miércoles, mayo 06, 2009

Terror and Hope in Barra de Potosí

House Destroyed for 3rd Time
The evening of last April 18 thugs apparently working for the developer Interad S.A. de C.V. once again destroyed a small house located on property of the Garibo Vargas family at Cerro de Guamilule. This is the third time this has happened, yet the "responsible authorities" have so far done absolutely nothing even though the previous crimes were properly reported and various witnesses have attested whom they saw carrying them out. María Isabel Garibo Vargas reported the most recent crime and commented that in the absence of proper actions by the "responsible authorities" she is concerned what the response will be by her male family members since they certainly cannot be expected to sit on their hands and do nothing in the face of such cowardly criminal acts repeatedly committed against their family while the police and justice system do absolutely nothing.

Interad S.A. de C.V. has been trying for about two years to threaten and intimidate María Isabel and her family to abandon their property at Cerro de Guamilule that they have owned for generations. Interad allegedly obtained phony property title documents from a now deceased corrupt public official and for a hefty payment were allowed by the corrupt ex-mayor of Petatlán to use them to register in the Registro Agrario Nacional. There are so many problems with this case that it can only have gotten this far with the complicity of corrupt public officials. Nevertheless, the local community will not allow irresponsible and corrupt government officials to permit Interad to get away with this.

María Isabel named the Argentinian representative of Interad Roberto Mario Guala as well as Pedro Olea Bracamontes as alleged intellectual authors of the crimes, and thanks to the cooperation of numerous witnesses she further alleges that the recent destruction of her family's property was carried out by Interad's goons Aurelio Uribe Sánchez and Glodove Ríos Rumboand.

Corrupt Accomplices in Municipal Government of Petatlán
María Isabel Garibo Vargas and her family received more bad news this past weekend when the municipal government of Petatlán announced that Desarrolladora Interad S.A. de C.V. is the only one of the two parties in the conflict who have shown "official documents" that gives Interad title to the land in dispute. It would appear that Interad has bought the backing of the new municipal government just like they did the last one. Among other irregularities, the municipal government of Petatlán fails to mention in their statement that Interad's "official documents" allegedly list "José Azueta" as the municipio in which the property is located, not Petatlán where the property actually is. The leader of one of the local organizations aiding the Garibo Vargas family, the Unión Campesina Democrática (UCD), has discovered that Interad allegedly acquired forged titles from a now-deceased corrupt official who worked in the Secretaría de Reforma Agraria.

The Garibo Vargas family acquired title to the lands and have resided on and worked the land at Cerro de Guamilule since 1962. In the past when they have tried to gain an audience with the municipal authorities of Petatlán those authorities refused to receive them. Nevertheless, a local court in Zihuatanejo has already admitted that the Garibo Vargas presented correct documentation of land ownership. What the developer is trying to do is an old tried and true scam in Mexico of laying a paper trail to give the appearance of backing their claim. Part of that scam is carried out by convincing ($$$) Petatlán's municipal authorities to accept property tax payments in their name, thus giving them a receipt. This was nothing but a slick legal trick by Interad, but it still doesn't make their bogus title legit.

Apparently the "responsible authorities" at the state and federal levels are allowing this conflict to worsen by not intervening to clear this matter up once and for all but by allowing it to remain in the hands of notoriously and historically inept and corrupt municipal authorities. Neither the Secretaría de Medio Ambiente (Semarnat), nor the Procuradoría Federal de Protección al Ambiente (Profepa) nor the Procuradoría General de la República (PGR) have intervened to date. Just a few months ago Isabel Garibo delivered a case file to the Governor for the State of Guerrero, Zeferino Torreblanca Galindo who said he would help her, though to date that help has not materialized.

Proof of Ownership
On May 5th the spokesperson in Guerrero for the RedManglar Internacional, one of the organizations offering their support to the Garibo Vargas family, Hercilia Castro Balderas, displayed for local reporters the constancia ejidal (communal farmers certificate) which shows that the land in dispute belongs to the Garibo Vargas family. The documents are dated March 23, 2002 and they affirm that since 1962 Clemencia Vargas Mancilla and her 11 children have inhabited and worked the land in dispute.

Because the land is undeveloped ejido land the municipal government of Petatlán cannot charge or receive property tax payments for it since such ejido land is exempt from property taxes. Thus, the seven hundred thousand pesos that Interad paid to the municipal government of Antonio Armenta Milrario last year can only be considered a bribe disguised as a tax payment.

The Garibo Vargas family has the solid support of numerous local organizations and many local residents including my family. We will not stand idly by and watch corruption and injustice carried out with impunity against this humble and poor family. Those days are over. I have already received crazy e-mails from Interad representatives Pedro Olea B. and José M. Rodríguez. They have no idea what fires they have stoked that will most assuredly come back to burn them.

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