dorset chiapas solidarity

June 18, 2016

Communique from San Sebastian Bachajon 14th June 2016

Filed under: Bachajon, Indigenous, La Sexta, Tourism — Tags: , , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 12:02 pm



Communique from San Sebastian Bachajon 14th June 2016





Bachajón Ejidatarios join with 15 other communities to arrest a criminal gang who killed a young man of 22, using their customary practices




To the EZLN

To the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandόn Jungle

To the CNI

To the free media

To the defenders of human rights

To national and international civil society


Compañeros and compañeras, we want to inform you of the situation we are living through in our territory, as this is a clear example of how we have been affected by similar situations in the past.

On the night of Sunday 12th June, on the section of the highway in the municipality of Tumbalá, in the northern zone of Chiapas, a group of around 10 people assaulted and killed a young campesino, 22 years of age, named Medardo Astudillo Arcos, from the community of Cuctiepa.

The Ch’ol and Tseltal communities of the region, knowing that there will be no justice from the state due to the complicity of the police forces with the bad government and organised crime, decided to organize ourselves autonomously and mobilised around 800 men to track and capture the criminal gang, who, thanks to witnesses who were in the area, were identified as Miguel Pérez Cruz, Antonio Pérez Cruz, and Medardo Pérez Cruz, among others, and there were confessions that the group organizer was Mariano Silvano Gómez.

The operation was carried out by fifteen communities from different municipalities, among them the municipality of Bachajón, adherents to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandόn Jungle; we saw it necessary to unite against organised crime, to prevent the bad government from utilizing these types of situations, with the help of the mass media, and presenting them to civil society as the result of a prevailing insecurity and division among indigenous peoples, advocating police and military intervention in territories that are the focus of government interests.

Furthermore, we denounce that because of these interests, the bad government, in complicity with police forces in the region, has utilized similar conflicts to incriminate members of the indigenous organization of Bachajón, unjustly detaining them, as is the case of Emilio Jiménez Gómez and Esteban Gómez Jiménez.

The organized intervention of the Ch’ol and Tseltal communities to detain the criminals, using our customs and traditional practices and the ways and modes of community policing, is an example of autonomous justice which not only meets the security needs of the region, but also those of tourism, which daily travels these roads heading to destinations like Agua Azul, Palenque or the Yucatan peninsula.

Compañeros and Compañeras we will keep you informed about the situation.




Never again a Mexico without us

Land and freedom

Long live Zapata!

¡Hasta la victoria siempre!

Freedom for political prisoners!

Juan Vázquez Guzmán Lives, the Bachajón struggle continues!

Juan Carlos Gómez Silvano Lives, the Bachajón struggle continues!

No to the dispossession of indigenous territory!

State police out of indigenous territory!

Immediate return of the disappeared and murdered compañeros from the Normal School Raúl Isidro Burgos of Ayotzinapa!

Long live the dignified struggle of the Chol compañeros and compañeras from the ejido Tila!

Long live the dignified struggle of the compañeros and compañeras from San Francisco Xochicuautla!

Long live the communities who struggle for their autonomy and freedom!







April 8, 2016

Nestora Salgado Launches Campaign to Demand Release of Political Prisoners

Filed under: Political prisoners, Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 9:52 am



Nestora Salgado Launches Campaign to Demand Release of Political Prisoners


Nestora.pngCall to the campaign. Photo: @Regeneración


On March 18 last, Nestora Salgado, commander of the Olinala Community Police, Guerrero, member of the Regional Coordinator of Communitty Authorities (CRAC in its Spanish acronym), was released after two years and eight months in prison. On leaving prison, Nestora called on the Government of Guerrero to release the nine members of CRAC who are still prisoners and assured that she would begin a campaign “for the freedom”of her compañeros. For April 10, International Day of Political Prisoners, she called for actions within the framework of the national campaign “Put a Face and Name on the Political Prisoners in Mexico”, to give visibility to the situation of prisoners and demand their release. She stated that, “We are missing 500 political prisoners and I’m going to fight to get them out. I am going to get the release of my compañeros. I will go wherever I have to because I am with you in your struggle and in all the struggles of the people.

Nestora added that only together will the citizens be able to achieve change, justice and the freedom of their compañeros and of those in the rest of the country. She intends to travel to other countries to “exhume what has been buried and give voice to the silenced.” According to El Sur newspaper, social organizations also denounced “the grave crisis of human rights in Mexico and the criminalization of those who defend territory, education, land, water, the air and life. For this reason they have called [on people] to join Salgado’s movement and international tour. “We are aware that Mexico is suffering the most ruthless attack by the interests of foreign capital. Currently the territories of indigenous peoples are pillaged and (their inhabitants) are being displaced from their lands through the violence of paramilitary groups, by organized crime, or the territory is being militarized by soldiers and the state police” as is outlined on the call.

It is worth noting that the social leader returned to her home in Seattle, USA. In Washington she visited the International Clinic of Human Rights of the Faculty of Law of Washington University, where she started the campaign. The clinic played an important role in the struggle for the Nestora’s release. During her stay in the US, the commander from Olinala plans to visit Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and Washington. She intends to return to Guerrero soon as she is the representative of the Community Police and due to her post in CRAC.



