Friday, March 19, 2010

Urgent: SME Under Siege in Hidalgo, Violent Repression Feared

1,5000 Federal Police Have the Juandho Community Surrounded and are
Raiding Houses, Town's Electricity Has Been Cut

by Kristin Bricker

[An update on the current situation in Juandho, Hidalgo, is available here.]

The town of Juandho, Hidalgo, has been under siege since yesterday, when
members of the Mexican Electrical Workers Union (SME) hung strike banners
on their former workplaces as part of the national strike in support of
the SME. The SME reports that the town's electricity went out last night.
During the night, hundreds of federal police arrived. There are now
between 1,000 and 1,500 federal police surrounding the town. The police
presence is overwhelming: Tetepango county, where the Juandho community is
located, has about 9,000 residents.

At approximately 3am this morning, federal police began raiding houses in
search of SME leaders. SME Central Committee member Gregorio Paredes and
his family are in hiding because federal police have burst into several
homes looking for him. SME members Diego Sánchez Mendoza, Sergio Mendoza
Rivera, and Adrian Monroy Mejía have been detained and beaten. The SME
reports that dozens of people have been disappeared.

The SME's Secretary General, Martin Esparza, is from Juandho and his
family lives there.

Tensions in Juandho began yesterday when SME members blockaded the the Luz
y Fuerza complex in Juandho:

SME members and supporters blocked the entrance to the Juandho LyFC
complex with piles of dirt. According to El Universal, "This angered
the federal police, leading to a confrontation." The police fired
tear gas and pepper spray at the crowd, and fired live rounds into the
air. El Universal reports that following the repression,
approximately three police helicopters and 400 federal police arrived
on the scene to drive back protesters.

Following the police repression, floodgates that guard a canal of raw
sewage were opened, flooding the LyFC complex and the police inside.
At the time of publication, it has not been confirmed how the
floodgates opened. However, the flood seems to have incapacitated the
police--reports from Juandho indicate that the SME still holds its
blockade of the LyFC complex there.

Media and human rights organizations began to arrive in Juandho last
night. SME leaders are expected to arrive in Juandho today with
representatives from the Mexican government's National Human Rights
Commission. The SME invites national and international human rights
organizations, union leaders, and social and political organizations to
come to Juandho "to mobilize and stop this miserable fascist policy of
criminalizing electricians' just social struggle." It also calls upon
international supporters to hold emergency protests outside Mexican
consulates and embassies.

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