On the Coast of Oaxaca, Afro and Indigenous Tribes Fight for Water Autonomy

In southern Mexico, a multi-ethnic network of towns has halted the construction of a mega-dam. Now they are organizing to manage their own natural resources and revitalize their culture as native water protectors.

By Samantha Demby

At dawn on March 14—celebrated internationally as the Day of Action against Dams and in Defense of Rivers—Afro-Mexican, Indigenous, and mestizo peoples met on the shores of the Río Verde to participate in a ritual of gratitude and resistance.

They were gathered for the Río Verde Festival, organized each March by the Consejo de Pueblos Unidos en Defensa del Río Verde (Council of Peoples United in Defense of the Río Verde, COPUDEVER). This water protector movement was formed in 2007 when dozens of communities organized to stop the Federal Electricity Commission from building a hydroelectric dam on their river, which they say would flood their homes and contaminate their only source of water.

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Loxicha prisoners transferred to new torture centers

Family members try to find out situation of Loxicha prisoners in two consecutive transfers.

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At 2:30 in the morning on June 7, the political prisoners from the Loxicha region in Oaxaca were secretly transferred to the prison known as the Federal Social Reinsertion Center* (CEFERESO) # 13 in Mengolí de Morelos, Miahuatlan.

Álvaro Sebastián Ramírez, Abraham García Ramírez, Agustín Luna Valencia, Eleuterio Hernández García, Fortino Enríquez Hernández and Justino Hernández José were violently pulled out of their cells and shipped out of the Ixcotel prison in two tourist buses and Zacarías García López was removed from the Etla prison.

The men have been locked up for 16 years, accused of belonging to the Revolutionary People’s Army (EPR) and convicted of the death of federal police in a 1996 shootout in Huatulco, Oaxaca. All are activists who have worked in their communities, defending their traditional way of life and their lands against plunder, repression, and the militarization of the Loxicha region.

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Communiqué from the Autonomous Municipality of San Juan Copala: We do not engage in party politics and, as of now, we will only speak through communiqués

TO THE HONEST NEWS MEDIA
TO THE PEOPLES OF MEXICO AND THE WORLD
TO THE SOCIAL ORGANIZATIONS
TO THE OTHER CAMPAIGN

One month after the brutal crime against Alberta Cariño Trujillo and Jyri Antero Jaakkola, and after a subsequent incident in which a group of women and children were illegally deprived of their freedom, human rights defenders and observers have heard our call for help and have decided to bring hope for food, peace, and justice to San Juan Copala.

The cruel silence of the state government only exposes those responsible for these cowardly actions. Last May 20, ongoing impunity was behind the hand of gunmen who carried out orders from on high, murdering our comrade Timoteo Alejandro Ramírez and his wife Tleriberta Casto Aguilar, and plunging our communities into mourning once again.

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Teacher Assassinated in the Loxicha Region

Central Penitentiary, State of Oaxaca, December 16, 2009

TO THE SOCIAL ORGANIZATIONS
TO HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENSE GROUPS
TO THE DEMOCRATIC TEACHERS OF SECTION 22, SNTE, OAXACA, OAX.
TO THE LOCAL, NATIONAL, AND INTERNATIONAL NEWS MEDIA
TO THE PEOPLE OF OAXACA, MEXICO, AND THE WORLD

We, the political prisoners and prisoners of conscience of the Loxicha Region who are still locked up in this prison, are writing to your organizations to let you know about the recent murder of an Indigenous Education professor who was working in the Loxicha Region and about the killings of other citizens. Day by day, state repression against the Zapotec people of Loxicha is heightened, creating an intolerable political climate precisely at the time when people are beginning to reconstruct the social fabric that was torn apart by State repression in 1996. For this reason, we, the Loxicha political prisoners and prisoners of conscience, from our battle front, vigorously repudiate the cowardly murder of professor ELEAZAR MARTINEZ ALMARAZ, who was shot down on the morning of December 14, as well as the murders of other Zapotec people, whose cases have resulted in absolute impunity.

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Letter from the Political Prisoners and Prisoners of Conscience of the Loxicha Region, Oaxaca

Central Penitentiary, State of Oaxaca, June 1, 2009.
 
TO THE CONSCIOUS DEMOCRATIC ORGANIZATIONS
TO THE SOCIAL ORGANIZATIONS
TO THE DIFFERENT UNIONS
TO THE STUDENTS, PROFESSIONALS, WORKERS, FARMERS AND FARM WORKERS
TO THE PEOPLE OF GOOD WILL
TO THE PEOPLE OF OAXACA, MEXICO, AND THE WORLD
TO THE NEWS MEDIA
 
From the Central Penitentiary of the State of Oaxaca in México, we 12 political prisoners and prisoners of conscience from the Loxicha Region have served almost 13 years in prison for federal offenses fabricated against us by the Mexican State. In view of this situation, our only option is to engage in political actions. The upcoming Days of Struggle consist of a CARAVAN / MARCH that will leave from the Loxicha Region on June 8 at 10:00 am, with the participation of our wives and children, townspeople from the region, members of the Movement of Indigenous Communities, Section 22 of the Teachers’ Union, and the Zapatista Collective of Oaxaca, Adherent to the Other Campaign. The main goal of this Plan of Action is to search out the federal authorities with jurisdiction over our case since during all these long years, the federal government has shown no sign whatsoever of being willing to resolve this long-time problem.

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