March 26, 2016

Cherán community says no to single police command

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 9:14 am



Cherán community says no to single police command




By Ninx Salvaje and Regina López

What is the single police command?

Basically, it’s a reform to the country’s police system with the stated aim of ending corruption and collusion among municipal police forces and organized crime, relieving municipal governments of their responsibility for public safety and security. While these governments “design non-police oriented public policies”, they will “assume responsibility for public safety and security” through state police forces. 

Beginning last week, articles have come out in several different newspapers announcing that the autonomous municipal government of Cherán, Michoacán has signed a document agreeing to the “single police command.” Members of the Pur’épecha community deny this news report and reaffirm their determination to continue struggling for their autonomy. A spokesperson makes their position clear:

Those who work for the bad government and the press that strategically tries to destabilize us, always report lies, announce things that aren’t true, and have now announced that Cherán will accept the single command, when we have not done so.

This is not the first time the commercial press has treated Cherán this way. In the last few years, the publication and dissemination of lies aimed at disrupting the community has become practically systematic.

Last year, for example, when elections were held in most parts of the country, press reports announced the installation of ballot boxes in the autonomous community, despite its staunch opposition to the electoral process. It is important to note that no ballot box has been allowed to enter the community.

Thus, the large majority of the people of Cherán have lost all confidence in the mass media. They know very well that its goal is not to support the people, but to misinform them and promote the interests of the bad government.

The media responsible for spreading groundless stories have lost their credibility. They have always tried to destabilize us, but we don’t pay any attention to them. We have friends of our own who report the truth.

Just as the community doesn’t believe in the commercial press, it has no confidence in the state’s armed forces either. Up until April 15, 2011, when the people rose up in arms to defend the forests from the organized crime groups that were destroying them, Cherán had received no support whatsoever from official forces. Neither the local, state, or federal police, nor the army, had paid attention to community demands. What’s worse, community people have learned that the police at all different levels –not only the local level- work hand in hand with the criminals.

During the uprising, the community not only expelled the criminals, but also the police, and returned to the traditional safety and security system: their community police known as “la Ronda,” which is now made up of approximately a hundred people from different barrios. Since then, Cherán has experienced an exceptional decline in the number of crimes committed in its territory, as well as the total absence of harassment, extortion, disappearances and killings. How could the people possibly want the police and military forces of the State to enter their town?

At any rate, for them, the entrance of the armed forces into the Pur’épecha community represents one more attempt at conquest, given that before colonization and during the Mexican “Independence” period, the people already had their own forms of security. The comunero explains:

We can’t place ourselves under the single command, the army, the navy or whatever, because they’ve only existed for a short time. The Ronda came before Mexico’s army, and before the navy, too, so it is of greater significance and more natural.  It comes from long ago and is our own. The community has always taken care of itself. We’ve taken care of each other.

In the face of the threat posed by government harassment aimed at imposing the single command, several unusual robberies experienced by townspeople in the last few weeks, and the state government decision to grant eight licenses for the establishment of liquor stores, the community has decided to reactivate the community “rondín”.   Along with the 100 active members of the Ronda, both men and women volunteers are coming together to patrol different barrios and prevent crimes from being committed at night. Our comrade says:

The members of the Ronda are simply representatives because here the entire community, including the four barrios watches out for ourselves, as we said at the beginning, ‘block by block, campfire by campfire.’ We 20,000 community members are looking after ourselves.

And those who live in the community aren’t the only ones who are part of the Ronda. It’s made up of all the people who help take care of the community, from close at hand or from afar.

The brothers and sisters living outside the community -those who have migrated to the North- also ask us from time to time, “What’s going on in Cherán?”. So they’re also part of the Ronda, along with the independent media and collectives who come and ask us what’s happening. They’re also on the alert and watch out for us from afar.

“So if the government wants us to accept the single command, everyone has to agree, and we’re a hell of a lot of people. And the government has to consult everybody, not just the Council or the Ronda. The General Council represents us, but here in our structure, the maximum authority is the Assembly, and the Assembly is made up of all of us.

In spite of all the attacks, the community remains firm in its commitment. “Cherán is not going to give up the fight. We won’t hand over our form of government or our self-determination,” the spokesperson concluded.



March 22, 2016

Nestora Salgado, community leader battling Mexican cartels, freed from jail

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 8:28 am



Nestora Salgado, community leader battling Mexican cartels, freed from jail

Kidnapping charges against Salgado, who led a community police force cracking down on criminals in the violent Mexican state of Guerrero, have been dropped



Nestora Salgado: ‘People ask if I’m scared. I say, Yes I am, but want to die fighting.’ Photograph: Henry Romero/Reuters


David Agren in Mexico City

A Seattle woman who led a militia cracking down on criminal activity in her Mexican hometown walked out of prison on Friday, after kidnapping charges against her were dismissed.

