200 Indigenous Mexicans Violently Forced out of Vacant Lot

Over 200 Indigenous Mexicans who were displaced by poverty demand justice after being illegally and violently evicted from a temporary home. 

A rights group denounced the eviction of more than 200 displaced indigenous people from an empty lot in the municipality of Tlapa, Mexico, by a legal representative of the owner’s property.

RELATED: Mexico: Indigenous Chol Community Denounces Eviction Attempt

Constancio Sanchez Campos, the legal representative, showed up with two bulldozers and threatened the displaced indigenous people with evicting them by force unless they paid US$10.50 for each lot, reported Guerrero Digital.

The displaced people denounced Sanchez’s violent and illegal eviction without an official warrant.

“The perpetrators of the eviction burned the matresses that they [the indigenous people] were sleeping on, as well as their blankets, and the few beans and corn they had saved to eat, while all their belongings remain buried,” stated the Mountain of Tlachinollan Center for Human Rights.

Tlachinollan demanded an end to the violence against displaced people from the two municipalities and urged state intervention to protect the rights of, and guarantee the safety and relocation of the families.

On November 2018, more than 200 families displaced from their homes in the Cochoapa Grande and Metlatonocmade municipalities made the empty lot located in Colonia de Las Mesas their “provisional home,” according to Digital Guerrero.

“Our crops did not germinate, the lands we farmed did not yield, and our homes are in deplorable conditions. Our children are dying from vomiting and diarrhea for lack of medical attention,” said Nieve Mendoza Lorenzo, who forms part of the displaced indigenous people’s committee, according to Desinformemonos.

Mendoza added that displaced people’s children are unable to attend school for a lack of teachers.

These communities were hard hit by the Ingrid and Manuel storms in 2013, which greatly worsened their situation of poverty, and did not receive any help from the government, reported Desinformemonos.

This is not an isolated incident. Recently, Indigenous Mayan Chol people of San Jose el Bascan in Chiapas, southern Mexico, denounced a threat of eviction from their recovered territories by landowners hoping to sell the land.

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Seven Morena Leaders Murdered after Winning 2018 Elections in Mexico

Mexico, Jan 3 (Prensa Latina) The assassination of Tlaxiaco Mayor Alejandro Aparicio Santiago, after taking office, has added up to seven Morena leaders killed after winning the July 1 elections, a consultancy agency reported.

The company Etelleki noted that these attacks occurred over the past six months and clarified that five of seven cases correspond to politicians elected under Morena, the movement turned into President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador's party.

The other victims are Rosalio Gonzalez and Maria Ascension Cruz, council people in Armeria and Mazatepec. Both were assassinated by armed individuals on August 2 and December 30, respectively.

Yeidckol Polevnsky, leader of the Morena Movement, said that the 2017-2018 electoral process was the most violent in recent history, with 152 politicians assassinated, 37 of them from the winning party mainly in the state of Oaxaca.

The state prosecutor's office reported that the aggression against the Tlaxiaco mayor occurred while he was on his way to the city hall. He was shot along the way by armed men. As a result, four people were wounded and one was arrested. Aparicio Santiago died after receiving hospital attention.

Oaxaca Governor Alejandro Murat condemned the assassinations and asked the Attorney General's Office for an exhaustive investigation. Polevnsky called for clarification.

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Zapatistas Warn Mexico: 'We Won't Back AMLO Projects'

"It’s not easy to face political parties and bad governments are the current one: dishonest and deceitful,” said Subcomandante Moises.

Mexico's National Liberation Zapatista Army (EZLN) has declared it won’t allow the “death projects” of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador in its territory, vowing to maintain autonomy based on Indigenous customs.

RELATED: New Era for Mexico's Zapatista Army 25 Years After Uprising

“We will fight, we will face, we won’t allow him to come here with his destructive projects,” said Subcomandante Moises, without naming Lopez Obrador directly, at the closing ceremony of the 25th anniversary celebrations. “We don’t fear his National Guard, a name chosen instead of army.”

