Urgent Call for Solidarity: Community of Tilzapote, Oaxaca Under Immediate Violent Eviction Threat

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Ours is the land and territory and we will not leave it

Ours is the air and we will not lose it

Ours is the sun and we will not turn it off

Ours is the sea and we will not sell it

And we will care for this life that is ours

Residents of Tilzapote, Oaxaca

The Zapotec community of Tilzapote, on the Oaxacan coast in the municipality of Santa María Tonameca, is being threatened with violent eviction tomorrow, Friday, December 8. The village’s 278 inhabitants have been told that tomorrow, machines will arrive to destroy their houses and lands in preparation to develop this tranquil stretch of coastline for tourism.

The community has been in dispute with Pedro Martínez Araiza and Domitila Guzmán Olivera, the so-called “owners” of their land – which the inhabitants cultivate and manage communally – for several years now. They have been through a long legal struggle, which unsurprisingly has favored the would-be developers. In 2011, three community members were briefly jailed on trumped-up charges for their opposition to the landgrab.

Demonstrate your solidarity with the indomitable residents of Tilzapote in whatever way you can. Under the threat of continuing capitalist development and plunder, we all stand to lose, whether it be tomorrow or somewhere down the line.

The following is a translated communiqué issued by the community and others in early October, when faced with an earlier and less concrete eviction threat. It gives a bit more context to the current situation. The original can be found here.

Tilzapote takes a stand for the defense of its territory on the coast of Oaxaca

On October 6th and 7th, 2017, we met in the Pastoral House of the Puerto Escondido Diocese, as representatives of the communities of Tataltepec de Valdez, Tilzapote, San Pedro Amuzgos, San Pedro Atoyac, Santa María de Huazolotitlán, Santiago Jamiltepec, San Pedro Tututepec, Lázaro Cárdenas Puerto Escondido, Santo Domingo de Morelos, San Francisco Defensa del Río Verde, and the human rights organizations Comité de Defensa Integral de Derechos Humanos Gobixha AC [“Gobixha Comprehensive Human Rights Defense Committee, Civil Association”] and Tequio Jurídico AC [“Collective Legal Work, Civil Association” roughly] with the firm objective of analyzing the problems we face in our land and territory in order to build collective defense mechanisms together.

We’ve found that the territories of indigenous communities and peoples find themselves at risk due to the implementation of extractive projects such as mining, hydroelectric dams, tourist development, and the implementation of laws that threaten the rights of peoples, such as the hydrocarbons law, the Special Economic Zones, (ZEE), and government programs, among them the Registration of Agrarian Legal Actions Program (RAJA).

We maintain that extractivism, as a part of the capitalist system, threatens the collective life of communities, their social relations, and their territory. It seeks to put this territory in the hands of large businesses, siding with dispossession, violence, community division, and the loss of identity and community patrimony.

We listen with concern to the situation of grave human rights violations that the inhabitants of Tilzapote, municality of Santa María Tonameca are living through, faced with the imminent risk of violent eviction from their community on the 14th and 15th of October. They would be evicted by members of the Mexican Workers Confederation (CTM) [translator’s note: a trade union that acts as a paramilitary arm of the PRI, the political party currently in control in Mexico], with the rationale of executing a judicial resolution in favor of the supposed small landowners PEDRO MARTÍNEZ ARAIZA AND DOMITILA GUZMÁN OLIVERA, who have presented themselves neither before the community nor the assembly.

The members of the community of Tilzapote have lived in this territory for some 70 years. It is located on the Pacific coast of Oaxaca and has a population of 278 indigenous Zapotec inhabitants, all of whom have houses and lands, where they grow food to live on: corn, beans, peanuts, melon, watermelon, hibiscus, among other produce. They have a health center and electricity, two kilometers of beach that allows them to fish, and the Puerto Escondido-Salina Cruz coastal highway passes through their village. The agricultural area of which they are a part (San Francisco Cozoaltepec) is bordered by the Pacific Ocean to the south, San Bartolo Loxicha and Magdalena Loxicha to the north, Santa María Colotepec to the west, and to the east, Santa María Tonameca’s other agricultural area and Santo Domingo de Morelos.

Faced with the grave situation that our pueblos are living through, and specifically the community of Tilzapote, Agricultural Area of San Francisco Cozoaltepec, Municipality of Santa María Tonameca, Oaxaca, as organizations and participants we solicit the following:

  1. THAT THE PROVISIONAL SUSPENSION ORDERED BY THE FIRST DISTRICT COURT, SEATED IN THE CITY OF OAXACA, IN THE INJUNCTION 880/2017, BE RESPECTED. Table 6 – A of the First District Court seated in the city of Oaxaca.
  2. Immediate intervention by the Defensoría de los Derechos Humanos del Pueblo de Oaxaca [Organization for the Protection of Human Rights of the People of Oaxaca], accompanying the community by putting out an EARLY ALERT to guarantee the respect of the human rights and physical integrity of the community members.
  3. We ask the pueblos; the civil organizations of Oaxaca, the country, and the world; collectives; and land defenders to be attentive in order to send out urgent actions and raise their voices in case the threats of the plunder of our territory increase.
  4. We declare the State Governor, the head of the Ministry of Territorial and Urban Agrarian Development (SEDATU), the Mexican Workers Federation, and the Agrarian Ombudsman responsible in the event of acts of violence in our territory.
  5. We ask the Mexican government to guarantee the security and physical integrity of the inhabitants of the community of Tilzapote and the human rights defenders that work with it, on the basis of international human rights treaties, in the face of the threat of forced displacement from their territory.
  6. We denounce the pressure by the agrarian ombudsman’s office for our ejidos and communities to accept the implementation of the program known as Registration of Agrarian Legal Actions (RAJA).

Ours is the land and territory and we will not leave it

Ours is the air and we will not lose it

Ours is the sun and we will not turn it off

Ours is the sea and we will not sell it

And we will care for this life that is ours

Signatory Communities:

Tataltepec de Valdez

Tilzapote

San Pedro Amuzgos

San Pedro Atoyac

Santa María de Huazolotitlán

Santiago Jamiltepec

San Pedro Tututepec

Lázaro Cárdenas Puerto Escondido

Santo Domingo de Morelos

San Francisco Cozoaltepec

Candelaria Loxicha

San Juan Cacahuatepec

Signatory Organizations:

Consejo de Pueblos Unidos en Defensa del Río Verde [Council of Pueblos United in Defense of the Río Verde]

Comité de Defensa Integral de Derechos Humanos Gobixha A. [Gobixha Comprehensive Human Rights Defense Committee, Civil Association] C.

Tequio Jurídico AC [Collective Legal Work, Civil Association C.

Colectivo Oaxaqueño en Defensa de los Territorios [Oaxacan Collective in Defense of Territory]

Comisión de Pastoral Indígena de la Diócesis de Puerto Escondido [Indigenous Pastoral Commission of the Puerto Escondido Diocese]

Casa Pastoral de la Diócesis de Puerto Escondido [Pastoral House of the Puerto Escondido Diocese]

Red Nacional de Organismos Civiles de Derechos Humanos “Todos los Derechos para Todas y Todos” [“All Rights for Everyone” National Network of Civil Bodies for Human Rights] (made up of 84 organizations in 23 states of the Mexican Republic)


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