Lomas de Poleo: ‘Ongoing low intensity war’
Two e-mails updating the situation in Lomas de Poleo:
Dear Friends of Lomas,
The following is a rough translation of an email I received this evening. I’ve included the original in Spanish as well. Please feel free to share, publish this with your networks.
Fr. Bill Morton
FORO LOMAS DEL POLEO:
Today, Monday, June 29th, Lomas resident, Carmen Quinones Ortiz, was assualted by armed men in the employ of Pedro and Jorge Zaragoza Fuentes.
At 12 p.m. today, the “guards” in the service of the businessmen Zaragoza Fuentes, arrived at the property of Don Aurelio Carranza and Carmen Quinones Ortiz.
Fernando Carrillo Flores, Ramioro Luna Mendivia, known as “El guero palmas”, and two other men whose names are not known, knocked down the fence made of wood and wire that went around the house of Carmen and Aurelio and then stole all the material. They pushed Carmen, knocking her to the ground and threatening her with a pistol.
A week ago, these same men had destroyed this same fence. This morning, Carmen and Aurelio with the help of neighbors Vicente and Adela, were lifting up the wooden posts and fixing them together with wire, in order to seal the area thru which were passing the machines building the road from Anapra to San Jeronimo, and in doing so were trespassing on the property of Carmen and Aurelio.
The land in Lomas del Poleo are in Agrarian litigation for the past five years. In May of 2008, the lawyer Barbara Zamora took the cases of a group of residents (of Lomas del Poleo) among whom was Carmen Quinones. The Agrarian Court #5 (in Chihuahua) placed a series of obstacles (in Barbara’s path) and the Zaragoza’s (with the Agrarian court’s complicity) had the case deferred time after time, still, the resident’s case began to move forward.
In April of 2009, Pedro Zaragoza responded to the suit filed against him by the residents of Lomas, saying the land where Carmen Quinones (and the others represented by Barbara Zamora) lived, was not his property and never had been.
Then why did he send his “workers” to destroy the fences and hit the “companera” (Carmen)?
The Agrarian Tribunal felt obliged to dictate protective measures in favor of the group defended by the lawyer Barbara Zamora and these protective measures have been violated by Pedro Zaragoza Fuentes, by the State Government and the Municipality of Juarez, these last two being in the service of economic power.
This is a call to all our companions to denounce and to be attentive to these new aggressions against the residents who are struggling and resisting in Lomas del Poleo.
Land, Justice and Liberty for Lomas del Poleo!
El día de hoy lunes 29 de junio, la compañera Carmen Quiñones Ortíz, habitante de Lomas del Poleo, fué agredida por hombres armados al servicio de Pedro y Jorge Zaragoza Fuentes.
A las 12:00 del día, llegaron hasta el terreno de Dn. Aurelio Carranza y Carmen Quiñones Ortíz, los “guardias” al servicio de los empresarios Zaragoza Fuentes.
Fernando Carrillo Flores, Ramiro Luna Mendivia, apodado ” El güero palmas” y otros dos hombres de quienes se desconoce sus nombres. Tumbaron el corral de madera y alambre que rodea la casa de los compañeros, se robaron el material, a empujones tumbaron al suelo a Doña Carmen y la amenazaron con una pistola.
Hace una semana, estos mismos hombres habían destruido ese mismo corral, hoy por la mañana, D. Aurelio y D. Carmen, ayudados por sus vecinos Adela Plasencia y Vicente Estrada, estaban levantando la madera y colocando el alambre, para cerrale el paso a las máquinas que están construyendo la carretera Anapra- S.Jerónimo en esa área, y que habían estado invadiendo el terreno de l@s compañer@s .
Los terrenos de Lomas del Poleo, están en litigio Agrario, desde hace unos años. En mayo de 2008, la abogada Bárbara Zamora, tomó el caso de un grupo de colon@s , entre ellos el caso de Carmen Quiñones. Después de una serie de prevenciones ( trabas) por parte del Tribunal Agrario No. 5 y de audiencias diferidas ( retrasadas) por Pedro Zaragoza Fuentes, con la complicidad del tribunal, el juicio de éste grupo empezó a caminar. En abril de 2009, Pedro Zaragoza contestó la demanda en su contra interpuesta por colon@s de Lomas del Poleo, y en la respuesta dice que los terrenos en donde se encuentra Carmen Quiñones ( y otr@s del grupo de Bárbara Zamora) no son terrenos de su propiedad y que nunca han sido terrenos de su propiedad. ¿ Entonces porqué manda a sus “trabajadores” a destruir los corrales y a golpear a la compañera?
El tribunal Agrario, se vió obligado a dictar Medidas Cautelares ( Precautorias) a favor del grupo legal que defiende la abogada Bárbara Zamora y esas medidas Cautelares están siendo violadas por Pedro Zargaoza Fuentes, por el Gobierno del Estado y por el Municipio de Ciudad Juárez, éstos últimos al serviocio del poder económico.
Hacemos un llamado a tod@s l@s compañer@s , a denunciar y estar atentos ante estas nuevas agresiones en contra de l@s habitantes que luchan y resisten en Lomas del Poleo.
¡ Tierra, Justicia y Libertad , para Lomas del Poleo !