Supporters had been at Guadalupe Tepeyac, part of the autonomous territories, along with members and representatives of the EZLN and support bases discussing future steps in the anticapitalist revolutionary struggle.

They later moved to La Realidad, a meeting point for regional autonomous governments, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Zapatista armed uprising on January 1.

The government of Lopez Obrador proposed the creation of the National Guard, a 50,000-strong security force that will be trained and commanded by the military to carry out public security duties.

Detractors describe it as a move to perpetuate and legalize militarization in the country, while supporters argue it’s a necessary move.

Lopez Obrador had been a strong critic of militarization, a process that started in 2006 with Felipe Calderon’s ‘war on drugs.' "Bringing the military back to the barracks” was one of his main demands in the opposition.

Now, the new president and his National Regeneration Movement (Morena) are pushing to reform the constitution to allow the military to assume public security duties.

Subcomante Moises, one of the two spokespersons of the EZLN along with Subcomandante Galeano, said the new center-left president will “destroy the people of Mexico, but mainly the oridinary people. They come for us, especially the EZLN.”

The Zapatista movement has always been at odds with Lopez Obrador. Since the first time he ran for president in 2006, the EZLN organized an alternative campaign and declared its opposition to the leftist candidate. Now, with its landslide victory in the 2018 elections, the Zapatistas have reiterated their position.

“The consultation they’re doing aims to manipulate the people," said Moises. "Through votes, they’re asking for permission to attack us. They’re consulting so they come and face us with that Maya Train crap, but if they provoke us we will defend ourselves. We won’t allow someone to come here and take this rebel territory.

RELATED: Mexico's EZLN Expresses Solidarity With Chile Mapuche Struggle

The Maya Train is a large-scale infrastructure project proposed by Lopez Obrador to connect the whole Yucatan Peninsula for tourism, transportation and economic purposes.

To continue with it, Lopez Obrador called for a national consultation by late November, with an outcome of 89.9 percent in favor.

Local organizations and Indigenous peoples have rejected the project, arguing that a consultation should take place following international and national standards on the rights of Indigenous peoples and their autonomy.

According to the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) Convention 169 , Indigenous peoples should be consulted by governments over any project related to their territory. But Lopez Obrador’s consultation was at a national level, ignoring the established protocol.

To mark the start of the project, Lopez Obrador held a traditional ceremony “to ask Mother Earth for permission” with sympathizing local Indigenous leaders and organizations, a move that was criticized by many because “Mother Earth couldn’t give him an answer.”

The EZLN called Lopez Obrador a trickster. “The one in power is treacherous," said Moises. "He says he’s with the people of Mexico and keeps tricking the Indigenous people, bowing to Earth asking it for permission and saying that all Indigenous peoples believe him, but we tell him we don’t believe him.”

Instead, the Subcomandante remembered the EZLN’s achievements in 25 years of struggle: “Our work and effort, with our mistakes.”

“Everything we’ve built, we’ve carried it ourselves. There are solidary sisters and brothers that have helped us, but it’s not easy to face political parties and bad governments are the current one: dishonest and deceitful.

“Five years ago we told the people of Mexico that a worse thing would come. A collapse, a hydra, a monster, a wall. We told them, but they didn’t listen. They listen to that whose name I don’t want to name.”

The Indigenous organization also criticized other projects promoted by Lopez Obrador, such as the promise to cultivate a million hectares of fruit and wood trees in Chiapas, sacrificing native rain forests.

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Mexico: AMLO Tips Army to Build Urban Development Center

The Army will be in charge of the construction of housing projects and transportation infrastructures.

The army will build an urban development center in Mexico City, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) said Thursday, stressing that private companies will not be allowed to take control of one of the last strips of undeveloped land in the country’s capital.

