SIPAZ Activities (Mid-July to end of October 2009)


22 January 2009: The five incarcerated members of the Indigenous Me’phaa Peoples Organization (OPIM), accused of killing Alegandro Feliciano on January 1st 2008 , file for a new appeal of their case.

23 February 2009: The bodies of two mixteco human rights defenders, Raúl Lucas Lucía and Manuel Ponce Rosas, president and secretary of the Organization for the Future of the Mixteco People (OFPM), are found. On February 13, they had been abducted by armed men in a car without license plates. Their bodies are found with signs of torture and execution.

25 February 2009: The Inter-American Commission for Human Rights (IACHR), the office of the UN High Commission for Human Rights (UNHCHR), and Amnesty International (AI) condemn the killing of the mixteco leaders and demand an impartial and exhaustive investigation.

3 March 2009: The governor of Guerrero approves a proposal to set up a special investigation into the extrajudicial execution of the two mixteco leaders on February 13.

19 March 2009: Manuel Cruz Victoriano, Orlando Manzanares Lorenzo, Natalio Ortega Cruz and Romualdo Santiago Enedina are released from jail after being held since April 17th, 2008. The four men are members of the Organization for Me’phaa Indigenous Peoples (OPIM) and were freed following a campaign to help their cause. Meanwhile Raul Hernandez Abundio, the alleged perpetrator of the murder in the case, remains behind bars. Arrest warrants are also in effect for ten other members of OPIM.

27 March 2009 : The Tlachinollan Human Rights Center closes its doors in Ayutla de los Libres. The closure is a direct result of intimidation, death threats and persecution against members of the organization. The situation escalated after the center began defending the rights of five indigenous Me’phaa prisoners who had been put in jail in April 2008.

2 April 2009: After hours of negotiations with the ejidatarios (common land-owners) of the community of El Carrizalillo, Goldcorp Inc. agrees to increase the annual payment for land to 2.5 ounces of gold – around 32.700 pesos – for every one of the 1200 hectares it uses to extract gold, silver and zinc.

20-21 April 2009: During the International Forum on the Criminalization of Human Rights Defenders and Social Protest, social leaders from Guerrero as well as representatives from international NGO’s and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) signal that the state and federal government are not respecting the work of human rights defenders in Guerrero. The lack of respect for human rights workers includes the “criminalization” of human rights work and social protest. This statement is one of many made in previous months due to the intensification of aggression towards human rights workers and the lack of even a minimum standard of security, needed to carry out human rights work.

21 April 2009: the Inter-American Court for Human Rights (CoIDH) makes public a resolution dated April 9th that demands the federal government and the government of Guerrero to implement measures to protect 107 human rights workers in the state.

6 May 2009: The Campesino Organization of the Southern Sierra (OCSS) denounces arbitrary detentions and raids in their offices in Tepetixtla, Coyuca de Benitez, carried out by members of the military. The events take place mainly during the month of April.

7 May 2009: The case of Ines Fernandez Ortega, who accused members of the military of raping her on March 22, 2002, is raised before the Inter-American Court for Human Rights. Her case was presented before the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights (IACHR) in June 2004 together with the case of Valentina Rosendo Cantu. Rosendo Cantu’s case continues to proceed through the channels of the IACHR.

22 May 2009: Even though the Office of the General Attorney (PGR) refused to investigate the deaths of Raul Lucas and Manuel Ponce Rosas at the end of April, the state governor, Zeferino Torreblanco, announces he would request an investigation into the deaths. The two indigenous men were members of the Organization for the Future of the Mixteco People (OFPM) and were killed in February. The case of the April 29th kidnapping of Alvaro Rosas, the ex-leader of the PRD Party in Petatlan, will also be investigated.

10 June 2009: NGO’s denounce threats against human rights workers and bring to light the fact that lawyer Rommel Chacan Pale has received death threats. The death threats were made over the phone after the Inter-American Court for Human Rights (CoIDH) requested protective measures for Chacan Pale and 106 other activists in the state. Chacan Pale has documented abuses perpetrated by police in Montaña de Guerrero.

9-13 June 2009: On June 9, hundreds of soldiers burst into highland communities neighboring the municipalities of Petatlan and Coyuca de Catalan. The soldiers are apparently looking for members of the Revolutionary Army of Insurgent Peoples (ERPI). The people of the villages denounce that the soldiers entered their villages with open fire, destroying homes and hitting people, forcing families and especially the men to flee to the mountains. The military operation lasts until midday on Saturday the 13th when the presence of civilian human rights observers forces the soldiers to retreat.

