JOSE DOLORES CORDOVA HERNANDEZ, ex-commissioner of the Ejido Carrillo Puerto in Centla, Tabasco and a collaborator of Servicio Paz y Justicia (SERPAJ) Tabasco, disappeared on Thursday, December 3, according to the testimony given by his wife, Veronica May Ocana, to a public official in Centla. His leadership in efforts to defend ejido (communal) lands had resulted in harassment and threats. There are serious concerns for his physical safety.
PLEASE SEND MESSAGES - AS SOON AS POSSIBLE - ASKING MEXICAN AUTHORITIES TO THOROUGHLY INVESTIGATE HIS DISAPPEARANCE, TO GUARANTEE HIS PHYSICAL SECURITY, AND TO PROTECT THE RIGHTS OF EJIDO MEMBERS. (See Recommended Action below.)
During his tenure as governor of the Ejido Carrillo Puerto, Mr. Cordova Hernandez re-opened the books on an unsettled lawsuit involving a parcel of public land on which both the local grade school and high school are situated. The lawsuit was brought by the community of the Ejido when a large group of private landholders suddenly claimed the land as their own. As a result of his activism and staunch support of the community interests, Mr. Cordova Hernandez received numerous threats including a warrant for his arrest for "federal crimes." Members of the Lezcano Rodriguez family, the largest and most powerful of the private landholders, have been the most hostile towards Mr. Cordova Hernandez and are also believed to be the major influence leading to the warrant for his arrest.
During a visit to the home of Mr. Cordova Hernandez in June, human rights activists from the United States (including the Fellowship of Reconciliation) were told that police had been posted at night on the road near his house. He believed they were there in an attempt to find him alone and seize him. As the visitors were leaving his house, two people in civilian dress drove by slowly in front of the house, taking photographs of them.
On the morning of December 3, Mr. Cordova Hernandez left his house at dawn and traveled on a public bus headed towards the city of Villahermosa. It arrived in Villahermosa at 6:30 a.m. and a witness states that Mr. Cordova Hernandez mentioned he was visiting the city in order to visit his lawyer regarding the warrant for his arrest. He never reported to his lawyer's home however and has not been seen since leaving the bus station.
Family members reported the disappearance to authorities and conducted a search of all local hospitals, police stations, jails, and morgues, but as of December 9 no clues had been found. The case was given the following police code: A-RMPEC-III-1529.
Please send letters or faxes to the officials listed below, respectfully urging:
1) An urgent and thorough investigation of the disappearance of JOSE DOLORES CORDOVA HERNANDEZ until he is found and his physical security is guaranteed.
2) Official guarantees that the recognized authorities of the public land known as EJIDO CARRILLO PUERTO are able to safely carry out their duties and that legal actions be resolved in order to secure the continued survival and welfare of the ejido.
Send them to:
Lic. Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de Leon
Presidente de la Republica
06067 Mexico, DF
Fax: (001) (52) (5) 515-17-94
Lic. Roberto Madrazo Pintado
Governor of the State of Tabasco
Palacio de Gobierno
Fax: (001) (52) (93) 14-18-48 or 12-33-47
Send copies to:
Tabasco Human Rights Committee
Fax: (001) (52) (93) 12-83-62
Fellowship of Reconciliation Task Force on Latin America and the Caribbean
995 Market St. #1414, San Francisco, CA 94103
Tel: 415 495 6334 Fax: 415 495 5628