Lomas Update, June 21, 2009
Dear Friends and Supporters of the Residents of Lomas del Poleo:
First of all, thank you so much for your constant and creative support of the people of Lomas del Poleo. The update is a bit late because I kept waiting to include related news events. Anyway, I’m sending this one off and hope you will find it informative and hopeful.
We did experience a setback this past Tuesday, June 16th. Due to illness, Barbara Zamora was not able to be in Chihuahua. Her husband, Santos Garcia, was there and eager to continue the audience but the presiding magistrate said it was not possible in the absence of Barbara. Hence, the audience was cancelled and everyone has to return on August 4. It is not a fatal blow but it is unfortunate that the case will drag on that much longer. It also means the civil engineer who is to do the survey for the “perito” or expert witness, is still pending appointment by the court. Asi es la vida.
On a more positive note, the radio program with City Representative Steve Ortega went well. State Congressman, Joe Moody, who had been on previously, remained in the studio and participated in the segment on Lomas. (I apologize for not getting the exact station out in time. It was 1150 AM “Hector’s Sector” 1-4 on Wednesdays). Both officials were sympathetic to the plight of the Lomas residents and interested in ways their cause might be advanced. Several people called in during the show and all were supportive of Lomas.
Human rights and other lawyers joined with Zapatistas in Morelia for a conference: “Chiapas: Premier Encuntro Contra la Impunidad” June 20, 21 this past weekend. Don Alfredo Pinon, one of the residents of Lomas whose house was knocked down last November, was able to travel and attend the conference thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor. He shared the trauma of having been kidnapped, having his house knocked down and being kept from entering the colonia and rebuilding on this land upon which he had lived, peacefully, for so many years. Don Alfredo’s experience illustrates the consequences of unchecked impunity as enjoyed by the Zaragozas and many other elites in Mexico, throughout Latin America and right here at our US/Mexico border. The failure to observe the law and the flagrant violation of human rights allows the wealthy and the powerful to continue dispossesing of the land of the poor without pause.
In spite of the ongoing low intensity war against the residents of Lomas del Poleo there was a bright spot this past weekend. Juan Carlos and Cristina were in Lomas for an informal fundraiser/fiesta. This is their report. Saturday afternoon in Lomas was very good: coconut turkey in “mole” was delicious. Martin and Lucy had their house all fixed up with two tables and white tablecloths with some tarps strung up to keep the afternoon sun off which is strong and burning. Aurelio, Carmen, Adela, Vicente, Martin Gabino, Lucy, Angeles, Jose, their children, were the residents present–“the residents of the struggle”–as Don Aurelio calls them–and five guests from Juarez. The numbers who came from the City were few, perhaps due to the soldiers, because it is so far, maybe conflicted with other commitments or maybe they were simply afraid. I don’t know but this afternoon we enjoyed very much what was a true communion. Apart from the mole we had a delicious cake brought by Adela and Vicente.
We spoke with the residents of the need to make many more bags and table cloths to sell to raise funds after the masses in Saint Pius Church in El Paso, hopefully this July. We actually made a few this afternoon.
Wednesday is the official graduation from the Primary School in Lomas. We are bringing some paint to freshen up the school and on Thursday there will be a fiesta/contest for the students. In Adela’s house there is a large cistern (pila) and they are paying a truck to come and fill it with water so the kids can get in and at least get wet. We’ll have hamburgers, cake, candy and ice-cream. This will be a great fiesta, no?
One of our priests continues to celebrate the 9 o’clock Sunday mass with the handful of residents that gather in Jesus de Nazaret chapel. He said even though the numbers are few he is always amazed at their faith and their willingness to stay after and share with one another about how things are going.
This past Sunday, 21 June, at the Hermita de Guadalupe in the lower part of Lomas for the 11 o’clock mass was present Sonia Escorza, the widow of Carlos Avitia, with her four sons to celebrate the first anniversary of husband Carlos’ death. They were joined by 15-20 other Lomas residents as well as family members. On June 20, 2008, Carlos was shot to death outside the Agraraian Tribunal in Chihuahua. There has been no investigation, arrests or prosecution and so the case remains unresolved and the family continues to grieve the sudden and violent death of this young father. May his blood not have been shed in vain. Please keep Sonia and the boys in your prayers: Abimilec, 12, Alejandro, 10, Eduardo, 9 and Ivan, 3.
There is an ongoing investigation of the Lomas situation by the US Consulate in Juarez. Though the State Department and the Consulate are not able to intervene formally in Lomas because it is a foreign legal matter, still the case and its investigation have potential implications for other cross-border issues of importance to the US. We are hoping the report will be shared with Patricia Espinoza the Secretary of Foreign Relations for Mexico.
As always we ask your continued prayers and advocacy for all the residents, whether living on their land or already dispossessed, that a just, peaceful and legal solution be achieved. We ask prays that all the many officials complicit in the tragedy of Lomas awaken to the immorality of these ongoing violations of human rights. We ask prayers, especially, for the conversion of the hearts of the Zaragozas and all their employees and especially Katarino del Rio Camacho, Ruben Palma and Fernando Carillo, who are in charge of the occupying forces within the concentration camp of Lomas del Poleo. May the blood of Carlos Avitia, Luis Guerrero, Magdeleno and Carmencita cry out to heaven for justice.
Fr. Bill Morton, SSC