Request for signatures on letter repudiating 3 year sentences for members of Radio Ñomndaa

Radio Ñomndaa is the first indigenous community radio station broadcasting mainly in the Amuzga language from Suljaa’ (Xochistlahuaca) on the Costa Chica of Guerrero. Ever since December 20, 2004, when the radio began its communications work, harassment by local, state and federal governments has been constant. Authorities have tried many times to silence the radio and jail those who work on the project and defend the Suljaa’, which declared its autonomy on November 20, 2002. In the following video you can see how the people ran the AFI police out of their community when they arrived to dismantle the radio on June 10, 2008.

The current sentences against Genaro Cruz Apóstol, Silverio Matías Domínguez y David Valtierra Arango for the deprivation of liberty of Narciso García Valtierra stem from an incident that occurred in 2005, when community leaders tried to convince him to stop selling and misusing communal land.

To add your individual signature or the signature of your group to the following letter, write to, preferably before October 7, with a brief message saying, “Por favor agreguen la siguiente firma a la carta: _____________” (Please add the following signature to the letter:__________)

To whom it may concern:

We wholeheartedly repudiate the sentence of 3 years and 2 months and the fine of 1, 753 pesos imposed on Genaro Cruz Apóstol, Silverio Matías Domínguez andDavid Valtierra Arangoby Judge Derly Arnaldo Alderete Cruz of the First Mixed Court based in Ometepec, Guerrero. They were convicted of the aggravated deprivation of liberty of Narciso García Valtierra, right-hand man of former Municipal President of Xochistlahuaca Aceadeth Rocha, who in 2002 sold and misused 12 hectares of communal lands. For this reason, the General Assembly of the Communal Landholders of Xochistlahuaca decided, in keeping with their customs and traditions and in due exercise of their collective rights as indigenous peoples contemplated in Covenant 169 of the International Labor Organization (ILO), put him at the disposition of the traditional authorities for one day. At the end of the day, Narciso admitted his guilt and the Assembly ended up allowing him to use 3 hectares of the land in question.

At that time, Genaro Cruz, Silverio Matías and David Valtierra were serving as Traditional Authorities or assistants. The latter two are now members of the Board of Radio Ñomndaa’ La Palabra del Agua (Word of the Water) and of the Suljaa’Collective in Rebellion, respectively. They have spoken out publicly against the corruption and plunder carried on by Aceadeth Rocha Ramírez, the regional power boss who is now a federal Congresswoman close to the PRI party candidate for state Governor Manuel Añorve.

This sentence was issued in the context of the criminalization of social activists and the judicialization of social processes and is one more example of the corruption of judicial authorities and their complicity with regional power bosses. It is also a violation of the collective rights of indigenous peoples considered in Covenant 169 of the ILO.

We, the undersigned, recognize the honorable work of the Community Radio La Palabra del Agua and demand:

–The revocation of the sentence due to the fact that it is an unjust violation of Covenant 169 of the ILO, and is also part of a repressive strategy against people struggling for freedom of expression, freedom of association and the autonomy of the Amuzgo people.

–The cancellation of pending trials of Roberto Martínez de Jesús, Atilano López Díaz, Gregorio Reyna Valtierra, Eloy Valtierra López and Epifanio Merino Guerrero, given that they are part of the same strategy and that the time stipulated by law for issuing arrest warrants has already expired.

–Total respect for the Radio Ñomndaa’s work in communications and for the people who make this work possible; an immediate end to the harassment and hostile actions against them.