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That “Indian attack”

16 June 2010

A government media tour to promote tourism in southwestern Mexico went awry when machete-wielding Indians briefly kidnapped 13 reporters on the trip, officials said Sunday. Fifteen people trying to film a beer commercial were also abducted.

Nobody was harmed during the abductions…

Gustavo Ruiz, A.P.

When a group of travel writers and their film crew were detained by Nahua residents of Santa María Ostula, Municipio de Aguila, Michoacán earlier this week, it appeared the whole thing was a mistake… the Nahuas eventually releasing the travel reporters after determining that they weren’t the people the community meant to detain… a team filming beer commercials on Nahua land without permission.

This sounds like the plot for a sit-com, but the touchiness of those Nahuas is understandable and there is a tense situation.

In June 2009, the Nahua commune of Santa María Ostula won a forty-year old lawsuit against private land-owners over use of a thousand hectare plot within the commune, whose economic base is agriculture.  The day the court order was handed down, 200 armed men attacked the Nahua community.  In February of this year, the regidor (municipal council representative) for the community was kidnapped; in May, there was another incursion by masked gunmen; and in April  the commune’s administrative headquarters were attacked .

Of course, the foreign news reports start talking about things in Michoacán having little or nothing to do with this community (A.P mentioning that the state also includes the Monarch Butterfly preserve — which is sort of like mentioning something on Long Island, New York and mentioning Niagara Falls is in the same state), and including the obligatory references to narcotics growers… when the issue may be something much simpler.

Look at where the land in question is… It includes extensive “undeveloped” beach-frontage (which may be the reason the communal residents were so adamant about Modelo not using their properties without permission) and control of that particular resource is something corporate interests (like Modelo) are more likely to want to control than some narcotics dealer (although I imagine narcos would be interested in investing some money into new projects of the right kind).

If I lived there, I’d be wary of passing tourism reporters, too.

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