Jul 12, 2012

Villagers of Cherán tortured and killed; bodies left in Zacapu

Two more members of an indigenous community (Cheran) in Michoacan were kidnapped, tortured and murdered. Community members attempt to forcibly enter the state congress to demand security due to increased kidnappings and murders by organized crime rings.

La Jornada: Americas Program Original Translation.
See Spanish Original.
- They were kidnapped on Sunday; relatives hold responsible the settlers of El Cerecito
- The governor proposed that an operation is carried out in the area
- Protesters blocked the local Congress
- Community representatives met with officials from the Undersecretary of Government and the Attorney General of the Republic

Morelia, Mich., July 10th. Urbano Macías Rafael and José Guadalupe Gerónimo Velázquez, villagers of the still existent purépecha indigenous population of Cherán, were found dead today near the community El Pueblito, municipality of Zacapu.

The laborers disappeared July 8th, when they went to collect their livestock in a pasture. The bodies showed signs of torture and various shot wounds, reported the Regional Justice Attorney of Zamora.

This past Sunday, around 2:00 pm, Urbano Macías, of 48 years of age and Guadalupe Gerónimo, age 28, took a bus to the north of the community. Shortly after, the first one called via telephone to warn the inhabitants they had been kidnapped by the neighboring village, El Cerecito  .

Their remains were found in a woody area of Zacapu, some 30 kilometers from Cherán. The city council mayor demanded justice from the state government and recalled that since the confrontation with loggers that took place April 15, 2011, 13 citizens have been kidnapped, five killed and more than six hurt.

At midday in the state capital, some 200 Cherán villagers occupied the local Congress to demand the government of the state to present their companions alive. The protestors prevented representatives, visitors and reporters from leaving the grounds.

They boarded two buses and other vehicles, and arrived at the monument of the general Lázaro Cárdenas. From there they marched through Madero avenue to the government palace. They blocked the access streets to the historic center and at 12:20 they stationed themselves in front of the door to the local Congress. They shouted slogans against the state government and threatened an indefinite sit-in until Urbano Macías and Guadalupe Gerónimo appeared.

They held the state government responsible for what happened, that they had committed to provide security to this region of the Purépecha Plateau, besieged by loggers and organized crime, that cut down forests and kidnapped and killed locals.

At 2:30 pm a committee entered and the plenary session was interrupted for a few minutes. The protestors ignored the fact that their companions had already died.

The governor Fausto Vallejo assured that a helicopter had been looking for the disappeared and asked the people of Cherán to allow for a security operation.

The president of the legislative committee of indigenous villages, Eleazar Aparicio Tercero, stated that Cherán lives in a delicate situation because the federal and state governments have not helped use police to prevent the taking of wood or to guarantee security to the purépecha population, some 14,000 habitants.

Before hearing the news, Laura Sánchez Santos, widow of José Guadalupe Gerónimo, and Lourdes Tomás, of Urbano Macías, recounted in a press conference in Mexico City that both had left their houses at 7:30 am on Sunday in the direction of Calichero to brand a calf and transfer another. At 9:30 Lourdes received a call from Urbano, who told her: Here I see the ranchers (from El Cerecito), in case something happens. The communication was lost. They have maintained that their husbands were kidnapped by cousins of Salvador Ortega, a settler of the neighboring community.

They said that since April of last year they have requested the Michoacán government and the Department of Government to help combat the organized criminal groups, loggers and paramilitaries in different points of the area, but the authorities only signed bills and gave a dusting of justice.

Members of the higher council of Cherán met with the Undersecretary of Government Obdulio Ávila Mayo and agreed that the General Attorney of the Republic (PGR) and the Federal Police would help to find the missing, reported the lawyer David Peña, who accompanied the sharecroppers to the government.

Posted by Libby Quintana.

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