RELATED: Mexico: 'We Will Not Break Diplomatic Relations with Venezuela'

"It's not going to be a private real estate company, it's not a private business. It is the government, in this case, the secretary of defense which carries out the urbanization," AMLO said.

The project, whose value could reach up to US$1.5 billion, will be undertaken on a 30-hectare site, which is part of a 125-hectare military base, located inside Mexico City's downtown.

The announcement is consistent with previous statements by the president. Prior to becoming a candidate, the leftist president had attacked what he calls "neoliberal" practices of past administrations which benefited business elites over ordinary citizens.

At the beginning of the year, former President Enrique Peña Nieto had planned to sell the military base, but put the plans on hold after local residents opposed the possible transformation of a large green site into an urban development location.

Aeropuerto en Santa Lucía será construido por el Ejército: López Obrador - Partidero

"Airport in Santa Lucia will be built by the Army. President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said that, thanks to the successful repurchase of Mexico's New International Airport bonds, the way is finally cleared to solve this matter."

Lopez Obrador reassured his countrymen that 70 out of the 125 hectares of land would become a new public park, which has been conceived of as an expansion of Latin America's oldest and largest urban park, the 'Chapultepec Forest.'

In early December, Defense Secretary Luis Sandoval said the Mexican army planned to build luxury homes on the site. However, AMLO did not give any specific details about the type of urban project that could be developed on the rest of the site. 

"[On that part of the city] the square meter is very expensive. It is a residential site having very luxury apartments... in such site that kind of houses are going to be made and sold," Saldoval said, according to an official document which quoted his speech.

The funds, Sandoval further added, from the sale of the project would be used to build facilities for 85 battalions of the future National Guard.

On Friday, President Lopez Obrador also said that the Mexican army will build Mexico City's new international airport on the grounds of what is now a military base in Santa Lucia.

The new civilian airport will replace a controversial multi-million project, in Texcoco, which was canceled due to social mobilizations against it.

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Mexico's president did not discuss border wall with Trump

MEXICO CITY/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Thursday he has not discussed a proposed border wall with President Donald Trump, as the U.S. leader seemingly backtracked on threats to make Mexico pay for the controversial project.

“We have not discussed that issue, in any conversation. ... It was a respectful and friendly conversation,” Lopez Obrador told reporters following a tweet in which the U.S. president said a new trade deal with Mexico and Canada would cover the cost of a wall.

The two leaders spoke by telephone on Wednesday. Lopez Obrador said they discussed the possibility of creating a joint program for development and job creation in Central America and Mexico.

One of Trump’s key campaign promises was to build the border wall and he had long pledged that Mexico — not U.S. taxpayers — would fund it.

In a Twitter post early on Thursday, Trump again insisted that Mexico will foot the bill for the border wall.

He wrote that payment will begin with savings for the United States as a result of the renegotiated trade deal between the United States, Mexico and Canada. “Just by the money we save, MEXICO IS PAYING FOR THE WALL!”

Mexico has repeatedly rejected Trump’s demand that it pay for the project, and it is unlikely the country’s new president will reverse that course.

Funding for the border wall has been a sticking point in spending bills before the U.S. Congress, and Trump clashed with leading Democrats over the issue during an Oval Office meeting on Tuesday.

One of them, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, taunted Trump over his Mexico claim later on Thursday.

“Mr. President: If you say Mexico is going to pay for the wall (which I don’t believe), then I guess we don’t have to! Let’s fund the government,” Schumer retorted in his own Twitter post.

Lopez Obrador said he also discussed a possible meeting with Trump in Washington.

“He invited me. I’m also able to go to Washington, but I think that both for him and for us there must be a reason and I think the most important thing would be to sign this agreement or meet with that purpose,” said Lopez Obrador.

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Mexico: Attack on Migrants, Woman Dead, Child Among 3 Injured

A group of hooded men intercepted a truck with several migrants and then fired on them killing a woman and injuring a child among several others, in Veracruz, Mexico.

