(Michoacán, Mexico) Communique from the Community of Santa María Ostula

(Editor’s Note: This communique comes from the General Assembly of Community Members of Santa María Ostula, Michoacán. It addresses the recent aggressions against the community assembly, and the ongoing aggressions against the movement in Santa María Ostula for land defense and autonomy. The original was published by Ké Huelga Radio and can be found here).

Indigenous Community of Santa María Ostula

To the Self-defense and Community Police Groups of Michoacán
To the People of Mexico and the World
To the Media

On July 20th, 2018, our community organized a general assembly of community members to make decisions related to our reorganization. However, C. CEMEI VERDÍA ZEPEDA, who was dismissed as general commander of our community this past Abril 10th, interrupted the assembly with a small group of self-defense forces of the municipal seat of Aquila, of Chinicuila and of Coalcomán. They were all heavily armed.

This event generated serious tension in the assembly to the point of almost provoking a physical conflict with unpredictable consequences between people in the armed group of Cemeí Verdía and our Community Guard. Fortunately, our authorities were able to control the situation and in a peaceful manner they asked that the group of self-defense forces remove themselves from the community in order to permit the continuation of the assembly. This request was agreed upon by the armed group led by Agustín Villanueva, self-defense of Aquila.

In light of these events, the Indigenous community of Santa María Ostula makes the following statement:

FIRST: We demand respect for the territory and autonomy of our community on part of the ex-commander CEMEÍ VERDÍA ZEPEDA and the current municipal president of Aquila, JOSÉ LUIS ARTEAGA OLIVARES, who could be financing the movements of armed groups against our community.

SECOND: We call on the self-defense and community police groups of the region to maintain united as we have done thus far, respecting the autonomy of each one of the communities and municipalities to which we belong, without supporting paramilitary action against our communities.

Third: WE RATIFY the repudiation of C. CEMEÍ VERDÍA ZEPEDA as commander of the Indigenous community of Santa María Ostula. We maintain the possibility of sanctions to be made by our assembly of community members against those who interrupted our assembly with the support of armed people from outside the community. The supposed purpose was of detaining our general commander and head of the municipal police in Aquila, C. GERMÁN RAMÍREZ SÁNCHEZ, beneath the false accusation of “throwing” drugs in the municipality of Aquila.

FOURTH: WE RATIFY C. GERMÁN RAMÍREZ SÁNCHEZ as general commander of our community and we ask the self-defense and community police groups of the region to work in coordination with our commander and our Communal Guard. In the case that someone considers our commander of having committed illegal acts, we ask them to present the corresponding evidence before our assembly and/ or before the corresponding legal agencies. Otherwise, what is said against our commander will be taken as a means to discredit him and with that discredit the struggle of our community and of the groups of self-defense of the region.

FIFTH: From this moment forward, we make clear that our community will not fall into any provocation in order to spill blood and detonate violence in the region with the intention that foreign political and business interests can divide and weaken us.

SIXTH: Before the people of Mexico and the world, our community REITERATES our historic demands:

1. REPECT FOR OUR LANDS AND AUTONOMY
2. RESPECT AND RECOGNITION OF OUR COMMUNITY GUARD AND THE SELF-DEFENSE GROUPS OF THE REGION
3. DEMILITIRIZATION OF THE SIERRA-COAST REGION OF MICHOACÁN
4. PUNISHMENT TO THE MILITARY AND POLICE FORCES GUILTY OF THE OPERATION ON JULY 19TH, IN WHICH THE CHILD HIDELBERTO REYES LOST HIS LIFE. PUNISHMENT TO THOSE REPONSIBLE FOR THE ASSASINATION OF 35 COMMUNITY MEMBERS AND THE FORCED DISAPPEARANCE OF SIX MORE SINCE THE YEAR 2008. DISARTICULATION OF THE DRUG CARELS THAT ARE STILL ACTIVE IN THE REGION

Santa María Ostula
July 22nd, 2018

Sincerely,

Never More a Mexico Without Us!

Land and Freedom!

GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF COMMUITY MEMBERS OF SANTA MARÍA OSTULA