Surrounded by shouting supporters and flanked by members of the militia she commanded prior to imprisonment, Nestora Salgado walked free in Mexico City with a promise to return to patrolling her birthplace in southern Guerrero state, where she won fame for taking on criminal groups and drug cartels accused of acting in cahoots with police and politicians.

“I paid for crimes that I did not commit and for nothing more than defending my people,” Salgado, 44, told a packed press conference. “People ask if I’m scared. I say, ‘Yes I am, but want to die fighting.’”

Salgado’s case won worldwide attention, as residents in several violent Mexican states grabbed guns and fought back against marauding drug cartels which in addition to moving illegal merchandise through Mexico to the US are increasingly involved in crimes against ordinary people, such as kidnapping and extortion.

The militia groups – commonly called “community police” – have caused disquiet among the Mexican government, but Salgado said such groups in Guerrero “have a structure, internal rules and are made up of community members … [They’re] necessary because people have to be able to defend themselves.”

Once a teen mother, Salgado moved to the Seattle area at around the age of 20, working menial jobs to send money home. She became a US citizen before returning to her hometown, Olinalá, a mountainous village about 275km south of Mexico City. There in 2012, after a cabbie was murdered for not making extortion payments, she jumped into community policing.

Critics have accused Salgado of abusing her authority, a charge she denies. She was detained by soldiers in August 2013 after, authorities allege, she kidnapped three teenage girls. The girls were detained by community police for allegedly dealing drugs on behalf of “narco” boyfriends.

The United Nations working group on arbitrary detention determined the arrest of Salgado to be arbitrary and said the formation of community police forces was permitted under state law.

Community police forces were first organised in Guerrero 20 years ago, to combat crimes such as sexual assaults and robbery, and to promote the practice of restorative justice common in indigenous communities.

Proponents say the model produced results, though the groups have splintered and some have not always acted properly.

“This government persecution is coming because it wants to discourage people from organizing,” said Father Mario Campos, a Catholic priest responsible for forming the first community police organization, the Regional Coordinator of Community Authorities, to which Salgado belonged.

“Where there’s community security, there’s much more tranquillity.”

Security in Guerrero, which includes the glitz of Acapulco and the misery of marginalized indigenous municipalities in inaccessible mountainous areas, has worsened since Salgado’s arrest. Notorious crimes have included the kidnapping and presumed killing of 43 teacher trainees in September 2014.

The situation was serious enough for state’s most senior clergyman, Archbishop Carlos Garfias Merlos of Acapulco, to call for talks with organized crime. He pleaded with the cartels to establish a truce for the upcoming Holy Week holiday, when many Mexicans holiday in Acapulco.

Governor Héctor Astudillo even mused recently about organizing a legal opium poppy harvest, in an effort to weaken the grip criminals hold over impoverished indigenous villages.




March 19, 2016

Nestora Salgado Vows – “We are still missing 500 Political Prisoners, and I am going to fight to get them out.”

Filed under: Political prisoners, Uncategorized — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 10:30 am



Nestora Salgado Vows – “We are still missing 500 Political Prisoners, and I am going to fight to get them out.”




Aristegui Noticias

After leaving prison, Nestora Salgado, leader of Community Police in Olinalá, Guerrero, said she will seek the release of “500 political prisoners.” At the press conference held on Friday at the Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez Human Rights Centre, Nestora said, “We are missing 500 political prisoners, and I am going to fight to get them out … I’m going to manage the release of my colleagues. Wherever I might have to go to put a stop to it, there I’ll be, because I am with you in your struggle and all the struggles of the people.”

However, she explained, first she will travel to the United States to address her health problems.

The Comandanta related part of what she went through in prison: “For 20 months, I was in solitary confinement, isolated, they made an example of me. They did what they could. It’s difficult to fight against a government when you are made an example, for defending our people … It is horrible that I have paid for a crime I did not commit, for having wanted to defend my people, my pueblo [‘pueblo’ refers both to the people and their village].

“It hurts me to have known the prisoners’ situation. They are beaten, punished. After paying with a conviction, they are still cruelly punished. Prisoners arrived at the hospital with their intestines torn apart by the police,” she denounced. “I was charged with crimes I did not commit … we did not commit any crime, but we have a big weight in there. It is horrible psychological damage.”

She held Ángel Aguirre, Guerrero’s former governor, responsible for the “terrible times” she lived through in prison. Nestora called on the government of Guerrero to release the remaining Community prisoners, and she asserted that she will initiate a “campaign for their freedom”.

Regarding the allegations made against her by the activist Isabel Miranda de Wallace, she said: “May God forgive her. I have already forgiven her.”

She critized some media for having criminalized her: “The media made me into an image of a kidnapper, a killer, a pickpocket … no sir, I am not a murderer. I am a mother who fights. I am not a criminal, and they imprisoned me unjustly.”

“I hold my head up high, because I am not ashamed of anything,” she said.

Salgado also sent a message to President Enrique Peña Nieto: “Tell the señor that he might respect our people and our Community Police, the pueblo does not defend criminals, and I ask support for our indigenous peoples.”