15 June 2009: the Coddehum receives 15 complaints of military abuse in Petatlan and Coyuca de Catalan during the previous days. The complaints include breaking and entering, stealing, and cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment at the hands of the military. Besides this, a substantial portion of the local edition of La Jornada is stolen. The newspaper reports on the military action of the previous week and NGO’s say the military is responsible for the missing pages. Meanwhile, ERPI’s Commander Ramiro states by phone that in the same area and at the same time there were three confrontations between ERPI and the military that resulted in three deaths and one injury for the military. According to Commander Ramiro there were no casualties for the insurgents. This marked the first officially recognized action by ERPI since they formed in June of 1998.

20 June 2009: After the “routine” inspection of a bus at a military check-point on the Tlapa-Puebla highway, passenger Fausto Saavedra Valera is detained for wearing “military style boots.” The driver, Francisco Pizano and other passengers stand up for what they consider to be an arbitrary decision and the soldiers give them the green light to continue on their way. But the driver didn’t hear when soldiers subsequently whistles for the bus to stop and so the soldiers open fire on the moving bus, killing passenger Bonifacio Rubio Villegas. According to the military’s official version given a few days later, the soldiers found 10 kilos of marijuana when they inspected the vehicle.

22-26 June 2009: On June 22nd indigenous peoples and afro Mexicans from Guerrero begin a sit-in in front of the offices of the National Commission for the Development of Indigenous Peoples (Comision Nacional para el Desarollo de los Pueblos Indigenas or CDI) in Mexico City. The goal of the sit-in is to protest the appointment of a delegate for Guerrero who, according to the protest group, has no connection to the problems of the state’s ethnic people and whose nomination was made without their consultation. They begin a hunger strike on June 24th. On June 26th the federal police moves in to violently remove the more than 300 participants of the sit-in.

24 June 2009 : While driving to their community of La Cortina, in Ayutla, Margarita Martin de las Nieves (the widow of na’savi leader Manuel Ponce Rosas, killed in February) and her brother-in-law, Santiago Ponce Lola, are shot at. At a meeting the day before with Guadalupe Castro Morales as well as various authorities including the Ministry of the Interior, the Attorney General and the Ministry of Public Security (SSP), the authorities committed to follow-up on the protective measures requested by the Court of the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights. They also pledged to accompany Martin de la Nieves and Ponce Lola to their community – a promise that was obviously not kept.

5 July 2009: During legislative elections the PRI defeats the PRD, who looses in eight out of nine state government electoral districts.

7 July 2009: The Inter-American Court for Human Rights (CoIDH) begins to hear the case of Rosendo Radilla, who was detained by the military during the Dirty War. Radilla was last seen in the military barracks of Atoyac de Alvarez in 1974. When family members demand they be compensated for damages and that those responsible be brought to justice, the Ministry of the Interior, Fernando Gomez Mont, states that CoIDH has no jurisdiction to judge the matter and defended the military jurisdiction in Mexico. Apart from dictating a sentence in the case, the CoIDH will also pass judgment on Mexican military justice.

29 July 2009: The finding of the corpse of radio-icon Juan Daniel Martínez Gil, half-buried in an abandoned lot outside of Acapulco, is publicly announced. The state of Gil’s body indicates signs of torture.

4 August 2009: Two members of the 50th Infantry Batallion of the Mexican Army try to boycott the protest that 200 members of the Organization of the Me ‘phaa Indigenous Peoples (OPIM) engaged in at the doors of the governmental palace. The protesters demand the release of Raúl Hernández Abundio, an indigenous prisoner incarcerated in Ayutla de los Libres.

4 August 2009: Four journalists from Chipalcingo, the capital city of Guerrero, protest against what they called “systematic attacks against the liberty of expression” by citing the case of the murder of Acapulco journalist Juan Daniel Martínez Gil, the shutting-down of a radio program, and the kidnapping of journalist Carmen Santiago. The state government has to date refused to intervene in the case of Santiago’s disappearance.

9 August 2009: Hundreds of soldiers and marines block off access to Tixtla and deny the local population from participating in the military march that commemorated the 227th anniversary of the birth of Vicente Guerrero.

