ANALYSIS: Mexico 2008, Turbulence on the horizon?


6 January 2007: David Salgado Aranda, from the municipality of Tlapa, dies when struck down by a tractor while picking tomatoes in fields run by the company Agrícola Paredes together with the rest of his family members. This death refuels the issue of child labor in Mexico, as well as, it called attention of public opinion over the conditions under which thousands of day laborers in the country work.

8 January 2007:ejidatarios” (collective landowners) of Carrizalillo in the municipality of Eduardo Neri (Zumpango), block the main accesses to the Canadian mine located on their lands, demanding a better price for their renting and asking the company to fulfill with the public work projects they promised to the community.

8 January 2007: the exams conducted by the State Commission for the Defense of Human Rights in Guerrero (CODDEHUM) conclude that the three persons detained in the Acapulco prison, accused of killing local Congress member José Jorge Bajos Valverde (PAN), were “tortured“. Tlachinollan points out that these denouncements are to be added to a list of more than 10 torture cases documented between 1997 and 2002 by the organization. All of them have been treated with impunity.

25 January 2007: a hundred state and municipal preventative police of Zumpango violently displace those responsible for the blockade in Carrizalillo. During four hours about 70 “ejidatarios” (collective landholders), among them women and children, are deprived of their freedom. Two women resulted with injuries.

5 February 2007: Although “Operation Team Guerrero” is underway, four policemen, a public ministry agent, and two secretaries are executed in two attacks of the Investigative Police (PIM) facilities.

22 February 2007: A day after the Canadian Mining Company Luismin called President Felipe Calderón and Governor Zeferino Torreblanca asking for the protection of the rule of law in the context of the blockade sustained by the collective landholders of Carrizalillo on the main accesses to the mines in this place, the Mexican army installs a checkpoint at less than three kilometers from were the protest is being held.

23 February 2007: The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Migrants, Jorge Bustamante, referring to the death of David Salgado (child day laborer) states that the Mexican government has demonstrated indifference towards child labor that prevails in agricultural fields.

February 2007: 7,600 soldiers, marines, Federal Preventative Police, and the Federal Investigation Agency personnel work together in the framework of the federal program “Operation Team Guerrero”, an operation that seeks to combat narco-trafficking.

20 March 2007: human rights civil organizations and activists from Mexico and 16 other countries call on President Felipe Calderón, Governor Zeferino Torreblanca, and the Secretary of Public Security, Juan Heriberto Salinas, to avoid using public force so as to remove the blockade in Carrizalillo. Those behind the blockade, now organized in the Permanent Assembly of Collective Landholders of Carrizalillo, reinforce their determination to maintain the blockade of Luismin Mines until they obtain a comprehensive response to their demands.

30 March 2007: the Unitary Agrarian Tribunal (TUA) in Acapulco annuls the actions of the August 2005 Assembly in which some inhabitants of Cacahuatepec had authorized the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) to expropriate lands and ruled in favor of the campesinos of Cachuatepec who are opposing the construction of La Parota.

1 April 2007: an agreement is reached between the “Permanent Assembly of Collective Landholders and Workers of Carrizalillo” and the mining company Luismin. The agreement promises to construct a more equitable relationship between the company and the landholders with an increase in rent prices for the use of the land, the installation of potable water services, the pavement of the road to Carrizalillo, and the construction of a community hospital. The company also promises to withdraw all legal accusations against those in resistance.

7 April 2007: Three gunshot wounds kill Amado Ramírez Dillanes, Guerrero journalist and correspondent for Televisa in Alcapulco.

15 and 16 June 2007: The Human Rights Center Tlachinollan celebrates its thirteenth anniversary with the state forum “Through the Roads of Resistance”. 400 individuals belonging to 17 grass-roots organizations and representatives of 40 communities participate in it and share their methods of resistance in defense of land and territory, thus expecting to generate more respect towards their fundamental rights as individuals and communities.

17 June 2007: A conflict over 456 hectares of agricultural land between Moyotepec indigenous communities and El Capulín intensifies when three peasant farmers of Moyotepec are killed in a shoot-out.

9 August 2007: David Valtierra, coordinator for community radio Ñomndaa in Xochistlahuaca is detained by ministerial police in the city of Ometepec. David Valtierra is known for his struggle in support of the autonomous municipality of Sulja and radio Ñomndaa that gives voice to the Amuzogs Indigenous peoples. He had denounced various actions by the mayor Aceadeth Rocha in the municipality of Xochistlahuaca.

10 August 2007: David Valtierra is released on bail.

25 August 2007: Arturo Duque Alvarado is arrested and accused of being a member of the Revolutionary Army of Insurgent Peoples (ERPI, Ejército Revolucionario del Pueblo Insurgente), for terrorist crimes and arms stockpiling.

Starting 30 August: opponents of La Parota dam project declare themselves in permanent resistance to impede the construction of the hydroelectric dam. The decision is based on the events of August 12th when in Cacahuatepec more than 3,000 attendees unanimously voted in favor of canceling its construction.

August 2007: Rocío Mesino Mesino, official of the PRD in Atoyac denounces that the mayor Pedro Brito García, of the same party in Atoyac, attempted to murder her. Rocío Mesino, sister of Miguel Angel Mesino Mesino, who was murdered in September 2005, is one of the leaders of the Campesinos Organization of Southern Sierra (OCSS). Mayor Brito García distances himself from the accusations.

