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Solidarity Without Borders

Gunmen attack assembly in Álvaro Obregón

El Enemigo Comun - Mon, 03/03/2014 - 12:58am

By Scott Campbell

For more than a year, the indigenous Binnizá community of Álvaro Obregón, in the Isthmus of Oaxaca, have defended their lands against the imposition of a wind park by the multinational Spanish firm Mareña Renovables. As part of that struggle, “the community became aware that the parties and political leaders have only used them for political and personal ends.” In August of 2013, the community held an assembly and decided to return to the traditional indigenous usos y costumbres form of governance, where community leaders are selected via general assembly, without the participation of political parties.

With 1,236 people participating, the general assembly to select the community’s leaders was held on December 8, 2013. Yet on February 8, 2014, Saúl Vicente Vázquez, the Municipal President of Juchitán, which includes Álvaro Obregón, announced that new elections, involving political parties, would be held in Álvaro Obregón on March 2, ignoring the popular and expressed will of the people. Ironically, Vicente Vázquez until recently served as an expert on the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

In a statement released on March 1, the General Assembly of Álvaro Obregón, the Assembly of Elders of Álvaro Obregón, the Community Police and the Indigenous Peoples’ Assembly of the Isthmus in Defense of Land and Territory presciently warned of what may happen on March 2 in what would amount to an attempted coup against the community of Álvaro Obregón.

On March 2, community members assembled in the central plaza of Álvaro Obregón to defend the decisions of their general assembly. Around 2:15 PM, gunmen reinforced by the municipal police of Juchitán, opened fire at those who were assembled. There are reports that two people have been wounded by the gunfire and that the Marines have arrived in the community. The situation is very tense. There is no more news coming out at the moment. This page will be updated as more information becomes available.

Statement from the Indigenous Peoples’ Assembly of the Isthmus in Defense of the Land and Territory.

March 2, 2014
Translated by Scott Campbell


Individuals linked to the municipal president of Juchitán, Saúl Vicente Vázquez, and to COCEI and PRI leaders, today attacked the Community General Assembly of Álvaro Obregón and its community council. Since yesterday, March 1, 2014, it was learned that five political functionaries from the COCEI and from the municipal president’S office arrived at the house of one of the supposed candidates for local office, Rosalino Martínez Herran, two of whom were recognized as Obet Fuentes Trujillo and Filiberto López, both from Juchitán.

These individuals were paying out 500 pesos to people in exchange for their voter ID cards, promising another 1,500 pesos the next day when the people were to show up at the election called for by Saúl Vicente this past February 8, where a political party-linked authority would be named. Today, March 2, after a meeting in a private home, this sham election began at 1PM.

Meanwhile, in the central square, the Community General Assembly of Álvaro Obregón was being held, where the compañeros of the community council were reaffirmed. At about 2:15PM, a group of people at the election called for by Saúl Vicente launched an attack with bullets, stones and sticks against those in the square. They tried to take the municipal building by force and a confrontation ensued as the people in the community assembly repelled the attack, leaving several compañeros wounded.

Following the attack, the provocations continued, as at approximately 3:30PM one of these individuals went to the house of the commander of the Community Police to spray gasoline on it, with the intention of setting it on fire. Later, they tried to kidnap the son of the head of the community council. Around 4:30, Marines arrived to meet with the head of the community council, who informed them of the events.

For the moment there is an uneasy calm, as it is expected that these individuals and gunmen will continue with their provocations and will try to enter the municipal building during the night or at dawn.

We hold Saúl Vicente Vázquez and the Interior Ministry responsible for the physical and emotional integrity of our compañeros in Álvaro Obregón, the Community Council, the Indigenous Peoples’ Assembly in Defense of the Land and Territory, and their family members. And we demand they guarantee their physical security and integrity.

It is important to mention that the municipal president of Juchitán was a representative of the indigenous peoples of Latin America as an expert for the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues for 2011-2013 and is trying to hold the same post for 2014-2016, and yet is now violating the rights of the indigenous people of Álvaro Obregón for having decided to begin a process of community reform and a reclamation of their indigenous means of governance.

We denounce that these actions are part of the general strategy of the government and businesses to control this community, which is protecting the Barra Santa Teresa against the wind farm megaprojects in the Isthmus.





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Freedom for Yakiri, Imprisoned in Mexico for Defending Herself Against Rapists

My Word is My Weapon - Mon, 02/24/2014 - 11:08pm
"Freedom for Yakiri" 
From Yakiri Libre Tijuana:
"Colectivo Yakiri Libre Tijuana invites you to support action for Yakiri Rubio’s freedom. Yakiri is a 20 year-old activist from Mexico City, who after being raped by two men, in December 2013, is now incarcerated facing homicide charges. As one of the attackers stabbed her, Yakiri fought back to save her life and stabbed him instead. The man died after fleeing the scene along with his accomplice. In January 10, 2014, Colectivo Yakiri Libre Tijuana took action for the first time by making the video “Yo Hubiera Hecho Lo Mismo,” (I would have done the same) in which about 100 people demonstrated against gender violence and the sexist penal law process that threatens human rights, women rights. With this, we attempt to network with others in order to disclose Yakiri’s case and make it an instrument of pressure to condemn the injustice. It is clear that in this case as in others, the present Mexican authorities will not favor the citizens; therefore, if Yakiri becomes free, it would only be because of national and international civil pressure. If you are interested in collaborating, we will be connected and ready to network this Friday January 24 at 7:30 p.m. You can participate from your Twitter and Facebook accounts. These are the hashtags we will use: #24Emx, #YoHubieraHechoLoMismo,#YakiriLibre, #YakiriLibreTijuana, #NoMásViolenciaDeGénero. This event will take place simultaneously with Yakiri Libre (Mexico City). and, Subscribe to our youtube channel.YakirilibreTijuana"

Sign on to the Amicus Curiae filed by the Mexico City Human Rights Commission arguing for Yakiri Rubí Rubio Aupart's release.

"Sexist violence is a crime, so is imprisoning you for defending yourself." 

Tierra Caliente: The freedom we have now, we haven’t had in twelve years

El Enemigo Comun - Mon, 02/17/2014 - 2:25am

x carolina

In the first days of February I was able to get a close-up view of some aspects of the people’s uprising against organized crime in the state of Michoacán. In a visit that took me through parts of Tierra Caliente, the Meseta P’urhépecha and the Sierra Madre del Sur with other independent media journalists from SubVersiones, it became clear that people live better in the towns freed from the control of the Knights Templar organized crime cartel and that the Citizen Self-Defense Councils, better known as the community police or simply self-defense groups, are going right ahead with their move to take over one community, town or city after another. At the barricades and in the towns, people were also enthusiastic about following their own agenda, regardless of whatever plans the State might have, and going on to organize People’s Councils like the ones formed in Chinicuila and Coalcomán so that people can make decisions about how they want to live from now on and avoid possible traps frequently pointed out by observers: becoming part of a paramilitarization strategy of the State, becoming yet another cartel, or ending up under the control of the Army or the Federal Police.

On the highways, we ran into a number of checkpoints of the army, federal police or self-defense groups, but with press passes we had no trouble in passing through by car or by bus. We didn’t see any burning trucks or cars and didn’t get caught in a narco-blockade, but we learned that atrocities were committed while we were there. There’s a heavy police presence in the cities and towns, so much so that in both Uruapan and Coalcomán entire hotels have been taken over and are being run by the police, and it’s almost impossible to walk down a sidewalk without running into a group of them. Their presence makes some people feel more secure. Not me.


“Cherán continues to be a reference point for everyone,” remarked a friend the day we got there. Although the formation of the community patrols called “rondas” under an autonomous indigenous council is somewhat different from the self-defense groups organized as a matter of survival in mestizo territory, the P’urhépecha experience in reclaiming ancient traditions, putting into practice the right to self-defense, and following the path of autonomy is invaluable to many groups.

The New Fire celebrated in Tarejero, Michoacán, on February 2 has been interpreted as an especially good omen for extending this experience in the year ahead, even though on the same day in Morelia, thousands of youth, with the blessing of the government, sang and shouted their support for the Knights Templar in a concert given by the Komander and “los de la A”.

The day of the New Fire we visited the P’urhépecha community of Cherato, where the Virgin of Candelaria was also honored. After eating some delicious home made mole and enjoying a local basketball tournament to the tune of live tropical music, a family was kind enough to invite us to a feast celebrating their daughter’s baptism, where we thoroughly appreciated their hospitality.

Afterwards we went to a compañero’s home to talk about the situation there. He answered a question about the level of support among townspeople for the armed uprising with a single word: total.

He told us that several years ago the Knights Templar began to send young scouts to spy on people in Cherato, but at first there weren’t any open conflicts with them. People kept on growing avocado, maize and oatmeal although they no longer had many livestock due to the rustling that had gone on.

On January 21, 2013, the situation drastically changed. A group of men showed up in town to deliver a package of 22 envelopes to the person in charge of security, Roberto Serrano Cervantes. Each small farmer was supposed to put $2,000 pesos per productive hectare in an envelope, and Serrano would be responsible for returning the full envelopes to a designated person.

The community people got together and said to each other: “If we give them the money, we’ll never get rid of them. They’ll become the owners of our own lands.” Not a single person voted to accede to the extortion.

On the contrary, they decided to reactivate the tradition of the community patrol as Cherán had done, arming themselves with poles and machetes and the few rifles and shotguns at hand. In those days they received a lot of threats and the municipal police began to hang out with the young spies.

The highway was immediately blocked by the insurrect people of Cherato along with others from nearby towns including Cheratillo, 18 de marzo, Sicuicho and Orúscato. They demanded a meeting with Municipal President José Antonio Salas Valencia (National Action Party, PAN), who never showed up. In return, the demonstrators held several officials hostage for a few days to make sure the authorities would comply with their responsibilities, which they never did. Since then, they’ve organized other protests over the disappearance of Roberto Serrano, which have not resulted in any response whatsoever from any government authority or human rights commission.

