Community members who have resisted the expropriation of their lands for more than ten years told Desinformémonos that the day before, April 11, an official of the company had already arrived in the communal lands, at the base of Cerro Huatepec, with the intention to “carry our measurements.” Facing the intrusion, villagers moved in and responded.
“The compañerxs told them that they could not be on communal lands because we are in litigation, which does not allow them to enter the land. They said that we must understand that they are workers and have nothing to do with the conflict, but I order to stay out of the conflict, we asked them to leave, and they did.”
When they returned at noon on Tuesday, April 12, army personnel escorted them.
Does this intrusion have anything to do with the advance of the resistance in Xochicuautla?
“Yes, that is how we understand it. The highway project is part of the communication link that they expect will lead to the airport that they want to build here. They know that in Atenco we will always give a response, to this intrusion like we did to the attack in Xochicuautla. The reaction of the people here was that they were troubled by the imposition of one of the most unpopular projects of Enrique Peña Nieto. We do not want them here.”
Like the Otomí community, the Peoples Front in Defence of the Earth (FPDT) that Atenco gave birth to at the beginning of the struggle, are participating in the Campaign in Defence of Mother Earth that was launched last Sunday and are a key part of the group Fire of Dignified Resistance (Fuego de la Digna Resistencia) which coordinates the struggles in the state of Mexico that are resisting the recently approved “Eruviel Law” that “regulates” the use of lethal force in public demonstrations. It furthermore allows other elements that until now were prohibited (such as appliances to give an electric shock) whose use will depend solely on the police hierarchies carrying out the operation, leaving political power in the shadows, which always has a to pay cost when ordering repression against a public demonstration.
In the case of Atenco, they have also won an injunction (amparo) that stops the construction on the disputed lands. But neither are they ignoring what is happening at the moment in Xochicuautla: the Otomí community has spent two days resisting the police attack, led by the department of highway systems of the State of Mexico and members of the business HIGA, that entered into the communal lands, violating the judgment of protection (amparo) filed by the indigenous community against the presidential decree of July 2015. The judgment won in March of this year ordered the retraction of the expropriation of the lands to construct part of the route of the highway between Toluca and Naucalpan, “until the underlying conflict is solved” between the community and the government.
With that violation in mind, the community of Atenco this afternoon began daily patrols, to prevent further intrusions into the ejido lands. “We call for solidarity organizations to join the actions like this and others that we will communicate later.”
The Centre of Human Rights Zeferino Ladrillero is already present in both towns, where they are analysing the situations, “it is no coincidence that these events occurred on successive days. The military presence in Atenco demonstrates that the federal government is also participating in the coordination of the repression. This is an attempt to legitimize by means of force, the imposition of the Eruviel Law in the State of Mexico.”
The Mexican Commission for the Promotion and Defence of Human Rights brought the “incident” that took place in Xochicuautla before a judge who ruled a suspension of the project in order to seek resolution of the matter.
Meanwhile, the Zeferino Ladrillero sent an urgent communication to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights asking them to issue precautionary measures in favour of the indigenous population of San Francisco Xochicuautla and also sent them a reminder note that this had already been requested for San Salvador Atenco.
“From Zeferino Ladrillero we estimate that these attacks are a shift in the strategy of the government of the state of Mexico to bring about the imposition of the “Eruviel Law”, within the 90 days they have a legal deadline to do so. What they are looking for is a physical confrontation between the people and the organizations of the state in order to gain favourable arguments for the need for a law like this that violates human rights, that allows an attack with live ammunition on an unarmed civil population. We warn that, just like Xochicuautla and Atenco they will target the communities of Tecámex, Coyotepec and San Francisco Magú. We remain alert.”
El Enemigo Común
179 peoples, communities, barrios and organizations say: ¡State police out of Xochicuautla! ¡Stop the destruction of forest and homes!
