Mexico Theater

Mexico: peasant ecologist freed

On Sept. 15 a state judge in Zihuatanejo in the southern Mexican state of Guerrero ordered the release of Felipe Arreaga Sanchez, a leader in the campesino environmental movement who had been held in prison since November 2004. Judge Ricardo Salinas Sandoval ruled that there was insufficient evidence for the state's charge that Arreaga was involved in the 1998 killing of Abel Bautista, son of timber boss Bernardino Bautista Valle. Arreaga left the prison in Zihuatanejo a half hour after the ruling. The state had five days to appeal the decision.

Militarization in Mexico's La Huasteca

Activists from Mexico's east-central indigenous region of La Huasteca held a press conference in the national capital Sept. 21 to protest a growing presence of soldiers and paramilitaries in the the zone, citing a wave of assassinations of peasant leaders. Directors of the Mexican League for the Defense of Human Rights (LIMEDH) and the Human Rights Committee of Las Huastecas and Sierra Oriental (CODHHSO) said the militarization of the region coinicded with growing "struggles by the indigenous to recover lands stolen by the landlords."

Mexico's EPR rebels admit errors, reveal history

In a new two-part communique published in the newsweekly Proceso, southern Mexico's mysterious Popular Revolutionary Army (EPR), both admits to errors and reproaches the rival Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN). The communique, "A little more about the history of the EPR," charges that the group repeatedly sought to participate in the Zapatistas' national strategy meetings, but were always rejected and branded as "ultras" (extremists).

Chiapas: Marcos announces national tour

Subcomandante Marcos of the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN) in the southern state of Chiapas announced Sept. 16 he will leave the group's jungle strongholds and embark on a six-month tour of all of Mexico, promising to "shake this country up from below—pick it up and turn it on its head."

Chiapas economist: NAFTA displaced Mexican campesinos

From the Arizona Daily Star, Aug. 31, online at Chiapas95:

The North American Free Trade Agreement may have boosted big business, but it has had a disastrous effect on Mexicans, a Chiapas economist said.

Mexico: persecuted peasant ecologists win Sierra Club award

Greenpeace Mexico, Amnesty International and the Tlachinollan Mountain Human Rights Center presented the Sierra Club's Chico Mendes Award to Mexican winners Felipe Arreaga Sanchez, Albertano Peñaloza Dominguez, and Celsa Valdovinos on Aug. 9. Greenpeace Mexico Director Alejandro Calvillo asked the world community to reconsider its willingness to support the tourist industry in Acapulco, given that the international beach resort is in the same state of Guerrero where the winners are being persecuted.

Narco violence in Chiapas

Mexican authorities say they suspect drug traffickers are to blame in the killing of six people in three communities in the conflicted southern state of Chiapas. The first slayings occurred late Aug. 23 on a highway linking Tapachula with Tuxtla Chico on the Pacific coast. Gunmen in a car forced an SUV off the road and opened fire, killing Genaro Cruz, 47, and Julio Cesar Cruz, 21. There were no arrests.

Mexico: NAFTA, transgenic maize impacts assessed

Mexico's Social Development Secretary Josefina Vazquez Mota announced Aug. 19 that the country has lived through a "lost decade" and that poverty levels are slightly worse today than in 1994. In a speech at the National Congress to Combat Poverty 2006-2012, Vazquez Mota, an appointee of President Vicente Fox, talked at length on the depth of the nation's poverty. Many of her comments were contrary to the optimistic reports recently given by the presidential office.

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