News from Elsewhere
By Anayeli Garcia Martínez
March 6, 2014
Smiling, nervous and discreet, Yakiri Rubí Rubio Aupart was released yesterday from the Women’s Rehabilitation Center in Tepepan, minutes before 10 pm, after spending almost three months in prison after being accused of killing Miguel Angel Ramirez Anaya, who raped and attempted to kill her on December 9th.
Along with her parents, Marina Beltrán and José Luis Rubio, and surrounded by a makeshift line of activists who tried to prevent the approaching cluster of cameras, the young woman gave her first statement to the press to thank people, who from the start, believed she was the victim of rape and fought back to save her life.
With her head held high, the 20-year-old took the megaphone and said “I’m happy because I’m out. I’m proud of these people who are here, of my family, without them I would not be here, without you. Thank you, really, for all the support you are giving me, have given me and for being here with my family”.
With little desire to talk about the sexual assault, she said: “What I went through was very hard. We are here surviving, we survive. I am very happy to be out. I am very happy”.
Even with the excitement of being free, Yakiri could not help mention that she is not acquitted of the charges pursued by the Attorney General of the Federal District (PGJDF), because the offense was reclassified as “murder with excessive self-defense” and she will have to follow the process outside of prison.
“The process will continue, this time on the outside, however I still live in fear since one of my attackers is still free. He continues his life happy as ever. I fear for myself and for my family who may be at risk. My attackers were two brothers, one of them is Luis Omar Ramírez Anaya”.
Yakiri was released after a decision of the judges of the Fifth Criminal Chamber of the Superior Court of the Federal District, which on March 3 found that although the young woman committed the murder of her sex offender, she actually did so with excess of “legitimate defense” to try and save her life.
Now more confident of her words, Yakiri warned: “I will not rest until that offender, who was also complicit in everything that they did to me, is put in prison”.
Despite her rush to seek justice, she did not fail to say that when she was raped she reported it, thinking that the justice system would help, but then realized that it doesn’t work that way. Similar to her, there are other women who are victims and are also unjustly imprisoned.
“What I wish for is an end to injustice, for sexism to cease to exist, it was because of sexism that I was tried. I wish it wouldn’t continue, that I would be the last woman to go through this situation because it is very hard, very tough, no one would want to go through it”.
While giving her message, her grandparents unexpectedly broke through the line of supporters and rushed over to hug her and take her home. Yet before the family took Yakiri she gave one last statement: “I shall continue to help many more women; I give my word because I would not want this to happen to anyone else”.
The release process concluded the night of March 5th, but during the wait, youth, feminists and members of the Citizens Committee for the Freedom of Yakiri gathered outside the prison to wait for her.
For over 5 hours, feminists organized an event with chanting and percussion, where they also criticized the 68th Court Judge, Santiago Ávila Negrón, who imprisoned the young woman and saw no crime committed by brothers Miguel Ángel and Luis Omar.
With cries of “macho justice,” the demonstrators criticized a punitive system concerned more with punishment than justice.
It must be said that on Wednesday morning the 23rd Misdemeanor Court Judge, Agustín Fausto Ayala Favela, set bail at just over 423,000 pesos for Yakiri, but because the family did not have that amount they launched a social media campaign and call for supporters to make financial contributions.
To achieve her release, the legal defense team deposited between 10 and 15 percent of the total, of which 323,000 pesos went to “damages” and the rest for legal expenses, as required by law.
Marina Beltrán and José Luis Rubio reported that they managed to make the payment by yesterday afternoon thanks to about 140 thousand dollars they gathered through solidarity contributions, support from senators of the PRD and a bonding that accepted the deeds of a building.
After a mobilization and wait of 24 hours; since the family had expected Judge Fausto Agustí Favela to set Yakiri’s bail on the previous Tuesday afternoon, the young woman finally went home.
Amid a crowd of reporters, Yakiri left the scene aboard a truck. According to the legal process, Yakiri had to appear for her first hearing the following day, now before the 23rd Misdemeanor Court that will take on the case of “murder with excessive self-defense”.
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By Scott Campbell
For more than a year, the indigenous Binnizá community of Álvaro Obregón, in the Isthmus of Oaxaca, have defended their lands against the imposition of a wind park by the multinational Spanish firm Mareña Renovables. As part of that struggle, “the community became aware that the parties and political leaders have only used them for political and personal ends.” In August of 2013, the community held an assembly and decided to return to the traditional indigenous usos y costumbres form of governance, where community leaders are selected via general assembly, without the participation of political parties.
