Estimado Sr. Presidente Enrique Peña Nieto, President of the Republic of Mexico
Sr. Alberto Elías Beltrán, Interim Attorney General of Mexico, Assistant Attorney for International Affairs
July 25, 2018
We are outraged at the assassination of indigenous community leader Rolando Crispin López in the community of Álvaro Obregón in the municipality of Juchitán de Zaragoza in Oaxaca State. He was a member of the Assembly of Indigenous People of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in Defense of Land and Territory (APIITDTT), the Peoples' Assembly of the Juchiteco People (APPJ), and the Peoples' Assembly of Álvaro Obregón.
On the morning of July 22 as he entered a store following his shift as a community police guard, a hooded man shot him repeatedly in the back and also wounded an 8-year-old girl who was walking in the street. The perpetrator fled on a red motorcycle taxi. Witnesses identified the attacker as Alejandro Matus Chávez, known as “Escarda,” an active member of the municipal police in Juchitán de Zaragoza.
Since 2012 the Álvaro Obregón community of mostly indigenous Binnizá origin (also called Zapoteco in Spanish) has been defending their territory against the wind energy company Mareña Renovables, now known as Energía Eólica del Sur. They claim that the wind turbines would cause significant environmental damage to their land and their agricultural way of life. In 2013 they organized the Binni guia'pa' guidxi', a community police, as a self-defense measure against the aggressions of the wind company and corrupt authorities.
We have been writing to Mexican officials since 2013 in support of indigenous communities opposing construction of wind farms on their ancestral lands on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec and off-shore. Several wind farms already exist, constructed without the prior, free, and informed consultation of local communities. Those who organize vocal opposition—namely the indigenous environmental defenders with APIITDTT and APPJ—have been repeatedly harassed, threatened, criminalized, and even assassinated.
We were glad to learn that on January 10, 2018 Mexico’s Supreme Court ruled that this particular wind farm project (Energía Eólica del Sur) must be halted. The judges unanimously granted an amparo, or injunction, to members of the Zapotec community in Juchitán de Zaragoza because their indigenous rights had been violated; they had not been consulted or given their permission or authorization for the project to proceed. The Inter-American Development Bank, one of the international investors in the project, has updated the wind farm’s status to “canceled.”
We believe the Álvaro Obregón community continues to be harassed because of their opposition to the wind farm mega projects. We strongly urge that you
- immediately and thoroughly investigate the assassination of community leader Roland Crispin Lopex, publish the results, and bring the perpetrators and intellectual authors of the crime to justice
- provide security for the residents of the Álvaro Obregón community, in strict accordance with their wishes
- respect the legal and cultural rights of indigenous peoples in Oaxaca and throughout Mexico
Brian J. Stefan Szittai and Christine Stonebraker Martínez
Gerónimo Gutiérrez, Mexican Ambassador to the US ~ via email
Roberta Jacobson, US Ambassador to Mexico ~ via fax and US mail
Linda Neilan, Mexico Desk, US State Dept ~ via email
Esmeralda Arosemena de Troitiño, Rapporteur for Mexico, Inter-American Commission on Human Rights ~ via email
Antonia Urrejola, Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Inter-American Commission on Human Rights ~ via email
US Senators Brown & Portman ~ via email
US Representatives Beatty, Fudge, Gibbs, Johnson, Jordan, Joyce, Kaptur, Latta, Renacci, Ryan ~ via email