22 August 2009: On Saturday 22 August a group of at least 80 soldiers surrounds the community-police office of Guerrero as well as the proceedings of 12 such officers who were supporting the demarcation of land called El Zapote. The military operation seeks to arrest the police on the charge of belonging to the EPR. The group is detained for an hour and a half, after which 9 of them are released, while the remaining 4 are transferred first to the military battalion of Cruz Grande and later to the PGR delegation, where they are forced to stay for nearly 15 hours without eating.

27 August 2009: Residents of the community of Amojileca present three complaints to the Commission for the Defense of Human Rights in Guerrero (Coddehum) against units of the Mexican Army that two days before putatively had broken into their houses, beaten women and children, and taken a resident prisoner.

31 August 2009: Some 3000 individuals participate in a march of silence for peace and justice that takes place in the capital to call on Governor Zeferino Torreblanca to investigate the murder of Armando Chavarría Barrera, president of the Commission of the Government of the Local Congress, which occurred on 20 August, as well as the murders of 21 members of the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD).

16 September 2009: Felipe Arraiga Sánchez, founder of the Ecological Campesino Organization of the Petatlán and Coyuca Sierra of Catalán, dies after having been run over by a public-transit vehicle. He had defended forests for 35 years.

17 September 2009: The Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) postpones the construction of the dam La Parota on the Guerrero coast. The Council of Eijdos and Communities Opposed to the La Parota Dam (CECOP) finds this piece of news to be an important victory, but it warns that “this is not the end of the struggle.”

15 October 2009: Soldiers of the 48th Infantry Batallion detains 12 community police officers at a checkpoint that had been installed in the community of Zoyotlán, a municipality of Marquelia. A half-hour later, the military detains 4 founders of a commission that had been set up to try to locate their colleagues. All are ultimately released and hence allowed to begin celebrating the fourteenth anniversary of the founding of this communal group.

28 October 2009: Gloria Arenas Agís, who had been imprisoned for more than 10 years on the charge of having been a member of the Revolutionary Army of Insurgent Peoples (EPRI), is released. The next day her husband, Jacobo Silva Morales, who had been similarly charged, is also released.

31 October 2009: 2 days after a military convoy had stationed itself for three hours in the community, 3 young people—15, 16, and 17 years old—from the community of Puerto de Las Ollas in the Sierra de Coyuca de Catalan are killed. Their uncle holds hit-men of the cacique Rogaciano Alba Álvarez to be responsible for the crimes. In June 2009, these hit-men, among others, helped direct the military to the community in an incursion that resulted in the violation of the rights of the residents of Puerto de Las Ollas and Las Palancas. To date, justice has not been served in this case. The murdered teenagers’ uncle claims that these killings find their basis in Álvarez’s goal of displacing members of the community from their land so as to take control of the natural resources that exist there, principally trees and water.

5 November 2009: Present before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) in Washington, D.C., representatives of the Tlachinollan Mountain Center for Human Rights and of the Due Process Foundation denounce the lack of interest of the Mexican government in taking on the discriminatory, dehumanizing, and exploitative reality that thousands of indigenous individuals of the mountains of Guerrero suffer due to the operations of agricultural firms.

7 November 2009: Members of the “Communal Front of Xochistlahuaca” demonstrate peacefully against the municipal government and the local deputy Aceadeth Rocha Ramírez.

11 November 2009: Mexican army and naval units arrive by land and air at several dwellings in the community El Escorpión, in the sierra of the municipality of Atoyac. Wearing masks and carrying hand-grenades, they interrogate women and children and detain the campesino Natalio Vázquez. According to local residents, the soldiers steal money as well as a four-wheeler from homes.

13 November 2009: David Valtierra Arango, one of the founders of the Community Radio Ñomndaá “The voice of water,” is sentenced to prison on the charge of infringement of liberty against Ariosto Rocha, brother to Aceadeth Rocha Ramírez, a local PRI deputy and ex-mayor of the municipality of Xochistlahuaca.

13 November 2009: In Quechaltenango, 80km from Chilpancingo, a military unit interrupts a soccer game. The soldiers arrive demanding to know who it was that had shot at them, as shots were apparently fired as they had passed through the neighborhood. As the residents have no information for them, the soldiers intimidate and attack the children who had been playing. The majority of the children present are made to lie in line, so that the soldiers can run atop them. At least two of the youths have guns pointed at them in a manner suggestive of execution.