When they gathered in the main plaza of the municipal headquarters of Los Reyes to demand the live presentation of Roberto on July 22, 2013, organized crime members and local police opened fire on the men, women and children, resulting in at least five deaths (some say many more) and dozens of people wounded.

Our friend told us that Cherato and surrounding P’urhépecha communities want to separate from Los Reyes and form their own municipality. As a way of protecting their community, they’ve set up entry and exit gates to control who comes in and goes out of town. The gates are closed at 9 o’clock at night and opened at 5 in the morning. Several teams of townspeople continue to guard the gates, as the community grapples with serious problems of lack of water, health care and education.

Los Reyes

Coming into Los Reyes from Uruapan, we passed through orchards and nurseries where avocado, lemon, zarzamora, guava and oranges flourish. We visited two of the barricades on the outskirts of town taken over by the community police at the end of January.

After inviting us to eat and offering us a refreshing coconut-pecan drink, one of the comrades explained in an interview:

“We came into Peribán last Monday and Los Reyes on Tuesday. People here were asking us to come in because they’d endured so many kidnappings, abuses and imposed fees. People were forced to work for the cartel and some of them were then killed and robbed of the money they’d made. . . Two of my brothers-in-law were kidnapped and I’ve had no news of them in three years. They took away two cousins and a friend of mine, too. They were eliminated and dumped here. And that’s why we’re fighting. ..We’ve all gone through things like this.” Day after day the kidnappings, beatings and rapes continue.

“They really want to hurt us bad so people will be afraid and won’t support what we’re doing, but now, people don’t care if they die here. It’s better to die in battle than to have them come for you and make you suffer.”

He says the response of people in Los Reyes has been positive, that they’ve had a lot of support from the people there and from surrounding communities like Cherato, “where they don’t have many arms but come with their poles and machetes.” They know the experience of other towns freed by the community police like Tancítaro, Pareo, Buenavista, Los Fresnos, El Aguacate, where people are happier, enjoy more peace and calm, and even dare to have fiestas, whereas before, they were afraid to go out of their houses.

He says that many people who used to be with the Templars have changed sides and are now with them, a situation we observed in the barricades themselves, where at least thirty of the former lookouts are there under the watchful eye of the comrades just in case their “conversion” is more fleeting than they’d indicated.

The large majority were young although there were people of all ages, some wearing their rosaries and others with a silver Santa Muerte on their chests. Although we’d known of many cases where people were forced to work for the Templars due to threats they’d received, the guys we talked to at the second barricade told us they did it because they made a lot of money ––between 1200 and 1800 pesos every two weeks.

We learned that the community police still face the challenge of winning support from the people in the barrios of Los Reyes, precisely because all the job sources have been controlled by the Templars and now many people have no income.

And being well aware of the experience of other liberated towns where the Templars have returned time after time to try to retake them, everybody knows that these spaces aren’t automatically free of problems. They have to be defended.

Buenavista Tomatlán

You feel the heat in Tierra Caliente. As we got close to one of the first towns that rose up in arms, a comrade from the self-defense groups came onto our bus and asked us who we were and what we were doing there. We showed him our press passes and he gave us a smile of acknowledgement, saying, “Ah, SubVersiones? All right.”

En route, we admired the lemon groves and later learned that Buenavista produces more of this fruit than any other place in the country.

When we got to Buenavista we were able to meet with the Coordinator of the People’s Council, which is not part of the self-defense groups, but instead a council made up of unarmed citizens. On our way to a meeting place we learned about an important part of this town’s history: Last April 27, 40 pickups filled with Templars tried to retake the town at 5 o’clock in the morning, opening fire for 25 minutes on the houses of neighbors in the community of Pueblo Viejo just above Buenavista. After one machine-gun blast after another that seemed like an eternity, they were finally repelled by five comrades from the local self-defense group.

One of the first things we talked to the Coordinator about was the agreement signed on January 27 between the government and some spokesmen of the Citizen Self-Defense Councils. We had heard different opinions. Some people think it’s not a bad idea to force the government to make a public commitment to protect the people, that maybe this would take some heat off the self-defense groups. Others say it’s just a media stunt that will be impossible to enforce because few people will register and nobody is going to turn in their arms. Still others say that the pact can be thrown out and that it’s not inevitable for the community police to be part of the military forces of the State, a highly undesirable status.

The Coordinator commented that “the government wants to put out the fire” and that he thinks it would have been important to put the regularization proposal up for discussion in every town and community. He said that many important issues aren’t dealt with in the agreement, such as the political prisoners of La Ruana, Buenavista, Aguililla and Aquila. “They forget about these things,” he said, “but those of us who live with the people do not. The self-defense groups have a commitment to the people and those of us who don’t bear arms are also part of the process.”

The comrade said that contrary to popular opinion, the uprising took place in Buenavista on February 28, 2013, four days after the people first rose up in Tepalcatepec and La Ruana. That day, everyone was taken by surprise when a call was sent out to the townspeople to come to a meeting in the esplanade where a sound system was already set up.

He described what happened: “We went along with all the people to see what was going on. There, they said, ‘We´re going to rise up in arms against organized crime.’ They called on people to go get their arms so that they could stand guard and join up with the self-defense group…People from La Ruana came to support the uprising…and there were also four or five Army trucks around the esplanade. That surprised me because ever so often, they try to disarm people but that day in Buenavista and in the other uprisings, they’ve been there to support them… As far as I could see, there were about ten people who had made a firm decision to rise up…another ten went to get their arms and joined in. Another five or six stood by to see if someone else might loan them a weapon… because that was the proposal, for anybody who didn’t want to stand guard to loan their arm to someone else or, if possible, to donate it…. Well, that was our experience. That’s what I observed.”

He added that on that very day, the municipal police left town, and so did the Templars.

Even so, since they’re right there on the border with Apatzingán, the cartel’s stronghold, the people of Buenavista have had a lot of threats in addition to the major attack previously mentioned.

They’ve also had confrontations with the Army. Just a few weeks ago on January 15, community police and civilians, furious over the recent killing of four people by the army in Atunez, confronted and expelled an army convoy of 100 troops from Buenavista. And last May 22, military forces picked up four young men from Buenavista and only let them go after the self-defense group held 22 soldiers hostage for several hours.

Rising up in arms has made it possible for townspeople to hold public meetings, something that had been dangerous under Templar control. The comrade explained that their members lived there in town and that many people saw them as the guardians of Michoacan who were there to protect people. Commanders from elsewhere had people stationed in Buenavista to engage in all their operations ––extortion, collection of imposed fees, kidnappings, and drug trafficking. It was dangerous to even say the name Knights Templar. They built a chapel here and another one in La Ruana to hold the statues of Nazario (Nazario Moreno, alias El Chayo, or “The Craziest One”, worshiped by many, founder of the La Familia cartel, supposedly killed by federal police but considered by many to be one of the top leaders of the Knights Templar).

Buenavista has adapted the idea of the Citizens Councils developed in Chinicuila, Coalcomán and Cherán. The Coordinator says that in May of 2013, twelve people were elected as part of an assembly and that there are now plans to add a representative from each neighborhood and have an equal number of men and women on the decision-making body. Meetings and training sessions are being held in the neighborhoods. They are working on several different proposals including one to assure an adequate supply of drinking water and another to organize a community radio. They have their own detailed security plan and think it is important for security to be under local control, as opposed to state or federal control. They argue that they are the ones who are most aware of the needs of the community and that they know the people very well, so they can tell who would be best suited to provide security and who wouldn’t. For these reasons, they insist that they should be in charge of planning reliable, preventive security for the well-being of the people.

For the Coordinator, being one with the people, living with the people, supporting the people, and taking action with the people is fundamental. He thinks it’s possible that some ex-spies might want to come back to be with their families, and if they want to be part of a self-defense group, it’s up to the Self-Defense Council whether to accept them or not. He says the defense councils have done a good job and will know what to do about that. The way he sees it, “If they told me someone who hadn’t killed or kidnapped anybody wanted to take our side, I’d rather he’d be shooting from this side to that, than from that side to this”.

In any case, even with all the contradictions left to be resolved, he feels that their town is something else entirely now. “The children can run in the streets. We can get together, hold meetings. There are people with arms, but not to attack us. The freedom we have now is something we haven’t had in twelve years”.

Originally published in Spanish at:

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A day with the comunitarios of Peribán

El Enemigo Comun - Thu, 02/06/2014 - 2:57pm

By Tejemedios

Led by a volunteer who goes by the name of “Uncle Sam,” this community defense team was responsible for freeing the town of Peribán from the control of the Knights Templar cartel over a week ago. Tejemedios journalists accompanied them on one of their constant inspection details in the surrounding villages in search of hidden Knights Templar members.

Music: Savage Fam

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Self-defense groups and their critics

El Enemigo Comun - Mon, 02/03/2014 - 6:57pm

Photo: Juan José Estrada Serafín

By Scott Campbell

Since mid-January, when armed self-defense groups launched an offensive against the Knights Templar cartel in the Tierra Caliente region of Michoacán, Mexico, much ink has been spilled evaluating the pros and cons of the self-defense movement. Critiques and speculations have been leveled from the left and right, yet what has largely been absent is an appreciation for the events in situ.

From the right (including the government and mass media), the self-defense groups have been labelled as vigilantes, taking the law into their own hands, armed by an opposing cartel, and threatening to turn into paramilitary death squads a la the AUC in Colombia. Such meritless talking points are not of concern here.

What is of concern is the predominant response from the left, where the self-defense groups have received a lukewarm reception at best. Held at arm’s length, the self-defense movement is chastened for not being like the autonomous municipality of Cherán in Michoacán or the CRAC community police in Guerrero. For not being indigenous, for not having a comprehensive platform, or for cooperating with the government. From behind computer screens, those who are dodging the bullets of the Knights Templar (and occasionally of the state) are patronizingly told what they are not and what they should be doing.