With 1,236 people participating, the general assembly to select the community’s leaders was held on December 8, 2013. Yet on February 8, 2014, Saúl Vicente Vázquez, the Municipal President of Juchitán, which includes Álvaro Obregón, announced that new elections, involving political parties, would be held in Álvaro Obregón on March 2, ignoring the popular and expressed will of the people. Ironically, Vicente Vázquez until recently served as an expert on the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.
In a statement released on March 1, the General Assembly of Álvaro Obregón, the Assembly of Elders of Álvaro Obregón, the Community Police and the Indigenous Peoples’ Assembly of the Isthmus in Defense of Land and Territory presciently warned of what may happen on March 2 in what would amount to an attempted coup against the community of Álvaro Obregón.
On March 2, community members assembled in the central plaza of Álvaro Obregón to defend the decisions of their general assembly. Around 2:15 PM, gunmen reinforced by the municipal police of Juchitán, opened fire at those who were assembled. There are reports that two people have been wounded by the gunfire and that the Marines have arrived in the community. The situation is very tense. There is no more news coming out at the moment. This page will be updated as more information becomes available.Previous Coverage: San Dionisio del Mar: Indigenous communities under police siege for resisting imposition of wind park || Constructing a community police in the town of Álvaro Obregón || Isthmus: Caravan in Defense of the Land and Territory welcomed in Álvaro Obregón Statement from the Indigenous Peoples’ Assembly of the Isthmus in Defense of the Land and Territory.
March 2, 2014
Translated by Scott Campbell
WITH BULLETS, SAÚL VICENTE TRIES TO IMPOSE A MUNICIPAL AUTHORITY ON ÁLVARO OBREGÓN
Individuals linked to the municipal president of Juchitán, Saúl Vicente Vázquez, and to COCEI and PRI leaders, today attacked the Community General Assembly of Álvaro Obregón and its community council. Since yesterday, March 1, 2014, it was learned that five political functionaries from the COCEI and from the municipal president’S office arrived at the house of one of the supposed candidates for local office, Rosalino Martínez Herran, two of whom were recognized as Obet Fuentes Trujillo and Filiberto López, both from Juchitán.
These individuals were paying out 500 pesos to people in exchange for their voter ID cards, promising another 1,500 pesos the next day when the people were to show up at the election called for by Saúl Vicente this past February 8, where a political party-linked authority would be named. Today, March 2, after a meeting in a private home, this sham election began at 1PM.
Meanwhile, in the central square, the Community General Assembly of Álvaro Obregón was being held, where the compañeros of the community council were reaffirmed. At about 2:15PM, a group of people at the election called for by Saúl Vicente launched an attack with bullets, stones and sticks against those in the square. They tried to take the municipal building by force and a confrontation ensued as the people in the community assembly repelled the attack, leaving several compañeros wounded.
Following the attack, the provocations continued, as at approximately 3:30PM one of these individuals went to the house of the commander of the Community Police to spray gasoline on it, with the intention of setting it on fire. Later, they tried to kidnap the son of the head of the community council. Around 4:30, Marines arrived to meet with the head of the community council, who informed them of the events.
For the moment there is an uneasy calm, as it is expected that these individuals and gunmen will continue with their provocations and will try to enter the municipal building during the night or at dawn.
We hold Saúl Vicente Vázquez and the Interior Ministry responsible for the physical and emotional integrity of our compañeros in Álvaro Obregón, the Community Council, the Indigenous Peoples’ Assembly in Defense of the Land and Territory, and their family members. And we demand they guarantee their physical security and integrity.
It is important to mention that the municipal president of Juchitán was a representative of the indigenous peoples of Latin America as an expert for the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues for 2011-2013 and is trying to hold the same post for 2014-2016, and yet is now violating the rights of the indigenous people of Álvaro Obregón for having decided to begin a process of community reform and a reclamation of their indigenous means of governance.
We denounce that these actions are part of the general strategy of the government and businesses to control this community, which is protecting the Barra Santa Teresa against the wind farm megaprojects in the Isthmus.WE DEMAND PUNISHMENT FOR THE AGGRESSION SUFFERED BY THE COMMUNITY OF ÁLVARO OBREGÓN!
