Drug-related violence has dominated recent reporting on Mexico. However, in addition to the country’s struggle with organized crime networks, multiple governance issues continue to hamper political, social, and economic progress. Two areas of persistent deficits are minority issues, particularly indigenous rights, which are often violated despite Mexico’s formal recognition of its “multicultural” status; and a lack of democratic accountability at the state level.
from the zapatistas:
TO HONEST MEDIA
TO HUMAN RIGHTS BODIES
INDIGENOUS PEOPLES OF MEXICO
THE OTHER CAMPAIGN
THE NATIONAL LIBERATION ARMY ZAPATISTA
TO OAXACA, MEXICO AND THE WORLD
The attacks aagainst the community of San Juan Copala Triqi – now displaced from their village by the evil government and their henchmen – is aimed at women and men who have good heart enough to denounce the evil and powerful ambitions which know no limits, and who do not consent to become dispersed from their community, the people of Copala, even outside of their land, are still being massacred by paramilitaries in the service of this damned capitalist system, who have the nerve to denounce these people as being on the left.
Yesterday afternoon, as they walked to peer Copala, Yosoyuxi Teresa Ramírez Sánchez and Serafin Ubaldo were brutally murdered, and comrade Jordan Ramírez González was seriously wounded (and later died). The latest reports we have is that Jordan could not be treated at the Hospital of criminals Juxtlahuaca, because the gunmen were outside. Not satisfied with that, the armed men went on patrol, looking for our friend to finish him off while the police do nothing. This is because Jordan was a committed comrade and he was the last to leave Copala on 19 September. First, he wanted to be sure none of his companions were left behind, only then did he decide to leave.
paraphrased from rough translation, from Oaxaca: New Aggression In San Juan Copala: 2 Killed And One Seriously Injured – Indigenous Peoples Issues and Resources
A well-known environmental activist in Oaxaca, Mexico was murdered Thursday night in a highway ambush about an hour south of the state capital. Thirty-two year old Bernardo Vásquez Sánchez – a vocal opponent to a Canadian-owned mining project – was shot multiple times in the chest when armed men attacked his car along the road which connects his hometown, San Jose del Progreso, to the regional hub of Ocotlán.
Armed group attacks Triqui community of displaced
An attack by an armed group carried out against the community of San Pedro River Valley, primarily made up of displaced persons from San Juan Copala, Putla de Guerrero Oaxaca, .
In this regard, the Centre for Human Rights and Advice for Indigenous Peoples (Dedhapi), said that on Tuesday May 8, about 14 hours, a gray double cab, inside which several people were traveling, forcibly entered the community.
Attackers fired shots against some houses and killed Jaime Martinez and Joaquin Ramirez N, natives of San Miguel Copala, as well as Eulogio López Aguilar.
The group said the January 25, 2012, at approximately 6 am, San Pedro River Valley, San Juan Copala, comprising 66 people, was raided by some 200 elements of the Preventive Police heavily armed state board of 20 patrols, in order to evict them from land.
Despite the fact that they arrested Cornelio Martinez Ramirez 28-year-old Manuel Francisco Ramirez 70 years old, Jaime Ramirez 16 years old, and so far no one knows where they are.
translated from spanish from noticias.net
2010 Oaxaca Ambush Highlights Another Governance Challenge for Mexico
One attack on humanitarian workers in Oaxaca state illustrates the severity of these problems. On April 27, 2010, gunmen attacked a convoy of 25 Mexican and European activists who were bringing food and supplies to the inhabitants of San Juan Copala, a self-defined autonomous indigenous community that has been under siege since January by a paramilitary group known as the Union for the Wellbeing of the Triqui Region (UBISORT). The militia has been tied to the state-level Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), the party that led Mexico unchallenged between 1929 and 2000 and continues to reign in Oaxaca under the leadership of Governor Ulises Ruiz. Of the 25 workers, two were shot and killed: Jyri Jaakkola, a Finnish human rights observer, and Beatriz Alberta Carino, the director of a local NGO. At least two others were injured, and six were missing. Four of the missing persons, including two missing journalists, surfaced on Thursday. A survivor reported that the attackers revealed themselves as members of UBISORT and claimed to act with the governor’s support. The identity and motive of the group, however, have not been verified, and the state government has denied involvement.
from freedom house
for more on the background of this campaign of terror, see previous post:
The RCMP has been spying on a group of British Columbia First Nations whose vocal opposition to Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline has taken them to the company’s annual shareholders meeting in Toronto, according to documents obtained through an access-to-information request.
