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Abel Barrera*: Threats against defenders and the social movement


since it was formed At the Tlachinollan Mountain Human Rights Center we have suffered espionage, insults and the dissemination of fraudulent and false information. They watch our movements at all times and monitor our meetings. They intercept our phone calls and threaten the victims that we accompany, so that they desist from their complaints. We have faced criminal complaints, in which they point to us as members of the guerrilla.

In the 1990s, for defending the human rights of some democratic teachers who were tortured, accused of belonging to political-military organizations, they associated us with armed groups and said that we were defenders of guerrillas. We had access to a document that reached the Secretariat of Social Development, where they placed Catholic priests as promoters of subversive movements. As director of the Human Rights Center of the Tlachinollan Mountain, I was singled out as part of the hard line of liberation theology, which proclaimed that only weapons would change the reality of the Mountain. It was a document sponsored by the military and prepared by Cisen. In those years it was a question of locating the social organizations and religious movements that supposedly supported the EZLN.

When we defended Valentina Rosendo and Inés Fernández, victims of rape and sexual torture by the military, we faced serious threats along with them, to the point that we had to close our offices in Ayutla. Valentina with her little daughter had to flee the state. Despite the complaints, the public ministries refused to investigate. In February 2009, criminals, in collusion with the municipal president of Ayutla, disappeared and murdered two defenders of the Tu un savi people, Raúl Lucas Lucía and Manuel Ponce Rosas. Instead of inquiring with the authorities, they leaked the information that Raúl belonged to the guerrilla, justifying his murder. Their executions they are framed within the counterinsurgency war applied in Guerrero against the social fighters.

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights issued provisional measures to protect Inés Fernández, Valentina Rosendo, as well as the Tlachinollan team. In 2010, the Inter-American Court unanimously declared that the Mexican State was internationally responsible for the violation of the rights to personal integrity, dignity, private life and judicial guarantees of Inés Fernández and Valentina Rosendo. Several soldiers were responsible for rape and sexual torture against Inés and Valentina. Compliance with the two sentences and the punishment of those responsible has implied risks and threats for the families of the two compañeras and for the members of Tlachinollan.

Faced with the unilateral decision of the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) to build a hydroelectric dam on the tributary of the Papagayo River, the opposing peasants from the community center of Cacahuatepec organized themselves to defend their river and their lands. They created the Council of Ejidos and Communities Opposed to the Parota Dam (Cecop), which under the leadership of Marco Antonio Suástegui exercised their right to protest and publicly opposed being dispossessed and displaced from their territory. All three levels of government criminalized their movement. They caused divisions, provoked confrontations and carried out several assassinations. Marco Antonio was imprisoned and transferred to the high security prison in Tepic, Nayarit. As Tlachinollan we assume his defense and demonstrate his innocence. In the agrarian courts, we won five lawsuits and brought down the evil plans to build the dam, which, with the support of the Agrarian Attorney’s Office, the municipal presidency of Acapulco, and the governors in turn, tried to impose it using public force.

To counter Cecop’s presence in poor communities in rural Acapulco, municipal authorities colluded with corrupt businessmen and criminal groups. The illegal extraction of stone resources and the transfer of drugs in the region are the problems that most affect the peasants who have always requested the intervention of the authorities. Instead of protecting their communal lands, dispossession and violence have increased, to the extent that in the region the territorial dispute is bloody due to the presence of the criminal group The Russians and the UPOEG. The two organizations, together with elements of the Acapulco ministerial police, are involved in the disappearance of Vicente Suástegui, defender of the territory and brother of Marco Antonio.

The documentation released in recent weeks as a result of the hack against Sedena, evidence that the defenders and social leaders of Cecop and Tlachinollan have been spied on. The reports of him are riddled with lies. Falsely and without foundation, we are accused of a threat to the government. They treat us like criminals. On the contrary, the criminal groups that have devastated the Papagayo River, those who are linked to the drug business and the sale of arms and have caused terror in the population of rural Acapulco, are not seriously investigated.

The intelligence apparatuses have become a factory of lies, enemies of social organizations and human rights defenders. The false accusations against us, pointing to us as promoters of ungovernability in the region, discredit our work and place us at high risk. The criminalization of defenders and social activists must stop.

* Director of the Tlachinollan Mountain Human Rights Center and member of the Truth Commission for the War dirty

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