17 November 2009: The director of Radio Ñomndaá “The voice of water,” David Valtierra Arango, claims that his nephew, Obed Valtierra Pineda, one of the directors of the Libertarian Collective Canjan Chom, was beaten by Aníbal Castañeda, family-member of the ex-mayor and local PRI deputy Aceadeth Rocha Ramírez. The aggressor warned him not to have dealings with his aunt.

23 November 2009: In its 23 November sentence, published the following month, the Inter-American Court on Human Rights finds the Mexican government to be guilty in the 1974 forced disappearance of social activist Rosendo Radilla Pacheco. It also denounces the massive, systematic rights-violations that occurred during the so-called “Dirty War.”

24 November 2009: Five units of the State Preventive Police (PEP) search the home of the commissioner of Alacatlatzala, in the municipality of Malinaltepec; the commissioner is member of the Regional Coordination of Communal Authorities, which is related to the Community Police. The PEP units seizes a million pesos that local residents had collected for the Secretary of Agricultural Reform in the hopes of promoting a solution to agrarian conflict. Later, the police takes away the commissioner’s truck. While leaving, it injures two people, one of whom being an 11-year old girl.

25 November 2009: The body of Omar Guerrero Solís, known as comandante Ramiro of the Revolutionary Army of Insurgent Peoples (ERPI), is buried in the municipal cemetery of Chilpancingo. According to the ERPI, Ramiro was killed in a November 4 ambush in the community of Palos Grandes, municipality of Ajuchitlán del Progreso, after which he was discreetly buried. Ultimately, members of the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Guerrero (APPG) succeed in obtaining his remains. The homage for him that had been planned to take place at the organization’s headquarters is suspended for security reasons, as anonymous threats had been received. At the cemetery, the presence of people with military hair-cuts who wore civilian clothes and were taking photos of attendees is denounced.

27 November 2009: Several human-rights organizations, both national and international, together with legal specialists publish the report “Guerrero: justice system in crisis,” which concludes that a worrying security and justice crisis exists in Guerrero. This is found to be the result of the endemic corruption of judicial power, lack of transparency, excessive powers of appointment in the hands of the governor, and the general structural weaknesses of institutions.

3 December 2009: Indigenous Me’phaa individuals of Ojo de Agua, municipality of Malinaltepec, symbolically close off access to the Communal Forest Firm TEMILITZIN, hence rejecting the forest-exploitation that had taken place in regions protected by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).

9 December 2009: On the 61st anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the 11th anniversary of the UN Declaration on Human-Rights Defenders, several social, campesino, indigenous, and human-rights organizations meet in Chipancingo to present a joint declaration entitled “Peoples and Rights Trampled.

10 December 2009: The Guerrero Network of Human-Rights Organizations informs that commissioners of the communities San Marcos Ixtlahuac, Buena Vista de los Aires, Tlacoapa, Quetzalapa, Apozonlaco, Chahuixco, Tomactilican, and Tlachimaltepec, municipality of José Joaquín de Herrera, publicly recognize that, due to lack of medical facilities, some 22 people had died in recent months due to diseases “that could have been cured with medical attention.”

13 December 2009: Some 60 members of Amnesty International (AI) and of the Mexican office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights are harassed by the local cacique Romualdo Remigio Cantú during their visit to the community of El Camalote, municipality of Ayutla de los Libres.

17 December 2009: At dawn, a commando group enters the community of Puerto de las Ollas, municipality of Coyuca de Catalán, for the sixth time in so many months. There, they detain and beat Javier Tapia during interrogation. Furthermore, the military unit appropriates food and possessions and, while leaving, threatens to return. It is denounced that “this act marks an intense military mobilization in the region, with commando groups aboard military vehicles and fly-overs conducted by planes and helicopters.”

28 December 2009: The Workshop for Community Development (TADECO) publicly denounces death-threats that several of its members have received in previous days. Many of the threats arrived via a cell phone that had been stolen from one of them.

28 December 2009: The CNDH releases a communique directed at several Guerrero authorities recommending that they investigate the disappearance, torture, and killing of two leaders of the Organization for the Future of the Mixteco People (OFPM), Raúl Lucas Lucía and Manuel Ponce Rosas, which took place in February 2009. Shortly after the release of this communique, the widows of Lucía and Rosas, Guadulupe Castro Morales and Margarita Martín de las Nieves, denounce together with several Guerrero NGOs not only the lack of action and negligence exhibited by municipal and state authorities in the investigation but also the limited nature of the CNDH recommendation, which failed to link these murders with the activities of human-rights defenders that Raúl and Manuel had worked to promote.