Photo by: Heriberto Paredes
By: Heriberto Paredes | Translated by Valor for Borderland Beat
On the morning of May 25, 2015, the leader of the Community Police of Aquila, Michoacán, Semeí Verdía, along with Juan Manuel Satién Cándido, his bodyguard, were ambushed. The incident occurred on the road from the municipal capital of Santa María Ostula to the federal highway 200, in the area known as Los Otates, next to La Cobanera. At the site, various heavy caliber cartridges were found but no vehicle tracks were able to be found; this confirmed that it was a previously planned ambush and not a spontaneous confrontation.
The bodyguard was the only one reported as being injured but not life threatening and is currently out of danger.
The community members of Ostula, and the authorities are concerned about the safety of their commander and his bodyguard. They strongly denounce what has happened, especially the current setting that is lived along the coastal region and throughout the state, that is, the elections for the office of governor, the mayor and the renewal of the state congress.
It is worth mentioning that the attacks against the Nahua community have not ceased since they’ve reclaimed their land on June 2009. So far, there have been 32 murders and six forced disappearances at the hands of organized crime, which is linked with the Caballeros Templarios and the local PRI power. This attack marks two assassination attempts against the autodefensa leader, Semeí Verdía, since the recovery of the territory at the hands of the new community police in February 2014.
Photo by: Heriberto Paredes
In addition to this physical aggression, which is already being evaluated by human rights organizations, on Saturday May 23, the president of the Commissariat of Communal Goods was notified of a lawsuit that puts at risk the alleged property, through a front man, the 36 hectares that correspond to the communal lands of Ostula, specifically the adjoin land that is exploited by the mining company Ternium. The documents were received, coincidentally, right at the moment when the first distribution of the land was taking place by the agrarian authorities of the community. After a long measuring process of the land, and after the general assembly (the maximum authority), this important process will take place.
Michoacán lives in a setting of the realignment of political power at the state level ahead of the June 7 elections. In this sense, both candidates and political parties like remnants of organized crime, look for any price, creating conditions in order to regain full control of the economy and politics. Isolated incidents, killings of candidates, or mass massacres are not what have been in the news in the previous weeks; everything responds to a capitalist logic in which cartels and political parties are already the same force.
In the specific case of the coastal area, the existence of one of the most important iron mines in the world cannot be forgotten, located specifically in the municipality of Aquila, next to the communal lands of Ostula; despite the fact that official, the land of this community is already being permitted to continue mining and to develop an industrial zone that would facilitate the output of iron to other nations and to transport it to other national ports. The organized resistance of the population has prevented these economic projects from being carried out. The greed of businessmen, politicians, and criminals has not ceased, proof of this are the constant attacks that Ostula receives in order to loot the lands.
So far, after a long history of community organization, the Nahua population that inhabit these lands have stated that they will not stop fighting and that they are going to defend their territory by any means necessary.