On Monday, April 11, 2016, around 800 State of Mexico riot police at the service of Grupo Higa laid siege to the Otomí community of San Francisco Xochicuautla, destroyed the camp set up in defense of the forest, used heavy machinery to illegally tear down the house of Dr. Armando García Salazar, and violently dragged out at least 25 men, women and children who were inside the house, including 64-year-old Isabel Hernández, a member of the Supreme Indigenous Council of Xochicuautla.
During the past decade, the Xochicuautla community has struggled against the destruction of this forest–– one of the country’s most important lungs –– a forest threatened by the construction of the Toluca-Naucalpan Toll Highway by the Autovan company, affiliated with shady businessman Juan Armando Hinojosa.
Community people finally achieved the suspension of the highway construction and were granted a writ by a federal judge that protected them against an expropriation decree for 37 hectares issued in 2015 by Hinojosa’s intimate friend Enrique Peña Nieto.
The violent eviction took place just after the approval of state legislation dubbed “The Atenco Law,” promoted by Governor Eruviel Ávila, which gives the police almost unlimited powers to trample on human rights in their drive to eliminate resistance movements. It’s not surprising, therefore, that the federal protection granted to the Xochicuautla community has been scorned by Grupo Higa and its shock troops, which have indicated that they will be committing even more atrocities in the days to come.
Nevertheless, this new attack against the Otomí community and its forest has already aroused widespread repudiation. It comes only two days after the founding of the National Campaign in Defense of Mother Earth and the Territory, made up of 179 peoples, communities, barrios and organizations in an effort to confront the massive plunder of their territories and the destruction of land, water, air and life itself. In the following statement, the Campaign responds to this new offensive against the Xochicuautla community.
Statement on San Francisco Xochicuautla
April 11, 2016, Editorial Committee
To the federal government of Enrique Peña Nieto,
To the state government of Eruviel Ávila Villegas,
To all peoples, barrios and communities,
To the organized and non-organized civil society,
To the news media,
To all who defend life and struggle against injustice:
The 179 peoples, communities, barrios and organizations that make up the National Campaign in Defense of Mother Earth and the Territory, raise our voices against the actions taken today in the San Francisco Xochicuautla community.
At around 10 o’clock in the morning, April 11, more than 800 state police forces laid siege to the community, blocking the entrance or exit of any person whatsoever. They then began to attack the community members by tearing down the encampment set up in 2015 to protect and defend the forest. Once the camp was dismantled, the police went for the houses located within Grupo Higa’s Toluca– Naucalpan highway project area.
Without presenting valid documentation, Luis Enrique García, head of the State of Mexico highway system, informed Dr. Armando García and his family that a valuation of their home would be conducted. Dr. García cited the existence of a protective writ that grants the provisional suspension of the project and invalidates the eviction of his family and the destruction of his home.
Comrades who were inside the house to prevent its destruction were beaten and dragged out. Among them was 64-year-old Isabel Hernández, who was knocked down along with her baby granddaughter, only to be kicked and beaten by the police. It’s important to note that Isabel is a member of the Supreme Indigenous Council of Xochicuautla. All of the family’s belongings were taken away by state agents, and a bulldozer began to destroy the house.
These actions taken by the government of the State of Mexico are an example of the politics of plunder being carried out nationally against peoples, communities and barrios in order to implement any number of megaprojects without consulting the people who live in the coveted territories. Such projects systematically violate the rights of indigenous peoples to self-determination and are clearly projects of destruction and ecocide.
This morning’s actions of the government of the State of Mexico are not only an attack on the will of the people of San Francisco Xochicuautla, but also violate the state’s own laws. They fail to respect protective order #1123/2015- V issued by the Second District Judge and Federal Courts in the State of Mexico, which grants the provisional suspension of the highway project. These actions also reveal the absence of access to justice and the politics of terror and criminalization against indigenous peoples in the State of Mexico.
