Ostula demands

The indigenous community of Ostula has now presented a series of public demands to the state and federal authorities.

These go beyond the demand for the immediate release from prison of Cemeí Verdía, former commander of Ostula’s communal police and the autodefensas of Aquila, Coahuayana and Chinicuila, and the dropping of charges against him, which his supporters continue to insist have been fabricated and are based on accusations made by persons linked to organised crime.

The Ostula comuneros demand punishment for the military and police personnel responsible for the death of the child Hidilberto Reyes García on July 19. They also include the (far from new and scarcely unreasonable) demands that “disappeared” members of the community are “presented alive” and that both the material and intellectual authors of past murders of Ostula leaders and community members are brought to justice. Another longstanding demand is that community police units on the coast are recognised as the legitimate guardians of order of the indigenous communities. Given the lamentable failure of official state agencies to carry out even their most minimal functions of providing security to the inhabitants of the area and failure to apprehend known criminals who continue to operate with impunity in this zone, this demand too scarcely seems unreasonable.

It is doubtful whether the state and federal authorities will even respond to the more modest but symbolically important demand that reparations are made for damage to community property committed by their agents in recent operations and the return of stolen community radios and the seal of the community vigilance council. This reflects two important contextualising factors.

One is the Ostula community’s demand, once again not new, that a halt be called to touristic megaprojects (which have long aspired to privatise the beaches in community territories) and mining projects.

The other is that a stop be put to the formation of paramilitary groups within the Nahua indigenous communities.

Ostula links these groups with PRI sympathisers in the neighbouring indigenous communities of Pómaro and Coire, who dispute the results of recent municipal elections in Aquila, which were won by the PRD candidate. The priístas  accuse supporters of Cemeí Verdía of burning ballot boxes in order to bring about this result. They deny that they have links with organised crime.

It is a fact, however, that some members of the Pómaro and Coire communities have long been involved in both the drugs trade and illegal mining, and it is also a fact that Ostula’s communal police force has tried to put a definitive stop to residual Knights Templar activity in the area. So this claim might be taken with a pinch of salt.

It is also sadly a fact that the priístas in Pómaro and Coire are enjoying a very cosy relationship with elements of the federal police and military. This is also something that has a longer history.