Mexico: peasant ecologist kidnapped in Guerrero

On December 16 the Mexican League for the Defense of Human Rights (LIMEDDH) reported that a campesino active in the environmental movement in the southern state of Guerrero, Diego Bahena Armenta, hasn’t been seen since November 8, when he was kidnapped by eight hooded men in a Nissan van without license plates as he was working with his nephew cleaning the road near the Riscalillo ranch, in Zihuatanejo municipality. His family reported his disappearance immediately to the state police but has received no information on him.

Bahena Armenta was a member of the Ecological Organization of the Sierra de Petatl├ín and Coyuca de Catal├ín (OESP), a campesino group which has defended the local forests since 1998. Its members have faced repeated attacks from the authorities and others; two children of an OESP leader, Albertano Pe├▒alosa Dom├şnguez, were killed in an ambush in May, and another leader, Chico Mendes award winner Felipe Arreaga S├ínchez, was imprisoned from November 2004 to September this year on murder charges that were finally dismissed. Bahena Armenta himself was arrested by the Mexican army’s 19th Infantry Battalion on September 5 for possession of illegal weapons and was released on September 13. He is a former member of the militant Southern Sierra Campesino Organization (OCSS). Guerrero attorney general Eduardo Murueta Urrutia has described him as “an alleged sympathizer of the [rebel] Revolutionary Army of the Insurgent People (ERPI).”

LIMEDDH is urging activists to ask for Bahena Armenta’s release in calls or faxes to officials including Guerrero governor Zeferino Torreblanca Galindo (+52-747-472-7041, fax +52-747-472-3125) and Guerrero Human Rights Commission president Juan Alarc├│n Hern├índez (phone and fax +52-747-471-2190 or 471-0378, email codhum@prodigy.net.mx) (LIMEDDH urgent action 12/16/05; La Jornada (Mexico) 12/16/05)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Dec. 18, via Americas.org

See our last post on Mexico and the struggle in Guerrero.