Translated by Jane Brundage



March 18, 2016

Nestora Salgado To Be Released on Friday 18th March

Filed under: Human rights, Indigenous, Political prisoners, Uncategorized — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 9:59 am



Nestora Salgado To Be Released on Friday 18th March




At present, the Commander of Community Police in Olinalá, Guerrero, is awaiting notification of her release, and tomorrow morning she will leave the prison.”Family, social organizations, defenders have joined forces to achieve her freedom. Today with satisfaction, we can say: Mission accomplished, comandanta Nestora.”Desinformémonos:  Nestora Salgado, comandanta of the Community Police of Olinalá, Guerrero, will be released. Criminal Court 67 of Mexico City gave the formal order for her freedom, with the dismissal of the last three criminal proceedings that were opened in Guerrero for kidnapping, robbery, illegal deprivation of liberty and homicide.

Nestora was imprisoned first in the high security federal prison in Tepic, Nayarit, and then at the Medical Tower of the Women’s Criminal Prison in Tepepan [southern Mexico City] which she hopes to leave this Friday, March 18, in the morning.

The office of her legal counsel, Strategic Defense of Human Rights, wrote on its Facebook page:

“Family, social organizations, defenders have joined forces to achieve her freedom. Today with satisfaction, we can say: Mission accomplished, comandanta Nestora.”

At present, the Commander of Community Police in Olinalá, Guerrero, is awaiting notification of her release, and tomorrow morning she will leave the prison.


Translated by Reed Brundage




March 9, 2016

Jailed Mexican Activist Nestora Salgado Fighting for Freedom

Filed under: Human rights, Indigenous, Women — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 7:38 pm



Jailed Mexican Activist Nestora Salgado Fighting for Freedom



Nestora Salgado speaks in the community of Buenavista. | Photo: Youtube


Nestora Salgado was immediately slapped with new charges after judges ordered her release, but lawyers are hopeful she will still soon walk free.

Jailed U.S.-Mexican activist Nestora Salgado remains in prison despite a court order demaning her release, some 30 months after being arrested. However, the weak footing of the new homicide and kidnapping charges levelled against her might mean she’s close to regaining her freedom, local media reported Wednesday.

Salgado, a Mexican-born U.S. citizen, was arrested in August 2013 on charges of kidnapping and engaging in organized crime after returning to her hometown of Olinala in the violence-ridden state of Guerrero to organize a community police force, and to take a stand against drug cartels and state complicity in violence.

Mexican judges ruled on Monday that there was no conclusive evidence linking Salgado to 53 kidnapping she was accused of and ordered the activist’s release.

Still, authorities have attempted to block her release, slapping her with three new charges of kidnapping and homicide.

Salgado’s legal team, however, is optimistic that it can still win her release despite political manoeuvres to keep her behind bars.

The activist has a clear alibi for the murder she is accused of committing. Her lawyer, Cesar Sandino, told the Mexican daily La Jornada that Salgado was in a different community over 150 kilometres (90 miles) from the scene of the crime at the time of the homicide.

“Although it sounds more shocking because we are talking about a homicide, it’s the crime for which there is the least evidence,” said Sandino, “because the day the events happened she was in a meeting at midday in the Government House in Chilpancingo, and at 2:00 p.m. she was giving a press conference in Tixtla, which covers the three hours where the events took place.”

Salgado is expected to give her preliminary testimony next Thursday. Her lawyers expect that the lack of evidence will lead to a second order for her release within 72 hours of presenting the defence.

Support for Salgado’s case in Mexico and the United States has shed light on the unjust nature of her detention as a tool by authorities to criminalize activism and resistance. Organizing community police forces like the one Salgado headed in Olinala is legal under the Mexican constitution and Guerrero law.

Human rights defenders have labelled Salgado a political prisoner, while the United Nations ruled earlier this month that her detention is illegal and arbitrary.

Salgado is quoted in an online petition calling on Mexican authorities to drop charges against her as saying that the only case of “kidnapping” is her unjust detention. She maintains that she is being punished for standing up to a corrupt political system.

Arrests carried out by the community police force under Salgado’s leadership included a government official accused of drug trafficking.

Salgado’s community police force is one of many armed vigilante groups across Mexico that organized to combat cartels in the face of the collapse of the rule of law in much of the country.




February 5, 2016

Mexican woman jailed for combatting cartels: ‘It is a sacrifice that had to be made’

Filed under: Human rights, Indigenous, Political prisoners — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 5:25 pm



Mexican woman jailed for combatting cartels: ‘It is a sacrifice that had to be made’




Nestora Salgado is a Seattle-area resident who returned to her native Mexico and led a vigilante-style – but legal – community police force, which mounted patrols to protect residents from cartel operatives.

A dual US-Mexico citizen, Salgado was arrested in August 2013 after people detained by her group alleged they had been kidnapped. A federal judge cleared her of those charges, but a related state case has kept her imprisoned.

The International Human Rights Clinic at Seattle University Law School has been pursuing her case at the UN’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention in Geneva, Switzerland, for about two years. In a decision reached in December and communicated to her lawyers on Tuesday, the five-member panel called her arrest arbitrary and said Mexico should not only free her but compensate her for the violation of her human rights.