Fortunately for the self-defense groups, they did not wait for nor did they petition the support of the left. For years, communities in the Tierra Caliente have faced murder, rape, kidnapping, extortion and terror at the hands of the Knights Templar cartel, which operated with impunity in the region. Faced with state inaction, or complicity, toward the cartel, the communities decided, via assemblies, to form self-defense groups. Emerging from these community assemblies, they can only be considered legitimate manifestations of the people’s will. The inclusion of landowners and businesspeople in the self-defense groups does not negate their popular origin, as all members of the community were targets of the cartel’s actions.

Similarly, the sole goal of ridding Michoacán of organized crime does not make them unworthy of support. Perhaps they are not, as armed formations, environmentalist, anti-capitalist or anti-authoritarian, though many among their ranks may be so. The focus on the cartels is clearly understandable, as it is the cartels who are the main impediment to a life with dignity for these communities. The focus on the Knights Templar specifically, as opposed to other cartels, is likewise easily comprehensible. Far from it meaning that the self-defense groups are armed and financed by rival cartels, it is simply the fact that it is the Knights Templar terrorizing the Tierra Caliente, so naturally they would be the primary target of groups originating from the Tierra Caliente. In numerous interviews, self-defense spokespeople have indicated their groups’ opposition to all organized crime operating in Michoacán and in Mexico.

That the groups are not like Cherán or the CRAC is also a misguided critique. Part of it is based on the fact that the self-defense groups are not wholly indigenous and not wholly rural. Instead of embracing the emergence of urban, mestizo self-organization, somehow this is held up as a point of criticism. Such a perspective is indigenist in the extreme, and a denial of agency based on ethnicity and locality. An oppressed people have the right to organize and rise up, regardless of that group’s composition, and regardless of if it mimics the predominant model of armed formations in Mexico. Finally, many participants are indigenous, it is just not the primary focus of the organization.

Also held up as a distinguishing factor is that the self-defense groups, unlike Cherán or the CRAC, cooperate with the police and army. This is both true and false. Yes, the self-defense groups have agreed to be integrated into the state’s forces. At the same time, the groups have previously shown their willingness to act in opposition to the state, which is precisely what brought so much focus of the plight of the Tierra Caliente and pushed the state into acting against the Knights Templar. Some may critique the move as naïve, but if the main goal is to rid the area of organized crime, the groups remain empowered to do so, and remain armed. The agreement can be seen as a tactical move to achieve their goal. If it becomes a hindrance to doing so, there is no evidence that the groups would not break with the state and pursue their objectives on their own yet again.

Cooperation with state forces, no matter how objectionable, is common to the self-defense groups, Cherán and the CRAC, blurring the lines of any criticism which uses state cooperation as the standard for support or not. Cherán has invited both the Federal Police and the military to set up bases near their community to aid in fending off organized crime. The CRAC recently joined with a rival organization, UPOEG, and became a state-approved formation. Whether this is good or bad is another matter. The point is that the issue is not so cut and dry when it comes to the relationship of the state with self-organized armed groups and communities in Mexico.

The crux of the situation is that the self-defense groups should be evaluated on what they are, not what one would wish them to be or what one would desire they do. And what they are is an authentic people’s movement organized against an oppressive force. To hold them to a standard of purity not even existent among the movements they are critiqued against and held up to is not only intellectually dishonest but also unconstructive. Evaluated based on their own process of formation, their proposals and their actions, the self-defense groups have not given cause to merit recrimination. Ultimately, they will act regardless of what those of us from afar say or write about them. The minimum they deserve is a disinterested, fair evaluation.

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Crossing Borders in Templar Territory

El Enemigo Comun - Thu, 01/30/2014 - 1:33pm

By Simón Sedillo
Photos: Juan José Estrada Serafín

We left a municipality in Michoacan, which is often confused in the mainstream media as part of the Tierra Caliente region, but is actually Sierra. We hear that there is going to be a negotiation with the state and federal government and autonomous self-defense groups in order to accord the legalization of the self-defense groups. We head to Tepacaltepec where the meeting is to be held. The scene is surreal to say the least, but so is everything else in Michoacan these days, so it is no surprise to us any longer. In what looks like an old farmhouse, seats and tables with white tablecloths are arranged in a large rectangle.

Translations: Spanish | German

The mainstream media begin to trickle in. Outside the tin roofed, open-air farmhouse you can see unarmed self-defense group members or comunitarios from throughout the state gathered under a mesquite tree. Despite the mainstream media and the official line claiming the self-defense patrols are composed of marauding militias, comunitarios is what the people in this part of the state call the self-defense groups in order to clarify their relationship to the community. They are from the community and are therefore comunitarios (communitarians).

They hang two hammocks as they know these meetings never start when they are supposed to. There is a strong federal police presence as well, but there really does not seem to be much tension between the federales and the comunitarios. Several federal police officers have lost their lives in battles against the Knights Templar Cartel and there seems to be a certain camaraderie between individual comunitarios and federales, far beyond any official strategy to co-opt the comunitarios based upon the deaths that they share. Both know they are using one another to accomplish different goals. The comunitarios want to free their communities from organized crime and the federales want to prove themselves as on the right side of an all too confusing war against the Knights Templar, a cartel that acts a lot more like a religious cult than an organized crime mafia. Some comunitarios are hopeful that this will protect them from further government persecution, however the sense of most comunitarios I talk to this day is that when the Templars are vanquished, the federal government will criminalize, persecute, and incarcerate the comunitarios.

When we arrived we noticed the table where a variety of government officials are expected to be seated had several official government logos behind them on a placard. In some small way there is a sense of hope among the comunitarios, yet there is still a very evident disdain for the authorities who have been accused of at best turning a blind eye to the reality in these war-torn communities, and at worst of being complicit with the organized crime cartel. Before much longer we notice a government official removes the logos from the table. One comunitario tells us “Good, this isn’t their meeting, it is ours. We have forced them to the negotiation table with actions and results.”

Several white suburbans along with heavily militarized federal police and army vehicles drive into the grounds of the old farmhouse; they are of course escorting the governor, an emissary from the federal police in the region, and the federal commissioner of development and security in Michoacan. Their security detail illustrates the fear they must have to travel through this war zone. As the governor steps out of his vehicle, the mainstream media swarm to get the best shot of the beginning of this historic meeting, which is expected to end in a truce between the officials and the comunitarios. Slowly we hear boos and hooting and hollering from the comunitarios at the governor. One young woman holds up a sign questioning the governments intentions, and shares very strong opinions about this meeting. She is backed up by several comunitarios.

The government officials are forced to recognize the inefficiency of a drug war strategy in the region, in which their inability to identify cartel members woven into the social fabric of the entire state. In addition they must admit that it is the comunitarios who know exactly who is involved, where they are hiding, and what the cartel has done to their families over the last several years. The government officials admit that without the help of the comunitarios, it would be impossible to get rid of the Knights Templar Cartel. It is clear that the comunitarios have the upper hand in this situation.

The proposal is to legalize and formalize the comunitarios under the law. We hear whispers and mumbling amongst the crowd arguing against legalization from an authority that is, in their experience clearly corrupt and complicit with the organized crime cartel. Every time the governor begins to speak, individuals are heard shouting out insults, and booing. At a given point a moderator announces the presence of an army general responsible for the military zone in Apatzingan, a city still under Templar control today. The military official is received with a barrage of insults, boos, and whistles. There may be a love-hate relationship with the federal police in the region, but the relationship with the army is hate-hate.

Every single person we speak to clarifies that the military has time and time again proven itself to be corrupt and complicit with the cartel, not to mention that a week earlier in an attempt to disarm comunitarios in the recently liberated community of Antunez, just outside Apatzingan, the military fired upon unarmed civilians from that community who came out en masse to defend comunitarios against this official aggression. The soldiers killed four unarmed people, including an 11-year-old girl.

The accord between government officials with representatives from several, but not all, of the comunitarios includes the legalization the comunitarios under official authority through registering their weapons and their names with the Secretary of Defense. This is a stark contradiction to the military strategy employed in Antunez a week earlier, and certainly makes several of the comunitarios uneasy. On the other hand the government is forced to publicly commit to go after the members of the organized crime cartel and lock them up. The fear is that this list of comunitarios names will later be used to criminalize and incarcerate the comunitarios after they have accomplished the task at hand, ridding their state of the Knights Templar.

Another common fear is that the whole agreement is pure theater, an act by the federal government to buy time and gain control of the situation. Again the crowd is heard booing on several occasions. Two elderly women from Apatzingan under condition of anonymity tell me, “Why are they signing now? Why work with the government when we have proven that we don’t need them to organize and defend ourselves? Why sign with the white-collar criminals?”

I speak to a comunitario who has seen decent coordination with the federal police and very bad coordination with the military time and time again. He tells me, “We are trying to exhaust every possible legitimate means of defending ourselves and out communities. There is very little trust in the government officials, and we expect them to break their commitment. Whether they do or not, we will continue exactly as we have, taking control of our own security.

During the meeting we hear that comunitarios have advanced towards the community of Periban. We decide to head that way and see what is going on. Ten kilometers before Periban we come across a small comunitario checkpoint. The comunitarios there are on high alert due to what they call, “the cockroach effect”. As comunitarios advance into any community, Templarios scatter like cockroaches into adjacent communities. We talk to one of the comunitarios and ask him about the accord with the government for legalization of the comunitarios, and he repeats the sentiment of others at the meeting, “They (government officials) are using us to look good, but what they really want out of this is a list of names so that when the time comes they can disarm and detain us, after we do their job for them.”