Despite the fact that the community has been granted legal measures to stop further construction of the highway, and precautionary measures by the National Human Rights Commission to protect the population, the government of the State of Mexico is using the state police to impose the highway project, destroy homes and provoke the imminent devastation of the ancestral forest.
The peoples, communities, barrios and organizations that make up the National Campaign in Defense of Mother Earth and the Territory emphatically reject the abuses and acts of violence employed against San Francisco Xochicuautla, which violate their collective rights as an indigenous Otomí people and the individual guarantees of women and men, through the plunder of their forest and their homes.
We hold the federal government of Enrique Peña Nieto and the state government of Eruviel Ávila Villegas responsible for any and all damages to the physical and psychological integrity of the comrades in the community of San Francisco Xochicuautla. We condemn the criminalization and repression of the legitimate defense of the forest of San Francisco Xochicuautla.
¡We demand that they respect their own laws and the protective orders issued in favor of the people of Xochicuautla and that they suspend the highway project!
¡We demand an end to repression and the immediate exit of the armed forces of the State!
¡We demand reparations for the damages suffered by the affected families!
¡We demand respect for the self-determination of the people of San Francisco Xochicuautla!
WE are the ones who live on these lands, waters, mountains and hills. We are the guardians of our Mother Earth, and we will not permit her destruction.
National Campaign in Defense of Mother Earth and the Territory
Center [Estado de México, Hidalgo, Morelos, Puebla, Tlaxcala]: Asamblea Permanente de los Pueblos de Morelos (Defensa del río Cuautla), Asamblea Permanente en Defensa de los Pueblos Unidos de Morelos, Comité Ciudadano Xinantécatl, Comunidad Agraria Indígena Tezontepec, Comunicadores Populares e Indígenas, Consejo de Defensa del Territorio Tiyat Tlalli, Cholula Viva y Digna, Defensa del Patrimonio de San Andrés Cholula; Fuego de la Digna Resistencia: (Administración Autónoma de Agua Potable de Coyotepec, Alianza Única del Valle, Apaxco Comunidades por la Vida, Centro de Derechos Humanos Zeferino Ladrillero, Coordinación de Pueblos Unidos en Defensa de la Energía Eléctrica, Comités de Usuarios de Energía Eléctrica En Resistencia Civil de Nezahualcóyotl, Delegación Indígena Otomí San Francisco Magú, Frente Popular 9 de Junio en Defensa de los Recursos Naturales, Frente de Pueblos en Defensa de la Tierra, (San Salvador Atenco), Frente de los Pueblos en Defensa de la Madre Tierra. [San Lorenzo Huitzizilapan, Santa Cruz Ayotuxco, San Francisco Xochicuautla-Frente de Pueblos Indígenas en Defensa de la Madre Tierra. Lucha contra la construcción de la Autopista Toluca-Naucalpan.] Magisterio Mexiquense Contra la Reforma Educativa, Sistema de Agua Potable de Tecámac, Temascalapa,Vecinos Unidos del Poniente). Frente de Pueblos en Defensa de la Tierra y el Agua. Puebla, Morelos y Tlaxcala, Frentes Unidos en Defensa de Tepoztlán, Lucha por la recategorización del Xinantécatl,Makxtum Kalaw Chuchutsipi-Organización de los Pueblos Totonacos para la Defensa del