The UN group found that she was arrested for community policing, which is protected under Mexican law, and that authorities ignored her American passport. She was denied contact with her lawyers and family for almost year, the panel said, and in prison she has been denied adequate medical care and access to clean water.

“In the first place, there is no doubt that the arrest and detention without charges is illegal and thus arbitrary,” the UN group said. “Furthermore, the military arresting civilians for presumed crimes when national security is not at risk is worrying.”
The ruling is not binding on Mexico, but it could increase pressure to release her, said Thomas Antkowiak, the law clinic’s director.

“We’ve been in ongoing negotiations with the government in Mexico, the federal government mainly, and those have gone nowhere. We’re hoping this is going to inject new life into those negotiations.”

The clinic also plans to ask the US State Department to press for her release, he said.

A spokesman for the prosecutor’s office in the southern state of Guerrero, Mexico, was not immediately available to discuss the ruling on Tuesday. Mexican authorities typically do not comment about ongoing cases, though Guerrero’s governor called for her release last year.

Salgado grew up in Olinala, a mountainous town of farmers and artisans in Guerrero. She moved to the US when she was about 20, settling in the Seattle area, where she waitressed and cleaned apartments. She eventually began making trips back home, and she became involved in the community police following the killing of a taxi driver who refused to pay protection money to a cartel.

A state law allows Olinala and Guerrero’s other indigenous communities to organize their own police forces.

Salgado was accused of kidnapping in connection with the arrest of several teenage girls on suspicion of drug dealing, and of a town official for allegedly trying to steal a cow at the scene of a double killing. The Guerrero state government said following the arrest that authorities had received complaints from the families of six kidnapping victims, including three minors, and that ransom had been demanded.

“She’s endured over two years of illegal detention, without evidence or a trial against her,” Antkowiak said. “She’s a political prisoner.”




Nestora Salgado’s Arrest “Illegal and Arbitrary”: UN Group on Arbitrary Detention

Filed under: Human rights, Indigenous, Political prisoners, Uncategorized — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 4:04 pm



Nestora Salgado’s Arrest “Illegal and Arbitrary”: UN Group on Arbitrary Detention



Proceso, 3rd February 2016.

A United Nations panel has determined that Nestora Salgado’s arrest in August 2013 was due to her activities with the community police, protected by Mexican law; therefore, the arrest is illegal and arbitrary. The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, in Geneva, Switzerland, reached its conclusions last December, but they were announced yesterday by Salgado’s lawyers.

The panel noted that the activist was not allowed contact with lawyers and family for almost a year, and during her time in prison was denied adequate medical care and access to clean water. The five-member panel called her arrest arbitrary and noted that Mexico should not only release her, but compensate her for violation of her human rights. The UN group stated: “First, there is no doubt that her arrest and detention without [demonstrated] charges is illegal and therefore arbitrary. It is also worrisome that the Army arrested a civilian for alleged crimes, when national security was not at risk.”

Thomas Antkowiak, director of the International Human Rights Clinic at the Law School of the University of Seattle, said that the determination has no legal force in Mexico, but could increase pressure for her release. [Salgado is a naturalized U.S. citizen and resided in Washington state.] The clinic took her case to the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. Antkowiak argued: “This is a very important channel for applying political pressure. We have an impartial and international panel saying she was illegally detained. I think it’s an important step.”

He added: “We have been in negotiations with the government of Mexico, principally with the federal government, but that has not led us anywhere. We hope this will inject new life into the negotiations.”

He noted that the Clinic also plans to ask the State Department to advocate for the release of Nestora Salgado, accused of kidnapping in connection with the arrest of several teenagers who were suspected of trafficking drugs, and a local official who allegedly tried to steal a cow at the scene of a double homicide.

Antkowiak said that Nestora “has suffered more than two years of illegal detention without evidence presented against her or a trial being held. She is a political prisoner.”

Translated by Jane Brundage



January 15, 2016

Detention Order for Nestora Salgado upheld

Filed under: Indigenous, Uncategorized — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 12:12 pm



 Detention Order for Nestora Salgado Ratified





On January 7, Leonel Rivero Rodriguez, the attorney of Nestora Salgado, commander of the Regional Coordination of Community Authorities-Community Police (CRAC-PC), announced that the First Criminal Court of the High Court of Justice of Guerrero rejected the appeal presented by the defence, and ratified the detention order against her for the offence of aggravated kidnapping. The judges of the First Criminal Court of the High Court issued their decision on December 15 last, but this had not been made public due to the holiday season. Nestora Salgado García was detained in August 2013, and is currently a prisoner at Tepepen Penitentiary in Mexico City.

Rivero explained that the judges rejected the appeal presented by the defence to revoke the detention order handed down by the Tlapa Criminal Court against the commander of CRAC in the municipality of Olinalá due to lack of evidence. He noted that, “Based on a decision reached by the federal courts on February 18, 2015, Nestora Salgado is acquitted of the offense of organized crime.” He said that an appeal had been lodged for lack of evidence to the Criminal Court of the Judiciary of Guerrero. The attorney announced that, “A direct appeal will be lodged with the Federal Judiciary against the decision taken by the three judges in Guerrero.” He reiterated that, “If this court declares the trial void, Nestora Salgado will walk free.”

