Mexico: border activists arrested

On the evening of April 3 Mexican federal police agents arrested two activists in the northern state of Chihuahua for their roles in militant protests blocking federal highways: Cipriana Jurado Herrera, a leader in the movement demanding justice for the more than 450 young women killed in the Ciudad Juarez area since the 1990s; and Carlos Chavez Quevedo, a leader in the National Agrodynamic Organization (OAN), which has protested high electricity rates for pumping from the wells that area farmers use for irrigation. Both activists were released on bail the night of April 4 after some 50 people staged a sit-in in front of the federal judicial office in Ciudad Juarez.

Chavez founded the OAN in collaboration with another farmer activist, Armando Villarreal Martha, who was murdered on March 14 in broad daylight by a group of heavily armed men. Jurado—who was charged with participation in a blockade of the Santa Fe international bridge in July 2007 to demand the return of missing women—is the director of the Center for Investigation and Worker Solidarity (CISO) and has been active in cross-border solidarity work with US groups. She had spoken out strongly the week before her arrest against President Felipe Calderón Hinojosa’s use of federal troops against organized crime. “[W]e have had experiences that at the checkpoints violations of the community’s human rights have been committed,” she said. Upon her release, Jurado charged that the government was using repression against social leaders to intimidate them, especially to prevent protests against the possible privatization of parts of the state oil monopoly, Petroleos Mexicanos (PEMEX). (La Jornada, Mexico, April 4, 6; SouthWest Organizing Project, April 4)

As of March 30, the military was investigating 16 soldiers in the shooting deaths of four young men in Santiago de los Caballeros, Badiraguato, in the western state of Sinaloa, on March 26. The soldiers opened fire on the men as they were driving a van to a party; two other passengers were wounded. All the victims were unarmed. (LJ, March 31)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, April 6

See our last posts on Mexico, the narco wars, the human rights crisis, and the struggle for the border.