WE DEMAND THAT SAÚL VICENTE RESPECT THE SELF-DETERMINATION OF OUR PEOPLES AND OUR COMMUNITY AUTHORITIES!
THE LAND, THE SEA AND THE WIND ARE NOT FOR SALE, THEY ARE TO BE LOVED AND DEFENDED!
INDIGENOUS PEOPLES’ ASSEMBLY OF THE ISTHMUS IN DEFENSE OF THE LAND AND TERRITORY
In the first days of February I was able to get a close-up view of some aspects of the people’s uprising against organized crime in the state of Michoacán. In a visit that took me through parts of Tierra Caliente, the Meseta P’urhépecha and the Sierra Madre del Sur with other independent media journalists from SubVersiones, it became clear that people live better in the towns freed from the control of the Knights Templar organized crime cartel and that the Citizen Self-Defense Councils, better known as the community police or simply self-defense groups, are going right ahead with their move to take over one community, town or city after another. At the barricades and in the towns, people were also enthusiastic about following their own agenda, regardless of whatever plans the State might have, and going on to organize People’s Councils like the ones formed in Chinicuila and Coalcomán so that people can make decisions about how they want to live from now on and avoid possible traps frequently pointed out by observers: becoming part of a paramilitarization strategy of the State, becoming yet another cartel, or ending up under the control of the Army or the Federal Police.
On the highways, we ran into a number of checkpoints of the army, federal police or self-defense groups, but with press passes we had no trouble in passing through by car or by bus. We didn’t see any burning trucks or cars and didn’t get caught in a narco-blockade, but we learned that atrocities were committed while we were there. There’s a heavy police presence in the cities and towns, so much so that in both Uruapan and Coalcomán entire hotels have been taken over and are being run by the police, and it’s almost impossible to walk down a sidewalk without running into a group of them. Their presence makes some people feel more secure. Not me.Cherato
“Cherán continues to be a reference point for everyone,” remarked a friend the day we got there. Although the formation of the community patrols called “rondas” under an autonomous indigenous council is somewhat different from the self-defense groups organized as a matter of survival in mestizo territory, the P’urhépecha experience in reclaiming ancient traditions, putting into practice the right to self-defense, and following the path of autonomy is invaluable to many groups.
The New Fire celebrated in Tarejero, Michoacán, on February 2 has been interpreted as an especially good omen for extending this experience in the year ahead, even though on the same day in Morelia, thousands of youth, with the blessing of the government, sang and shouted their support for the Knights Templar in a concert given by the Komander and “los de la A”.
The day of the New Fire we visited the P’urhépecha community of Cherato, where the Virgin of Candelaria was also honored. After eating some delicious home made mole and enjoying a local basketball tournament to the tune of live tropical music, a family was kind enough to invite us to a feast celebrating their daughter’s baptism, where we thoroughly appreciated their hospitality.
Afterwards we went to a compañero’s home to talk about the situation there. He answered a question about the level of support among townspeople for the armed uprising with a single word: total.
He told us that several years ago the Knights Templar began to send young scouts to spy on people in Cherato, but at first there weren’t any open conflicts with them. People kept on growing avocado, maize and oatmeal although they no longer had many livestock due to the rustling that had gone on.
On January 21, 2013, the situation drastically changed. A group of men showed up in town to deliver a package of 22 envelopes to the person in charge of security, Roberto Serrano Cervantes. Each small farmer was supposed to put $2,000 pesos per productive hectare in an envelope, and Serrano would be responsible for returning the full envelopes to a designated person.
The community people got together and said to each other: “If we give them the money, we’ll never get rid of them. They’ll become the owners of our own lands.” Not a single person voted to accede to the extortion.
On the contrary, they decided to reactivate the tradition of the community patrol as Cherán had done, arming themselves with poles and machetes and the few rifles and shotguns at hand. In those days they received a lot of threats and the municipal police began to hang out with the young spies.
The highway was immediately blocked by the insurrect people of Cherato along with others from nearby towns including Cheratillo, 18 de marzo, Sicuicho and Orúscato. They demanded a meeting with Municipal President José Antonio Salas Valencia (National Action Party, PAN), who never showed up. In return, the demonstrators held several officials hostage for a few days to make sure the authorities would comply with their responsibilities, which they never did. Since then, they’ve organized other protests over the disappearance of Roberto Serrano, which have not resulted in any response whatsoever from any government authority or human rights commission.