We head to Periban, by the time we get there the town plaza is full of community members, and there is a (relatively) small military and federal police presence there as well. We see very few comunitarios, mostly with handguns meandering about the plaza. The feeling was almost festive. The town seemed as if it had taken its first breath of relief in a very long time. The rumor is that comunitarios will now advance to the next community 10 kilometers away, which is Los Reyes.

Towards the edge of town we see three pickup trucks full of men with hunting rifles, shotguns, and assault rifles. We decide to follow them, and they meet up with several other men with a variety of vehicles and weaponry at the very edge or Periban. Here we meet a comunitario who has attained some fame in the mainstream media, known as Simón el Americano. He tells us that the advance had been postponed until the following day. Reportbacks from that advance into Los Reyes verify that the takeover was peaceful and festive as well. The comunitarios plan on slowly continuing to make their way to Uruapan, an urban metropolis and stronghold of the Templarios.

We decide to drive to Uruapan in order to drop off collegues who are headed home after a simultaneously difficult and inspiring week. On the way back from Uruapan to the community we are staying at, we decide to take a more public route, which we had traveled in the past, rather than travel back through the zone of the advances, again fearing the “cockroach effect” ourselves. We head towards Apatzingan, which again is still technically under Templar control, though it has basically been surrounded by the comunitarios, who are just waiting for the most opportune moment to liberate the community in what will be a primarily symbolic gesture.

About an hour from Uruapan, just past the kilometer 110 marker seen from the roadside we come upon a scene all too common in Templar territory. There is a tractor trailer stopped in our lane, and another one parked coming from the opposite direction in the other lane. There is enough space between them so that one could pass up the first trailer in our lane, but I stop the car about 50 meters away and we watch. The trailers are in front of a PEMEX gas station, and we see several pick up trucks in the gas station parking lot, not pumping gas but lined up in order to exit quickly and together. There were no fire cans or orange cones on the road, a classic sign of an official military, police, or comunitario checkpoint. After adding up the details we decide that this must be a narco-bloqueo, or narco-blockade, a road block strategy utilized by the Templars to kidnap, extort and rob places of business and individuals.

I put the car in reverse, and make a backwards u-turn and head back a couple of kilometers to a 24-hour truck stop. As we pull in to the truck stop, two tractor trailers pull into the truck stop as well, back to back. We assume they were warned about the narco-blockade up the road and stopped before it was too late. We didn’t say a word to one another. Nobody knows who might be a member of the Templars. We ordered coffee and so did the truck drivers. My colleagues and I had already agreed to wait a half hour and try again, if the road were still blocked, we would head back to Uruapan and stay in a hotel. As I pay the bill the young woman at the truck stop says “May god bless your travels.” I am pretty sure that all of us knew that just down the road, there was a tremendous security risk to all of us. Again without a word spoken the truck drivers and us leave at the same time. We drive behind them very slowly, and as we come up on the gas station, the roadway is clear. However the 24-hour service station is closed, all of the lights are turned off, and there isn’t a soul in sight.

The Templar’s are known for storming businesses, robbing employees and individuals, and kidnapping civilians. We assume that this is exactly what has happened here tonight. We continue on to the community of Lombardia and at kilometer 115 there is a checkpoint, except that this one looks like an official one. Fire cans are visible, as well as orange cones. I advance, however as we get closer we notice that the speed bumps on the road leading up to the actual checkpoint are made out of dirt and are fresh, normally they are made out of old tire strips. Very few vehicles had been through here. We begin to evaluate the scene, there are no federal police, or military present. We see no official decals. The checkpoint has all the idiosyncrasies of a comunitario checkpoint, except that we know for a fact that the comunitarios have not made it this far yet. This was a Knights Templar’s checkpoint, and it was too late to turn around.

We see several men hiding behind sandbag barricades, and one individual flashes us with a light and orders us to stop. We roll down the passenger side window, and I flash my international press pass and the guard waves us through, no questions asked. We drive trough and about one kilometer down the road, and we see several Army trucks with several soldiers parked by the side of the road. They do not stop us or anybody, they are just there. Their presence does not make us feel any safer. We continue on our way, and into Apatzingan. In Apatzingan only taxis, known for being Templar lookouts, patrol the area. We keep our distance by running several stop lights, and stopping very slowly and keeping our distance from the taxis when absolutely necessary. Our goal for the moment is to make it to the comunitario checkpoint in Buena Vista, which opens up the way to several liberated municipalities and back to our starting point just under 3 hours away.

Soon we see the fire cans and orange cones again at the entrance to Buena Vista. This time we know that this is comunitarios. Crossing that border was the most relieving sensation I have ever experienced in my life. We tell the comunitarios about the situation and they radio in the information to others in the area to avoid Lombardia. They confirm our instincts that in fact that was a narco-blockade outside Lombardia, and that we were very fortunate to have been alert and avoided it. The comunitarios radio ahead to the subsequent comunitario checkpoints on our route back to our starting point earlier that day. As we drive through this liberated territory we realize that now, despite public opinion about the entire state of Michoacan, we are in one of the safest places in the country, and maybe the world, comunitario territory.

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I was a Knights Templar for Two Hours

El Enemigo Comun - Mon, 01/27/2014 - 2:12pm

By Rafael Camacho

Pedro Preciado is a large man, his 120 kilo body weight and one meter ninety centimeter height leave no doubt to that fact; his speech however is soft and slow, he has the kind of calming voice which transmits peace. Pedro is a Christian pastor with the Free Methodist Church and he gives services in Tepalcatepec, and part of Coalcomán, both municipalities are in the state of Michoacán.

The Road

The 10th of January, Pedro along with his wife and two daughters, left Morelia and headed toward Coalcomán. They traveled in a white truck with signs from the Christian Church Pedro belongs to. Upon arriving at the intersection in Cuatro Caminos, approximately 1 kilometer from Nueva Italia, the highway was blockaded by two federal police cars. They made a u-turn and after some maneuvering they were able to find a way out a few meters up the road, when they found another blockade. This time there were some dump trucks and cargo trucks, as well as some federal highway patrols and other municipal police from Nueva Italia, so they decided to wait out the blockade so that they could be on their way.

A little further down the road some trucks began to advance, so Pedro got down from his vehicle to get a little closer and see what was going on. A municipal police officer asked for his ID and asked where he was headed. Pedro identified himself as a pastor and said he was head to Coalcomán.

“Why are you going to Coalcomán?” asked the police officer.

“To give a sermon. As you can see the entire region has turned into a living hell, and we want to see if someone might repent for everything that is going on,” responded the pastor.

Pedro returned to his vehicle and a half hour later the police told the family that the blockade was going to be lifted and they would be able to go on their way.

They continued their trip a little further, and at a spot where a few months earlier members of the Knights Templar cartel had ambushed some lime farmers who were protesting in commemoration of the anniversary of Emiliano Zapata’s death. Pedro and his family were able to see that there was another blockade with two tractor trailers, which were in flames. One more so than the other. Despite the information they had received from the municipal police in Nueva Italia, the family came across another blockade, except that this time the situation was more confusing, there were no longer police involved, but rather several civilians could be seen above and below the pedestrian bridge at that location.

It was 3 pm, and someone came closer to them and told them they could go ahead, that the blockaded had ended. Another individual moved the tractor trailer that was half in flames, opening up the roadway and allowing some cars and trucks through, among them the Christian family.

They were able to get as far as Antunez, but like a fiction horror movie, where the protagonists go through a thousand things before being able to get away, a group of civilians blocks the roadway and tells them to stop. It was four young men between the ages of 17 and 22 with radios and motorcycles. They are members of the Knights Templar cartel.


“Give me the keys to your truck, take your things down, if you cooperate with us, we won’t burn your truck. So get down, give us your keys, have your family, your wife and daughters get down and we will take care of them for you.”

The safe house where the family was moved to is visible from the highway. One of the young men tells Pedro to help him move vehicles in order to block the roadway because the white dogs were coming. That is what the Knights Templar call the self-defense groups. The young man gives Pedro keys so that he can begin to move the vehicles they had.

Pedro takes a moment to reflect with us and shares that he had not understood the Knights Templar strategy for for blockading highways, which consists of opening up the roadway every once in a while and allowing vehicles to pass though in order to gain access to more vehicles to burn as the ones they have run out.

With his family kidnapped he has no other option, he starts parking cars across the highway and setting them on fire along with the Templars for over an hour when over one of their walkie-talkies a warning is heard that the self-defense groups are headed that way. The young men get on their motorcycles and flee leaving Pedro behind, who hides behind a pedestrian bridge and waits for the arrival of the self-defense groups.

Suddenly, he recognizes some of the armored vehicles he had seen on TV and he decides to leave his hiding spot. More trucks arrive with signs which identify them as self-defense groups from Tepacaltepec and they immediately recognize the pastor.

“What are you doing here?” asks one of the self-defense group members.

“I am burning vehicles,” responds Pedro.

“What do you mean burning vehicles?” ask the men from the self-defense group.

Pedro explains that he wad detained, that his family was kidnapped, that they took his truck and he was forced to burn vehicles. The self-defense crew asks him for the keys to his truck and the location of his family. Pedro shows them where his family is and explains that the Templars took his keys, but explains that there is no problem because his truck unlocks with any key.

A little later the self-defense crew returns with his truck and his family, and gives him directions so that they can go on their way, avoiding Apatzingan. They tell him to go through Paracuaro and that there self-defense members will show him the dirt road to Tancítaro from where he can make his way to Buenavista, which is now controlled by the self-defense groups, and a route through which the Christian family can make their way home. Pedro and his family thank the self-defense crew who hours later are able to liberate the communities of Antunez and Nueva Italia from the Knights Templars’ control.

They traveled a little more than a kilometer, when as they passed a small town near the road, once again they are intercepted by the same young men from the Templars. They force Pedro to get down from the vehicle and they blame him for allowing the self-defense crew through; they tell him they are going to take him to their superior so that he can be held accountable. Pedro tries to explain that it was impossible to stop the self-defense crew from advancing, who were traveling in 40 trucks, but his efforts are in vain and he is taken along with his family to a nearby location a few streets from the highway where their boss was stationed.