The documents show that a provincial RCMP unit has been closely tracking the potential for “acts of protest and civil disobedience” by the Yinka Dene Alliance, a coalition of northern B.C. First Nations who have been at the centre of resistance to Enbridge’s $5.5 billion pipeline proposal.
Their territory covers a quarter of the route of the pipeline, which would carry more than 500,000 barrels of oilsands crude from Alberta through pristine territory to Kitimat, B.C., for export by supertanker to Asia and other markets.
The revelations add ammunition to critics who have charged that the Harper government is waging a campaign to demonize legitimate opponents of resource developments like the Northern Gateway, by labelling them as radicals or including them in Canada’s “counter-terrorism” strategy.
Saik’uz First Nation Chief Jackie Thomas, a member of the Yinka Dene Alliance who made a cross-country trip on the “Freedom Train” to protest in Toronto against the pipeline on Wednesday, said she has had suspicions for some time about RCMP surveillance.
“We’ve always been peaceful, but this is how they try to paint us as the enemy,” said Thomas, a grandmother and mother of four concerned that an oil spill could destroy the lands she hunts and fishes on with many of her community members.
“The federal government seems to be using all its arms to push through this project against the will of anyone who opposes it, but we won’t be deterred. It is not a crime to defend our land and waters from a tarsands pipeline and to make the future safe for our grandkids.”
According to the documents, the RCMP unit gathered intelligence from unspecified “industry reports,” newspapers and websites, and Facebook and Flickr photo accounts.
They also appear to have monitored private meetings, including one between First Nations and environmental organizations held in Fraser Lake, B.C., at the end of November, which Thomas says was not announced publicly.
The meeting’s purpose was “to strengthen the alliance between First Nations and environmental groups opposing Enbridge,” an intelligence report from December states.
Enbridge declined to comment about whether it has been exchanging information with the RCMP.
The monthly intelligence reports note that the oil company “will experience increasingly intense protest activity due to the environmental sensitivity of the Northern Gateway path, combined with the fact that the territory has never been ceded to the Crown by First Nations in B.C.”
The pipeline would cross more than 700 rivers and streams, whose abundance of fish has spawned an economy integral to the region, and three vital watersheds: the Mackenzie, the Fraser and the Skeena.
More than 100 First Nations have banned an Enbridge pipeline from their territories, declaring “we will not allow our fish, animals, plants, people and ways of life to be placed at risk.”
An intelligence report notes that the Yinka Dene Alliance will show an “increasing propensity and likelihood of utilizing blockades and confrontation to deter industry from accessing disputed territory.”
With opposition growing among the B.C. population, including NDP leader Adrian Dix, likely the next premier, Enbridge will face an uphill battle to build the pipeline.
As previously reported in the Star, a national RCMP surveillance program monitoring First Nations that ran between 2007 and 2010 shared similar intelligence reports about First Nations with the private sector, including energy companies.
According to newly released documents, since the closure of that national program the surveillance has continued under different RCMP branches.
A RCMP spokesperson said intelligent reports are provided only to law-enforcement agencies.
The provincial unit has been tracking protests by other B.C. First Nations, including opposition to the Pacific Trails pipeline that would bring liquefied natural gas to the coast for export, and the expansion of the Kinder Morgan pipeline carrying Alberta crude oil to tankers in Vancouver.
The RCMP kept tabs on and monitored ongoing and potential conflicts involving First Nations over logging, mining, and fracking.
Martin Lukacs and Tim Groves, Toronto Star, May 09 2012
The following speech was given by First Nation/Abenaki leader Luke Willard at the Put People and the Planet First Vermont May Day demonstration in Montpelier. This rally, largely organized by the Vermont Workers Center, made history by being the largest weekday demonstration in the long history of Vermont’s Capital City. Despite rain, cold, and a grey sky, and despite the fact that Montpelier has a population of only 7800 people, 2000 Vermonters marched to demand that the needs of the People and the Planet be valued over corporate greed.
Hello Vermont Workers, Farmers, Environmentalists, Abenaki, and Revolutionaries!!!
My name is Luke Willard. I’m the Chairman of the Vermont Commission on Native American Affairs, a Firefighter and Rescuer, and I’m a Conservation Organizer for the Vermont Sierra Club and the Nulhegan Abenaki Tribe in the Northeast Kingdom. Just over a year ago, I was here to celebrate the state recognition of the Nulhegan, of which I am a member, and Elnu Abenaki tribes, and I’m very happy to report that I will be here again six days from now to celebrate the state recognition of two more tribes… the Koasek and the Missisquoi!
