Monday, March 19, 2007

Oaxacans oppose taking their land for wind energy

The first bulletin below describes the taking of community farm land in Oaxaca for a giant wind project to benefit the Spanish energy company Iberdrola. Spain will claim the resulting production as a reduction of its own carbon dioxide emissions. The second bulletin describes the wider situation of harassment and violence, under cover of which the industrial wind energy projects are being pushed. A 3 March news report of this opposition as well as the serious threat to migrating birds is available at wind-watch.org.

UCIZONI -- La Unión de Comunidades Indígenas de la Zona Norte del Istmo (Union of Indigenous Communities of the Northern Zone of the Isthmus) -- is a group of 84 communities and neighborhoods in 9 counties of the state of Oaxaca in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. Ejidatarios are the people who communally farm ejidos, former private lands that are now owned by the federal government. The original Spanish versions of these bulletins are available at iberica2000.org.

UCIZONI press bulletin no. 8 -- 28 February 2007

The execution of the wind energy project La Venta II, that has begun in La Venta, Juchitán, Oaxaca, has meant a true plundering of the land for the ejidatarios of that region. Although the Mexican Government was required to inform and to consult the population affected by massive investment projects, until now it has refused this right to the ejidatarios and indigenous neighbors.

For more than two years the farmers faced harassment and deceptive offers. Nevertheless, the resistance of the community was broken down when ministerial police threatened to jail the Ejidos Committee President Rafael Solorzano Ordaz, to whom they dishonestly imputed responsibility in several crimes, forcing him to resign his position. They then installed in his place PRI [Partido Revolucionario Institucional (the party that dominated Mexico through most of the 20th century)] member Carlos Antonio Ordaz.

With the intervention of the Commissariat and base threats and lies, dozens of ejidatarios have signed predatory rental contracts that favor the Federal Commission of Electricity [CFE]. These contracts, which were signed before a Notary Public but copies of which have not been delivered to the ejidatarios, are a true plundering: they cover a period of 30 years and commit the farmers to surrender their land for an average annual payment of 12,500 pesos [850 euros or 1,100 dollars] per hectare [2.5 acres] where an aerogenerator tower is erected.

Nevertheless, in spite of the pressures and deceits, the contracted land comprises only 40% of that originally required by the project that has gone forward with an investment of more than 110 million dollars from the transnational Iberdrola. Dozens of ejidatarios have resisted and as yet have not rented their land.

On the other hand, in an illegal assembly last year, which was plagued by irregularities and to which corrupt employees of the Agrarian Attorney's office made sure only a minimum number of ejidatarios attended -- the Ejidos Commission ceded common lands for the CFE to use as operation bases.

This cession was not approved by most of the ejidatarios and caused a large group of farmers on 3 April 2006 to occupy one estate, demanding the return of five hectares [12 acres] that were given to the CFE and payment for the damages caused by the clearings already done in the area.

Before this mobilization, the CFE promoted criminal action against the ejidatarios of La Venta by agents of the Federal Public Ministry of Matías Romero and of Mexico City for the supposed crime of impeding the execution of public works.

By unofficial means we have learned that a federal judge of Mexico City has decided to pursue criminal action against the uncooperative ejidatarios and is preparing at this moment an operation of the Federal Preventative Police to evict the ejidatarios who have formed the "3 April Colony" on the estate that the CFE had tried to take over illegally.

With this serious situation, we make an urgent call to national, state, and international organizations to offer necessary solidarity to the ejidatarios of La Venta, Juchitán, Oaxaca, and we demand the Interior Secretary to halt the repressive operation against the indigenous farmers who face the massive plundering already seen from the CFE to benefit transnational companies.

UCIZONI press bulletin no. 7 -- 27 February 2007

Ramiro Roque Figueroa, UCIZONI representative in the community of Niza Conejo, El Barrio de la Soledad, was stopped with excessive violence by elements of the ministerial police on 22 February, accused of aggravated assault of a city council employee. At the time of his arrest, the police tried to plant a weapon on him and they indicated to him that his detention was the result of his participation in the mobilizations organized by the APPO [Assemblea Popular del Pueblo de Oaxaca, Popular Assembly of the People of Oaxaca].

The head of the Lower Court based in Matías Romero, Oaxaca, judge Modesto Isaías Santiago Martinez, acting in complicity with the PRI authorities of the municipality of Barrio de la Soledad, had issued an arrest warrant against Ramiro Roque in Penal Docket 21/2007, imputing his responsibility in a crime he did not commit.

In the afternoon of 24 February, ministerial police assigned to the Deputy Attorney General in Tehuantepec appeared in an aggressive way at the address of Moisés Trujillo Ruiz, leader of UCIZONI in La Ventosa, Juchitán, who they tried to detain in an act of continuing intimidation as promoted by Porfirio Montero, the old cacique of the place, who arranged a meeting at the end of the last year between evangelical leaders and Ulises Ruiz [the PRI governor of Oaxaca whose violent police action in June 2006 against the annual Oaxacan teachers strike created the APPO and its actions referred to above], where the governor indicated publicly that he was keeping his job by divine will.

To these repressive acts that are part of the intimidation campaign by the police corps of the state of Oaxaca, add the military operations through all of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, where even red berets from the Army's GAFE [elite U.S.-trained airborne special forces groups] have participated: thus at enormous cost they have been unconstitutionally arresting anyone they consider suspicious.

UCIZONI mobilized the next week in Matías Romero and Tehuantepec to demand an end to harassment and the dismissal of judge Modesto Isaías Santiago as well as of deputy attorney general María del Carmen Chiñas.

Also, a large contingent of UCIZONI women participated in the 8 March demonstration called by APPO, where they demanded freedom for the political prisoners, the end of violence against women, and the dismissal of Ulises Ruiz Ortiz, the person directly responsible for the climate of violence and confrontation that is life in Oaxaca.

wind power, wind energy, wind farms, environment, environmentalism, anarchism, anarchosyndicalism, human rights