On Saturday, an attack by hooded men on a group of Central American undocumented migrants traveling north by truck through Veracruz left one woman dead, and three injured, including a child.

RELATED: Mexico's Court Blocks AMLO Bill to Cut Public Sector Salaries

María Herlinda was killed; Karen Paola Benavides, 31; Rosalia Lopez, 32; Hamilton Soco, 26; and Robin Joel, three, were injured during the attacks.

The migrants were all Guatemalan nationals risking their lives to make it to the United States like the many other Central American migrants whose struggle has made history in recent months.

The hooded people carried “large weapons” and traveled “extra-officially” on a vehicle which read “police,” according to locals who reported on the incident. At the moment, there are no official reports which can confirm the type of weapons used to harm the migrants or the identity of the perpetrators.

The National Commission for Human Rights (CNDH, for its acronym in Spanish) expressed its “staunch condemnation,” for the acts of violence against migrants in Veracruz.

The CNDH highlighted that this is the first homicide registered since the migrant caravans’ transit in Mexico. For this reason, it ordered a full investigation to clarify all details concerning the attack and to “find those responsible so they can be taken to law enforcement entities to receive the corresponding punishment.”

The Commission also indicated that there may be possible human rights violations by local authorities who were tasked to protect migrants, for not “giving the cautionary measures which were reiterated in many occasions by the CNDH from the beginning of the migrant exodus, some of which were directed toward state, public, and municipal servants from Veracruz.”

According to the United Nation, over 3,300 migrants from the Central American Caravans are currently seeking asylum in Mexico. The Mexican government reports that nearly 8,250 migrants have entered the country since Oct. 19.

 
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Mexico: President AMLO's Inaugural Speech Offers 'New Hope'

After receiving the presidential sash in the Mexican National Congress, President Lopez Obrador gave a speech outlining an ambitious and encouraging government plan, based on bids to slash corruption, overturn neoliberalism and make important public investments.

RELATED: 'Neoliberalism Has Been a Calamity:' Mexico's AMLO Sworn In

AMLO started his speech by thanking outgoing President Enrique Peña Nieto: "Mainly I recognize the fact of him not having intervened, as did other presidents, in the last presidential elections."

AMLO had previously claimed that the last two presidential elections were stolen from him. It is a good thing that the Mexican authorities, especially "the acting president, respect the will of the people," he said. 

"By mandate of the people, we begin today the fourth transformation of Mexico." AMLO wants to trigger a turning point in Mexican history that would be comparable to three other historic moments: Independence, a movement mainly led by Miguel Hidalgo, which liberated Mexico from around 300 years of Spanish domination; the Reform, a struggle between liberals and conservatives, which gave the "laws of the Reform" (one of the most important was the separation of the Church from the State, mainly protagonized by Benito Juarez); and the Mexican Revolution, a war to end the 30-year regime of Porfirio Diaz, after which the current Mexican Constitution was established.

AMLO has long talked about the fourth transformation of Mexico, in which he aims to change the political regime. Saturday, he said, started a "peaceful and orderly transformation, but at the same time deep and radical because it will end corruption and impunity that prevent the rebirth of Mexico."

AMLO's narrative, from before being elected president, has had the fight against corruption as one of its central pillars. "The crisis in Mexico was originated not only by the failures of the neoliberal economic model applied during the last 36 years, but also by the predominance, during this period, of the most filthy corruption, both public and private." Nothing has damaged Mexico more than the corruption of the people governing the country, and that tiny minority that profits from influences and "lobby."

"Neoliberalism is corruption,"he continued. "It sounds strong, but privatization in Mexico has meant corruption." Economic management during the neoliberal period, from 1983-2018, "has been the most inefficient of Mexico's modern history." Adding to this, due to the concentration of wealth in a "few hands, the majority of the population has been impoverished."

