Land displacement in Jaltepec de Candayoc, Mixe, Oaxaca

Indigenous Community of Jaltepec de Candayoc, Cotzocon, Mixe.
Oaxaca, Mexico.

January 6, 2009

To the media
To national and international public opinion
To human rights groups
To the Indigenous People of the World
To the Ayuujk People

Brother and sisters, we greet you and wish for the creator and giver of life to illuminate the path to achieve a more just world.

Faced with the wicked and criminal dispossession of our communal lands committed by the federal government and the state government of Oaxaca, which remains to this day in the hands of the state governor and the Secretary of Rural Development (SEDER), our community has undertaken a judicial process to demand Justice.

For this reason, today we want to share our words.

Our people are a community full of history and natural and territorial wealth since the colonial era; we are direct descendants of the ancient Candayoc. In 1737, we had 108 square leagues of land, equivalent to 335,394 hectares, which we bought from the Spanish crown with 800 gold pesos and we received more in gratification from the same Spaniards for services rendered on their haciendas; in an ironic agreement, we had to buy our own lands and be satisfied with this gift from those who took our assets. Our land titles were used by Attorney Miguel Bolanos Cacho to defend and establish the boundary of our state of Oaxaca with the state of Veracruz in 1899, which is why the state and federal Governments have clear knowledge that the lands up to the border with the state of Veracruz belong to our community.

Regardless of the above, that is to say, while knowing that these lands belonged to our community, in 1956 and 1958 the federal government expropriated 18,648 hectares of our ancestral property without notifying our people and without compensating us in the manner stated in the federal constitution. Thus, the injustices suffered during the colonial era continued in independent Mexico, leaving us at the mercy of an unjust and repressive government. In those years, it was said that our lands would be used to relocate those brothers and sisters affected by the construction of the “Cerro de Oro” and “Miguel Aleman” dams in the basin of the Papaloapam River; in reality this was never the case as the Papaloapam Commission dedicated itself to selling our lands to the highest bidder while the remaining lands were used for expropriation. As well, the money designated as compensation, more than 600,000 pesos at the time, was handed over to a person who never proved himself to be the proprietor of the expropriated lands.

Under such conditions, our lands were loot for land profiteers, fugitives and public officeholders who got rich at the expense of our patrimony. To us, they’ve only given sadness, aggression and desolation, many times we had to fight and to run to the Hydraulics Police who with force were introduced to our lands. Today the expropriation continues without compensation.

As well, 2,050 hectares of these lands that were not expropriated are actually in the hands of the state government, and in an act of utter authoritarianism, Governor Ulises Ruiz Ortiz declared them an Ecological Reserve Zone, disallowing any use by our community. Despite the fact that we have registered with that state government that we are the legitimate and ancestral owners in accordance with our primary deeds, SEDER, on repeated occasions has signaled to us that these lands will never be handed back to us.

Brothers and sisters, we want to tell you with the steadfastness and confidence that being the legitimate owners of the 18,648 hectares from which we’ve been displaced gives us, our community has always defended this lands, for many years we sought out and documented our ancestral property, just as we have documented the terrible displacement that was carried out against our people beneath the mask of expropriation. Today we have all the documentation that verifies before the eyes of the authorities and of public opinion, the injustice of this criminal act that has reduced us to a small portion of these lands, the federal and state government, although they are searching for the best legal arguments, cannot continue this monumental act of injustice.

For this reason, relying on justice from the federal courts, yesterday, January 5, 2009, at 3 pm, we filed for a special injunction in the First Court of the District of the city of Oaxaca, soliciting protection from the federal courts against the decree of expropriation that allows for the usurpation of 18,648.90-32 hectares of lands from our community without any compensation; as well as against the decree released by Ulises Ruiz Ortiz which declares 2,050 hectares of these lands an Ecological Reserve Zone.

In this communitarian initiative to demand justice for our people, we are confident that this new period of indigenous and human rights on the national and international level, as well as the firm presence of human rights groups, will not allow this act of injustice to be forgotten.

In defense of our lands and ancestral territory

Translated by Scott Campbell: