Chiapas: campesinos protest illegal land sales
April 12, 2007
Representantives 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, acused 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 affected communities include Usipá, La Preciosa, El Limar, Tila, Jolaco, Cruz Palenque, Nuevo Limar, El Calvario, Lucero, Jochintieol, Susucumil, Miguel Alemán, La Cascada, Chuctejá, Masojá Grande and Masojá Schujá. (La Jornada, April 8th)
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 Calderón’s Commission for the Development of Indigenous Peoples (CDI), told reporters that “the Zapatista National Liberation Army is not the intermediary” for the Calderón government’s relationship with Mexico’s indigenous peoples, and does not represent them. (La Jornada, April 3rd)
(WE INVITE YOU TO SIGN ON AT THE ABOVE WEB PAGE OR EMAIL ADDRESS)
To the Unified Agrarian Tribunal no. 03, based in Tuxtla Gutierrez, Chiapas, Mexico
To the Secretariat of Agrarian Reform. Mexico
To the Attorney General for Agrarian Issue’s Office. Mexico
In recent years, have seen a gradual increase in agrarian judgments against indigenous communities publicly identified as Zapatista Base Communities.
One of the main plaintiff’s of agrarian judgments for the eviction of Zapatista Base Communities is the Organizacion para la Defensa de los Derechos Indigenas y Campesinos A.C. (OPDDIC). It is well known, and it has been denounced several times by the local and national media, that many of their members, including its leaders, are linked to organized criminal groups and have clear paramilitary characteristics: a public anti-Zapatista political position, its leaders act with the tacit support of the Mexican Army, they form an integral part of a strategy of counterinsurgency and they are armed. In addition, the organization is affiliated to the PRI political party, and has presence in the Chiapas municipalities of Ocosingo, Altamirano, Margaritas, Chilon, Tila, Tumbala, Palenque, Catazaja and Benemerito de las Americas.
In the last months, the OPDDIC has intensified actions against these communities, including threats, harassment, forced evictions and illegal detentions, and the juridical suits filed by the OPDDIC have become in additional weapons that threaten to deprive the Zapatista communities of their lands and to evict them using public security forces.
These improper actions, and the decisions taken by the different agrarian and legal institutions, have led to serious confrontations, with unpredictable and sometimes violent outcomes, in a number of indigenous communities and territories in the state of Chiapas.
In addition, based on the monitoring of publicly available information, a series of illicit activities have been repeated in alarming manner, occurring almost every day in the municipalities mentioned above, including threats, injuries and damage to property of others, which in most of the cases are accompanied by lawsuits and agrarian judgments with grave legal irregularities and inconsistencies, in procedures, testimonies, alterations or omissions in documentation, trafficking of influence, etc.
Two flagrant irregularities in the agrarian processes are the agrarian lawsuits promoted by the OPDDIC about the Ejido MUKULUM BACHAJON, in the Chilon municipality; and RANCHERIA EL NANTZE, in Altamirano municipality, that are about to be decided the Unified Agrarian Tribunal number 3 in Tuxtla Gutierrez, Chiapas.
In the Agrarian judgment number 319/2004 about la RANCHERIA EL NANTZE — where the OPDDIC intends to get evictions from 2,228-77-53 hectares — those who were accused were never legally notified. Furthermore, on several occasions higher legal authorities ordered the Unified Tribunal no. 3 to find and speak to the “Corazon del Arcoiris de la Esperanza”, Zapatista Good Government Council (Junta de Buen Gobierno), which they claimed they could not find, despite the fact it’s location is no secret. It is located in the indigenous community of Morelia, Altamirano municipality, in the State of Chiapas, in Mexico, Planet Earth, about 16.72489 degrees latitude north, 91.96192 latitude West, and 1252 meters above the sea level.
After a detailed revision of documents from the 68 cases in the agrarian judgment of EL EJIDO MUKULUM BACHAJON, Chilon municipality; and from Agrarian judgment number 319/2004 of la RANCHERIA EL NATZE, Altamirano municipality, the attached analysis, arguments and legal documents show: 1) the illegality of the Agrarian Judgment of la RANCHERIA EL NANTZE. 2) The illegality of the 68 Agrarian Judgment, the illegal eviction of 296 families and the illegality of the constitution of EJIDO MUKULUM BACHAJON as an Ejido.
Faced with these serious events and risks of escalating violence, we the undersigned have joined the Global Campaign for the Defense of Autonomous Indigenous and Peasant Lands and Territories, in Chiapas, Mexico and the World, called for by the EZLN. Our concern about the cases mentioned above is the beginning of a detailed and permanent national and international monitoring of the actions of the authorities involved in these and similar agrarian and judicial cases, infringing on the rights to territory and free determination of indigenous peoples, contravening, among others, Convention 169 of the ILO about indigenous people, and who are acting in consort with a strategy of counter-insurgency focused on dismantling apart the autonomous governments in indigenous territories.
The undersigned of this document, will publicize those responsible. The actions, omissions and decisions of the Agrarian authorities, as part of a counter-insurgency strategy, are having serious social consequences in a major escalation of State-sponsored violence toward the civilian population, particularly indigenous peoples, of Chiapas.
SIGN ON AT:
or by sending your adherence by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
AND/OR SEND YOUR COMMENTS STARTING MONDAY, APRIL 9 DIRECTLY TO:
Tribunal Unitario Agrario. Distrito 03.
Magistrado: Lic. Rafael Garcia Simerman
Direccio’n: 8 Poniente Norte No. 164, Col. Centro,C.P. 29000,
Tuxtla Gutierrez, Chipas. Mexico
Telefono: +52-961-611-3952 / (961)611-39 46
Fax: +52-967-611-39 60
Indigenous Peoples are putting their bodies on the line and it's our responsibility to make sure you know why. That takes time, expertise and resources - and we're up against a constant tide of misinformation and distorted coverage. By supporting IC you're empowering the kind of journalism we need, at the moment we need it most.