To Chihuahua State Governor José Reyes Baeza Terrazas:
(The following open letter to the governor of Chihuahua signed by an astounding number of well-respected academics, authors, lawyers, intellectuals, concerned citizens and human rights activists from Mexico, the US and various European countries appeared as a full page ad in the Diario de Juárez on October 6, 2008.)
Why do you and your government allow Pedro and Jorge Zaragoza Fuentes to be above the law and violate the human rights of the residents of Lomas del Poleo?
It is known, both in Mexico and internationally, that these lands are federal property according to a federal decree published by the Diario Oficial de la Federación in April 17, 1975. It has also come to the attention of the international community that in the recent weeks there has been an escalation of violence and harassment against children, women, men and elderly residents who have lived in these lands for almost thirty years and who are currently seeking the legalization of their property in the Fifth District Agrarian Court in Chihuahua City.
(Below: right to left) Governor José Reyes Baeza, Juárez mayor José Reyes Ferriz and Pedro Zaragoza junior at an inauguration for a Wal-Mart and shopping mall in Ciudad Juárez last year.
(below) The Grupo Zaragoza dug ditches around Lomas del Poleo to force elmentary school students to pass by their checkpoints where they are often mocked and harassed by Zaragoza guards.
On September 26, 2008, a group of men with bulldozers, pickaxes and shovels, led by Fernando Carrillo and Catarino Del Río Camacho (Grupo Zaragoza overseers), raze the home of Adela Plasencia and her husband Vicente built thirty years ago on Lomas del Poleo mesa.
You must certainly be aware of the latest developments:
• Between August 11 and August 22 this year—School Superintendent Guillermo Narro and the District Supervisor Blasa Serrano Carrillo, attempted to illegally shut down the Elementary School “Alfredo Nava Sahagún” (Federal code, 08DPR2214D).
• September 12—On orders of Pedro and Jorge Zaragoza Fuentes, ditches (2 meters deep and 1.5 meters wide) were dug around the barbed-wire fence to force all the residents to pass through a gate guarded by unregistered armed guards.
• Tuesday, September 22—On orders of the Zaragoza overseers, the delivery trucks stopped providing water to some of the families.
• September 25—A sign that reads “Private Property” was placed at the gate although no verdict has yet been handed down by the judicial courts handling the land dispute.
• September 26—Demolitions crews tore down two inhabited homes, an illegal action that was reported to the state’s law enforcement authorities.
• October 1—Bulldozers entered Lomas del Poleo to erase all evidence of the illegal demolitions. This act was carried out with threats of violence against four of the residents who were present. On this same day, another home was razed to the ground and more threats were made.
• October 3—A truck belonging to the Comisión Federal de Electricidad, accompanied with a crew of hostile and violent guards, tore down the last electric generator that provided electricity to the Elementary School “Alfredo Nava Sahagún.” This cut off the electric service to the majority of the residents.
Is it possible that in Ciudad Juárez there exists no state of law that protects the inhabitants of Lomas del Poleo, who are currently virtual prisoners behind barbed-wire and guard towers and without rights to freedom of movement? Why have you allowed these two industrialists to act with impunity before the Agrarian Court has taken any action to determine the legal right to these lands?
Why do state and city authorities allow two individuals to impose their own law in Lomas del Poleo who—for the benefit of their own private development projects—are trying to forcibly displace some of the poorest inhabitants of this border?
Given that you continue to allow this serious state of violence, insecurity and violation of human rights in Lomas del Poleo and the evident lack of action by the law enforcement authorities in Ciudad Juárez, Mr. Governor, we hold you, your government, and the municipal government of Ciudad Juárez responsible for whatever harm may occur to the residents of Lomas del Poleo.
Ciudad Juárez, October 6, 2008