Filed under: Indigenous, Land, Repression, Southern Mexico
Indigenous Zapateco communities belonging to San Pablo Cuatro Venados, Oaxaca, denounce ongoing threats and harassment seeking to dispossess them of their territories in pursuit of mining interests
By: Nañi Pinto
Indigenous Zapatecos pertaining to the municipality of San Pablo Cuatro Venados denounce that the State Government of Oaxaca is preparing repression, and the dispossession of their territory, with the use of the National Guard.
They alert that an agreement was made between agencies of the government and the municipal and agrarian authorities of Cuilápam de Guerrero, the neighboring municipality of Cuatro Venados. “The objective is to take control of these lands, to exploit the three mining concessions, and to take control of the water and forest,” they assert.
On June 20, community members of El Rebollero, Los Arquitos, and Río Minas, pertaining to the municipality of San Pablo Cuatro Venados, went to Oaxaca City with their banners, and maps where they have located the mining concessions.
“We deny the position of the authorities of Cuilápam de Guerrero, in collusion with the authorities of San Pablo Cuatro Venados, who have more than once branded us as invaders of these lands. Our documents demonstrate the opposite,” they denounced in a press conference, where some showed their credentials and their land deeds.
According to these communities, this has been the motive for which they have been attacked on different occasions. On May 19, 2019, when the authorities of Cuilápam, Pedro Pérez Rojas, Erick Carrasco Vázquez, Maura Silva Fernández, and the ex-representative, Flavio Sosa Villavicencio, warned that if the state government does not apply the law against the supposed invaders, a bloodbath would ensue. “This was a threat. We were brutally attacked on May 31, and June 1 and 2. They destroyed our houses, they burned our crops, and they robbed what they could,” the campesinos maintained.
They added that after these attacks, “the corresponding complaints were filed before the prosecutor’s office and six investigation files were opened” against the aggressors. The aggressors being the authorities of the neighboring municipality of Cuilápam. Despite this, up until the moment, they have not been informed of any results of the investigation.
On the contrary, Magdiel Hernández Caballero, representative of the Human Rights Defense of the People of Oaxaca, signaled that “precautionary measures were issued for the protection of the community of Cuilápam de Guerrero” with the denunciation of attacks by supposed invaders.
After these supposed attacks, “which the community of Cuilápam has suffered,” community members in resistance explained that on July 5, a red helicopter flew over their territories and landed nearby. One day after, the communities of Cuatro Venados were attacked.
“Around 15 vehicles entered the vegetation of the community and the people in the vehicles began to shoot at us. Events which we also denounced by means of a communique.”
The community members of these localities warn that they foresee a new attack coming, with the declarations from the government of Oaxaca. They have not come to an agreement, “if there is a problem of land boundaries or if we are invaders.”
The official declarations of the representative of the Secretary of Government in Oaxaca, José Carlos Fuentes Ordaz, is that he will follow up, in coordination with the National Guard and the Secretary of Security, “on the problematic expressed by the municipal and agrarian authorities of Cuilápam.”
The Indigenous people pertaining to San Pablo Cuatro Venados added that a series of their rights were violated, with the approval of the mining concessions and with these others actions: “like the right to information, participation, security, free will, justice, self-determination, and territory. As we are Indigenous people, they are violating agreements and conventions that the Mexican state has signed, like Convention 169 of the ILO, and the Regional Agreement on Access to Information, Public Participation and Justice in Environmental Matters, known as the “Escazú Agreement.”
At the end of the press conference, they pointed to the Oaxaca state, to the Federal Government, and to the authorities of the municipalities of Cuilápam de Guerrero and Cuatro Venados, as those responsible for what might happen to their communities.