Report on Lomas de Poleo: “Some legal victories”
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Dear Friends of Lomas del Poleo: October 2, 2009
As always, thank you for your prayers, advocacy and generosity in accompanying the settlers in Lomas del Poleo.
This update contains two items: First, a brief translation/summary of a longer report in Spanish by Cristina Coronado re. the audience in Chihuahua September 28. (If you would like the entire report in Spanish, let me know and I will send it to you.) Second is a report on the official from the Agrarian court who returned to Lomas to investigate the trespassing of the Zaragoza and City, State construction vehicles onto the property of Vicente Estrada and Carmen Quinones.
The important thing in all this is the residents being represented by Barbara Zamora are achieving some legal victories and being taken seriously by the Agrarian Tribunal. With God’s help may it continue.
Fr. Bill Morton, SSC
1. September 28 Audience: This past Monday, September 28, the residents of Lomas del Poleo, assisted in their hearing at the Agrarian Tribunal Number 5 in Chihuahua.
After receiving the oral testimony of the residents, themselves, the Magistrate called those witnesses to give testimony on their behalf. There were four: Lucy Carrillo, Manuel Delgado, Alfredo Pinon, and Rafael Castro. They were asked to respond to 12 questions in the presence of the Secretary of Affairs of the Tribunal. The questions are supposed to demonstrate the plaintiff has possession of the land. Some examples:
“Do you know Carmen Quinones, etc?” “For how long have you known Vicente Estrada, etc.?”
“Do you know if he/she has possession of said land?” “For how long has she/he had possession?” “How much land?” “How is the land used?” “Do you know if there is a fence that impedes movement?”
The witnesses were excellent, showed no doubts and this part of the proof came out very well. It would seem very difficult for the Magistrate to overturn it.
Barbara Zamora has crafted a very professional and powerful suit with many proofs, repeatedly meeting the demands of the Tribunal and the Magistrate on time and in order. We think it would be very difficult for the Magistrate to somehow undermine the residents case.
Pedro Zaragoza. At this point the Magistrate called for his testimony and that of his witnesses. Since none came forward she declared that for lack of judicial interest on their part, the testimonial proof section of the case of Pedro Zaragoza is “deserted”. He loses whatever value his testimony/witnesses would have in supporting his case.
The previous session on August 18 ended with Pedro Zaragoza Fuentes, his brother, Jorge Humberto Zaragoza Fuentes and their mother, Maria del Refugio Fuentes being subpoenaed as well as the Mayor of Juarez, his secretary of housing and the secretary of the Agrarian Reform. Those subpoenaed were ordered to appear at the Tribunal or send legal representatives to contest the twenty legal positions posed in the suit against them placed by Barbara Zamora on behalf of the residents of Lomas.
The order to appear in the Tribunal on September 28 was underlined by the warning that, in the event they (or their representatives) are not present, they would be declared “confesos” ie. that they recognize, accept and endorse that the residents are correct in the above-mentioned legal positions in their suit against them (ie. the Zaragozas, etc.).
The twenty legal positions posed in the suit by Barbara and accepted by the Magistrate in the Agrarian Tribunal include some of the following:
n the titles presented by the Zaragozas as valid and legal are, in fact, false
n that Pedro Zaragoza invaded and sealed the colonia with cement posts and barbed wire fences
n that Pedro Zaragoza hired armed guards and built watchtowers that impeded the free transit of the residents
n that Pedro Zaragoza destroyed more than fifty houses
n that Pedro Zaragoza is not the owner of the land in which exists Lomas del Poleo and that this land is national territory
Because neither the Zaragozas nor their representatives appeared in court to offer testimony/evidence to the contrary, this part of the case is ruled against the Zaragozas and in favor of the residents of Lomas.
The government officials have ten days to respond in writing to the legal positions against them filed by Barbara. These included things like: “Is it true that you failed to inform the State Human Rights Commission of Chihuahua that the Colonia of Lomas del Poleo was situated in what is federal land?” and “Did you use employees/machinery of the city/state government to help the accused in this case (Pedro and Jorge Zaragoza) to destroy the houses of Adelaida Plasencia and to cause damage to the property of Carmen Quinones and Vicente Estrada?”. The results of this part of the suit are pending.
2. September 30 Judicial Inspection: On September 28, the Magistrate also ordered a visual inspection of the land of Vicente Estrada in response to the complaint filed by Barbara Zamora on behalf of Vicente re. the protective measures dictated by the Tribunal on November 4, 2008. The complaint stated that the Zaragozas and Municipal/State agencies invaded Vicente’s land on September 14 and failed to observe the legal preventive measures that ordered the accused (Zaragoza and the Municipal/State Government) to leave Vicente’s land “as is” until November 4, 2009 and to refrain from any action to dispossess Vicente of his land as the Tribunal has not given a final sentence in his case (number 163/2008, Agrarian Tribunal Five, Chih. Mexico).
The Magistrate ordered that the inspector should note any evidence that the property has in any way been changed via the presence of construction materials or machinery used for construction since the offical reported state of the property as per September 10. If there is such evidence there will be coercive measures (punishment) against those thus charged for violating the protective measures.
As per the Magistrates’ order, the same official who had carried out the court mandated inspection on September 10 as part of the evidence-gathering for the case, returned on September 30 and re-inspected Vicente’s land from 11a.m. till 330p.m. and will present an official report demonstrating that, indeed, the alleged invasion and deprivation of Vicente’s land occurred.