When they gathered in the main plaza of the municipal headquarters of Los Reyes to demand the live presentation of Roberto on July 22, 2013, organized crime members and local police opened fire on the men, women and children, resulting in at least five deaths (some say many more) and dozens of people wounded.
Our friend told us that Cherato and surrounding P’urhépecha communities want to separate from Los Reyes and form their own municipality. As a way of protecting their community, they’ve set up entry and exit gates to control who comes in and goes out of town. The gates are closed at 9 o’clock at night and opened at 5 in the morning. Several teams of townspeople continue to guard the gates, as the community grapples with serious problems of lack of water, health care and education.Los Reyes
Coming into Los Reyes from Uruapan, we passed through orchards and nurseries where avocado, lemon, zarzamora, guava and oranges flourish. We visited two of the barricades on the outskirts of town taken over by the community police at the end of January.
After inviting us to eat and offering us a refreshing coconut-pecan drink, one of the comrades explained in an interview:
“We came into Peribán last Monday and Los Reyes on Tuesday. People here were asking us to come in because they’d endured so many kidnappings, abuses and imposed fees. People were forced to work for the cartel and some of them were then killed and robbed of the money they’d made. . . Two of my brothers-in-law were kidnapped and I’ve had no news of them in three years. They took away two cousins and a friend of mine, too. They were eliminated and dumped here. And that’s why we’re fighting. ..We’ve all gone through things like this.” Day after day the kidnappings, beatings and rapes continue.
“They really want to hurt us bad so people will be afraid and won’t support what we’re doing, but now, people don’t care if they die here. It’s better to die in battle than to have them come for you and make you suffer.”
He says the response of people in Los Reyes has been positive, that they’ve had a lot of support from the people there and from surrounding communities like Cherato, “where they don’t have many arms but come with their poles and machetes.” They know the experience of other towns freed by the community police like Tancítaro, Pareo, Buenavista, Los Fresnos, El Aguacate, where people are happier, enjoy more peace and calm, and even dare to have fiestas, whereas before, they were afraid to go out of their houses.
He says that many people who used to be with the Templars have changed sides and are now with them, a situation we observed in the barricades themselves, where at least thirty of the former lookouts are there under the watchful eye of the comrades just in case their “conversion” is more fleeting than they’d indicated.
The large majority were young although there were people of all ages, some wearing their rosaries and others with a silver Santa Muerte on their chests. Although we’d known of many cases where people were forced to work for the Templars due to threats they’d received, the guys we talked to at the second barricade told us they did it because they made a lot of money ––between 1200 and 1800 pesos every two weeks.
We learned that the community police still face the challenge of winning support from the people in the barrios of Los Reyes, precisely because all the job sources have been controlled by the Templars and now many people have no income.
And being well aware of the experience of other liberated towns where the Templars have returned time after time to try to retake them, everybody knows that these spaces aren’t automatically free of problems. They have to be defended.Buenavista Tomatlán
You feel the heat in Tierra Caliente. As we got close to one of the first towns that rose up in arms, a comrade from the self-defense groups came onto our bus and asked us who we were and what we were doing there. We showed him our press passes and he gave us a smile of acknowledgement, saying, “Ah, SubVersiones? All right.”
En route, we admired the lemon groves and later learned that Buenavista produces more of this fruit than any other place in the country.
When we got to Buenavista we were able to meet with the Coordinator of the People’s Council, which is not part of the self-defense groups, but instead a council made up of unarmed citizens. On our way to a meeting place we learned about an important part of this town’s history: Last April 27, 40 pickups filled with Templars tried to retake the town at 5 o’clock in the morning, opening fire for 25 minutes on the houses of neighbors in the community of Pueblo Viejo just above Buenavista. After one machine-gun blast after another that seemed like an eternity, they were finally repelled by five comrades from the local self-defense group.
One of the first things we talked to the Coordinator about was the agreement signed on January 27 between the government and some spokesmen of the Citizen Self-Defense Councils. We had heard different opinions. Some people think it’s not a bad idea to force the government to make a public commitment to protect the people, that maybe this would take some heat off the self-defense groups. Others say it’s just a media stunt that will be impossible to enforce because few people will register and nobody is going to turn in their arms. Still others say that the pact can be thrown out and that it’s not inevitable for the community police to be part of the military forces of the State, a highly undesirable status.
