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.”
LIMEDH president Adrian Ramirez said that the rugged zone of La Huasteca, straddling the states of Hidalgo, Veracruz and Tamaulipas, is witnessing “a permanent harassment against the campesinos on the part of the military, paramilitaries and the hired gunmen of the hacendados.” He called upon President Vicente Fox to “return the military troops to their barracks, as mandated by the constitution, and halt the activities of the paramilitaries and hired gunmen.” He said 1,200 federal army troops occupy the region.
Pedro Hernandez of CODHHSO said that 192 Huasteca Indians have been assassinated in the region since 1977. He also charged that the women of the region have been targetted in a “systematic plan of forced contraception” by “the authorities charged with overseeing the social development programs.”
Hernandez and Ramirez demanded the liberation of some 500 indigenous prisoners of conscience or political prisoners held throughout the country. (EFE, Sept. 21 via Chiapas95)
See our last post on indigenous and campesino struggle in Mexico.