Michoacán: Nahuas win land struggle

On June 29 about 1,000 indigenous Nahuas from the communities of Santa María de Ostula, Coire and Pómaro in the central western Mexican state of Michoacán occupied La Canahuancera, a 700-hectare area near the Pacific coast. According to the Nahuas, men armed with pistols in the employ of local political bosses tried to stop the effort to take the land, and a campesino, Manuel Serrano, was hit by a bullet. The Ostula community police captured eight of the attackers; they released five of them later and turned three others over to state prosecutors on July 5. The Nahuas also set up a roadblock on the Manzanillo-Lázaro Cárdenas highway. The indigenous communities say they have titles to La Canahuancera dating back to 1802; they charge that a group of small landowners from the community of Placita, Aquila municipality, seized the land 45 years ago.

On July 17 Michoacán governance secretary Fidel Calderón Torreblanca and the Nahuas’ legal adviser, Carlos González García, reached an agreement in which the Placita landowners would cede 1,309 hectares of land to the Nahuas and would receive compensation from the state government. The parties ratified the accord on July 18 and also agreed to have the Mexican Navy patrol the area to prevent further violence.

The June 29 land occupation came two weeks after the central Pacific section of the National Indigenous Congress (CNI)—an umbrella organization established in 1996 to bring together all of Mexico’s indigenous groups—met in Ostula for its 25th assembly. On June 13-14 the assembly, in which indigenous groups in nine states were represented, approved the “Ostula Manifesto,” a document asserting that indigenous groups have the right “to organize themselves and to carry out the defense of their lives, their security, their freedoms and basic rights, and their culture and territories.” The assembly based the right to self-defense on article 39 of the Mexican Constitution. (La Jornada, Mexico, July 7, 18; La Jornada de Michoacán, July 18, 19)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, July 19

See our last post on the struggle in Michoacán.

  1. Nahuas are viloent people
    On July 4th 2009 I was traveling with a friend ( we are 2 women with a small 1.800kg dog) and arrived at before a road block at the cross roads of Santa Maria Ostula with men holding AK 47’s and and they had them pointed in to a car. I turned my car around to leave from where I came and return to Lazaro Cardenas. These people shot my car over 12 times. Chased us trapped us and kidnapped us. I was held with 2 guns to my head for hours. They took us back to the cross roads with the other violent affenders all with AK 47’s and masks. Then proceeded to argue about holding us killing us etc and then let us go. I have over $4000 damage to my car. I was subjected to 2 hours in my car being told I was going to be killed, tortured etc. The man in the car with me spoke English. We were 2 American girls driving up the coast in daylight and attacked. They shot 6 times around my gas tank they missed blowing us up by 10 cm. If they had wanted to stop us they could have shot the tires…. These people are dangerous terrorists and do not deserve support from any one and I am going to make sure the world finds out what they did. I have the police report. The photos of my car. They were very worried we took pictures with our cell phones and wanted to take them as well. Since on the Colima side they had a banner and people with machetes (old People ) bandanas on their faces not full on black masks. anybody interested in photos , denuncia etc. please write to Osianamex@yahoo.com shooting tourists and threatening to kill them does not make for a peaceful protest. They should pay for my car with all their donations.They should also be punished for having AK 47’s which forensic’s found the bullets in my car.

    1. Americans are stupid people
      How do you know they were Nahuas? Did they speak Nahua? You seem to imply they were speaking Spanish. We hadn’t heard that the protesters were armed with AK-47s. Maybe this was just a criminal gang attempting to piggy-back on the protest. Assuming they were Nahuas, how does their behavior reflect on the Nahua people as a whole any more than, say, George Bush’s behavior reflects on gringos as a whole?

      Mexico is assuredly a dangerous place these days. If you hadn’t tried to dodge the roadblock, you probably could have avoided your ugly experience. But what happened to you does not let you off the hook for Ugly Americanism.

      BTW, what the hell is an “affender”? Just wondering.

      1. You seem to have rather
        You seem to have rather hostile language yourself. Maybe you were one of them??
        We were given a paper by them to give to the police. It did not look like a normal roadblock like they had on the other side with a banner. YES I DO SPEAK SPANISH! I have a business in Mexico and have lived there for over 10 years. What does one do Mr.Nasty temper when one sees trees across the road men with black masks huge guns pointed in to a car??? No banner nothing.. What would you do… MMMMM Sounds as if you were the Fat Coward in the car with me holding a gun in my neck.. ….Your comment sound like a terrorist and believe me it does reflect on the Indians and I am going to make sure the whole world knows what happened,. The purpose of a road block is either to rob people or turn them around.. I turned around… Then I was chased shot at and KIDNAPPED ALL OF THIS A FEDERAL OFFENSE> I am taking this to the highest levels of Government with the proof… As for Stupid Gringos?? Haven’t heard any of them shooting Mexican women traveling through the US? By the way The Nahua indians depend on stupid gringos to make big donations to buy their big AK 47’s or do they depend on Drug Cartels?? Good Question and by the way your reply sounds exactly like the stupid coward who was n the car with me… bet it’s you… If you have a problem with George Bush take it up with him and the generalization ugly gringo??? You are a racist. Will be a big surprise when I return with back up from the military to point you out instead of 2 women…. Coward!