President Lopez Obrador emphatically distanced himself from the 40 years of neoliberal politics that have led Mexico into unprecedented economic crisis. "I say it without ideology: neoliberal politics has been a disaster, a calamity for the public life of the country. For example, the energy reform they said would come to save us has only caused the lesser production of oil and the excessive price increase of energy."

The energy reform, approved in 2013 by his predecessor Peña Nieto's government, translated into the gradual privatization of oil in Mexico, one of the only countries in Latin America that previously had full control of this natural resource, expropriated in 1938 by Lazaro Cardenas.

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Crime menaces migrants on Mexico border as Tijuana declares crisis

TIJUANA, Mexico (Reuters) - Unaccompanied minors and other vulnerable migrants risk falling victim to crime in the Mexican border city of Tijuana, where thousands of Central Americans from caravans may be stuck for months as authorities tighten up asylum rules, advocates say.

Some 4,600 migrants from the bedraggled caravans whose advance has angered U.S. President Donald Trump are camped out with blankets and little food in an overcrowded stadium in Tijuana, whose mayor has declared a “humanitarian crisis.”

Trump has sent troops to the U.S.-Mexico border, authorized the use of lethal force and threatened to shut down the frontier entirely if the migrant caravans are not stopped.

Among the Central Americans, many of whom are Hondurans fleeing violence and poverty in the struggling region, are about 80 minors between the ages of 10 and 17, according to migrants rights groups.

Josue, a 15-year-old Honduran in Tijuana, said that during a previous attempt to cross into the United States last year he was kidnapped and badly beaten in Mexico by drug traffickers claiming to be from the notorious Zetas gang.

“I ended up in the hospital, I don’t know how, because I arrived there half-dead,” he said, declining to give his second name.

Once he was well enough, authorities deported him, he said.

Reuters was not able to independently corroborate details of his story. Mexico’s immigration institute did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the case.

Tijuana was rated by Mexican think tank Seguridad Justicia y Paz as the fifth most violent city in the world in 2017, with a higher murder rate than the Central American cities from which the migrants are escaping.

Juan Manuel Gastelum, Tijuana’s mayor, said late on Thursday that the city was facing a humanitarian crisis and that supporting the migrants was costing more than 500,000 pesos ($25,000) a day. He urged international agencies to help Tijuana.

WAITING LIST

Activists fear the Central Americans could be stranded for a long time in the city, where some protests against the presence of the caravan have broken out.

In May, citing a lack of processing space at the same crossing, U.S. immigration officials stalled a previous caravan that also drew Trump’s anger. Eventually, they began letting in a trickle of people from the group.

To manage flows of asylum claimants, Mexican and U.S. authorities have in recent years maintained a waiting list. Lawyers and human rights group Amnesty International have said such measures slow the process.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection said in a statement sent to Reuters that the San Ysidro Port of Entry, which connects Tijuana to San Diego in California, could process up to 100 people per day and that it was working with Mexico to manage the flow.

Mexico’s National Immigration Institute said it protects the rights of all foreigners and was “respectful of immigration policy implemented by other countries.”

Stalled for days, migrants from the caravan have been signing onto the waiting list. They include gay and transgender teenagers.

Erika Pinheiro, director of litigation at Al Otro Lado, an immigration legal advocacy group, last week told a Californian court under oath that “LGBT children cannot safely stay in Mexico. They are at risk of violence and persecution.”

Tijuana has just one shelter for migrant children, which subsists with the help of civic organizations.

“Young people are definitely the most vulnerable in this type of movement,” said Mynor Contreras, who runs the local YMCA. “We’ve never received so many in such a short time.”

If the children cannot enter the United States, they risk being deported from Mexico. That can spell big trouble.

“I don’t want to die,” said 16-year-old Justin, who related how his life was threatened last month for not paying a “war tax” that gangsters charged for his small used-clothing business in the Honduran city of San Pedro Sula. “That day I told my mother to give me her blessing and I left,” he said, crying.

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