PBI-Mexico participates in International Mission on the physical and emotional integrity of communities in Puebla that defend land and water

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On December 16, PBI-Mexico tweeted: “Yesterday, we participated in the International Observation Mission of #DDHH [human rights] at #Zacatepec, #Puebla. In this regard, we express our concern about the risk to the physical and emotional integrity of the communities that defend land and water.”

“In #Puebla, we are particularly concerned that: The defense processes of human rights are accompanied by physical attacks and acts of defamation are directed against people who benefit from the Federal Mechanism for the Protection of Defenders and Journalists.”

“Therefore, we urge the Mexican State to guarantee the security of defenders, to respect the rights to self-determination, peaceful assembly, water, a healthy environment and a dignified life that communities seek to exercise.”

Providing additional context, El Ciudadano reports that international human rights organizations recognized that communities in resistance in the municipality of Juan C. Bonilla and defenders in the region are targets of reprisals and criminalization.

The article continues that on Wednesday December 15 at La Casa de los Pueblos, Altepelmacalli (the former Bonafont water bottling plant), the International Human Rights Observation Mission carried out by PBI and others brought together testimonies from various defenders, including the Peoples Front in Defense of the Land and Water Morelos, Puebla, Tlaxcala (FPDTA).

More context at: Indigenous communities take over Bonafont water-bottling plant against the abuse of land and water in the region.

El Ciudadano also notes that in the final report, members of the PBI recognized the presence of politically persecuted persons and expressed a “criminalization strategy” is escalating to undermine the will of defenders of human rights, land and water.

Info Quorum quotes PBI saying:

“Yes, indeed we from Peace Brigades International (PBI) were accompanying defender Miguel López Vega during about three hearings, and both PBI and other human rights organizations could, through the information they have provided us, we can attest that many defenders of land and territory, of which the defender Miguel is part, they are being victims of a strategy of criminalization, of judicialization, that at the level of Puebla and in the country. That is one of the messages we have carried, a call to the Mexican government to protect the human rights of these people and to guarantee their safety and protection.”

Video clip.

López Vega was arrested in January 2020 after opposing the installation of a storm and sanitary sewer system in the Ciudad Textil Industrial Park in the city of Huejotzingo (just west of Juan C. Bonilla) that could pollute the Metlapanapa River.

López Vega has previously commented: “Environmentalists suffer unfair judicial processes and fierce judicial persecution. It is a danger to be a defender in this country. Some take their lives, others their freedom.”

More context at: PBI-Mexico accompanies criminalized river protector Miguel López Vega at court hearing.

The El Ciudadano article also notes that after the report, Juan Carlos Flores, a member of the Peoples Front in Defence of Land and Water, along with members of the International Mission, went to document the sealed office of an authority by uses and customs as well as murals erased from the walls of the town hall by the municipal authority.

After arriving there it is reported that the police who patrol without identification went around harassing the defenders.

The article concludes: “They also revealed that if there is no response from authorities to stop the aggressions, the complaint will escalate to more dissemination in diplomatic corps and other international organizations.”

The full article can be read in Spanish at En Puebla sí existe criminalización de defensores: Organismos de la ONU.

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