By Lucio R. Borderland Beat
Read Valor’s post by linking here for back story
Six year old girl, 12 year old boy and an adult were killed
Although the government was quick to pronounce there were no shots fired and no conflict in the arrest of Semei Verdia, testimony and photos taken by citizens tell a different story.
The sheer number of soldiers, including the Marina, Federal Police. and Army, hundreds of elements, was a tip off they were there to take Semei Verdia, no matter the amount of collateral damage.
Reports coming from Aquila; The unarmed community formed a roadblock when they realized Semei had been arrested. They initiated dialog with the Marina, demanding the soldiers allow their leader to go free. the response was for soldiers to open fire, killing at least two, including a child, and injuring at least 4 other children (reported ages 4, 6, 9, 12, 15). Melesio Cristiano, 60 years was also killed.
It appears another extrajudicial event has occurred.
Soldiers opened fire everywhere, people reported bullets entering their homes, all of the killed and injured were reported as being in their homes when shot. Two other adults injured, one seriously another, a woman visiting the home was injured when a bullet grazed her head..
|Edilberto Reyes 12 years old, died from his injuries that pieced his head exiting through his eye|
|Neymi Natali Reyes Pineda, 6, died from the bullet wound to her chest|
Semei Verdia has been one of Dr. Mireles’ greatest proponents, and has come under attack twice in the past year, attacks that resulted in deaths of members of his autodefensa group, known as the “coastal autodefensas”, and regarded as “genuine” autodefensas. Semei is a humble man whose sole interest is that of ensuring safety and peace for his indigenous community. Salvador Molina Navarro, the attorney of Dr. Mireles has stepped up to defend Semei.
He is not a murderer, drug trafficker, he is not Chapo Guzman, but hundreds of soldiers were needed for his “capture”.
In what is reminiscent of the arrest of Dr. Mireles, Semei appears to have been set up. He was called to review the delivery of armored vehicles by the government, the Fuerza Rurales were to also attend the meeting. He was arrested on the spot.
No Rurales were in sight.
Semei was carrying one weapon when arrested, a weapon that was legal and registered. His arrest had zero to do with his weapon and more so because of his leadership. Like Mireles and Salgado, he became a strong, outspoken adversary to the transgressions of the government and organized crime.
The community reports that the soldiers took with them their radio system by which they use to protect their community, (indigenous communal land). The soldiers also took the seal of the community council.
Indigenous Rights and Autonomy (material was used to write this section from; Ostula culture and defiance)
The rebellion of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) in Chiapas in 1994 gave a strong impetus to the indigenous rights movement in Mexico by highlighting the particular system of disadvantage faced by so many Mexican citizens who continue to maintain an indigenous identity, not simply in terms of living standards, health, social welfare and access to public services but also in terms of enjoyment of political, civil and human rights.
When President Vicente Fox ended the seventy-year monopoly on national government enjoyed by the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) in 2000, he promised to send Congress a new Indigenous Law based on a draft prepared by the all-party Commission for Concord and Pacification (COCOPA) that had mediated in the negotiations between the Zapatistas and the government of his PRI predecessor, Ernesto Zedillo. This incorporated the principles agreed to on paper between the government and the rebels in San Andrés Larráinzar, which the Zedillo administration had refused to honor. It is the culture of indigenous people to protect natural resources.
The Indigenous People
The government has habitually ignored the rights of indigenous peoples, and have strong-armed its people in order for control and more importantly, having access/control of communal lands rich in natural resource. Another method of control is by resisting providing the indigenous with social services; medical, education, communication, infrastructure etc.
This lack of social services, prompted the indigenous population to form the Normalista Colleges, so that they could earn a degree, then return to their villages and provide an education for its children.
Aquila municipality, Michoacán's largest municipio in spatial terms, had a total population of 25,568 inhabitants in the year 2010, a growth of 9% relative to the previous decade, despite emigration to the USA and other parts of Mexico. In the absence of medical services and modern communications, infant mortality rates remained unusually high in the indigenous communities until the final quarter of the 20th century.
Aquila is one of 14 out of 112 municipios in Michoacán that are ranked at the very bottom of the Mexican government's scale of social welfare indicators, level seven. Between Aquila and the Colima border lies the small municipio of Coahuayana, but the nearest major town on the coast is Tecomán, in Colima. The isolated highland town of Coalcomán is the nearest major urban centre in Michoacán, but the road linking Aquila to Villa Victoria and Coalcomán, which passes the iron ore mine owned by the Hylsa group, is in poor condition.
The indigenous community of Ostula incorporates 49 separate settlements ranging in size for tiny rancherías with just a couple of houses to larger settlements such as Ostula itself, with a population of nearly 800, La Ticla, with over 500 inhabitants, and La Cofradía de Ostula with over 400.
Agrarian and Civil Organization
En 1991, the last time the agrarian community carried out an official census of its members, the total population of the Ostula community was 3,360. At that time 591 of 669 heads of family were officially recognized by the government's Ministry of Agrarian Reform as comuneros, people with the right to farm land within the community territory and vote on agrarian issues. There are only a few mestizo families living within the boundaries of Ostula's territory, and their members do not have rights to participate in the affairs of the indigenous community.
The community assembly is the supreme authority in all community decisions. Agrarian issues are administered by a Comisariado de Bienes Comunales and Vigilance Council, whose members are elected at an assembly. An assembly of all adult residents of the community elects the civil authorities, presided over by a Jefe de Tenencia Municipal, whose office is in Ostula. Other settlements have an elected Encargado del Orden. These are all modern forms of community governance introduced after the community secured the Confirmation and Titling of its Communal Lands by Presidential Decree in 1964.
Land rights and farming
Although land is communally owned, once land is cleared by a family, they have exclusive rights to use it. We interviewed more than half of the comuneros. Although some comuneros have land that can be irrigated and cultivated all year round, the farming of the vast majority is dependent on the rains and shifting patterns of cultivation.
Almost 80% relied solely on family labor. Raising cattle is less important now than it was in the past, when cattle could graze freely over the undivided common lands because there were no barbed wire fences round crops and areas of pasture. Although most households do not achieve self-sufficiency in maize production year-in year-out, very few are permanently and completely dependent on the market for all the food they consume, and there are social mechanisms within the community for redistributing corn from surplus to deficit households.
Farm products produced for external sale include jamaica, tamarind and some fruits. But the markets are controlled by merchants in Tecomán and other regional centers and current schemes for promoting commercial production tend to be unattractive or inaccessible to indigenous farmers who possess virtually no capital. The establishment of a union of the different indigenous communities in the 1990s has yet to make a big impact on these problems, though it has provided channels for discussion of other problems, such as illegal logging, and mining.