Army Invades the Ejidal Lands of San Salvador Atenco
In the morning of April 12, while the police forces of the State of Mexico continued advancing at the other end of the state, in San Francisco Xochicuautla, a convoy of military entered the ejidal lands of the community of San Salvador Atenco to escort a gang of workers from one of the private companies in charge of the construction of the new airport in Mexico City.
Community members who have resisted the expropriation of their lands for more than ten years told Desinformémonos that the day before, April 11, an official of the company had already arrived in the communal lands, at the base of Cerro Huatepec, with the intention to “carry our measurements.” Facing the intrusion, villagers moved in and responded.
“The compañerxs told them that they could not be on communal lands because we are in litigation, which does not allow them to enter the land. They said that we must understand that they are workers and have nothing to do with the conflict, but I order to stay out of the conflict, we asked them to leave, and they did.”
When they returned at noon on Tuesday, April 12, army personnel escorted them.
Does this intrusion have anything to do with the advance of the resistance in Xochicuautla?
“Yes, that is how we understand it. The highway project is part of the communication link that they expect will lead to the airport that they want to build here. They know that in Atenco we will always give a response, to this intrusion like we did to the attack in Xochicuautla. The reaction of the people here was that they were troubled by the imposition of one of the most unpopular projects of Enrique Peña Nieto. We do not want them here.”
Like the Otomí community, the Peoples Front in Defence of the Earth (FPDT) that Atenco gave birth to at the beginning of the struggle, are participating in the Campaign in Defence of Mother Earth that was launched last Sunday and are a key part of the group Fire of Dignified Resistance (Fuego de la Digna Resistencia) which coordinates the struggles in the state of Mexico that are resisting the recently approved “Eruviel Law” that “regulates” the use of lethal force in public demonstrations. It furthermore allows other elements that until now were prohibited (such as appliances to give an electric shock) whose use will depend solely on the police hierarchies carrying out the operation, leaving political power in the shadows, which always has a to pay cost when ordering repression against a public demonstration.
In the case of Atenco, they have also won an injunction (amparo) that stops the construction on the disputed lands. But neither are they ignoring what is happening at the moment in Xochicuautla: the Otomí community has spent two days resisting the police attack, led by the department of highway systems of the State of Mexico and members of the business HIGA, that entered into the communal lands, violating the judgment of protection (amparo) filed by the indigenous community against the presidential decree of July 2015. The judgment won in March of this year ordered the retraction of the expropriation of the lands to construct part of the route of the highway between Toluca and Naucalpan, “until the underlying conflict is solved” between the community and the government.
With that violation in mind, the community of Atenco this afternoon began daily patrols, to prevent further intrusions into the ejido lands. “We call for solidarity organizations to join the actions like this and others that we will communicate later.”
The Centre of Human Rights Zeferino Ladrillero is already present in both towns, where they are analysing the situations, “it is no coincidence that these events occurred on successive days. The military presence in Atenco demonstrates that the federal government is also participating in the coordination of the repression. This is an attempt to legitimize by means of force, the imposition of the Eruviel Law in the State of Mexico.”
The Mexican Commission for the Promotion and Defence of Human Rights brought the “incident” that took place in Xochicuautla before a judge who ruled a suspension of the project in order to seek resolution of the matter.
Meanwhile, the Zeferino Ladrillero sent an urgent communication to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights asking them to issue precautionary measures in favour of the indigenous population of San Francisco Xochicuautla and also sent them a reminder note that this had already been requested for San Salvador Atenco.
“From Zeferino Ladrillero we estimate that these attacks are a shift in the strategy of the government of the state of Mexico to bring about the imposition of the “Eruviel Law”, within the 90 days they have a legal deadline to do so. What they are looking for is a physical confrontation between the people and the organizations of the state in order to gain favourable arguments for the need for a law like this that violates human rights, that allows an attack with live ammunition on an unarmed civil population. We warn that, just like Xochicuautla and Atenco they will target the communities of Tecámex, Coyotepec and San Francisco Magú. We remain alert.”
From a translation by Palabras Rebeldes