Photo by: Rogelio Velázquez
By: Alejandra Natalia Rodriguez Escobar
June 10, 2014
With a full auditorium at Casa Lamm, the meeting of “The Indigenous Autodefensa In The Case Of Santa María Ostula” took place. At the meeting was: Semeí Verdía Zepeda, the commander of the community and coordinator of the autodefensa group, Carlos González, the legal advisor, and Agustín Vera, the official spokesperson. On this occasion, they were all the spokespersons of this indigenous movement.
After 5 years of struggling in defense of their community, the people of Santa María Ostula have revived the struggle in defense of their territory and security, the indigenous community police and the assembly have reignited in the village since this year. Semeí Verdía explained: “On February 8, a group of exiled villagers of the community (who were exiled for security reasons), returned to Ostula in order to save part of the community organization, we should clarify that we are not autodefensas, we are community police because we all have a common origin as a community and as villagers”.
Among the demands of the villagers include: the reappearance of the disappeared people since 2009 and justice for those killed, as well as respect for the more than 1000 hectares of communal land reclaimed by private individuals such as Mario Álvarez, a smallholder in the region.
The community spokesperson, Agustín Vera, spoke in defense of natural resources and seconded Semeí Verdía stating: “For us, land isn’t about being rich in money; it’s about being rich in life; that is why only the people can save the people”.
The lawyer of Ostula, Carlos González, mentioned that “On the first of April of 2008, the Unitary Agrarian Tribunal of Colima issued a resolution which deprived the community of Santa María Ostula of 200,000 hectares. On April 8, the villagers got together and decided to defend their lands, well they indicated that this would become their life. The lawyer said that the community police in this region are not new, and noted that in 1989, the government at that time declared the disappearance of their community police.
The lawyer recalled that on June 14, 2009, the first environmental statement to the autodefensas at the National Indigenous Congress was issued in the municipal seat of the village. The statement proclaimed that in the face of destruction and dispossession of the indigenous territory, it was necessary to form groups of defense for security, protected by the autonomy and auto determination of the villages. Carlos González felt that this document is the precursor to the autodefensas in Michoacán.
All of the residents of Ostula present at the event made a call to spread their resistance, and to share their struggle in the methods and forms of each culture and space.
Source: Somos El Medio
Source: Somos El Medio