PBI-Mexico accompanies Red Solidaria DH, recognizes the collective rights of the Indigenous Nahua peoples of Santa Maria Ostula

Published by Brent Patterson on

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Photo: “In Ostula, the people rule and the government obeys”

PBI-Mexico has posted: “The work carried out by the Indigenous government of the community of Santa María Ostula is an extremely important reference not only for the inhabitants of the Nahua community, but also for the Human Rights Solidarity Network [Red Solidaria DH], a civil society organization accompanied by Peace Brigades International – Mexico Project. In this context, we express our solidarity with Ostula and recognize the legitimacy of its Indigenous government. We call on authorities at all levels to recognize the collective rights of the indigenous people. #OstulaResists.”

They have also posted: “From PBI, we express our great concern for the recent attacks suffered in the community of Santa María Ostula at the hands of organized crime and we recognize that the Ostula Communal Guard, as a tool built by the community in the exercise of their self-determination, is an important reference for citizen protection not only for the community but for many people in the region. In the framework of our accompaniment of Red Solidaria DH in Michoacán, we call for respect for self-determination and urgent protection guarantees for the Nahua Indigenous Community of Santa María Ostula.”

Photo: Communal Guard of Santia Maria Ostula.

Peace Brigades International has also signed this statement  (from February 21) that highlights: “The Indigenous Nahua community of Santa María Ostula is located in the coast-highland region of the State of Michoacán, a region rich in natural resources; At the same time, it is one of the most violent areas in Mexico. The dispute between different organized crime groups for control of territory and resources has resulted in hundreds of people being killed and disappeared. In this context, the inhabitants of the Nahua indigenous community of Santa María Ostula have understood that only unity, community work, the strengthening of their internal regulatory systems and the care of mother earth can generate an alternative to generate dignified living conditions within their territory.”

“Faced with the lack of capacity on the part of state agencies to provide security, organized crime groups maintain control of a large part of the coast-highlands region of Michoacán and have tried to enter the communal lands of Ostula, generating violence and tension. In spite of this, the community has managed to repel the attacks in an organized manner and has sought through dialogue to strengthen alliances with the Federal Government in order to jointly and in coordination to address the situation of violence in the region.”

That statement concludes: “We call on the municipal governments of Aquila, Chinicuila and Coalcomán, the government of the state of Michoacán and the federal government, within the scope of their competences, to cooperate with the Communal Indigenous Government of Santa María Ostula and its Communal Guard, with full respect and recognition of their constitutional rights and in urgent attention to the security crisis manifested in the recent acts of violence against the community.”

And as explained in this statement: “On February 1 an armed group of approximately 50 people attacked the office of the Brotherhood of Ostula, where they burned a house, shot at the population and wounded an inhabitant. The Communal Guard, fulfilling its mandate to protect the community, repelled the aggression and managed to make the aggressors, allegedly belonging to the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG), leave the communal territory. The violence continued over the next few days, forcing the community to suspend public activities in order to protect and safeguard its inhabitants.”

Photo: House burned in attack.

Beyond the drug trade, the Chiapas Support Committee also highlighted in March 2020: “The mining companies have 40,000 hectares under concession within this territory. [Luxembourg-based] Ternium, just one steel manufacturing company, has a concession of 5,000 hectares within Ostula. As has been documented in parts of the country, there is a marriage of convenience between mining companies and organized crime, in which the cartels are in charge of the ‘security’ of businesses.”

We continue to follow with concern.

Text on poster: “Ostula Resists. Organizations recognize the important work of the Indigenous Community Government of Santa Maria Ostula, in the municipality of Aquila, Michoacan. Their defense of collective rights is fundamental to generate security conditions and the full development of life in their territory as a Nahua indigenous people.”

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