        1. Mr.Nasty temper
          Interesting. When I give you a taste of your own vile medicine by saying “gringos are stupid,” I’m a racist. But your assertion that “Nahuas are violent people” is OK.

          We have a policy against hate speech on this website. I bent the rules by approving your post. My comment was clearly sarcastic. Yours clearly wasn’t.

          We also have minimum standards for literacy on this site. So if you want further posts to be approved, I suggest you learn some respect—for the Nahuas, and your own language.

          Buenos dias.

      2. One mistake in spelling
        One mistake in spelling ….? Problem for you control freak? Ugly Americanism…. you know nothing about me where I was raised schooled nothing. By your name I know you are an ugly jewish man probably homo with a big anger problem….. Very happy to have your nasty comment … rather than asking questions like an intelligent person you just assume as STUPID JEWISH AMERICANS DO! So before taking out your anger ask questions homo freak! woman hater…

        1. One?
          Are you kidding? Your posts are full of spelling and grammatical booby-traps. There is barely a coherent sentence in either of them.

          Hmmm, adding homophobia and anti-Semitism to your already racist repertoire… Just keep digging, let’s see how deep you can make that hole.

          1. I was raised in France. I
            I was raised in France. I looked you and you are an extremely ugly man. I understand your hatred of women now .. You sex life must be limited to cheap hookers.. Take you r picture off. Ugly New York Jewish men. You never asked any questions as to Why I held these feeling s against these people. How many were there what went down nothing. You are a lousy journalist who sits in his toilet and wanks because no one will go out with a 47 year old bald headed freak. Notice you are the only one who replies on your stupid website. You are ignorant and have no journalist skills which is to ask questions and get to the truth of a story . You are an old asshole with set ideas. You live alone and will die alone. Don’t want kids? How can one have kids when no one is willing to have one for them… Go wank and take a valium ugly bald head man

    2. Barracade
      There is a big drug cartel in this area, La Familia. So they are protecting their turf for running cocaine and methamphetamines through Mexico. They will resort to employing all kinds of people, now including forcing migrants coming into the U.S. to carry these drugs a mules or face deadly repercussion. It’s operating similar to the way the the Mafia operates in the U.S.

      You are fortunate not to have been shot to death. I understand that this newest drug cartel has had a member of the Mexican Congress elected who is from this very state. We need to stop paying attention to people who deflect and blame us as ugly Americans and start supporting the Mexican government in fighting the drug problem. We also need to encourage our own citizens in the U.S. not to become part of this nasty scourge that corrupts government officials, kills innocent people and ruins lives.

      Of course, there are some people who believe we should legalize drugs. The problem here is that we have people in this country who have had personal problems and are trying to escape them by taking drugs. We are punishing them more and their lives are going down. Hopefully, we can get our own people to realize that taking these drugs for recreational use is simply a downward spiral to their problems. I say this having had a brother who died of an overdose of cocaine and in being aware of the drug problems all of his life.

      You know what guys, when something smells like a skunk, the best thing to do is get away from it. Eventually, people like La Familia will have no one to sell their drugs to, to corrupt or reason to barracade roads to tourists when we all decide that it’s not worth the journey to be taking these drugs illegally.

      Best of luck to all concerned.


      1. Legalization…
        …will instantly undercut the sinister cartels. Terribly sorry about your brother, but people drink themselves to death too. Is this an argument for alcohol Prohibition? Chicago in the ’20s looked like Mexico today. To stop the control of drugs by criminal cartels, decriminalize.

    3. Nahua conflict is still going on
      2 ladies with dark hair in a toyota 1 small dog ran from El duin(bridge that leads to Ostula) to colola to hide in a cabin.The attackers that chased them from the checkpoint caught them, drug them out by their hair and tied them up.Are they the same people I called the embassy on after reports from a trucker watched the whole thing.Thank god you are alive