“This is the guy that let them through,” explain the young men to their superior. Pedro replies arguing that he did not let them through, that he was helping them so that they would return his family, that he was not at fault for their war and problems.

“I don’t care, you let them through, now you are going to die,” responds the Templar boss as he points a gun at Pedro’s head. Suddenly two helicopters fly overhead, one from the military and one from the federal police and gun shots can be heard coming from Antunez. Through the Templar’s walkie-talkies it can be heard that the self-defense groups have entered Antunez, and they are ordered to report in and keep a lookout.

Another group of Templars arrive with more hostages: a family with mother, father, and girls younger than 10-years-old and three young workers who also had been used to to set vehicles on fire at different locations on the highway towards Apatzingan. All the hostages are taken to a house guarded by a member of the Templars with the promise that the others will return to kill them.

By then it was 6 pm and it had been complicated to say the least. Both families’ daughters are uneasy and hungry, which prompts Pedro to ask the guard for something to eat. The young man gives them some cans of beans and in the kitchen they find some cornmeal with which they make tortillas and they eat.

Despite the fact that Pedro is a man of faith, and he knows that he will eventually die, he gets the shivers and feels as if his soul is leaving his body.

By 1 am another family, which was also taken hostage on the highway arrives. Facing certain death, they spend their time telling stories, some pray, while others try to cheer each other up, and they all say good bye. After about 3 hours, they hear over the guard’s walkie-talkie that there will be a shift change at 7:30 am.

The father with the four daughters convinces Pedro to go with him to the guard and ask to be killed in exchange for their families’ lives, and that they do not want their daughters to see them die. The guard responds that at 7:30 am there will be a shift change and that at that time he will give them two minutes to escape, that both families with daughters can get in the truck and leave, but that five minutes later he will report them as having escaped and if they get caught on the highway they will be killed. Minutes before fleeing, both groups of parents remove the church signs from the truck in order to avoid being identified on the road.

The escape

At 7:30 am the guard leaves, playing dumb with the hostages behind him. They get in the truck and they leave. On the roadway there are still some smoldering vehicles but the roadway seems calm.

Both families arrive in Apatzingan where the other family’s father has a house and he offers them asylum. Pedro thanks him but he feels unsafe, because most probably they are looking for his truck and he feels it is safer to continue on their way. They go their separate ways. On the road they come upon a traffic light that turns red; and a windshield cleaner as well as a gum vendor approach the vehicle. They are lookouts for the Knights Templar. They come closer to the truck and ask if they had seen a similar truck except with church signs. “By the grace of God,” Pedro says they had removed the signs. “No, we have not seen it,” he responds. The windshield cleaner tells him that they have been tracking the truck from Antunez, and that no one is to leave Apatzingan without permission, much less because of what had happened in Antunez and Nueva Italia earlier.

The windshield cleaner states that his shift change is coming shortly and that he will let them through, but that if they are seen they will be detained. He recommends they leave quickly in order to reach the closest military checkpoint, where the Knights Templar are not as powerful.

Pedro speeds up to escape the hell they had been in for the last several hours. He knows exactly where the checkpoint is and he knows they are close.

The family is able to get through the checkpoint. Some meters ahead of the checkpoint Pedro stops the car, they get down, they hug one another, they cry, they vomit from nerves and tension. They are certain their lives are safe.

Before finishing his story, Pedro says he doesn’t know what happened to the other family nor the three young men who stayed behind with the Knights Templar. He says he has tried to locate them because they exchanged numbers, but has not been able to reach them, but hopes they are fine.

Pedro concludes, ” I was a member of the Knights Templar cartel for two hours, because I was forced and coerced to cooperate in hopes that they would give me back my family. That is my story. God bless you.”

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Social activist wounded on December 1 inauguration of Peña dies

El Enemigo Comun - Sun, 01/26/2014 - 4:44pm

By Fernando Camacho Servín
La Jornada
January 25, 2014
Translated by Scott Campbell

The activist and theater director Juan Francisco Kuykendall, who suffered a fractured skull during the December 1, 2012 protests against Enrique Peña Nieto’s inauguration, died early Saturday morning after suffering a cardiac arrest.

“Kuy died at 5:05am. They have still not given me the death certificate and we don’t know what they are going to say the clinical cause was, but since 2:30 in the morning he was in cardiac arrest,” said Eva Palma, the victim’s partner.

The health of Kuykendall Leal – who for the past three months was at the Zone 30 General Hospital of the Mexican Institute of Social Security (IMSS) – was critical for a long time, she explained.

“He was very malnourished, with deep scars and since he used tubes to urinate and to eat, infections began to attack him. Just yesterday when I went to see him I could tell he was having a lot of difficulty breathing,” said Palma in an interview.

She said that since Kuykendall’s injury, suffered during the protests against the inauguration of Enrique Peña Nieto, the activist was treated at several IMSS clinics, including at the XXI Century National Medical Center, where he was discharged for supposedly being in “stable” condition.

“The thought that sticks with me is that men as productive and concerned with culture as Kuy, who was an activist since the ‘70s, don’t deserve to end up like him, because of the state, because of men like Peña Nieto, Osorio Chong or Manuel Mondragón, who were the ones who ordered the operation.

“The capitalist system is very unjust and in the end, my partner fell in battle, but he leaves us his example, his legacy and we are going to claim him as an adherent to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle. He fell in battle for his ideals,” Palma emphasized.

After being hit in the head with a projectile – it is believed it was a rubber bullet – Juan Francisco Kuykendall suffered a cranial fracture causing him to lose part of his brain mass.

It is expected that this Saturday afternoon a wake will be held for the activist at a funeral home in the Doctores neighborhood in Mexico City.

Originally from Tamaulipas

The 67 year old, originally from Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, migrated to the Federal District in 1967 with the goal of being an actor. He achieved that at the National Institute of Fine Arts, where he studied drama.

His wife, Eva Leticia Palma Pastrana, remembers that 1968 was a year of political turmoil that “also impacted Kuy,” as he is known among friends and family. On October 2, he joined the students’ protest, but during the arrests he was saved by a Cuban doctor who hid him in her apartment.

Many years later, after becoming a playwright, set designer, theater teacher and supporter of organizations and collectives such as the Other Campaign, we wanted to go to the May 2006 protests in San Salvador Atenco, but we got lost. We were saved many times, says Palma Pastrana. The same did not occur on a Saturday, when Kuy, 67 years old and a resident of Coyoacán, went with his friend Teodulfo Torres to the protest around the Chamber of Deputies.

“We entered on Eduardo Molina Avenue, because everywhere else was closed. We were heading to see what happened, I took out my video camera and then I heard a thud. I turned to see Kuy, but he was already on the ground.”

Complaint filed at the PGR

On January 18, a group of friends and family of the teacher Juan Francisco Kuykendall filed a complaint with the Federal Attorney General’s Office (PGR) to demand clarification of what happened and punishment for those responsible for the attack.

Joined by members of the student movement #YoSoy132, the Peoples’ Front in Defense of the Land, and other social organizations, Rodrigo and Fernanda Kuykendall, children of the academic, entered the premises of the PGR to file their lawsuit, which also requests full compensation for the injury.

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41 Kilometers Crossing the Templar Stronghold

El Enemigo Comun - Sat, 01/25/2014 - 5:24pm

Michoacán self-defense groups in late 2013

Published on January 23, 2014 at Subversiones

Translated by patizapatita 1/24/14

Stones lined up on the asphalt reduce the road to a single lane. On one side, dozens of sacks filled with sand are piled asymmetrically, forming a barricade, all indicating that it is part of a checkpoint. It is the intersection of Cuatro Caminos, 1 km away from Nueva Italia, until now the largest city in the state of Michoacán that has been freed from the control of the Knights Templar cartel (liberada del control de los Caballeros Templarios) by the self-defense groups.

We stop the car a few meters before the barricade and notice that there are no members of the self-defense group in sight. The businesses around the checkpoint are all open and offer various meals and services. On first impression, life unfolds normally and it even seems that the barricade to the side is an integral part of the scene. The landscape of a conflict zone.

When we resume the journey, heading to Apatzingán, Templar territory besieged by the auto-defense groups, we note a strong police presence in the area. The federal police vehicles and dozens of heavily armed troops hold positions in various parts of the crossroad. Some talk amongst themselves while others look at their cell phones or buy things at the shops and businesses nearby. They don’t look alert, just somewhat bored. Here time seems to pass more slowly.

We advance towards Apatzingán on a path that in recent years -and days- has witnessed countless shootings, kidnappings, killings, burning of vehicles and all sorts of atrocities. Although at first glance it seems that nothing has happened here, all one needs is to sharpen one’s sight a bit to see some remnants of the past events that have devastated this road.

We pass by the entrance to Antúnez, where a few days ago soldiers who wanted to disarm a self-defense group killed civilians opposing the disarmament, sparking demonstrations and public protests in various cities freed by the self-defense groups.

A few kilometers ahead, we find the turnoff to Parácuaro, where just 12 hours before, there was a confrontation between paramilitary groups and members of the Knights Templar that lasted at least 4 hours. It is believed that some of the leaders of the Templar cartel participated, and according to self-defense sources, fled to the surrounding mountains.

We are approaching the entry to Apatzingán, and although no one says so, it is obvious that we are all more alert; our plan is to pass through and stop only at red lights. Nobody has the desire or need to stop in that city, full of narcos and besieged by self-defense groups.

It’s a sunny day in Apatzingán, the presence of police and military is overwhelming; the lookouts, a little sneakier, also make their presence felt. We have not advanced even two streets when we come to a roundabout where you turn right, but a military convoy had closed the street and requires all vehicles to retreat. We ask a taxi driver who is parked if he knows what is happening and he says no, we’d better ask the military.

