PBI-Mexico signs statement opposed to arrest of nine Indigenous Zapotec land defenders against industrial park in Oaxaca

Published by Brent Patterson on

Photo: Pagina 3.

PBI-Mexico has posted: “PBI joins the call by national and international CSOs [civil society organizations] for the release of 9 Indigenous defenders from Santa Maria Mixtequilla, detained in the context of the construction of the Interoceanic Corridor of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec.”

That joint statement says:

“We, the undersigned organizations, strongly appeal for the release of the 9 Indigenous Zapotec people, defenders of the territory of Santa María Mixtequilla, who have been arbitrarily detained on January 27, 2024*, for opposing a ‘Development Pole’ [industrial park] part of the Interoceanic Corridor of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec (CIIT).”

The statement further notes:

“In the early hours of January 27, nine defenders of the territory of the community of Santa María Mixtequilla were arbitrarily detained under the accusation of an alleged theft of a municipal police patrol in the framework of the protests carried out by the community against the imposition of a ‘Development Pole’… The next day, the presence of dozens of state police, elements of the Navy and the National Guard was reported in the community, which residents denounce as acts of intimidation that seek to stop community mobilization.”

PBI-Mexico took part in a Civil Observation Mission in July 2023 that found “worrying and unacceptable” attacks on land defenders opposed to the Interoceanic Corridor.

Video: Margherita Forni of PBI-Mexico (in green vest) speaks (starting at 35:26) at the observation mission media conference, July 27, 2023.

The statement then highlights: “From 2021 to January 29, 2024, organizations have registered at least 46 acts of aggression in total, committed by state institutions [including the police and National Guard], companies or individuals who have interests in the construction of the megaproject. …The victims have been, for the most part, Indigenous Mixe, Zapotec, Zoque and Popoluca peoples.”

Along with calling for the immediate release of the nine Indigenous Zapotec defenders, PBI-Mexico is demanding the withdrawal of the armed forces from the community of Santa Maria Mixtequilla and a stop to all acts of harassment by the police and armed forces.

A news report in Pagina 3 further notes: “The police operation was carried out around 4:30 a.m. on Saturday, January 27, to comply with 10 searches and nine arrest warrants for the alleged robbery of a municipal patrol car in Santa María Mixtequilla.”

El Universal also reports: “For the Mixtequilla Civil Resistance movement, the presence of police and marines had the purpose of preventing protest actions by the people against the violent repression that took place in the early hours of Saturday morning and to express their rejection of the installation of an industrial park on their land.”

And Avispa Midia explains: “The detainees are people who have participated in the protests of the Mixtec community against the imposition of a ‘development pole’, an industrial complex planned to occupy 502 hectares and which is part of a dozen parks planned within the framework of the megaproject of the Interoceanic Corridor of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec (CIIT).”

On September 21, 2023, PBI-Canada organized a webinar featuring Carlos Beas Torres of the Union of Indigenous Communities from the North of the Isthmus (UCIZONI), Margherita Forni of PBI-Mexico and Hannah Matthews of the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre (BHRRC) that discussed concerns about the Interoceanic Corridor megaproject.

We continue to follow this.