      This conflict is still going on and the Goverment is doing nothing. no one is doing a thing.All media is blocked out All this has to do with the project to build another Ixtapa in the area and the indians are in a despute over land boundaries. Once the indian nation had their big meeting they decided to take land THEY thought was theirs.The indians(over one hundred) attacked 10 people on the property The people from La Placita have been paying property tax on this PRIVATE PROPERTY for some 100 years. This is a very strongly backed movement in order for the cartels and the government to gain more land.
      I think the attack on the girls was a mistake just as the attack on me.Remember your dealing with some of the most uneducated people in the country and they are following orders from some of the nastiest people in Mexico.
      Noone knows when or how it will end but violence is never the answer and they all will pay the piper before its done. As of now the indians suffer because tourist don’t go there anymore, 20 gringos were robbed in the middle of the night and many other people killed. Of course they are going to suffer Its of their own doing.

        traduscanlo si les interesa.

        el pueblo nahua se encuentra hay desde el tiempo de los mexicas.son parte de los 9 pueblos originarios de mexico,desde tiempos de la colonia se les dio titulos de propiedad,esto se fue ratificando con el paso del tiempo desde 186?,hasta la ultima resolucion presidencial hecha en los sesentas;sin hembargo fueron victimas de despojo por parte del gobierno y de pequeños propietarios que fraccionaron las tierras para venderlas al mejor postor,ejemplo de ello es que donde se encuentra actualmente la placita era territorio nahua;hace medio siglo politicos y capitalistas se apropiaron de el territorio en donde hoy por fortuna se encuentra el pueblo de xayacalan,que es el territorio por el cual a mediados de junio del 2009 los comuneros nahuas por consejo del CNI(congreso nacional indigena)recuperaron e hicieron posecion de sus tierras por disposicion constitucional,avalados por los llamados titulos primordiales.
        al tomar el territorio,un grupo de paramilitares agredieron con armas de fuego de alto poder a niños,mujeres que habian ido junto con sus esposos, hijos y padres a defender su tierra.estos grupos estan coludidos con politicos y ricos locales por el control del territorio y toda la actividad economica y lucrativa de la region.afortunadamente solo hubo heridos por parte de los nahuas y un muerto de los paramilitares;por estos sucesos decidieron no permitir que se llevaran acabo elecciones en su territorio y tambien cerraron la carretera que corre de la canaguansera,hasta maruata que comprende todo el territorio nahua pomaro y el coire,como protesta y para resguardar a su pueblo de cualquier incursion armada,los paramilitares entre tanto han hostigado,secuestrado y asesinado a varios nahuas,tambien se tiene informacion de que estos individuos secuestran a cualquiera que pase por esos rumbos o son baleados.
        el pueblo nahua es trabajador,y durante mucho tiempo se enfrentaron al resago por la exclusion u omision del gobierno para con sus derechos que por cierto se exigen con los acuerdos se san andres la rainzar que suscribio el ezln y el regimen federal,despues de que este ultimo rompiera ese compromiso.hoy empiezan a apoderarse de sus decisiones con justicia y logica.
        todos sus documentos pueden ser consultados en la pagina del CNI o en enlace zapatista;por lo que lo dicho anteriormente aqui por una persona ignorante refiriendome estrictamante al significado de la palabra “ignorante” afirma que fueron los nahuas quienes casi en su mayoria hablan solo español,estos grupos son de la delincuencia organizada y no de los nahuas,porque precisamante la fuerza de los nahuas reside en el apoyo de los pueblos originarios y en la sociedad en general y que conoce el tema,sin hembargo si se defienden con armas 22 o escopetas antiguas,esto porque se formo su policia comunitaria de la que tienen derecho en base a la constitucion mexicana de 1917.las ultimas noticias que hay es que grupos paramilitares hace un dia secuestraron a comuneros en sus casas.informense y sean sujetos de cambio no de mentes.
        desde mexico un abrazo a los estadounidenses concientes,esto no incluye a su gobierno.

      2. Ostula conlict

        La Placita didn’t exist until the mid 1950s. The neighboring indigenous community of Maquili was driven off their land and exterminated by Mestizo squatters in the 1930s. La Salinas de Maquili, a salt producing facility on the beach was slowly settled by the squatters. By 1958, there were six houses in what is now called La Placita.

        The point being- you have no clue as to what you’re talking about.

        The Nahuat have been repeatedly subjected to genocidal terror campaigns, first by the spanish, who enslaved them, and then by the mestizo squatters who chased them off their lands, pretty much exterminating them from Coalcomán and countless small towns in the highlands.

        The Nahuat have tried using legal means to recover their land at Canahuancera, to no avail.
        The land was being subdivided by the mestizo squatters in 2009, and sold off to gringo speculators to build a tacky strip of vaction homes and trailer parks:


        Lots of people probably empathise with you for the terifying experience you had in this conflict zone

        You made a big mistake running away from the roadbock, and you’re lucky to be alive

        Move on. Nothing excuses your self absorbed, racist, hateful diatribes. What the fuck- homophobia and anti-semitism?- stop beating yourself up. It’s not worth it.