Territorio, Movimiento Juvenil Huitzizilapan; Mexico City: Centro Cultural La Calaca, Centro de Estudios Ecuménicos,Colectivos Ajusco Medio (Tlalpan, Magdalena Contreras), Comité Estudiantil Metropolitano, Comunidad Pedregales por Ayotzinapa, Habitat International Coalition América Latina (HIC AL), Frente de Pueblos del Anáhuac (Tláhuac), GeoComunes,jóvenes en resistencia alternativa-comunidad, autonomía y libertad (COMUNAL), Laboratorio Multimedia para la Investigación UNAM, Lucha por el hábitat y la cultura (Álvaro Obregón), Movimiento de Aspirantes Excluidos de la Educación Superior (MAES),Movimiento Popular de Pueblos y Colonias del Sur,Observatorio Latinoamericano de Geopolítica (OLAG),Organización Popular Francisco Villa de la Izquierda Independiente, Perspectivas Críticas, Tejiendo Organización Revolucionaria (TOR), Unión Popular José María Morelos y Pavón (Edo.mex.), Vecinos y Vecinas de las Colonias Carrasco (Isidro Favela, Cantera Puente de Piedra y Pueblo Quieto y Periódico Cacomixtle (Tlalpan), Tonelhuayotzin Nuestra Raíz A.C., Red Nacional de Organismos Civiles de Derechos Humanos Todos los Derechos para Todas y todos, Servicios y Asesoría para la Paz, Telar de Raíces; Chiapas: Asociación Rural de Interés Colectivo A.C ARIC, Asociación Rural de Interés Colectivo de la Coalición de Organizaciones Autónomas de Ocosingo, Asociación Rural de Interés Colectivo Histórica, Barrios y sectores de los Altos de San Cristóbal, Bienes Comunales de la Zona Lacandona (Palestina Frontera corozal Mayas), Casa dela Mujer Ixim, Centro de Derechos Humanos Digna Ochoa, Comités Eclesiales de Base, Centro de Derechos de la Mujer de Chiapas. Cedemech, Centro de Derechos Humanos Fray Bartolomé de las Casas, Colectivo de Educación para la Paz y los Derechos Humanos (CEPAZDH), Comité Ciudadano para Defensa Popular (Cocidep), Comité de derechos Humanos “Fray Pedro Lorenzo de la Nada” AC, Comunidad 20 de junio, Comunidad Banavil, Comunidad Barrio Agua Azul, Comunidad Barrio Guadalupe, Comunidad Barrio San Jacinto, Comunidad Candelaria, Comunidad Carranza, Comunidad Colonia Virginia, Comunidad Chicosen, Comunidad Ejido Naranjo 2, Comunidad Jerusalén, Comunidad Poblado Victoria, Comunidad Quiniches, Comunidad San Rafael, Comunidad Sibacá, Consejo Autónomo Regional de la Zona Costa de Chiapas, Coordinación Diocesana de Mujeres Codimuj AC, Defensores de los Humedales de los Altos, Desarrollo Económico Social de los Mexicanos Indígenas, A.C. (Desmi), Ejido patiwits, Enlace Comunicación y Capacitación AC, Frente Campesino y Popular 10 de Abril (FCP-10Abril), Frente Cívico Ejido Nicolás Popular y las anexo Emiliano Zapata, Tonalteco y Ciudadanos de Tonalá, Juventudes indígenas de Jitotol, Tenejapa, Margaritas, Coco Sur, La Voz del Pueblo, Movimiento de la Vida Tierra y Territorio, Movite., Movimiento en Defensa de la Vida y del Territorio, Otra campaña de Ocosingo, Pastoral de la Tierra, Pastoral JRFP Tuxtla Gtz. Diócesis de Tuxtla/Construcción de la Paz, Pastoral Penitenciaria de Ocosingo, Pastoral Región San Pedro Toniná, Proyecto de vida, hermandad y solidaridad, Pueblo Creyente, Representantes de Pueblos y comunidades de chimalapas Oaxaca, Representantes Parroquiales de Ocosingo, San Caralampio, Unión de Campesinos de la Sierra, Unión de Campesinos y Pescadores de la Sierra y Costa de Chiapas, Guerrero: Casa de Justicia de San Luis Acatlán Coordinadora Regional de Autoridades Comunitarias-Policía Comunitaria, Comité en Defensa del Río San Luis Acatlán, Consejo de Autoridades Agrarias Tlapanecas, Consejo de Ejidos y Comunidades Opositores a la Presa La Parota (CECOP);
