February 26, 2012

Mexican rights activist released on bail

Latin American Herald Tribune, www.laht.com 26 February 2012

MEXICO CITY – Mexican human rights activist Lucila Bettina Cruz Velazquez, arrested this week in the southern state of Oaxaca on charges of illegally detaining public officials, has been released on bail, non-governmental organizations said.

In a statement, four NGOs said Cruz Velazquez was released in the wee hours of Friday from the Tehuantepec Regional Prison, where she had been held since Wednesday for alleged crimes against the national wealth and illegal privation of liberty.

The NGOs called on Mexican authorities and the independent National Human Rights Commission to guarantee “the activist’s right to due process” and physical safety.

They also demanded that the co-founder of the Assembly of Indigenous Peoples of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in Defense of Land and Territory be “exonerated of all wrongdoing” and her name be cleared.

The groups recalled that the Oaxaca state ombud’s office on Nov. 14 issued a note urging authorities to protect the activist’s safety.

That after Cruz Velazquez and members of the so-called Committee for the Resistance to the Union Hidalgo Wind Project were attacked on Oct. 28, 2011, by local political bosses and municipal police while protesting against construction of wind turbines on their land.

The federal Attorney General’s Office confirmed Friday that the activist was released from custody, a day after announcing that she had been arrested on a warrant issued last Sept. 12.

The warrant stemmed from an incident on April 13, 2011, “when a group of people purportedly headed by the accused occupied the offices of the (state-owned Federal Electricity Commission) in Juchitan, Oaxaca” and impeded “personnel from entering and leaving the institution,” the AG’s office said.

The suspect also “urged demonstrators and the public in general not to pay for electricity service,” it added.

For its part, the Mexican chapter of London-based human rights group Amnesty International expressed concern Thursday that the charges against Cruz Velazquez were “fabricated to prevent her from carrying out her work as a human rights defender and that she may be denied a fair judicial process.”

“Her arrest forms part of a pattern of arrests of human rights defenders on unfounded charges of illegal detention of public officials which have resulted in unfair criminal proceedings and long periods in prison for the activists.”

AI noted that the assembly “has held protests against the construction of wind farms on lands belonging to indigenous peoples.”

The Zapotec Indian community of Union Hidalgo says Desarrollos Eolicos de Mexico, a subsidiary of Spain’s Renovalia Energy, is building the Piedra Larga wind farm without its consent, in violation of the 2007 U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

That community also is “concerned about the project’s impact on their land and agriculture,” AI said. EFE

URL to article:  https://www.wind-watch.org/news/2012/02/26/mexican-rights-activist-released-on-bail/