Some days later on January 10, social organizations, human rights defenders, journalists and artists from Guerrero demanded freedom for the community activist Nestora Salgado during a collective protest in front of Tepepan Prison in Mexico City. The activists denounced the irregularities that prevail in the arbitrary arrests, not only of Nestora, but also of the other political prisoners and members of CRAC-PC, such as Bernardino García Francisco, Ángel García García, Eleuterio García Carmen, Abad Francisco Ambrosio, Florentino García Castro and Benito Morales Bustos, members of the community police in El Paraíso, and Samuel Ramírez Gálvez, a member of the community police in Zitlatepec.




Detention order against human rights defender Nestora Salgado García upheld – Front Line Defenders Appeals


12 January 2016

On 6 January 2015, the First Criminal Chamber of the Superior Tribunal of Justice of Guerrero rejected the appeal presented by the defence lawyers of Ms Nestora Salgado García requesting her immediate release.

Nestora Salgado García is a human rights defender and indigenous leader from the state of Guerrero, where she has worked to protect indigenous rights, and in particular the right of indigenous peoples to self-determination. Prior to her arrest in August 2013, she led the organisation of the Coordinadora Regional de Autoridades Comunitarias: Policía Comunitaria – CRAC-PC (Regional Coordinating Body of Community Authorities: Community Police) in the municipality of Olinalá, in Guerrero. The community police force was organised and led by Nestora Salgado García in an effort to combat increases in violence, violent crimes, political corruption, and violations of the rights of indigenous peoples in the municipality of Olinalá. The Governor of Guerrero initially promised to support the community police force, before deciding to eliminate it in November 2014.

The decision to uphold the detention order against Nestora Salgado García follows an appeal lodged by the human rights defender’s lawyers demanding her immediate release, based on a decision of the First Unitary Tribunal of the Twenty-First Circuit of Chilpancingo, from March 2014. This decision revoked the original detention order against Nestora Salgado García, due to a lack of evidence against her. In spite of this, the human rights defender was not released and is now being held at the Tepepan detention centre in Mexico City, to where she was transferred from the federal maximum security prison in Nayarit in May 2015.

Nestora Salgado was illegally and arbitrarily detained on 21 August 2013 on fabricated charges of aggravated kidnapping. The charges originate in actions she took in accordance with her role and duties as a member of CRAC-PC. The human rights defender has been kept under detention for over two years and has yet to be tried for the charges she faces.

On 28 January 2015, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) issued precautionary measures in favour of Nestora Salgado. In its decision, the IACHR took into consideration the fragile situation faced by the human rights defender at the maximum security federal prison in Nayarit, and the risk to her life and personal integrity. The human rights defender has reported that she has not been provided with access to proper medical treatment for chronic pains she suffers from as a result of a previous car accident; and that she had been subjected to ill-treatment while detained.

Due to the State’s failure to comply with the protective measures issued by the IACHR, the human rights defender embarked on a hunger strike in May 2015, resulting in the significant deterioration of her health. On 29 May 2015, after almost a month on hunger strike, she was transferred to the Tepepan detention centre in Mexico City.

Front Line Defenders is gravely concerned by the arbitrary arrest and pre-trial detention of human rights defender Nestora Salgado. Further concern is expressed for her physical and psychological integrity and security, and the fabricated charges brought against her. Front Line Defenders believes that the detention of Nestora Salgado is intended to prevent her from carrying out her legitimate work in the defence of indigenous peoples’ rights and their rights to self-determination in Mexico.
Front Line Defenders urges the authorities in Mexico to:

  1. Immediately and unconditionally release Nestora Salgado García, and drop all charges against her, as Front Line Defenders believes that she is being held solely as a result of her legitimate and peaceful work in the defence of human rights;
  2. Take all necessary measures to guarantee the physical and psychological integrity and security of Nestora Salgado García, including through the implementation of precautionary measures for her protection as requested by the Inter American Court of Human Rights;
  3. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Mexico are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions.



February 14, 2015

Cherán K’eri: Political parties are dead to us in this town

Filed under: Autonomy — Tags: , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 6:08 pm


Cherán K’eri: Political parties are dead to us in this town

Cheran TV

By Niñx Salvaje.
In April of this year, the Purépecha municipality of Cherán K’eri, Michoacán is celebrating four years of its uprising to end the presence of organized crime in its territory. Following the uprising, indigenous women and men not only managed to throw out to the narco cartel, but also expelled all authorities (police, local government and political parties) that supported the illegal activities in the community. They decided to retake their traditional forms of self government to start a long process of building their autonomy. A few months back they inaugurated a new weapon to continue defending their traditions and reaffirm their rejection of the institutional political method: a communal television.
Photo: Regina López

From self defense to autonomy

When the community of Cherán K’eri began to organize, one of the fundamental demands of the population was security. The process of self defense that initiated and remains in effect today has results that cannot remain unnoticed: the smiles of the people and the life that animates the plazas and streets is noticeable starting at the entrance of the town.