North: Autoridades Tradicionales de la Tribu Yaqui, Bienes Comunales Isla Tiburón, Comité De Defensa por Los Derechos Indígenas de Sinaloa, Consejo de Ancianos de Hant Comcáac, Desemboque Del Rio San Ignacio,Sonora /Grupo Defensores del Territorio Comcáac, Gobierno Tradicional Mayos/Yoreme de Sinaloa, Mayos/Yoreme de Sinaloa y Sonora, No a la minería en Hant Comcáac/No A Los Megaproyectos, Pueblo Guarijio Proyecto Presa Bicentenario Los Pilares, Tohono O’odham; Oaxaca: Centro de Derechos Humanos Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez, Centro Prodh A.C., Centro de Derechos Humanos Tepeyac del Istmo de Tehuantepec, Centro de Derechos Indígenas Flor y Canto A.C., Cerro de las Huertas, Colectivo Oaxaqueño en Defensa de los Territorios, Comité por la Defensa de los Derechos Indígenas (CODEDI),Consejo de Organizaciones Oaxaqueñas Autónomas (COOA), Coordinadora de Pueblos Unidos del Valle de Ocotlán (CPUVO), Espacio Alternativo Yunhiz, Espacio Estatal en Defensa del Maíz Nativo de Oaxaca, Jaltepec de Candayoc, Magdalena Teitipac, Monte del Toro, Movimiento Agrario Indígena Zapatista-Mixteca, Ojo de Agua, Comunicación y Capacitación A.C., Organizaciones Indias por los Derechos Humanos (OIDHO), Red de Defensoras y Defensores Comunitarios de los Pueblos de Oaxaca, San José del Progreso, San Juan Cacahuatec, San Miguel Panixtlahuaca, Santa María Magdalena Tiltepec, Santiago Xanica, Santo Domingo Teojomulco, Servicios del Pueblo Mixe, Ser Mixe A.C., Servicios para una Educación Alternativa A.C., Servicios Universitarios y Redes de Conocimiento en Oaxaca (SURCO) A.C., Tequio Jurídico A.C., Unión Campesina Indígena de Oaxaca “Emiliano Zapata” (UCIO-EZ), Unión de Organizaciones de la Sierra Juárez de Oaxaca S.C. (UNOSJO), Universidad de la Tierra Oaxaca, Voces Oaxaqueñas Construyendo Autonomía y Libertad (VOCAL),; EAST: Asociación un Salto de Vida, Bios Iguana, A.C., Central Unitaria de Trabajadores (CUT), Colectivo de Abogadxs, Colectivo de Organizaciones Ciudadanas por el Agua (COLOCA), Comité de Mujeres Ecologistas de La Huizachera – Río Santiago, Comité Salvemos Temacapulín Acasico y Palmarejo – Presa El Zapotillo, Comunidad Acasico, Comunidad de Zacualpan, Comunidad El Salto, Comunidad Indígena Purépecha Cherán Keri, Comunidad La Huizachera, Comunidad Mesa del Nayar, Comunidad Palmarejo, Comunidad Rosarito, Comunidad Santa Teresa, Comunidad Saycota, Comunidad Temacapulín, Consejo Indígena Nayheri, Consejo Indígena por la Defensa del Territorio de Zacualpan, Frente en Defensa del Agua y contra su Privatización (FADAP), Grupo Ecológico Manglar, Instituto Mexicano para el desarrollo Comunitario AC, Salvemos Temacapulin y Palmarejo, Tómala un golpe a la conciencia;Peninsula: Colectivo Apícola de los Chenes., Educación Cultura y Ecología A.C (Quintana Roo), Indignación Promoción y Defensa de los Derechos Humanos A.C., Tonelhuayotzin Nuestra Raíz A.C, Unión de Pobladores y Pobladoras de Chablekal;Veracruz: Amatlán ya despierta, Colectivo Defensa Verde Naturaleza para siempre, Comité Ciudadano por un Veracruz Limpio A.C.