When, one morning, Greece Rodriguez opened the door of his house and saw that someone left him a funeral wreath of white carnations, and a dedication wishing him to rest in peace, knew that his activity as an advocate of the water and the territory of communities Zacatecas ejidal had forever change his personal life.
Prior to that morning, to receive insults already was something ‘everyday’, in quotation marks, in their daily activity.
«Arguendera», «unruly», «disruptive», were part of the expletives that had to get used to live since, in 2013, it began to involve themselves fully as an activist.
However, account Greece, the intensity of the attacks hit even more when, as a member of the Observatory of conflicts miners of Zacatecas, which forms part of the Mexican network of people affected by mining (REMA), started from 2018, along with other women and men the Ejido El Potrero, Atotonilco, stay in Guadeloupe, and Corrales, in the Jiménez municipality of Teul, fierce opposition to the construction of the dam of Milpillas.
A project, which is on the one hand, the State Government from 2014 promising that, in addition to supplying water corridor urban center of the State, where key cities as Zacatecas and Fresnillo, will also bring progress, jobs and development, are located to the farming communities that pass through an aqueduct of over 167 km.
While, on the other hand, both Greece, such as the Observatory of mining conflicts, the rows, as well as hundreds of Ejido members, denounced the construction of the dam of Milpillas is a «mega project of death imposed by the security forces», which would have several negative effects.
One, which would cause «irreparable damage» to the river that supplies water to the community to harvest corn, beans, and peas. Two, which would put at risk of flooding and displacement the inhabitants of Atotonilco and all communities downstream, including the municipal seat Jiménez del Teul. And three, that notwithstanding the foregoing, this solo project would benefit mining companies with a multinational brewing that needs more water to continue selling their products.
«Many academics have already offered solutions to the problem of the supply of water in the area, but from 2014 to date, the State Government has not made any case. Therefore, rather seems that this project, in fact, is a business, and not a solution to the water problem», says Greece Rodriguez, in an interview with Political animal.
However, stresses Greece, denounce this in Mexico, involves taking a very high risk of, or be subjected to smear campaigns, or worn a target marked on the back.
«We are very concerned about the safety of the ejidatarios and the ejidatarias opposition to the project, and the defenders of water activists, since in Mexico are killing us only to say that we are not in accordance with a project», says Greece.
And the figures so bear this out.
Just last March, Amnesty International warned that, in just four months of the new Government of López Obrador, 15 environmental defenders have been killed in Mexico, more than half of those registered in all 2018, when counted 21 defenders killed and 49 attacks against her.
In fact, Rodrigo da Costa, Member of Amnesty International, told the newspaper La Jornada that Mexico occupies the second place of the countries of Latin America where there are more attacks against defenders of the land, second only to Colombia.
The public enemy
After receiving the funeral Crown, Greece was included in the mechanism of protection of defenders of human rights, although aggression, through multiple forms, not stopped.
For example, the past October 14, tells Greece who in the community El Potrero guest attended an Assembly among members about the project of the dam of Milpillas, when a group of State police officers, aboard 20 trucks, arrived, encircled ejidal salon , and wanted to take prey on the charge of «false statements» and «false identity».
«I told them: I can not bear because we are in a public space and not in an MP, so no I’m paying no statement.» And nor do I have to prove my identity.»
Still, in a video published on October 15 in conflicts miners of Zacatecas Observatory’s Facebook profile, it can be seen that a large group of police officers tried to stop it, between milestones and swipes to not record the scene.
«The Government of Zacatecas has become us the public enemy number one, saying that it is our fault that thousands of zacatecanos have no water», criticized the Member of the Observatory of mining conflicts and of the Mexican network of people affected by mining, the which also accuse the State Government of wanting to coerce with resources and benefits from social programs to the ejidatarios dissidents to approve the project.
A charge that the State Government has rejected several times; one of them, in September of last year, when according to local media picked up, the current Governor Alejandro Tello ruled out that his administration to manipulate the inhabitants from el ejido in the municipality of Jiménez de del Teul.
Delivery of pantries and props are not bribes, but supports that arose as a response to requests from the public, said the President, who in December last year headed a special in which Forum, said, «were called in plural way ejidatarios,» academics, specialists, and citizenship»to discuss this controversial project.
«If they take the River, we are nothing»
Sandra Miranda is associate of the ejidatarios of Atotonilco to Jimenez municipality of Teul and opposition to the dam project.
Together with a group of 60 women of ages ranging from 15 to 26, 32, 50 and until the 60’s, has led actions against builders who wanted to introduce heavy machinery to the River since last October.
«This opposition movement has been led by women and by men, but women have played a fundamental role,» says Miranda.
«Women got stopping machines not to enter into the river when they make the dam. We were opposite, and while we were verbally assaulted by the operators of the machines, we don’t remove»adds activist.
However, all these actions also had consequences for Sandra, who denounces having been subjected to police harassment and a campaign of vilification in local media.
«They try to intimidate us, frighten us, telling us, for example, that the Federal Police is on its way with an order to stop me. Or, on other occasions, State police, without any warning, stand guard outside my home. While, in others, they loose rumours for me badly with the communities, saying, for example, already had given me a million, which I had sold».
The latest accusation in local media, denounces Sandra, is that she led an attempt to retain against his will to a State official who last April 26, went to the ejido of Atotonilco to offer «social support» to the settlers, although the network Mexicana of mining-affected States, in fact, the official was to offer sweets to the children, scholarships, water tanks and ecological stoves to convince the ejidatarios that consent to the dam project.
«They accuse us of kidnappers. But in el ejido, the women do not carry weapons, even stones,»laughs Sandra.
In any case, says Sandra now more serious, they will continue the defense of water and opposition to the dam project.
By now, through the Observatory and the Mexican network of people affected by mining, have filed complaints to the public prosecutor in Sombrerete, by the invasion of machinery in ejidal property, have lodged complaints with the human rights commissions of Zacatecas and the national, and the Procuraduría Agraria Nacional, and have interposed resource of amparo and nullity actions, by the alleged falsification of signatures and acts of Assembly, by government officials.
«We will continue to fight for water – Sandra – concludes. Because if they take the River, we are nothing».
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