5 September 2007: Fortunato Prisciliano Sierra denounces having received threats, harassment and aggression by members of the 48th Battalion of the Mexican Army. These threats come shortly before the hearing at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), where his wife was due to provide testimony for being raped at the hands of military personnel in 2002. The Commission asks that the Mexican government implement urgent measures for the protection of Prisciliano Sierra and his family.

10 September 2007: In a communique regarding the detention of Arturo Duque Alvarado, the ERPI states: “we reject the accusation that Arturo Duque Alvarado is active in or participates in any part of our organization’s structure, and that an arsenal that dangerous could belong to us”. The Collective Against Torture and Impunity denounces the two weeks of torture to which Duque Alvarado was subjected by the Guerrero Judicial Police and his later transportation to a safe house attached to the Federal Attorney General’s Office (PGR) in Mexico City. There he was held in arraigo (administrative detention) and later held in seclusion in the maximum security detention facility, El Altiplano.

28 September 2007: The director of the Regional Council for the Development of the Pueblo Me’phaa of the linguistic family Bathaa, Cándido Félix Santiago, is detained in Tlapa by agents of the Judicial Investigative Police (PIM) for disturbing peace. He is accused of interrupting a parade presided over by Governor Zeferino Torreblanca Galindo which commemorated the birth of Vicente Guerrero on 9 August.

8 October 2007: The Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) states that the State-sponsored company will not reverse its plans for the construction of the hydroelectric dam project La Parota, in Acapulco.

13 October 2007: The founder and current councilor of the Community Police (Policía Comunitaria) and of the Regional Coordinator of Community Authorities (CRAC), Cirino Placido Valerio, is detained by judicial police agents. His arrest takes place just two days before the anniversary of the Community Police on 15 October. Placido Valerio is released that same day.

15 October 2007: The brother of Governor Zeferino Torreblanca Galindo, Alberto Torreblanca Galindo, sues the newspaper El Sur and five journalists for “moral damage”. The journalists had divulged that Torreblanca Galindo had benefited from no-bid contracts on public works for the Guerrero Secretariat of Public Education (SEP). The plaintiff is demanding 10 million pesos in damages from the newspaper and the reporters.

22 October 2007: Indigenous delegates from 28 communities in the Tlapaneco municipalities of Atlamajaltcingo del Monte, Metlatónoc and Tlapa, occupy the Guerrero Congress facilities and form an indigenous parliament, demanding bilingual teachers for their communities as well as the cancellation of arrest warrants open for 17 indigenous leaders. They also demand an end to the repression against social justice activists.

7 November 2007: Manuel Olivares Hernández, director of the “José María Morelos y Pavón” Regional Human Rights Center, and 15 others engaged in a protest are detained by police in the Municipality of Chilapa. Manuel Olivares was arrested while documenting human rights violations during the protest. On 9 November the detainees are released on a four thousand pesos bail, with the exception of Manuel Olivares who is released on a ten thousand pesos bail.

14 November 2007: More than one hundred State Preventative Police agents (PPE, Policía Preventiva Estatal), in addition to agents from the Ministry of the Interior in civilian clothing, forcibly remove some 800 students who were protesting outside of the Guerrero State Congress in support of students and graduates from the Normal Rural School “Raúl Isidro Burgos” of Ayotzinapa. The school was founded 80 years ago, and trained for 81 classes of teachers, among them Lucio Cabañas Barrientos and Genaro Vázquez Rojas. The Tlachinollan Human Rights Center of the Montaña reports 250 people wounded, one of whom is in a serious condition.

30 November 2007: a protest of graduates from the Normal Rural School of Ayotzinapa is violently repressed at the toll booths of the Autopista del Sol by agents of the Federal Preventative Police (PFP, Policía Federal Preventiva) and the Guerrero State Preventive Police.

2 December 2007: The Federal Prosecutor’s Office states an order for the commitment of 18 of the 57 students of the Normal Rural School of Ayotzinapa. The students are accused of disturbing the peace, disrupting transportation routes, and “appropriation of property” referring to the buses they had “hijacked“.

4 December 2007: The UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of Indigenous Peoples (Rodolfo Stavenhagen) and on Adequate Housing (Miloon Kothari) realize an unofficial visit to communities that would be affected by the construction of the hydroelectric dam La Parota and interview the Guerrero state authorities as well as persons from the CFE. Miloon Kothari makes an urgent call for the recognition of the economic and social rights of these communities.

7 December 2007: The plenary of the House of Deputies urges the Secretariat of Public Education (SEP) and Governor Zeferino Torreblanca Galindo to consider the demands of the graduate teachers of the Normal Rural School of Ayotzinapa and to find an acceptable solution to the students’ requests.

10 December 2007: The Committee of Friends and Relatives of the Disappeared, Kidnapped and Assassinated of Guerrero demands the safe return of eight individuals who were forcibly disappeared between February and June 2007, and accuses the Zeferino Torreblanco Galindo government of lack of respect for human rights.

11 December 2007: Representatives of the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Guerrero and Governor Zeferino Torreblanca Galindo agree to the revision of 43 cases of incarcerated social justice activists.

18 December 2007: Duque Alvarado who was detained on August 25 presumably for belonging to the ERPI is released after posting bail.