Indigenous Community Fights Tirelessly for Security and Justice
Gloria Muñoz Ramírez
Los de Abajo, La Jornada, 5th December 2015
A true social movement never forgets its dead, never stops looking for its disappeared and fights tirelessly for the release of its political prisoners. The demands of the Nahua community of Ostula are not new. Defending its territory from the complicity between governments, transnational corporations, and organized crime has taken the lives of 34 comuneros and the disappearance of another six in the last four years—to all this is added the imprisonment of Semeí Verdía Zepeda, commander of the Community Police in this town on Michoacán’s Pacific Coast.
The total lack of governmental will, and its failure to fulfil commitments made to the assembly of this organized pueblo, leads them to restart pressure measures aimed at achieving the:
- Immediate and unconditional release of Verdía, who has been imprisoned since July 19, 2015;
- Cancellation of arrest warrants against other community police and self-defence groups serving other communities in the region;
- Demilitarization of Michoacán’s Costa-Sierra region;
- Punishment of the police and soldiers who killed a child, wounded comuneros and destroyed their common goods, with respective compensation for damages;
- Apprehension of El Lico and El Chacal, bosses of The Knights Templar cartel, and the political and economic breakup of this criminal cell; and, of course, the
- Safe return of their disappeared and punishment of those guilty of killing the comuneros.
The self-defence groups in Michoacán join forces and unify strategies. Community Police in Aquila, Coahuayana, Chinicuila and Coalcomán demand respect for their organization and a halt to [the government's] creation of shock troops. The Ostula Community Police, organized after the recovery of their lands in 2009 under an assembly process, now warn that their actions will grow if a satisfactory response is not given to their demands for justice.
On December 1, they took the Federal Highway, and 200 to 250 comuneros went to Morelia demanding the immediate release of their commander. The comuneros in the Costa-Sierra region of Michoacán have not stopped denouncing operations by The Knights Templar on their lands that, they say, is carried out "with the complicity of corrupt officials."
Another demand is clarification of the death of Hedilberto Reyes, 12, killed on July 19 by Army soldiers during a demonstration in Ixtapilla. Today the inhabitants of the Nahua Coast of Michoacán call for solidarity. Their struggle is also for a halt to the war of extermination against the indigenous peoples, respect for the Zapatista communities and an end to paramilitarism.
Translated by Jane Brundage