By Kathy Glatz
Since May 2, 1999, Mexican anti-logging activists and farmers Rodolfo Montiel and Teodoro Cabrera have been in a prison in Iguala, the capital of the state of Guerrero, Mexico, for their efforts to protect one of the last frontier forests in North America.
After their arrests by the military, Montiel and Cabrera were beaten, threatened at gunpoint and gruesomely tortured by members of the 40th Infantry Battalion of the Mexican Army. The two activists were forced to confess to trumped-up charges of drug trafficking and illegal possession of weapons.
Two months after their arrests, Montiel and Cabrera obtained legal representation from a non-profit group of human rights lawyers based in Mexico City. Soon after taking over the case, the director of the legal team of Centro Prodh, Ms. Digna Ochoa, was kidnapped and threatened by several masked men. Other members of the Centro Prodh have received several death threats over the past six months, possibly in connection to this case.
Both Rodolfo and Teodoro continue to suffer health problems which, according to doctors, are a consequence of the beatings and torture to which they were submitted.
Meanwhile, reports from local environmentalists in the state indicate that logging continues to destroy the old growth forests in the region, where more than 50 percent of the logging is illegal. According to several sources that have visited the region, most of the hardwoods leave the Sierra Madre and are transported to Washington State by truck.
On an uplifting note, Montiel recently told a close friend and fellow environmentalist Alejandro Villamar that he would "continue to work and lead the 'Grupo de Campesinos Ecologistas'" to fight the rampant destruction of the forests.
For more information or to sign up for the Human Rights and the Environment Campaign, please contact Sam Parry, (202) 675-7907; or locally, Natasha at Amnesty International, Boulder. Web site
National Sierra Club's Alejandro Queral will be visiting the Denver area sometime in April. He will speak to the public on this issue. If anyone has ideas of great places to speak to receptive audiences in English and Spanish, or wants to assist in these events, please contact Kathy Glatz, 303-922-3425. We also have materials and videos in the RMC office to lend to folks who want to do a program on these issues.
The case is now in the last stages of the hearing process, after which the trial and sentencing phase will begin. We must increase the international pressure on the Mexican government as well as on local officials. This is a crucial time to write to Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo, Guerrero State Governor, Rene Juarez Cisneros, and Attorney General Jorge Madrazo Cuellar. A sample letter can be found on our Web site (Remember: a 1 ounce letter to Mexico costs about $0.46)
President Ernesto Zedillo
c/o Ambassador Jesús Reyes-Heroles
Embassy of Mexico
1911 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20006
Lic. Jorge Madrazo Cuellar,
Procurador General de la República Paseo de la Reforma 65, Esq. Violeta,
México, D.F., 06300.
Dr. José Luis Soberanes,
Presidente de la Comisión Nacional de Derechos Humanos Periférico
Sur 3469, 5º Piso
Col San Jerónimo Lídice.
México, D.F. 10200.
Mtra.Julia Carabias Lillo,
Secretaria del Medio Ambiente Recursos Naturales y Pesca Periférico
Sur 4209, Sexto Piso,
Colonia Jardines de la Montaña,
México, D. F. 14210.
April 2000 Online Newsletter - Peak & Prairie Home Page - Rocky Mountain Chapter Home Page