Mexico: Mass evictions of poor

March 20, 2010

At 8am on February 17, 100 families were evicted from the Nuevo Sol housing estate, leaving its inhabitants without a roof over their heads. That morning, an individual appeared without legal written orders accompanied by 200 police, trained dogs and bulldozers to carry out the eviction.

The housing is located in Santiago de la Pena, in the Tuxpan municipality in Veracruz state. Those living there had occupied (squatted) it for more than a decade under the constitutional principle that people who peacefully occupy government or untitled land are to be awarded legal possession of those lands after 10 years.

In circumstances where a group's displacement is deemed necessary and legal, they are entitled to receive equivalent accommodation and security of their possessions.

However, powerful people belonging to the ruling caste have become involved. Judges have been bribed, lands-office documents falsified and access to public information denied. Illegal arrests, incarcerations and intimidation have been regularly used.

Clemente Salinas Paredes, who fraudulently claims ownership over the disputed land, says the poor need to be removed because they are "ugly poor people just giving an ugly face to the community".

Salinas has promised the wider public he will construct a five-star hotel, creating wealth, employment and opportunities to get popular backing.

Duvan, a six-year-old former resident who was born on the estate, said: "So why we cannot stay, if we are people too?"

The affected families are looking for the restitution of all their losses. They are seeking compensation for furniture, belongings, building material and time spent building the homes taken from them and destroyed.

They made the Veracruz governor Fidel Herrera Beltran responsible for any personal attack (injuries or death) they may find themselves the target of.

These people, who live on the margins of society, need the restitution of their legal rights.

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