Anti-dam resistance faces death and detention in Guerrero, Mexico


PHOTO/CECOP 3 – Tlachinollan

As the Mexican village of La Concepción was still celebrating a local festival, unidentified armed men attacked the local unit of the policía comunitaria or community police in the early hours of Jan. 7. The attack left two community police and six of the armed aggressors dead, and was swiftly followed by a violent state crackdown

La Concepción is part of the communal landholding of Cacahuatepec that is comprised of 47 such villages, located in the district of Acapulco in the southern state of Guerrero, Mexico. The attack targeted members of the community police force known as CRAC-PC (Regional Coordination of Community Authorities – Community Police), along with members of the Council of Ejidos (communal lands) and Communities Opposing the Dam La Parota (CECOP), a local people’s organization that has spearheaded the resistance to a proposed hydroelectric power plant to be built by the Comision Federal de Electricidad (CFE, Federal Commission of Electricity) on the Papagayo River since 2006. The formation of the local unit of CRAC-PC in Cacahuatepec is closely related to growing armed confrontations as a result of the conflict around the dam project. CECOP decided to incorporate Cacahuatepec into CRAC-PC in 2014 as a measure of self-defense.

Following the armed attack, later the same day a large number of state and federal police, as well as members of the army, were mobilized in and around La Concepción. State armed forces spread throughout the surrounding villages and raided the houses of other members of CECOP despite having no official permission or search warrants. State forces launched a second round of violent attacks against the residents of La Concepción, killing another three members of CRAC-PC. Police then arrested two key spokespersons of CECOP, Marco Antonio Suástegi Muñoz and his brother Vicente Suástegi Muñoz, and 30 other members of CRAC-PC.

The CRAC-PC emerged in the state of Guerrero in 1998 as a citizen effort to try and ensure justice and security in a context where organized crime and the state police forces are inextricably linked.

Meanwhile, journalists covering the events were beaten by police and one photographer was forced to hand over the memory card from his camera at gunpoint. It is further worth noting that among the armed aggressors in this most recent case of violence in Cacahuatepec were local dominant figures who eke out a living from the sale of sand mining along the banks of the Papagayo River, a practice that CECOP had clamped down on owing to the damage this has caused to the life of the river.

This attack follows a long history of violence against and repression of the movement against the La Parota dam in Cacahuatepec. The movement, which began in 2006, has seen the murder of anti-dam community members, as well as violent police repression unleashed on residents in order to prevent them from attending public hearings related to the project. While a set of five such public hearings were conducted between the years 2004 and 2005, each of these took place by bypassing mandated procedure, flouting norms set in place to conduct such hearings, and using brute force of state security forces to prevent residents from attending the hearings and presenting their views. An Agrarian Tribunal found the procedures illegal, ruling between 2006 and 2008 to nullify all five hearings on the basis of cases filed and fought by CECOP.

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