World Rainforest Movement

Mexico: Massacre of indigenous people and peasants safeguarding their territories

The organization Maderas del Pueblo del Sureste, A.C. reported in a recently issued communiqué that on 3 October, a brutal police operation took place, violating the most basic human, individual and collective rights, involving the federal and state police, against the indigenous and peasant Tojolabal inhabitants of the Miguel Hidalgo community, Municipality of Trinitaria, Chaipas. Since 7 September, this community had been managing the Maya archaeological and ceremonial site of Chinkultic.

This operation was carried out by hundreds of police officers from the Ministerial Police, the Federal Investigation Agency and the State Preventive Police, who entered the village with vehicles, on horseback and on foot. They found resistance on the part of men, women and children, to which the repressive forces reacted – according to reports by journalists who witnessed the operation – with brutality, “indiscriminately hitting children, women and senior citizens, executing three seriously injured people and murdering the driver who was taking them to the hospital in Comitan.”

The repression against the Miguel Hidalgo community was added to another repression that took place a few hours earlier, against groups of indigenous Tojolabal people from the communities of Santa Rita, Ojo de Agua, Nuevo Porvenir, Venustiano Carranza, Antela, San Nicolás, Tierra Blanca and Nueva Rosita, who last September had also peacefully taken over access of the National Lagunas de Montebello Park. Up till then, the Park had been controlled and managed by the National Commission for Natural Protected Areas.

The result of these disproportionate acts of violence against the civilian population was at least six people dead, two dozen injured in addition to the arrest of over fifty people.

With this repression the Mexican State (both federal and State governments) has flagrantly violated not only the human individual rights of those attacked regarding integrity and life – set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and in the Inter-American Convention on Human Rights and the International Pact on Political and Civil Rights – but also their rights as indigenous people, regarding their territory and to recover, safeguard and manage their ancestral natural and cultural heritage, as recognized in the United Nations Declaration on Indigenous Peoples’ Rights (article 11) and ILO Convention 169 (article 14), as has already rightly been pointed out by the Fray Bartolome de las Casas Centre for Human Rights and the International Commission for the Observation of Human Rights (CCIODH).

This brutal repression and massacre constitute a despicable act and a justified demand for justice and exemplary punishment is compulsory, not only regarding the material authors but also and more importantly, of the intellectual authors who gave the orders at the highest level.

However, this is only a sample of the type and magnitude of the interests behind the ambition to take over and privatize the indigenous and peasant territories of Chiapas and the Southeast of the country, rich in natural resources of a strategic nature (biodiversity, genetic resources, uncontaminated fresh water and rivers potentially producing hydroelectricity; wind – as wind energy – and forest cover to capture carbon), and also possessing unsurpassed scenic beauty and sacred ceremonial centres – not “ruins” – and archaeological sites.

In this case, the brutality of the official operation in Chinkultic would seem to be a sign that it was executed as an exemplary lesson, with the aim of weakening and dismantling possible resistance and further attacks by the Indigenous peoples, who – no matter what their political affiliation: Zapatistas, Perredistas or Priistas/Panistas – endeavour to autonomously defend, recover, safeguard and manage their cultural and natural heritage. The aim would be to guarantee multinational private investment (that is, among many others: Monsanto; Sanofi Aventis; Glaxo; Ford Motors Co.; Iberdrola; Repsol; Femsa-Cocacola; the Carso Group; and the Melia; Riu and Barcelo chains of hotels) the “social and political tranquillity” it has been demanding no doubt with increasing impatience.

For this reason, in this case -as in so many other similar ones in Chiapas and the rest of the country- what are at stake are not only the rights, territories and natural resources of the struggling and resisting Indigenous peoples and communities but the rights of the entire Mexican people and the very sovereignty of our Nation.

Article based on information from: “Communiqué by Maderas del Pueblo del Sureste, A:C.,” e-mail: m_a_zules@hotmail.com, www.maderasdelpueblo.org.mx, sent by Miguel Angel Garcia Aguirre.