We take an alternative route that allows us to skip the military blockade and talk about how despite the imminent capture of the city by the auto-defense groups and the confrontations that took place the night before within 20 kilometers, the local newspapers only cover a bus rollover.

We have already crossed more than half of the city and something catches our attention: at a corner, at least 20 luxury vans are parked in formation, ready to go out in a convoy. Nobody is seen inside or out, but it is clear that the owners or occupants are nearby.

We leave Apatzingán and reach San José de los Plátanos, where there is a self-defense group checkpoint. We have left the Templar stronghold behind and are entering the ‘liberated’ zone once again. We feel a little relieved…this time we say so.

We have advanced 41 miles from the intersection of Cuatro Caminos to the checkpoint of San José de los Plátanos. 41 kilometers where the air is thick to breathe, 41 kilometers of federal police, soldiers and Knights Templar, 41 kilometers where the feeling is one of a tense and fragile calm.

Photo by Heriberto Paredes Coronel

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First Statement from the Self-Defense Group of Aquila, Michoacán

El Enemigo Comun - Sun, 01/19/2014 - 10:17pm

Photo by Juan José Estrada Serafín

Aquila, Michoacán
January 18, 2014
Translated by Scott Campbell

From the Self-Defense Group of Aquila, Michoacán to the general public:

Today, the residents of the municipal seat of Aquila, tired of the extortions, rapes, killings, kidnappings and all sorts of criminal acts committed by the Knights Templar; given the complete abandonment of the citizenry by the municipal and state governments who for 12 years did not provide the security needed for our people to have a peaceful and dignified life; we have decided to organize our self-defense group in order to expel organized crime from our town, and we invite the rest of the people of the municipality to rise up against crime, so they never again feel fear or pay protection fees.

Translations: Spanish | Greek | German

As is known from the national and international media, our municipality previously attempted to remove the yoke of organized crime. This movement was led by members of the indigenous community of San Miguel Aquila. This community is one of the four that comprises the municipality, and is owner of an iron mine whose resources are exploited by the transnational mining company Ternium. This company pays a royalty to the indigenous community for the extracted iron, which it hauls from Aquila, Michoacán to Tecomán, Colima, and organized crime charges them a monthly quota. That is to say, they ask the residents to part with the money they receive. If they don’t pay, they kill them. So the indigenous from this community decided to form their community guard in order to protect their heritage, life and dignity. They invited us to join them, but we, as prisoners of fear of the reprisals from organized crime, decided not to support them.

The illegitimate municipal president, Juan Hernández Ramírez, was invited to join the movement and to stop paying fees to the criminals in the region, but instead decided to flee and to leave his people at the mercy of organized crime. It is known that this president obtained his post as a result of fraudulent elections, during which the Knights Templar cartel undertook to intimidate people into voting for Juan Hernández. They also burned ballot boxes where he had a clear disadvantage. But all of their tricks were not enough, as the rival candidate won the elections. So the criminals threatened him with death so he would not take the position. And that was how Hernández Ramírez became municipal president at the hands of the Templars. The period of July 24 to August 13, 2013 – when the community guard of the indigenous from the community of San Miguel Aquila operated in the area – was one of immense calm. The rapes, kidnappings and payments of protection fees disappeared as the criminals fled. Seeing the results of the community movement, we became inspired to support the cause of the community. However, on August 14, a joint state and municipal government operation, together with the Marines, entered Aquila and dismantled the community movement. They took 45 prisoners. The Special Operations Group (GOES) and State Judicial Police killed two and also beat women, children and elderly who called for them to return the men who were defending them from organized crime. When the community guard was dismantled, the Knights Templar, under the auspices of the state and municipal governments, decided to “exterminate” all the residents of San Miguel Aquila. Miguel Alcalá Alcalá, Emilio Martínez López and Miguel Martínez López were tortured and murdered by Templar criminals. Later, Ignacio Martínez de la Cruz, Francisco Javier Ramos Walle and Carlos Zapien Díaz were disappeared on November 25, 2013 and haven’t been heard from since. The remaining residents were displaced, prisoners of panic and sadness as their government did nothing to protect them.

Once the community guard was completely dismantled by the tripartite alliance of the Knights Templar-State Government-Municipal Government, the Knights Templar decided to charge fees from the entire population, which particularly impacted our humble neighbors who are of limited means. We thought that if we didn’t support the community guard, the Templars would have compassion on us and wouldn’t charge us fees, or at least would not increase them, nor hassle our families. However, they returned more ambitious and bloodthirsty. The Templars increased the fees because they lost income from those who were jailed, murdered, disappeared and displaced. Only some in the community hand over payment to the Templars, but they are the ones who have ties to them. They are José Cortes Méndez, Miguel Zapien Godínez, Fidel Villanueva Espinosa, Juan Carlos Martínez Ramos, Juan Zapien Sandoval, among others.

The self-defense phenomenon in Michoacán has great momentum, every day there are more people who decide to expel the criminals from their regions, which has caused the Templars to migrate to neighboring regions, in particular into our area, increasing the wave of violence in Aquila. So we are faced with the panorama of violence which we are returning to live in again, with the complicity of our state and municipal government and the apathy of our federal government. It is for these reasons that the residents of the municipal seat of Michoacán opened our eyes and decided to organize as a self-defense group in order to expel all criminals from the area. Our social struggle will not end just when Federico González, alias “El Lico,” the boss of the Knights Templar cartel in the Aquila-Coahuayana region, falls, but when all his partners and gunmen do.

Our self-defense movement organized by the residents and people in general of the Aquila area is inclusive. Because of this we gave a vote of confidence to municipal president Juan Hernández Ramírez and invited him to join the struggle against crime. But the mayor once again showed his Templar leanings, he decided to leave the area. As such, our self-defense group and the people who support the movement condemn the criminal and indifferent attitude of Juan Hernández Ramírez. Let it be clear that our self-defense movement was born of social necessity, against organized crime. It seeks to reestablish peace and order for our people. We invite other towns, villages and communities in the municipality of Aquila to join our struggle, as we seek only well-being and social peace.

The Self-Defense Council of Aquila, Michoacán

The post First Statement from the Self-Defense Group of Aquila, Michoacán is available on El Enemigo Común. Please share it with your friends.

“With the imposition of gas station, they want to change our way of life”

El Enemigo Comun - Wed, 01/08/2014 - 4:56pm

By Jaime Quintana Guerrero
January 5, 2014
Translated by Scott Campbell

Federal District, Mexico. In the middle of Christmas, and after two years of opposition to the construction of a gas station on their land, the people of San Pedro Mártir were evicted from their protest encampment. But they guarantee that not even with the impressive police operation – when more than 2,000 of the capital’s forces encircled the town – will they stop their struggle against its construction that, they say, is illegal and represents the entry point of changing their traditional way of life.

Located in the Tlalpan district, south of Mexico City, the inhabitants maintain that “the gas station represents an imposition by businesses on our way of life,” says one of the opposition activists. “What is to come is a legal and peaceful struggle until the gas station is decommissioned and demolished,” announced a member of the Movement of Neighborhoods and Peoples of the South, which is part of the opposition.

A young woman recounts that, alongside the peaceful and legal protest, the repression they were exposed to is spreading. “Our idea is to remain strong and we are convinced that our stance is legal,” she says.

The inhabitants of San Pedro Mártir say that the construction of the gas station, which began in 2011, “violates land use and environmental regulations. The permits were obtained in collusion with officials from the Tlalpan district, the Ministry of Development and Housing (SEDUVI), the Federal District’s Ministry of the Environment (SEDEMA) and Mexican Petroleum (PEMEX),” a woman said.

The gas station belongs to the Mexican Corporation of Gas Stations (CorpoGas), a company founded in 1982 and is the group that sells the most fuel in the country. In the first half of 2011, it sold 632 million liters of fuel. The commercial director of CorpoGas is Juan Carlos Niembro Núñez, also the owner of Bicentennial Parking Attendant (OEB), which will own 23,320 parking spaces for ten years in Mexico City.

“The construction of the gas station has a deeper meaning. Being an indigenous people, it has to do with our heritage of customs and traditions,” explains a young man from the movement. “Here we decide what can be built and what can’t,” according to the people’s decision, he notes, adding that the government permits a large amount of illegal building. San Pedro Mártir belongs to the indigenous peoples who still retain their own organizational characteristics, language and customs that were present at the beginning of colonization.

The commission of three people from the Movement of Neighborhoods and Peoples of the South – which during this time marked 40 years of existence – told Desinformémonos that they fear that the construction of the gas station will mean the beginning of more construction that is distinct from their way of life. “This means to deny us as a people,” says the young man.

Land use laws in this area do not permit this type of construction, the commission adds. “They use streets, the public roads, and that is prohibited. It is not feasible to build on- and off-ramps, which is dangerous because it is on the Mexico-Cuernavaca highway,” explains the woman. As well, there is the danger of having fuel in the area, as “here we are very religious, with parties and fireworks, and it is feared that a disaster might occur.”

We want to live as we want

“Today it starts with the gas station and then come the shopping malls. It’s a process of annihilation of the peoples,” explains the young woman. “The illegality with which they impose these projects — such as the gas station — is a message that they don’t care about the peoples, their way of life, their sense of community and the earth. We want to live our way, and they want to impose changes on us by force.”

An older woman from the community — who also declined to give her name — recalls San Pedro Mártir’s history of struggle. She says that the most important chapter happened 40 years ago, when they opposed the construction of the Military College: “The people took to the streets. At that time it was the men who began to organize and demanded to be heard.” The schools, the water and the bridges that the people have today are as a result of their struggles, the woman adds. “The government didn’t just come and put those things here, they were demanded by the people.”

