Filed under: Editorials, Indigenous, Land, Repression, Southern Mexico, Video
Translated by It’s Going Down
The resistance of the Nahua of southern Jalisco has been palpable for decades and likewise has aggression and abuse against them for their recurrent and brave defense of the earth and indigenious communities.
The Ayotitlán ejido is the largest of Jalisco, with more than 31 thousand hectares of total area, which make up about 70 communities and settlements, located in the municipality of Cuautitlan Barragan. Nahua communities that inhabit this territory have shared customs and communal land use since its inception. The first inhabitants date back to pre-Columbian times and, gradually, were populated what is now known as the southern part of the state of Jalisco and Colima.
Since 1987 this land was declared as Biosphere Reserve Sierra de Manantlán (SMBR), with 139 thousand 577 hectares rich in water, biodiversity, minerals and precious woods. However, the SMBR has been exploited and looted since 1940 by sawmills and dealers in precious woods, and since 1969 by the parastatal mining consortium Benito Juarez Peña Colorada, SA de CV, currently co-owned by Ternium (Italo-Argentina, 50%) and ArcelorMittal (Hindu, 50%) which has an open pit mine and a pellet plant in two modules. Once transformed, the raw material of both mining companies is sent through two ferroductos 46 kilometers to the port of Manzanillo and then to Monterrey and Puebla plant to turn it into steel. The mining company Ternium is a leading steel production in Latin America, with an annual production capacity of approximately 11 million tons of finished steel products (see www.ternium.com).
Ayotitlán peoples have faced since then the problems of opencast mining (its environmental liabilities, exploitation and degradation of flora and fauna), illegal logging and land grabs which continues a history of aggression and violence against indigenous people.
Recent years have aggravated the conflict, with missing detainees families finding no justice in the courts and instead have opted for community organizing. Such is the case of Celedonio Monroy (nephew of Miguel Monroy) who has been missing since October 2012, or that of Gaudencio Mancilla, representative of the Council of Elders, qho was suspiciously arrested in August 2013.
Last December 18th, Miguel Monroy and Marciana de los Santos were arrested, both Nahua Indians who have worked for several months for the recovery of properties located in the community of La Huaca. The reason for which they were deprived of their freedom was for “aggravated dispossession,” since Marcelino Bracamontes filed a criminal complaint for alleged injuries and dispossession of their lands.
On December 20th, 2015, after the arrest and transfer of Cihuatlán Nahua Indians, a meeting took place of the Council of Elders in the community Ayotitlán, to establish the facts and report irregularities, aggression and human rights violations inflicted by municipal authorities against members of their community.
According to information cited by the council and those attending the assembly, process irregularities occurred days before the arrests, in this area of southern Jalisco. The subpoenas of those arrested had no stamps corresponding to the location and lacked information that is needed for the judiciary.
In the arbitrary arrests of Miguel Monroy and Marciana de los Santos, no arrest warrants were presented, nor was a search warrant for their homes.
The government has also responded to land claims by creating “hot spots” for development at sites of contestation. Meanwhile, illegal loggers and members of organized crime have recieved no repremand from the government, who promised to send protection and safeguard the Nahua Indians.
For more than two decades, Nahua inhabitants havw participated in the National Indigenous Congress (CNI), an initiative promoted by the EZLN in the year 1996, which emphasizes autonomy and respect for the customs in indigenous communities: an assembly when they are together, a network when they are separated, that is made up of many indigenous peoples from different geographies, languages and traditions.
Community leaders continue to be accused and then imprisoned, detained for their membership in organizations of territorial defense. This helps to make way for drug traffickers who besiege the land and persist in “cleansing” the region to consolidate criminal activities.