“We now have confidence in our peace, our children walk to school without worry, as does everyone else. We no longer feel that fear that we once had”—shares one member of the community.”

The council of Honor and Justice is in charge of the security of the municipality: while the communal patrol (ronda communitaria) is controlling the city’s entrances and exits, as well as resolving the internal problems of the community. The “Guardabosques” (guardians of the forest), are in charge of protecting the rural zones furthest from the center of town, where the forest is. Each day and by turns, two groups of six people patrol the territory with their truck. It should be noted that for the indigenous Purépecha men and women, the protection and preservation of their forest is both a traditional and spiritual obligation, and therfore it is an essential part of their struggle. Their defense not only includes their security, but also the enormous work of reforestation, whose effects can already be seen.

In addition to having strengthened their system of communal security, the people of Cherán changed their entire system of governance. The main council, formed by a group of 12 individuals, lxs K’eris, coordinate the actions of the other councils and commissions. However the ultimate authority of the community is the assembly: in each one of the four neighborhoods that form Cherán, the communards come together to carry forth proposals and make decisions at the general assembly. “Previously, to my memory, never did a municipal president convene a neighborhood general assembly, and much less allowed the people to say what was on their minds. The people couldn’t give an opinion, they (the municipality) only did what was convenient to them.” commented a member of the community. Now, “the agreements come directly from the coordinators of the bonfires, from the bonfires, from the neighborhood reunions”, states another.

It is worth remembering that thanks to the community pressure that was also exerted in the legal arena, the municipality of Cherán K’eri was completely recognized on a federal level as an autonomous municipality. With this victory, Cherán achieved setting a national precedent so that other indigenous municipalities of Mexico can also exercise that right to free self determination.

The struggle has not ended yet

Even though there has been great advancement in the construction of a new world, the residents of Cherán also know that their struggle is barely starting, and that surely they will have to confront more challenges in the future. The upcoming year is particularly critical: while the Electoral Institute of Michoacán had agreed that the appointment of the authorities of Cherán shall be created by practices and customs, the residents know that the political parties will try to take advantage of the municipal elections that will take place in the state to attempt to return to their community.

Nevertheless, their position is firm: they will do all that is possible to impede their entry. In a system in which the drug traffickers, political classes and transnational businesses work hand by hand to impose their control upon the territories and plunder the natural resources –in this case the forests- the residents are conscious that to return to a system of political parties would represent a huge risk for the defense of their territory.

“For us here in the town the political parties are dead, because they never did anything when we began to defend the forest. Why? Because all of the parties are backed by organized crime. And whoever does not want to see that wants to remain blind to what is happening. That is what I think of the parties: that they are shit.” declares one woman. A youth also comments- “They have asked me many times: What will you do the day that this town returns to the parties? What would I do? I would be the first fucker to return to the front and say “no fucking way here”. No to the political parties, no to that bad government, no to that narco-government”.

TV Cherán: a new weapon for the community

To support the struggle of the people and prepare to defend their autonomy, the “Jóvenes Unidos por Cherán” Youth United for Cherán –together with collectives in solidarity such as the co-operative ManoVuelta and the network of independent media Tejemedios– have been working in the construction of a new weapon: their communal television. It was inaugurated on Nov 29, 2014, with the support of all the councils and assembly. During the first transmission, a declaration of agreement of TV Cherán was announced:

This communal TV will exist to strengthen our autonomy and support our organization. In the communal TV, there will be no discrimination, zero institutional religions, will function without commercials and without political parties or groups that hold power.

Photo: Niñx Salvaje

Through the diffusion of subject matter produced with and from the community, TV Cherán has as its objective to value the sense and life of its people and its reflection, as well as to strengthen its organization. In its program, one finds material that focuses on the Purépecha traditions and customs, its culture, celebrations, cuisine, music and also a newscast, as well as info related to its autonomous government: regularly the distinct councils present to the TV the advances in their work. In the TV the town assembly is valued as its maximum authority and it defends its practices and customs as an alternative to the institutional political route; it is clearly anti-electoral and anti-political party.

With this television station, the members of the team enroll in the long path towards the re-appropriation of the present and future of its community. “Many times we state that the youth are the future, but that is not true, the youth are the present, and the future are our children and our grandchildren, and it is for them that we have to fight, for the generations that are yet to come.”, clarifies one youth.

Although this project was thought of to strengthen the internal process of the community, it is also a strong medium to communicate outwardly, to weave relations of solidarity and invite others to share the struggle. Thus, a woman shares in one of the newscasts produced by the television: The powerful rulers are used to obtaining things by the most vile, cruel and unjust manner and always wants to have power over us. But as we give the power to the people, the people can also choose to withhold power. I call out to all of my country to create consciousness. If we do nothing, we will always be trampled.

Photo: Kino Luiggi


This article, along with more photos, was originally published in Spanish by Agencia SubVersiones.