The Coordinator commented that “the government wants to put out the fire” and that he thinks it would have been important to put the regularization proposal up for discussion in every town and community. He said that many important issues aren’t dealt with in the agreement, such as the political prisoners of La Ruana, Buenavista, Aguililla and Aquila. “They forget about these things,” he said, “but those of us who live with the people do not. The self-defense groups have a commitment to the people and those of us who don’t bear arms are also part of the process.”
The comrade said that contrary to popular opinion, the uprising took place in Buenavista on February 28, 2013, four days after the people first rose up in Tepalcatepec and La Ruana. That day, everyone was taken by surprise when a call was sent out to the townspeople to come to a meeting in the esplanade where a sound system was already set up.
He described what happened: “We went along with all the people to see what was going on. There, they said, ‘We´re going to rise up in arms against organized crime.’ They called on people to go get their arms so that they could stand guard and join up with the self-defense group…People from La Ruana came to support the uprising…and there were also four or five Army trucks around the esplanade. That surprised me because ever so often, they try to disarm people but that day in Buenavista and in the other uprisings, they’ve been there to support them… As far as I could see, there were about ten people who had made a firm decision to rise up…another ten went to get their arms and joined in. Another five or six stood by to see if someone else might loan them a weapon… because that was the proposal, for anybody who didn’t want to stand guard to loan their arm to someone else or, if possible, to donate it…. Well, that was our experience. That’s what I observed.”
He added that on that very day, the municipal police left town, and so did the Templars.
Even so, since they’re right there on the border with Apatzingán, the cartel’s stronghold, the people of Buenavista have had a lot of threats in addition to the major attack previously mentioned.
They’ve also had confrontations with the Army. Just a few weeks ago on January 15, community police and civilians, furious over the recent killing of four people by the army in Atunez, confronted and expelled an army convoy of 100 troops from Buenavista. And last May 22, military forces picked up four young men from Buenavista and only let them go after the self-defense group held 22 soldiers hostage for several hours.
Rising up in arms has made it possible for townspeople to hold public meetings, something that had been dangerous under Templar control. The comrade explained that their members lived there in town and that many people saw them as the guardians of Michoacan who were there to protect people. Commanders from elsewhere had people stationed in Buenavista to engage in all their operations ––extortion, collection of imposed fees, kidnappings, and drug trafficking. It was dangerous to even say the name Knights Templar. They built a chapel here and another one in La Ruana to hold the statues of Nazario (Nazario Moreno, alias El Chayo, or “The Craziest One”, worshiped by many, founder of the La Familia cartel, supposedly killed by federal police but considered by many to be one of the top leaders of the Knights Templar).
Buenavista has adapted the idea of the Citizens Councils developed in Chinicuila, Coalcomán and Cherán. The Coordinator says that in May of 2013, twelve people were elected as part of an assembly and that there are now plans to add a representative from each neighborhood and have an equal number of men and women on the decision-making body. Meetings and training sessions are being held in the neighborhoods. They are working on several different proposals including one to assure an adequate supply of drinking water and another to organize a community radio. They have their own detailed security plan and think it is important for security to be under local control, as opposed to state or federal control. They argue that they are the ones who are most aware of the needs of the community and that they know the people very well, so they can tell who would be best suited to provide security and who wouldn’t. For these reasons, they insist that they should be in charge of planning reliable, preventive security for the well-being of the people.
For the Coordinator, being one with the people, living with the people, supporting the people, and taking action with the people is fundamental. He thinks it’s possible that some ex-spies might want to come back to be with their families, and if they want to be part of a self-defense group, it’s up to the Self-Defense Council whether to accept them or not. He says the defense councils have done a good job and will know what to do about that. The way he sees it, “If they told me someone who hadn’t killed or kidnapped anybody wanted to take our side, I’d rather he’d be shooting from this side to that, than from that side to this”.
In any case, even with all the contradictions left to be resolved, he feels that their town is something else entirely now. “The children can run in the streets. We can get together, hold meetings. There are people with arms, but not to attack us. The freedom we have now is something we haven’t had in twelve years”.
Originally published in Spanish at: http://subversiones.org/archivos/20140
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