Friday, April 20, 2012

After Celebrating One Year of Resistance and Autonomy, Community Members of Cherán Ambushed

“We demand Justice, Security, and Peace for the town of Cherán. No more logging, nor kidnappings. An end to organized crime.”

To the Media
To Civil Society
To State Authorities

It has been one year since the beginning of an emergency situation that has confronted the purépecha community of Cherán, Michoacán. Due to insecurity and devastation of territory, the constant aggression towards forests, and the kidnappings and killings that the community has suffered, we continue to demand a state of justice, security and the reconstruction of territory. We are challenging these violations of rights that have led us to create this denouncement in the first place.

On Wednesday, April 18th, 20 community members went to a place in the forest called "El Puerto" to do preventative, clearing work in this time of drought. They were doing fire prevention and protection of re-forested areas along with dam restoration. At 10:30 am, the workers heard two chainsaws downhill cutting trees, which alerted the “ronda” or communal security. Elements of the ronda arrived to verify the logging of trees. At that same moment criminals from Tanaco and the Casimiro Leco Ranch shot at the workers who were located at the top of the hill, killing Santiago Ceja Alonzo y David Campos Macias fields and wounding Salvador Olivares Sixtos y Santiago Charicata Servin.

We demand justice from the state and federal authorities for the murder of our fellow community members and make them responsible for all present and future attacks on our community.

Indigenous Coummunity San Francisco Cherán

Originally published in NACLA

Since April 15th, 2011 members of the P’urhépecha indigenous community of Cherán, Michoacán have self-organized community defense committees to protect themselves from violence amidst Mexico’s drug war. The community of some 20,000 people has faced kidnappings, murders, and threats from illegal loggers who are backed and protected by organized crime. Violence escalated in April 2011 after community members temporarily detained more than ten men attempting to illegally log in the Cherán neighborhood of El Calvario. The forests surrounding Cherán are considered to be the P’urhépecha community’s economic, cultural and ecological lifeline. The loggers responded with force.

The local, state, and federal governments have refused to step in to protect the community, or stop the violence, leading many to believe the authorities might be complicitly involved.

On June 26th a small caravan, organized by the “Caravan for Peace with Justice and Dignity,” set off from Cuernavaca, Morelos and passed through Mexico City to bring food supplies to Cherán. Organizers looked to show support and solidarity for the Cherán community, which is both suffering from and resisting the drug war model imposed by Mexican president Felipe Calderón soon after he took office in 2006.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Photo Essay: April 1 Youth Justice Sunday

For a third year in a row dozens of Baltimore youth, activists, and residents held a rally and march, dubbed "Youth Justice Sunday", to protest the planned construction of a more than $100 million, 230-bed youth prison. This action comes days after the Baltimore City Council passed a resolution that officially recognizes the first Sunday in April to be "Youth Justice Sunday", so as to:

"bring attention to the plight of Baltimore City's youth; to advocate for the civil liberties they deserve, and; to celebrate the triumph of spirit of youth who achieve greatness through academic, athletic, social and intellectual perserverance."

While plans and funds for constructing the prison remain on the table, the city seeks to close recreation centers and public pools, as well as continue to underfund a crumbling public education system. 
These photos were taken during the rally and march of "Youth Justice Sunday" on April 1st, 2012.