Mexico: campesino leaders assassinated in Guerrero

Three unidentified men armed with two AK-47 assault rifles and a 9-mm pistol shot and killed former political prisoner Miguel Angel Mesino in broad daylight on Sept. 18 in the town center of Atoyac municipality in the southern Mexican state of Guerrero. The killing took place 100 meters from the police headquarters.

Mesino was the brother of the director of the Southern Sierra Campesino Organization (OCSS), Rocio Mesino, and the son of one of the group’s founders, Hilario Mesino. Seventeen OCSS members were killed by state police in the notorious Aguas Blancas massacre on June 28, 1995. Miguel Angel Mesino himself was reportedly linked to the rebel Popular Revolutionary Army (EPR), and was held on homicide charges for 10 months in prisons in Tecpan and Chilpancingo. He was released in November 2003 after a 60-day hunger strike. Rocio Mesino told the Mexican daily La Jornada she was sure her brother’s killing was politically motivated.

Another campesino leader, Tomas Cruz Zamora, was also killed in Guerrero on Sept. 18. Cruz was a member of the Council of Ejidos [traditional cooperative farms] and Communities Opposing the La Parota Dam (CECOP). He was driving a van with 40 other CECOP members returning from a meeting in the community of Agua Caliente, in Acapulco municipality, when he was confronted by his cousin Cirilo Cruz Helasio, who supports the construction of the dam. After a brief discussion, Cirilo Cruz shot Tomas Cruz in the temple. Tomas died in Acapulco General Hospital that night. Cirilo himself was hospitalized on Sept. 19 with gunshot and machete wounds after friends of Tomas attacked him.

The Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) says the proposed La Parota dam will displace 2,812 people, but opponents say some 20,000 inhabitants from 13 communities will be forced to relocate. Tomas Cruz’s widow, Eugenia Cruz Galeana, blamed the CFE for creating “division …within the families of the communities” and claimed Cirilo Cruz had been promised a job as treasurer in their community for supporting the dam.

CECOP also blamed Guerrero governor Zeferino Torreblanca Galindo, of the center-left Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD). On Sept. 19 Torreblanca avoided reporters who wanted to question him on the two murders the day before. He would only say that “the crimes are being investigated.” (LJ, Sept. 20; CECOP statement, Sept. 18; Adital, Sept. 20; Mexico Solidarity Network News and Analysis, Sept. 26)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Oct. 2

See our last posts on the struggle in Guerrero and elsewhere in southern Mexico.

For more on the struggle over La Parota dam, see WW4 REPORT #100