Community defender David Hernandez in Oaxaca sentenced to 46 years and six months in prison

Mexico City | Desinformémonos. A District Judge sentenced Binnizá defender David Hernández Salazar to 46 years and six months in prison, a fine of $182,818 and a payment for damages in the amount of $1,000,001,500, for opposing the construction of an industrial park for the Inter-Oceanic Corridor in the common use lands of El Pitayal mountain, in Puente Madera, Oaxaca.

Link to videos made by the Sur Resiste Caravan on the struggle of Puente Madera.

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In English:

In spite of the fact that during the trial the “contradictions” contained in the accusations were evidenced and expert reports were presented that demonstrated his innocence, Hernández Salazar was accused of setting fire to the vehicles of a group of people who on February 12, 2022 entered El Pitayal to “illegally” measure the land, “in order to obtain proof of possession and accelerate the process of appropriation by the Interoceanic Corridor,” explained the Community Assembly of Puente Madera and the Assembly of Indigenous Peoples of the Isthmus in Defense of Land and Territory (APIIDTT) explained.

Initially, the criminal complaint was filed by the Municipality of San Blas Atempa and the National Agrarian Registry (RAN), which included 17 arrest warrants against residents of Puente Madera for their opposition to the federal megaproject works, especially in the El Pitayal mountain. Some time later, the RAN declined as plaintiff, evidencing that the crimes were based “on false accusations and inconsistent statements.”

The Assembly of Puente Madera and APIIDTT explained that the sentence against Hernández, issued last February 7, “is not absolute and is not being executed immediately,” and that they have amparos against the arrest warrants for David and the 17 people of Puente Madera incriminated.

In 2023, Hernandez was also notified of another criminal lawsuit, now accused of the crime of Attacks to the Highways, in a complaint filed before the Attorney General’s Office by the legal representation of the Ministry of Communications and Transportation. The hearing on this case will be held on February 21.

The peoples of Oaxaca stated that the criminalization of Hernández demonstrates “the corruption and collusion of the authorities of the Judicial Power with political and business groups of the region linked to organized crime, who are in the way of the defenders of the territory and intend to silence them by imprisoning, disappearing or murdering them.”

The assemblies demanded the revocation of the sentence and the dismissal of Criminal Case 446/2022, which includes the arrest warrants against the 17 defenders of Puente Madera, as well as called on the peoples, communities and organizations to issue statements and carry out actions in solidarity with Hernández Salazar and the struggle against the industrial park in El Pitayal.

We demand that the sentance against David Hernández Salazar be revoked! Community Assembly of Puente Madera

Below is the full communiqué:

We strongly repudiate the sentence handed down against David Hernández Salazar, in which they intend to deprive him of his freedom with 46 years and 6 months in prison, a fine of $182,818 (one hundred and eighty-two thousand eight hundred and eighteen pesos) and a payment for reparation of damages in the amount of $1,100,015 (one million one hundred thousand fifteen pesos), these sanctions are a clear example of criminalization and persecution for his work as a Defender of Territory, Human Rights and Indigenous Peoples.

Yesterday, February 7, after the Public Prosecutor’s Office of Tehuantepec presented its report of crimes and punishments, the District Judge in charge of sentencing, both authorities ignored and completely dismissed the information presented during the days of debate that demonstrates David’s innocence, such as the expert reports presented as part of the defense and the contradictions of the plaintiff’s witnesses.

In this sense, they decided to incriminate him for crimes based on false accusations and inconsistent statements. This makes clear the corruption and collusion of the authorities of the Judiciary with political and business groups in the region linked to organized crime, for whom the defenders of the territory are in the way, and who intend to silence them with imprisonment, disappearance or murder.

Recall that David Hernández Salazar has been criminalized since 2017 in his struggle for the defense of the Common Use Lands of Pitayal. At that time, opposing the imposition of the electrical substation of the Mexican Army, he was illegally detained and beaten by municipal police, continuing a series of defamation campaigns against him and threats to his physical and psychological integrity.

Again, in 2021, for his representation as Community Agent of Puente Madera and member of the General Coordination of APIIDTT, he has been prosecuted and persecuted by: the Municipality of San Blas Atempa, the Government of the State of Oaxaca, the Inter-Oceanic Corridor, the Ministry of Communications and Transportation, the National Agrarian Registry, SEDENA, the Navy and the National Guard. He faced a first federal lawsuit in 2021 (Carpeta judicial 269/2021) in which he was not indicted.

In a second moment, at the beginning of 2022, Criminal Case 446/2022 begins, taking effect on January 16, 2023 with his illegal detention and opening the investigation file which is the reason for the present document; finally, in October 2023 he is notified of a new federal lawsuit, whose initial hearing will take place on February 21. In these 3 processes, the main promoter has been at all times the Municipality of San Blas Atempa, obeying the former Administrator of the State of Oaxaca and current candidate for the Senate of the Republic, Antonino Morales Toledo.

This sentence is not absolute and will not be executed immediately, we have amparos against the arrest warrants of David and the 17 people of Puente Madera incriminated (Criminal Case 446/2022), we will continue working on the legal defense, filing the necessary appeals and going to the competent authorities that can give a review to this unjust and absurd sentence.

With much rage and courage, we affirm that our struggle will continue for the defense of the common lands of PITAYAL that gives life to our community and history as Binnizá people. We have spent years defending what is common, what is ours, what is collective, and we will continue to do so, defending life with life itself if necessary.

Faced with this situation, as the ASAMBLEA COMUNITARIA DE PUENTE MADERA and Asamblea de los Pueblos Indígenas del Istmo en Defensa de la Tierra y el Territorio, we call to:

– Issue pronouncements demanding the revocation of this sentence against David Hernandez Salazar and the dismissal of Criminal Case 446/2022 where there are arrest warrants against 17 inhabitants of the town of Puente Madera.

– To carry out actions in solidarity, in the ways and forms of each individuality, collectivity and organization, with the dignified resistance of Puente Madera against the Industrial Park and the mega-project Interoceanic Corridor of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec.

– To support in solidarity the expenses represented by the legal defense of these demands.

Finally, we would like to take advantage of this communiqué to issue the first call and invitation to the celebration of three years of resistance in defense of El Pitayal mountain, to be held March 14-17, 2024, in the community in rebellion of Puente Madera, San Blas Atempa, Oaxaca.

From the Barricade in El Pitayal





Assembly of Indigenous Peoples of the Isthmus in Defense of Land and Territory – APIIDTT

Original text published in and
English translation by Schools for Chiapas.

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