Another front in San Pedro Mártir’s battle is the scarcity of water. “We saw how the Peña Pobre paper mill took the water and left the fields without trees, and the struggle began. There have been intense struggles which have impacted the people of San Pedro Mártir, and what is coming will be the same,” the resident says.

The defectiveness of the law and repression

On December 25, when the Ixtliyolotl encampment was dismantled, “they encircled us from La Joya, which is several kilometers from here. The town was surrounded,” says the young woman. The activist says the deployment of police forces was massive. “All we were asking was that they follow the law.”

It’s been two years and three months of legal, civil and peaceful struggle, says the commission. They explain the authorities violated the protective measures granted on May 14, 2013 by the Human Rights Commission of the Federal District, even as the matter is still before the courts – with injunction 777/2013 issued in favor of the town against the last ruling of the Superior Court of the Administrative Tribunal of the Federal District (TCADF).

Residents complain that the very company removed the seals marking it as closed. “There is no law. The company showed us a number of documents that they sent to various agencies, which does not mean that they have permission for the gas station to operate. They never showed us a permit or approval from the authorities. We don’t understand why they sent in the police,” says the young man.

The activists gave the district head of Tlalpan, Maricela Contreras, documents regarding the two rulings in their favor, but she did nothing, says the young woman. “That’s complicity and they’re leaving the people to do the work the authorities should be doing. What we got from the district head of Tlalpan is silence and repression. The encampment had legal protective measures, and a few days prior we won an injunction, and they send in the police.”

A June 27, 2011, administrative decision ruled that land use permit 59177-181-SOKA10, issued for the gas station on October 28, 2010, is contrary to Tlalpan’s Land Use Program. Zoning resolution 037661, issued on November 27, 1991, stopped, therefore, having effect on vested rights, as well as environmental impact authorizations and construction permits. An injunction against the zoning resolution was obtained, and the environmental and urban impact reports were issued based on the land use permit.

The Ministry of the Environment determined that the gas station did not meet the necessary requirements, as the land use permit requested was for 300 square meters, but in reality the station occupies 2,300 meters. Their construction permit expired on December 5, 2011, however, they continued building, reports the Movement’s commission.

The inhabitants of San Pedro Mártir filed three lawsuits, with rulings in favor of the town. They include two rulings for annulment (I-52703/2011 and I-71002/2011) and one for public action (IV-10810/2012). The first chamber of the Administrative Tribunal annulled the land use zoning certificate issued by SEDUVI. Revoked were the November 22, 2010 urban impact report DGAU.10/DEIU/030/2010; the December 6, 2010 type C construction permit RG/TL/3033/2010; and the environmental impact authorization SMA/DGRA/DEIA/000425/2010 issued by the Federal District’s Ministry of the Environment.

The fist of the “left”

“The mayor of Mexico City, Miguel Ángel Mancera, beats the people down using his district officials,” explains the woman. “To not recognize that we have communal ways of doing things in the streets, in the church and with the land is to attack us.”

The young man from the commission explains that the majority of those who maintained the encampment were women and that they were repressed. “The district head Maricela Contreras feigns having a feminist government in favor of the people, but allowed the repression and preferred the voice of the businesspeople. She stayed silent. These kinds of politicians also serve the corporations, and they make use of their public offices to benefit the private sector.”

“A government that violates rights and represses cannot be said to be leftist. Mancera’s government is not leftist nor progressive, it is a represser,” says the young woman.

Mancera “sees us as ignorant and believes that the people don’t know what they are doing. And of course we know,” exclaimed, angry, the adult woman. “What they are doing impacts the poor in Mexico. We are not ignorant and we don’t want bread and circuses.”

“This struggle is for dignity. Although it is a huge corporation and we have more than two years in the fight, we haven’t accepted bribes. To fight with dignity is what defines us,” explains the young man in the resistance. “They come to ask us what we want, and we respond that we want them to remove the gas station,” he concludes.

The post “With the imposition of gas station, they want to change our way of life” is available on El Enemigo Común. Please share it with your friends.

Nahuas reject mine in Colima

El Enemigo Comun - Wed, 01/08/2014 - 12:10am

By Mónica Montalvo

December 29, 2013
Translated by Scott Campbell

For our indigenous people, the land is not merely an object of possession and production.

The integral relationship between our people’s spiritual life and our lands has many profound implications. Furthermore, our land and our water are not commodities to be appropriated, but a common good which we and our children should freely enjoy.

Indigenous Council for the Defense of the Territory of Zacualpan

Zacualpan, Colima. In recent weeks, the town of Zacualpan, in the municipality of Comala, has joined the growing number of farming and indigenous communities facing conflicts over mining. A few months ago, this indigenous Nahua community began hearing about a plan to build a mine – backed by Rigoberto Verduzco Rodríguez – from which gold, silver, copper and manganese would be extracted, without an environmental impact study or any approval process or permits in the offices of the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) in Colima.

The planned mine is one kilometer from a water spring that supplies the metropolitan area of Colima-Villa de Álvarez, which would mean contaminating the water source in an area known as Cerro Gordo, which is important from a biological and geological point of view and where there is a large number of species at risk of extinction. This would translate into putting at risk the water supply for 260,000 people in the state.

The case of Zacualpan is one of the first conflicts emerging in the state, but it will not be the last, as in Colima alone there are 360 mining concessions covering virtually the entire state with the exception of the volcanos. There is already an example that shows all the negative implications of these extractive projects: the Peña Colorado mine. This mine, operated by an Italian-Argentinian-Indian firm, has been in operation for the past 44 years on the border between Colima and Jalisco and has caused severe environmental damage, territorial displacement and human rights violations in the Nahua communities. The Peña Colorado mine has also meant threats, assassinations and disappearances, as in the case of the indigenous Nahua Celedonio Monroy Prudencio, member of the Ayotitlan Council of Elders.

Territory free of mining

The indigenous community has sought information regarding the implications of a mine in their territory, as the project’s backers make no mention of the environmental or health impacts on communities that already have mines, nor of the total earnings mining companies take out and what they leave for the communities. In this case, neither officials from the Federal Attorney’s Office for Environmental Protection (PROFEPA) nor Colima’s Ministry for Economic Development have provided information about the mine.

Cyanide, one of the most toxic and lethal substances on the planet, is used for the extraction and processing of gold, in a process known as “gold cyanidation.” The mineral where the gold is found is crushed. Subsequently, water is used and cyanide is applied to extract and recover the metal. The water used must be treated using extreme security measures and the process should not be carried out near areas such as rivers, lakes, ponds, springs or aqueducts, as a leak of contaminated water leads to devastating effects, as the cyanide in the water, even in small doses, kills any person or animal that might ingest it. Even with proper safety measures, the residual cyanide trapped in gold mines causes persistent leaks into the groundwater that nourishes aquifers, which is why gold mining has become one of the most questioned and dangerous processes in the world.

On November 18, 2013, in a general assembly with the attendance of more than 300 inhabitants, the indigenous Nahua community declared its refusal to give permission for the mining of gold, silver and copper. The community also demanded that its decision be respected, without reprisals, pressure, divisions, blackmail, threats or corruption.

On December 4, the Indigenous Council for the Defense of the Territory of Zacualpan and Bios Iguana/REMA-Colima presented to the Colima offices of the Federal Agrarian Attorney the December 1 agreement reached by the Assembly of Farmers and Inhabitants of the Indigenous Community of Zacualpan, which reaffirmed the November 18 demands. In the document they state: “We have made the decision of NO MINING IN ZACUALPAN by virtue of the fact that it violates the following rights of the indigenous community: the right to consultation, Articles 6 and 7 of Convention 169 of the International Labor Organization (ILO); those established by Article 19 of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the content of Articles 3, 4 and 26 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and Article 2 of the Mexican Constitution; we say that this territory and its resources are ours by law by virtue of us having traditionally and ancestrally occupied, possessed, utilized and acquired them.” They also mention that “the lands, biodiversity, and the water of Zacualpan constitute the natural heritage and life sustenance for the indigenous community.”

The decision to declare this territory free of mining has also been backed by REMA (the Mexican Network of People Affected by Mining). Additionally, the State Human Rights Commission has added its voice, in early December calling on the population and the three levels of government not to allow mining in Zacualpan.

On December 11, the State Congress unanimously approved a point of agreement to exhort the heads of government (federal, state and municipal) not to expedite any permit, authorization or license for the installation or operation of a gold or any other metal mine in Zacualpan, municipality of Comala.

The approved agreement also asked that in the case of existing permits, that they be reviewed and revoked “for constituting a serious risk to the environment, as well as to the health and security of the citizens of this state.”

From car washer to mining businessman

Rigoberto Verduzco Rodríguez, owner of “Rodríguez Carwash,” located at 267 Rey de Colimán Avenue, is now the driving force behind this mine, with mining concession 201,872, which, according to the Ministry of the Economy, since 1995 was registered to Adolfo Pineda Martínez, now deceased, according to the article “Gold disputed in Comala” by Martín Aquino.

In a press conference at the end of November, the farmers denounced that the businessman had offered 15,000 pesos to each of the 305 property owners to accept the project.

Community division

Among the most serious consequences these projects bring doesn’t begin with damage to the environment or health when the mining starts, but much earlier: the breakdown of the social fabric. The division created in communities faced with groups against or in favor of the projects is often hard to see, being that the consequences bring with them a level of insecurity for the inhabitants of the communities.

The backers of these projects many times offer money or benefits to government authorities so that they also speak up in favor of the projects or even become backers themselves.

In the case of Zacualpan, the Commissioner of Communal Lands, Carlos Guzmán, despite of stance of the community assembly, has insisted in mentioning the supposed benefits of accepting the project. One example is the assembly he tried to hold on Sunday, December 1 at 10am for the “sharing of a new proposal by Engineer Rigoberto Rodríguez on offering better royalties and personal payments to each inhabitant – in the case of their acceptance – and the community benefits of accepting the mine.” Said meeting was cancelled.

