Latest news in English from Santa Maria Ostula
Michoacán: Military Attacks Comuneros after Detaining Self-Defence Leader
Semeí Verdía Zepeda, Ostula Self-Defense Leader, Arrested
Photo: Francisco Castellanos/Proceso
Ernesto Martínez Elorriaga
La Jornada, 20th July, 2015
Morelia, Michoacán – On Sunday Federal forces attacked comuneros* from Ostula in the community of Ixtapilla, municipality of Aquila, leaving a 12-year-old boy dead and four others injured, including a six-year-old. The shooting occurred hours after the military arrested Semeí Verdía Zepeda, self-defence leader in the Costa-Sierra regions, while he was having breakfast in the seaside resort of La Placita, also in Aquila.
In a communiqué, the civic organization Team of Support and Solidarity with the Indigenous Community of Santa María Ostula reported that members of the Mexican armed forces attacked about 300 of Semei’s supporters, who protested his detention by setting up a roadblock on the [Pacific] coastal highway linking [the port city of] Lázaro Cárdenas to the state of Colima at Xayakalan. They asserted that the military action resulted in several additional detainees.
Comuneros from Aquila claimed that minutes after they set up the roadblock, soldiers arrived intending to arrest several of their fellow villagers. They noted that after 11:00 a.m., another group hoped to arrest Santa María Ostula’s Commissioner of Communal Goods. That’s when community residents detained a group of soldiers.
After 3:00 p.m., soldiers arrived in Ixtapilla, where the detained soldiers had been taken, and they fired against the people who had gathered to set up another roadblock on the highway. In the shootout, during which the detained [military] personnel were released, Iriberto Reyes García, 12, was killed; and Melesio Dirsio Cristino, 60 years; Jeini Natali Pineda Reyes, 6 years; Horacio Valladares Manuel, 32, and Delfino Antonio Alejo Ramos, 17, were injured. The injured were taken to Tecomán, Colima.
The Support Team to the Nahua community declared that military personnel tried, without presenting an arrest warrant, to detain Ostula’s Commissioner of Communal Goods. When they couldn’t find him, they arrested other people.
After his arrest, Semeí Verdía was taken to the Marine base at La Placita, where he was put aboard a helicopter for transfer to the state branch of the [federal] Attorney General’s Office (PGR) in Morelia [capital of Michoacán].
In a statement, the PGR reported that Verdía Zepeda was arrested in possession of two rifles—one 7.62 calibre known as the goat horn, and another .233 calibre—in addition to a 9mm handgun and 69 rounds of ammunition of different calibres. The statement concluded: "Therefore, due to flagrant conduct taken into account and punished by the Federal Penal Code, he was secured and made available to the PGR in order that his legal status might be resolved."
The PGR’s statement points out that Verdía Zepeda, who identified himself as a member of the Community Police in the municipality of Aquila, is being investigated for his probable involvement in other acts that constitute crimes against state and federal law, related to the destruction of election material in the June 7 election.
Short passage taken from:
A child dies in clash between civilians and Army in Aquila, after arrest of leader of Fuerza Rural
Proceso, July 19th, 2015
… In a telephone interview, [Self-Defence] Commander Hector Zepeda Navarrete from Coahuayana [Michoacán] … demanded Semeí Verdía’s release, considering that the Self-Defence and Rural Force on the [Pacific] Coast "are the cleanest in Michoacán."
Zepeda Navarrette believes that the arrest was due the fact that they [Self-Defence] continue fighting The Knights Templar cartel in the region, such that last May 25 the Nahua commander [Semeí Verdía] was ambushed on the coastal road, but he escaped.
The PRI mayor of Aquila, Juan Hernández, was imprisoned as probably responsible for the attack, Zepeda stated, then added: "[the mayor] had offered 2 million pesos [US$125,000] such that Semeí might be killed."
Last April 1, the Nahuatl [Semeí Verdía] was legitimized as a commander of the [Michoacán] Rural Force. Semeí was in exile for four years, after his family suffered killings and abductions at the hands of the cartel.
Since 2009, the Ostula community has registered 32 comuneros executed and six cases of enforced disappearance by the cartel.
Translated by Jane Brundage
*MV Note: Comuneros are members of indigenous communities whose land was granted to them by the Spanish king after the conquest. Comuneros own and work their land collectively. Article 2 of Mexico’s Constitution recognizes the right of these indigenous communities to choose self-government under traditional uses and customs, or indigenous customary law.
Child Killed in Military Attack in Mexico
A 12-year-old child was killed in the southern Mexican state of Michoacan after agents from the federal police opened fire against villagers in the small port town of Ixtapilla, local press reported on Sunday.
The raid also left four people wounded, including a six-year-old girl, the shooting occurred hours after the military arrested a self-defence leader in the municipality of Aquila.
Villagers from the neighbouring indigenous community of Santa Maria Ostula closed the main road connecting the port of Lazaro Cardenas in protest at the arrest of Semeí Verdaa Zepeda which led to a confrontation with soldiers.
According to teleSUR correspondent in Mexico, Eduardo Martinez, witnesses reported having seen the presence of the navy in the operation. The Mexican newspaper La Jornada published the shocking images of the wounded civilians.
The villagers held some soldiers and took them to Ixtapilla, where the federal forces opened fire after in an attempt to free the military, however they never took into consideration that there were children and unarmed civilians among a small crowd that was just blocking a highway.
The Michoacan Coordination Group, an organization formed by the state’s government and civil society organizations to analyze the security crisis in the violence-hit state, issued a statement condemning any attack on civilians and also said that it will conduct the necessary investigations on the event.