A sacred ceremony performed by the authorities of the Supreme Indigenous Council of Xochicuautla set the tone for a march to the Ministry of the Interior in Mexico City on Tuesday, July 28. There, speakers demanded the repeal of an order for the expropriation of the ancestral lands of the Otomí-Ñatho communities of Xochicuautla in Mexico State and an end to the war against the Nahua indigenous community of Santa María Ostula in Michoacán.
Demonstrators also demanded freedom for Cemeí Verdía ––the Commander of the Ostula Community Police and Coordinator of the Self-Defense Groups of Aquila, Coahuayana and Chiniquila, Michoacán–– and punishment for those responsible for the murder of 12-year-old Hidelberto Reyes in Ostula territory.
In an operation carried out by a joint command of more than 1000 agents of the Mexican Navy, Army and Federal Police, officers sprayed teargas and opened fire on the people, killing Hidelberto and wounding 6-year-old Yeimi Nataly Pineda Reyes, and 9 more people last July 19. The following videos taken by the people of Ostula and compiled by Agencia SubVersiones dispute government versions of what happened there that day.
This latest attack against Ostula is yet another reprisal against a town courageous enough to recover more than a thousand hectares of Nahua land at the site named Xayakalan on June 29, 2009, and organize their community police force as protection from organized crime and state violence.
During the Mexico City march, speakers denounced the tremendous escalation in the plunder of indigenous lands and resources in Mexico and in efforts to subdue all who resist these abuses.
Last June 9, President Enrique Peña Nieto signed an order authorizing the expropriation of almost 40 hectares of communal use lands in the Otomí forest lands of Xochicuautla. According to plans laid by the government and private industry, the forests and water will be sacrificed so that Grupo Higa can build the Toluca-Naucalpan Toll Highway, a Project resisted by community people for the last eight years. Xochicuautla has experienced the destruction of trees, plants and animals; the arrival of heavy machinery; the invasion of police squadrons; and the arrests of dozens of people. It’s important to note that the destruction of these forest lands also means the plunder of water from the springs and subterranean rivers found there, which are a major source of the vital liquid for the entire region and Mexico City, as well. This is not going to happen, says Xochicuautla, as the resistance continues.
Young people from Huitzizilapan also marched in the Federal District on Tuesday. In their communities near Xochicuautla in the Lerma municipality of Mexico State, they are resisting the extension of the same Toluca-Naucalpan toll highway being constructed by Grupo Higa. In their case, Peña Nieto signed an expropriation order for six additional hectares in May 2014. During the past year, thousands of riot police have invaded Huitzizilapan to impose illegitimate assemblies for the purpose of changing the soil use from communal to private. People have successfully mobilized to block these assemblies four times and vow that the expropriation order will not stand.
A contingent from San Pedro Tlanixco in the municipality of Tenango del Valle, Mexican State, also marched in Mexico City. Due to their defense of the water and forests of Tlanixco, they were labeled a “terrorist town” by the terrorist government of Mexico State at the beginning of the last decade. Since 2003, they are also demanding the release of six political prisoners and the cancellation of charges against two politically persecuted leaders, all accused of killing a business agent who died in an accident in their town. In truth, they are being punished with false charges for resisting the plunder of their resources by voracious flower-producing corporations closely linked to ex governor Arturo Montiel. The political prisoners are Pedro Sánchez Berriozábal , Teófilo Pérez Gonzales, Rómulo Áreas Mireles, Lorenzo Sánchez Berriozábal, Marco Antonio Pérez González, and Dominga González Martínez. The politically persecuted comrades are Santos Alejandro Álvarez Zetina and Rey Pérez Martínez.
The Peoples Front in Defense of the Land (FPDT) of San Salvador Atenco also showed their solidarity with Xochicuautla and Ostula in the Mexico City march. They themselves are once again under attack, as well. After having defeated state plans to build an international airport on their lands in 2001, the Peña Nieto government has revamped and amplified these plans that threaten the existence of Atenco and surrounding towns. The FPDT calls for people throughout Mexico to unite in order to be able to build effective resistance.
During the march, it was announced that a federal judge had signed an order for the release of Cemeí Verdía after finding insufficient evidence of possession of illegal arms to continue to hold him in the maximum security prison in Tepic, Nayarit. Nevertheless, upon being released on totally false state charges and transferred to the Mil Cumbres prison in the city of Morelia, Michoacán, where he is being illegally deprived of his freedom.
Several of the groups that marched in Mexico City had come together in a gathering with comrades and families of disappeared and murdered Ayotzinapa students on July 19-20 in Mexico State and continue to mobilize against the plunder of their lands and resources and the war waged against their peoples. On Saturday March 8 there will be a bike ride and motorized caravan that leaves for Xochicuautla from the Museum of Anthropology and History in Mexico City by the Tlaloc statue at 8 am.
This post is also available in: Spanish