Manuel Martínez Bautista, a 60-year-old Nahuatl indigenous farmer from Crisolco, in the municipality of Yahualica in Hidalgo, was found dead on his land at 4.00pm on 24 December 2018. He had been attacked with a machete. While state and municipal authorities did attend the scene of the crime, they did not carry out a full investigation.
The Network for the Defense of Human Rights (RDDH) suggested that his murder could be connected to an inter-community conflict relating to land dispossession. Members of the neighbouring community of Pachiquitla, in the municipality of Xochiatipan, had formed a “task force” to dispossess 74 hectares of land from inhabitants of Crisolco with the support of municipal, state and federal authorities. In response, inhabitants from Crisolco joined forces to recover this land along with other plots of land, totalling 200 hectares.
The inhabitants of Crisolco reported that Álvaro Gómez, the secretary of the town council in Yahualica, mentioned that he had received orders from the state government to resolve the agrarian conflict on condition that they did not unite independently and that if they did so, there would be consequences.
On 12 November, six weeks before the murder of Manuel Martínez Bautista, Celerino González, an indigenous farmer, was illegally detained for more than 12 hours by inhabitants of Pachiquitla, together with state and municipal police, during which time he was tortured and received death threats, both personally and against the inhabitants of Crisolco, if they did not leave the disputed land.
The Huastecas and Sierra Oriental Human Rights Committee and the National Network for Defense of Human Rights (CODHHSO-ReNDDH) have denounced these acts and have called for a prompt and full investigation and that those responsible be brought to justice.
Source: La Jornada / Viento de Libertad / FNLS
Source (Photo): Zunoticia