March 26, 2014

Self-Defence and Disarmament in Ostula

Filed under: Indigenous — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 1:53 pm


Self-Defence and Disarmament in Ostula

Luis Hernández Navarro

La Jornada, March 25th, 2014

Translated by Brittany Doss

Captura de pantalla 2014-03-25 a les 13.45.04Luxury, refinement, and quality are the hallmarks of Rolls Royce vehicles. The panels of several of their models are made from the sangualica tree, which has a beautiful, hard, heavy wood, also known as Rosewood, which grows on the Michoacán coast. Because of its quality and colour, it’s also used to make yacht panels, scalpels, and musical instruments.

In Mexico the sangualica is considered an endangered tree and is listed in the protected species category. Its high price and strong demand in the Asian market have led to looting and illegal exportation. Last July, as a precautionary measure, the Federal Prosecutor for Environmental Protection preventively secured two containers in the port of Manzanillo that had just over 39 cubic metres of sangualica wood that was slated to be sent to China.

As with other illegal activities carried out in the 25 kilometre coastal region of the Municipality of Aquila, The Knights Templar cartel is involved in the illegal logging of sangualica and selling it to China. It’s not their only business in the region. From there also go out tons and tons of iron with the same destination. From these beaches, [illegal cargo] comes and goes from the steepest parts of the Tierra Caliente. Speedboats land on its shores with cocaine shipments from Colombia. On private ranches illegally set up on communal lands Cessna airplanes land transporting weapons and drugs.

On these coasts, the land, territory and natural resources are disputed inch by inch and life by life. On one side, are the Nahua community members of Ostula and 22 nearby villages; on the other, together or separately, are private “small landowners,” the mining company Ternium-Las Encinas SA (second most important in the state), and The Knights Templar.

This fight has dragged on for half a century. It began in 1964 when, after their ancestral lands were recognized by a presidential resolution, technical flaws in the plans permitted the smallholders of La Placita to invade the communal territory and subdivide it. Today, these invaders are frequently members or allies of organized crime in the region.

It is in the context of this sordid and silent resistance against dispossession and exploitation that the community members of Ostula emitted the first “Enough already!” [¡Ya basta!] in the region, anticipating the struggles of the community members of Cherán and the self-defence groups in the Tierra Caliente. On June 13th and 14th, 2009, they enacted the Ostula Manifesto. Approved by delegates from villages and indigenous communities in nine states of the Republic attending the 25th Assembly of the Pacific Region-South of the National Indigenous Congress, the Ostula Manifesto proclaimed that indigenous people have the inalienable right, derived from Article 39 of the Constitution, to organize and conduct the defence of their lives, security, freedom and fundamental rights of their culture and territory.

The recuperation of their lands and the organization of their community police were ruthlessly challenged by drug traffickers and the local strongmen. In three years, 32 community members were killed and another five disappeared. On December 6, 2011, community member J. Trinidad de la Cruz, Don Trino, was tortured and killed after an attack on the Caravan of the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity, despite the fact that a Navy checkpoint was located 500 metres away.

The training and spread of the self-defence groups in the Tierra Caliente and their war against The Knights Templar created the conditions for Ostula’s community members to reorganize and recover their territory. On February 8th of this year, a group of exiles returned to their community. With the support of the self-defence groups in the neighbouring communities of Chinicuila, Coahuayán and Coalcomán, they conducted an assembly and agreed to reconstitute their community police.

Community police differ from self-defence groups in that they are appointed and subject to decisions by the community assembly and must respond to it. In contrast, most self-defence groups are formed by the free association of their members, without relationships to community assemblies and without orders agreed upon by them. The weapons, vehicles, and resources available to the Nahuas of Ostula are much more modest and insecure than those possessed by the self-defence groups.

Dangerous Disarmament

Despite the role that community police have played in the struggle against The Templars, almost a week ago, on March 19th, about 40 troops from the Mexican Navy led by Commander Alfredo Valdés de León, disarmed 14 community police officers who were guarding the village of La Placita, which until a few weeks ago was a stronghold of organized crime under the command of Federico, Lico, González Merino and Mario Álvarez.

In response, the next day, about 1,500 residents of the town of Santa María Ostula and the municipalities of Aquila, Chinicuila, and Coahuayana, along with 300 community police officers and self-defence groups, closed down the Manzanillo-Lázaro Cárdenas Highway for 2 hours at the location of the Mexican Navy’s base and checkpoint in the town of La Placita. They demand that the confiscated weapons be returned to them.

The action of the Marines against the Ostula community police is part of the federal government offensive to disarm and demobilize the Michoacán self-defence groups. But it is also another link in the push to strike and dismantle the most politicized sectors of the indigenous and civic mobilization in Michoacán, those fighting for historic rights and who are confronting large interests, such as the transnational mining companies.

The Ostula community has paid an enormous price in blood for trying to defend themselves against organized crime and trying to conserve their natural resources at risk of extinction, like the sangualica trees. By disarming their community police, the federal government is placing the community of Ostula in a position of dangerous helplessness.



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