Activists in prison
Gloria Muñoz Ramírez
Los de Abajo, La Jornada, 5th July, 2014
The country’s high security prisons are now the destination of those who demand justice, defend their territory against big business projects and organize their security against organized crime. At the same prison in Tepic, Nayarit, where Nestora Salgado, commander of the Community Police of Olinalá, Guerrero, is located, they have now taken Marco Antonio Suástegui Muñoz, spokesperson and historical leader of the Council of Ejidos and Communities Opposed to La Parota Dam, who on July 3 was refused bail because the unlawful act he is accused of is considered serious in Guerrero. In Michoacan, following the arrest of José Manuel Mireles Valverde, the leader of the autodefensas (self-defence forces) now transferred to Hermosillo, Sonora, a significant show of support has been made demanding his release. One of those showing support is the community police from the Nahua community of Santa Maria Ostula, which maintains that, contrary to what is preached by the federal government, “the problem of organized crime in Michoacán is unresolved, and its structure, its main heads and its economic activities remain intact;” also, they say, “complicit” officials “are found at all levels of government,” and enjoy full freedom.
In a statement from the Commission for the defence of the commons of Ostula, they warn that while the criminalization of social activists increases, “there is not one single person imprisoned, and no progress in the investigation into the killings and disappearances of commoners,” nor “have they resolved or identified anyone for the hundreds of killings and disappearances of other peoples and communities of the Costa Sierra of Michoacán.”
The support from Ostula for Mireles and the self-defence forces detained with him should not go unnoticed. There, an assembly of more than 2000 community members confirmed their community police in alliance with the group of Mireles. There, in June 2009 they also unveiled the first manifesto which claimed the right of the threatened indigenous communities to defend themselves. “To disarm the self-defence groups of the peoples and communities of the Costa Sierra, including Ostula, would mean to allow their cruel assassination,” they pointed out from the Pacific coast of Michoacán.
In Guerrero it is no coincidence that the arrest of the spokesperson for the struggle against the La Parota Dam took place just after the movement announced the formation of its own community police, faced with the intention of the government to re-impose the hydroelectric project which will affect the 47 communities in the region.
Translated and posted by Dorset Chiapas Solidarity 06/07/2014