The above are some of the reasons why the inhabitants in an assembly decided to REMOVE all members of the Communal Lands Commission, along with all members of the Security Council from the indigenous community of Zacualpan, as allowed in Article 21 of the statutes of Zacualpan and for not carrying out their duties in line with Article 33 of the Agrarian Law.

The inhabitants of Zacualpan also brought their complaints to the Federal Agrarian Attorney’s representative in Colima, María Elena Díaz, who tried to block their demands for a reforming of the Communal Lands Commission “with the intention of delaying in order for the mine to be put into place.”


One day after the community declared itself a mining-free territory, the Mexican army arrived in an intimidating fashion and later presented themselves to the municipal president and an official from the National Forest Commission in order to present a “national prize” to the community for reforestation. The community has also denounced the verbal and physical attacks by relatives of the head of the Communal Lands Commission.

As well, the Bios Iguana organization has suffered defamation by supporters of the mine and one of its members, Gabriel Martínez Campo, was detained for a few minutes by the Comala Municipal Police in Zacualpan garden. Community members prevented the environmentalist from being put in a patrol car. This was while they were preparing for a film screening in the square.

Mining in Mexico

To speak of mining in Mexico is to speak of stories of pain, illness, corruption, repression and death. Of all economic activities, mining is that which has the most negative impact on health and illnesses which can reduce a lifespan by as much as 15 years, according to the Pan American Health Organization.

The extractive model pushed on our country since the 1992 reforms has meant that more than one third of the national territory is under the control of mines. The mining industry revolves around the logic and strategy of finance capital, where in order to reach the objective of higher earnings and capital accumulation, the industry seeks to lower its expenses – increasing poverty, improving their technology, lowering the cost of raw materials and externalizing the social and environmental costs, says Gustavo Castro, member of the organization Other Worlds/Friends of the Earth.

The tax system in Mexico is highly permissive for mining emporiums. The current mining law only requires collection of a minimal percentage per hectare; it is a semiannual permit. It is a laughable amount. As well, in some cases, the mines pay farmers a rent of 50 cents per meter for their lands. Adding together this and other administrative costs, the payments do not exceed more than one percent of the value of the metals extracted.

In Mexico, mining companies do not pay the government for the value of the extracted resources, but rather for the amount of land their concession is on.

Energy reform, a point in favor of mining

The mining sector can take advantage of the opening of the energy sector to private investment in order to use those projects to provide electricity with the argument of reducing their fixed costs. It also opens the possibility of exploiting oil, gas, coal or other minerals that form part of their mining concessions.

The indigenous Nahua community of Zacualpan has already decided regarding their territory and future: it said “no to mining.” What follows is for their right to say “no” be respected.

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Yakiri: “I love life; that’s why I fought and that’s why I’m alive.”

El Enemigo Comun - Wed, 01/01/2014 - 4:26pm

x carolina

“ . . .I have faith in you. You’re like my family that never gives up. And I have faith that I’ll soon regain my freedom. But it also makes me furious to be in here, locked up for fighting and defending my life against the man who was attacking me, while there’s a motherfucker walking around out there like he hasn’t done a thing. I’m petitioning the Supreme Court to grant me my freedom because I love life; that’s why I fought and that’s why I’m alive. And I want to live my life and enjoy it with my family and people that I love. I want to believe that justice exists for women in my city and that it exists in our Mexico. Just as I fought for my life, I’m now fighting for my freedom, and I want you to keep on supporting me, because by doing so, you’re supporting your own daughters as well. . .”

These words written by Yakiri Rubí Rubio Aupart were read at the end of a march to the Benito Juarez Monument from the Angel of Independence in Mexico City on Sunday, December 29, to demand the immediate freedom of a young woman who’s been wrongfully imprisoned for the last twenty days. All afternoon, family members denounced many of the injustices in the case, and a good number of women responded to the open invitation to speak out. Their supportive remarks reflected different points of view but made it clear that the treatment given to Yakiri reflects the situation of violence, feminicide and impunity experienced every day by thousands of women in this country and the world.

It is clear that Yaki is being held prisoner because she dared to live. The 20-year old couldn’t keep two brutes from forcing her into a hotel and raping her. But when Miguel Ángel Rodríguez Anaya tried to stab her to death, she was able to twist his wrist around, which resulted in the knife plunging into his own jugular vein. Due to his death, Yaki now faces charges of aggravated homicide even though she’s the one who was illegally deprived of her freedom and subjected to rape and attempted murder. Meanwhile, the other rapist, Luis Omar Rodríguez Anaya, walks free.

“Mancera, get this. Yaki is innocent,” shouted hundreds of people. Some of the phrases painted on placards or bodies read as follows: “Immediate freedom for Yaki,” “Women have the right to legitimate defense, too” “Justice,” “Nothing justifies sexual violence,” “NO means NO,” “Defending our lives is not a crime, Free Yaki, Free us all,” “Sexist violence is a crime, jail for defending yourself, as well,” “Machete for machotes,” “Applause, respect, support and admiration for women who defend themselves. NO PUNISHMENT. Yakiri, you are not alone.”

Before the march set out from the Angel, Yaki’s mother spoke about her daughter in an interview:

“Hello, I’m Marina, Yakiri’s mother. Just to comment about her situation in prison, she’s really happy about all the support she’s gotten from people, and about all the letters people have sent. Now she’s in the Tepepan prison hospital where she feels more relaxed. She has a little more protection and somewhat better treatment. She’s been there for ten days.”

At first she was in the Santa Martha prison where several women beat her badly, including one who said she was the “sister of the man killed.” However, says Marina, “after investigating the girl, we know she has no connection with him. They gave her something like fifty pesos (less than $4 USD) to beat up my daughter. She’s been in prison with four different names, which tells us that she’s well into criminal activity, so she was willing to do it.” But aside from that, Yaki was threatened by other inmates who were also paid, and she couldn’t rest easy. After a complaint was filed with the Human Rights Commission, they transferred her to a protected area, but she was kept under lock and key and could only leave the area in the custody of three people.

“Her arrest and imprisonment has been a tremendous shock for us,” says Marina. “Her status changed from that of victim to victimizer. She went to the public prosecutor’s office to press charges for rape and attempted murder, but since the perpetrators were neighbors of one of the prosecutors in Agency 50, her legal situation changed dramatically. While she was there, they never told her she was under arrest. They just left her there incommunicado for ten hours. They never let her make a phone call to the family. They gave her nothing to eat. They just held her there. She was finally able to send a message to a friend on her cell phone and that’s how we found out, but not until the next day. She went to the prosecutor’s office on Monday December 9 at 10:30 that night and we learned that she was still there on Tuesday at 11:30 in the morning.”

At first they refused to investigate and confirm the charge of rape in spite of photographs and other evidence, including deep cuts and serious injuries that she suffered during the attack. She received no medical treatment for those wounds. The suture that a paramedic gave her for a deep cut on her arm was so badly done that it got infected and is still giving her trouble. They didn’t give her any antiretroviral drugs or the 72-hour pill. No medical attention whatsoever.

Ten days later, the Sex Crimes Division finally did a preliminary investigation and began to take charge of the matter. Now it’s been established that the rape did take place.

“We’ve been to see her every visiting day. Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. Now she feels a little more relaxed. We’d like to thank all the people who are supporting us, those who’ve been supportive from the very first. Words can’t express the way I feel. As Yaki’s mother, I really feel blessed. I never thought there would be such a positive outpouring from people. I’m very grateful.”

People who spoke at the march included Norma Andrade, founder of Bring our Daughters Home, and her granddaughter Jade, who continue to demand justice for their daughter and mother Lilia Alejandra and so many other women murdered in Cd. Juárez; Sergio Ferrer, who urged support for the freedom of political prisoner Nestora Salgada of the Community Police in Olinalá, Guerrero; and the families of the disappeared youth in the Heaven Bar case. One of the mothers stated that the supposed remains found were not those of their children and that they’ve had no help whatsoever from the authorities in finding them.

Yaki’s situation brings to mind the cases of other women who have defended themselves against violence, including Marissa Alexander in Florida, sentenced to 20 years in prison for firing a warning shot at her abusive husband who was attacking and threatening to kill her. After passing more than a thousand days in prison, Marissa finally got out on bail to continue fighting her case. In the early 1970s widespread public support was a key factor in winning the exoneration of Inez García and Joan Little, two women who killed their rapists in the United States.

In the march to free Yakiri, her father José Luis Rubio commented as the march left the Angel that in a society marked by scorn and hatred of women, where feminicides are on the rise, “we have to love our daughters. I’m talking about all our daughters in Mexico and the world. And when they find it necessary to defend themselves, we must defend them.” He explained that it had been hard for him to accept the fact that his daughter is a lesbian but that now he admires her bravery and feels totally proud of her. “Now Yaki is not only our daughter, she’s your daughter, too. Let’s free Yaki!”

At the end of the march, José Luis pointed out the absurdity of the prosecution’s charges that Yaki stabbed the heavyset man 16 times. He asked: How can a girl weighing less than a 100 pounds stab a 198-pound man sixteen times without him lifting a finger in his own defense? He denounced his daughter’s assailants, “call them criminals or call them public officials,” as well as the “low-life press” that criminalizes women who are obliged to defend themselves. He asked: “Why all the hatred of women? What message do they get when they are locked up for exerting their right to self-defense? Why do they have to endure sexual assault and rape and then pray to God that their rapist won’t kill them?”

To close the demonstration, flowers, placards, and purple and white balloons were placed at the Juarez monument.

The post Yakiri: “I love life; that’s why I fought and that’s why I’m alive.” is available on El Enemigo Común. Please share it with your friends.

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It’s Where We Find the Knowledge on How to Bring Change to Our Communities and Report About It

By Heather McCuen
School of Authentic Journalism, class of 2012
October 11, 2012

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