a Mexico City farm policy
forum. In the past, Villareal was followed by agents from the
Federal Investigations Agency (AFI), Varela added According to
another unidentified source quoted in the Ciudad Juarez press,
Thursday´s episode escalated into a high-speed chase that only ended
when Villareal lost his pursuers in the municipality of Ascension,

Villareal's murder happened as a spiral of violence reached new
heights in Chihuahua and Ciudad Juarez. Since the beginning of the
year, more than 130 people have been killed in the northern Mexican
state in incidents attributed to organized crime. From March 12 to
March 15 alone, the bodies of at least 15 murder victims were
recovered in Ciudad Juarez and in and near Chihuahua City. Also, a
sergeant for the Ciudad Juarez municipal police force was reported
kidnapped. In addition to Villareal, the latest victims include
policemen and a young woman whose body was found off the highway
outside Chihuahua City.

Sources: Frontera NorteSur (FNS): 03/15; 03/14,15;
Norte: 03/15; El Diario de Juarez: 03/15; El Sur/Agencia Reforma:


Indians from Mexico, the United States and Canada gathered before
dawn to light incense, pray and sing in the shadow of ancient Mayan
pyramids, asking the contaminated earth for forgiveness. More than
200 leaders from 71 American Indian nations were joining in Palenque
to offer indigenous wisdom about ways to save the polluted planet.
'Our Mother Earth is being polluted at an alarming rate, and our
elders say that she is dying,' said Raymond Sensmeier, a Tlingit
leader from Yakutat, Alaska. 'The way the weather is around the world
... a cleansing is needed.'

The pre-dawn ceremony that launched the conference included fire,
copal incense, chants in Lacandon Maya and blasts from a conch shell
to the four cardinal points. Mexico's environment secretary, Juan
Elvira Quesada, said the gathering is meant 'to present the teachings
of the original peoples of North America.' 'In this way, the
indigenous communities can become the natural guides to restoring
balance and harmony in the world,' he said.

The lessons they have to teach are simple -- based on reviving Indian
notions about ownership, use, compensation and respect. 'I sometimes
talk to scientists,' said Sensmeier, 'and they compartmentalize
things, put things in boxes and disconnect them, and doing so
promotes disharmony and imbalance.' Kuetlachtli Texotik, a Nahuatl
healer from Mexico whose name means 'Blue Wolf,' agreed. 'Our
grandfathers taught us to have an integrated vision,' he said. 'The
important thing is to look for balance. We should take care of what
does not belong to us, for the future, because it is only ours

Indian cultures also have concrete examples to share. Kayum Garcia's
Lacandon people plant small, dense, rotating fields of
jungle-friendly crops in southern Mexico and avoid pasture-hungry
cattle, helping preserve the jungle without cutting it down. 'Cutting
down a tree just because you want to, I just can't understand that,'
said Garcia, 31.

The Nahuatl-speaking Aztecs were able to use Mexico City's extensive
lake system as both a source of food and a flood-control mechanism.
The lakes were drained after the Spanish arrived, and now the
metropolis suffers a constant threat of floods. Some of the lessons
are even simpler, reminiscent of advice grandparents often use.
'You'd catch one fish, just one, and you never played with your food,
never wasted it,' said Sensmeier. 'We used everything.'

Source: Associated Press: 03/10


Faced with high-levels of crime and illegal immigration, authorities
in Yuma are reaching back to a technique as old as a medieval castle
to dig out a "security channel" on a crime-ridden stretch of the
border and fill it with water. "The moats that I've seen circled the
castle and allowed you to protect yourself, and that's kind of what
we're looking at here," said Yuma County Sheriff Ralph Ogden, who is
backing the project.

Curbing illegal immigration and securing the nearly 2,000 mile
(3,200-kilometre) southwestern border are hot topics in this U.S.
election year. Washington has pledged to complete 670 miles of new
barriers by the close of 2008, despite resistance from landowners and
environmentalists. The proposal seeks to restore a stretch of the
West's greatest waterway, the Colorado River, which has been largely
sucked dry by demand from farms and sprawling subdivisions springing
up across the parched southwest and in neighboring California. The
plan to revive the river, which drains from the Rocky Mountains
through the Grand Canyon and runs for 23 miles (37 kilometers) along
the border near Yuma, seeks to create a broad water barrier while
also restoring a fragile wetland environment that once thrived in the
area. "What you are building is a moat, but it's bringing the life
and the wildlife back," said Ogden, an Old West lawman with a
handlebar mustache, explaining how the project differs from other
plans to fix the border. "It's innovative thinking. It doesn't take
much brainpower to build a 12-foot high fence around something, but
this is unique."

The project is starting with a desolate 450-acre patch of scrub and
thickets known as Hunter's Hole, a once-thriving wetland on the
border a few miles southwest of Yuma that has become a haven for drug
smugglers and illegal immigrants crossing from Mexico and a headache
for local law enforcement. "It's in the United States, but it's
become a no-man's-land, an area where bodies were dumped, where
people and drugs were smuggled over the border," said Ogden, whose
deputies share much of the responsibility for tackling border-related
crime with federal police. Engineers plan to dig a "security channel"
up to 10-feet (3 meters) deep and 60 feet wide through the problem
area, which lies a short way inside the border. The dirt removed
would be used to create a levee along the outside to give U.S. Border
Patrol agents an elevated patrol road overlooking the line. The area
would also be replanted with native sedges and rushes to provide
habitat for threatened local species such as the Yuma Clapper Rail, a
secretive marsh bird. Backers say it would also provide a space for
residents of Yuma, a farming town popular with winter visitors, to
walk and fish.

The organization behind the project would like to extend it the
entire course of the Colorado River, which marks the U.S.-Mexico
border, in what it sees as an environmental recovery program that
complements the Border Patrol's task. "It doesn't replace the Border
Patrol's efforts, it supplements them. At the same time you are
restoring habitat in a secure environment and creating a place to
relax," said Charles Flynn, the executive director of the Yuma
Crossing National Heritage Area Corporation.

Curbing illegal immigration and securing the border are issues that
frequently confront both presumptive Republican Party nominee Sen.
John McCain and Democratic rivals Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack
Obama, who are campaigning to be their party's pick for the November
election. The U.S. government has sought remedies including boosting
police numbers, adding surveillance technologies, and,
controversially, constructing hundreds of miles of vehicle and
pedestrian barriers along the international boundary, which has drawn
fierce opposition from some quarters. More than a hundred border
landowners in south Texas have resisted a government bid for access
to their lands to build new fencing, which they see as a meddlesome
and unwelcome intrusion, while environmentalists say fences may sever
key wildlife corridors for animals including the jaguar. The planned
revival of the Colorado River, where it carves through desert
peppered with fertile farmland, is something of a standout. It has
won the backing of the federal Bureau of Land Management, which owns
the land; the Bureau of Reclamation, which has provided a grant to
drill wells and pump groundwater, and a letter of support from the
Border Patrol. Also on board are Yuma City Council and local
residents including the Cocopah Indian tribe, who have farmed the
river's flood plains for centuries.

Perhaps more surprisingly, it has also won support across the
boundary in Mexico, where plans to build border fences are eyed with
suspicion. Local environmentalists there have embraced the project
and plan to work in tandem to restore the wetlands on the Mexican
side. "Instead of putting up walls and promoting division, we can
promote security and friendship," said Osvel Hinojosa, the director
of Pro-Natura, an environmental group in northwest Mexico, of the
proposal. "Moreover, instead of damaging the environment, we can
improve it."

Source: Reuters: 03/13

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: 03.10-03.16

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