As a Conservation Organizer, it is my job to work at the grassroots level to encourage communities to create their own Town and Tribal Forests. We call it the OUR Forests OUR Future initiative… and we do not stand alone! So I give a shout out to the Vermont Workers Center, the AFL-CIO, 350 Vermont, and many others.
So what is Our Forests Our Future? My people have known for centuries that the land we walk upon is a gift. From this land, my people were able to meet their every need while maintaining the health and beauty of the land we call N’dakinna in the Abenaki language. Today, most know it as the Green Mountain State… Vermont. Unfortunately though, this gift has been taken for granted.
Greedy corporations, self interested out-of-staters, and even some Vermonters who have traded in their birthright for real or imagined swollen bank accounts, do not see the majestic mountains, and miles of forests. They do not see the herbs of spring, the bounties of late summer, and the colors of autumn. They do not hear the ripples of a mountain stream, the call of the loon, or the wind as it dances with leaves of a giant Vermont maple. They do not benefit from growing organic vegetables or the blessing of a deer or moose who sacrifices itself to complete the circle of life. They only see potential development, dollar signs, a place to put their pollution, and an investment in vacation home development for the wealthy who reside in lands far south of these green and rugged hills. These people, the enemies of Vermont’s working families, only hear what they want to hear. They only see the alleged benefit from the gain of elitist non-productive economic and political power, and they seek to exchange that which could serve the community, for the destruction that can only result from their personal gain. This is the challenge set before us as we, today, declare that a healthy and vibrant forest, a clean and sustainable environment, is a basic birth right of all Vermonters!
My people, the Abenaki, also know that this planet is changing. Our climate is changing. But as we adapt to these changes, it is necessary for us to lend a hand to our four-legged friends so that they may adapt to our changing environment by establishing forested migration corridors particularly in the northeast so that animals have a safe route from the spine of the Green Mountains to the vast forests of northern New Hampshire, Maine, and Quebec. We propose doing so through the creation of a mosaic of new town and tribal forests!
But let us not forget the two-legged creatures… you and me. Moms, Dads, Grandmothers, Grandfathers, and our greatest resource… our children. In exchange for our stewardship… yours and mine… Town forests and tribal forests can provide clean air to breath and clean water to drink. They can also provide essential food and medicines that haven’t been poisoned by synthetic fertilizers, hormones, and genetically modified organisms… Firewood for the disadvantaged and/or elderly… Cooperative maple sugaring… and a place for teachings our children the simplicity of sustainable living and stewardship!
Last year, over 1500 people signed our petition for the creation of new town forests. These petitions were delivered to the Governor and leaders of the Vermont General Assembly. We are pleased to report that this year the Governor is supporting increased funding for the Vermont Housing and Conservation Fund. This year, though, we are circulating a new petition… one that will demonstrate Vermont’s overwhelming support for Tribal Forests! It is our intention, this summer, to deliver this petition to the Governor, and to work with the administration to secure the first true and new Abenaki forest in over 200 years!
After 400 years of oppression, genocide, eugenics, and the near eradication of our culture and our people, it is time that the first Vermonters, the original Vermonters, the Abenaki, win back a meaningful piece of what was once all ours! We demand tribal-communal lands that we can hunt, fish, gather wood, and medicine. We demand a return of those tools of nature which were stolen from us generations ago. We do not stand before you today asking that we be become a ward of the state. No my fellow Vermonters; we stand before you today to demand that we be allowed the resources to not only safeguard our environment, but also to take care of our own people!! We are here today to declare that the time has come to establish Abenaki Tribal Forests in the Great State of Vermont!
Let me be as clear as I can… We do not seek acceptance or recognition from a federal government which is marred in blood, war, imperialism (both abroad and at home), corruption, inaction, and failure. We do not seek rights to gambling or other vices. We simply seek to work with the State of Vermont in setting aside lands which we can preserve in its natural state, and work according to our traditions; those which predate 1492 and 1791. We seek a place in these Green Hills that we can, again, call our own!
And here, we know we are not alone. We have been working with the Vermont Sierra Club and others represented in this crowd today to achieve these goals. We understand that our battle will only be won through a grand and united Popular Front composed of all those individuals and organizations who are gathered here today in solidarity! And in turn, we, the Nulhegan Abenaki, look forward to working with you to see that Vermont Put’s People and The Planet First!
So, as the sun goes down over this failed empire of greed, we, the Abenaki people, the People of the Dawn, reach out our hand in friendship to all Vermonters; be they the sons and daughters of the Green Mountain Boys, the grandchildren of Quebecquoi immigrants, or more recent arrivals. Together we are Vermont Strong and together we will win!
May 2, 2012