INDIGENOUS COMMUNITIES ON THE TEXAS-MEXICO BORDER INVESTIGATING HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS
Saturday, March 7, 2009, 9:57 a.m.
El Calaboz, TX, March 7. Dr. Eloisa G. Tamez, Lipan Apache, is talking with relatives and residents of the rancheria and collecting evidence related to her lands based upon reports from elder eyewitnesses who believe that the U.S. DHS/Contractors and U.S. Customs Border Patrol are encroaching upon the lands currently in dispute related to her legal case against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Customs Border Patrol and U.S. Army Corps Engineers to stop the construction of the Berlin-style wall on her ancestral lands. The construction of the wall, which now abuts Tamez’ land, is clearly disturbing sensitive vegetation, wildlife, riparian, religious and cultural resources near, on and to the north of the levee. In a telephone communique this morning, Tamez indicated that she is documenting the possible violations against a standing court order which protects the lands in the area of dispute until her jury trial in June 2009. The land in question is situated within the International Boundary zone, which is governed by international customary law with related ties to indigenous international law. Tamez made telephone calls to the representative of the International Water and Boundary Commission numerous times on Friday. She attempted to communicate to IBWC officials of potential violations by contractors and to remind IBWC of the land-grant landowners’ primary right-of-way in the dispute area. The IBWC failed to return her phone calls, nor has the IBWC provided a reasonable explanation as to why they have not processed her application to install a private property barrier across her section of the levee and riparian strip, an application which she filed more than nine months ago.
According to Tamez, the landowners of the original land grant have the first right of way to the land, resources, water and ecological and cultural resources. Tamez further insists that IBWC must consult land owners on all matters related to the levee and lands in question. According to Tamez, “the wall construction is now up to my property line on both sides–all the non-land grant peoples (those not descended from the original peoples) sold to the U.S. We’re surrounded. By building the wall on the north side of the levee–literally at the foot of the levee–the U.S. reveals a rushed and forced process to spend the money Chertoff awarded to contractors. They built the footer right on top of the flood zone–putting the entire levee behind the wall and trampling over the property rights of land owners in litigation. When this weight dissolves the levee in a major storm, will they then ingress further? This is entirely out of hand. This is an outrage. They are encroaching upon my land and the impact is damaging. The Border Patrol units and the machines of the contractors are numerous; the high level of traffic in the area is intense. Not only is this harmful, it is dangerous. The levee is in no condition to hold this massive structure. It is obvious that this is about greed, payoffs and spending down the taxpayer’s money in the final days of Chertoff’s control. It appears that the new IBWC director (appointed by Bush after the sudden death of the former IBWC director, Carlos Marin) and the U.S. contractors made deals without consulting the land owners, nor did those of us– in litigation against the construction of the wall– receive prior notice or free and prior informed consent. By authorizing the construction of the wall on the north side of the levee, the IBWC is in violation of long-standing international laws, indigenous peoples’ rights, human rights, and collective rights of indigenous peoples in El Calaboz. The customary laws of our community have protected lineal-descent land owners with Spanish land grant title.”
El Polvo, Texas, March 7. Jumano-Apache community members are calling for an emergency investigation into widespread human rights violations targeting specific Jumano-Apache families by the U.S. Customs Border Patrol/I.C.E./DHS in the small community of El Polvo, situated on the banks of the Rio Grande River near the Big Bend National Park. A recent series of armed invasions by U.S. government personnel into the living spaces of noncombatant, unarmed Jumano-Apache communities have struck terror into parents, elders and children. Members of the Jumano-Apache community cite human rights violations stemming from forced displacement of rural indigenous families which they claim is a direct result of U.S. Customs Border Patrol abuses, threats, and armed assaults deployed against the quiet, rural village of traditional farmers in recent months. In the past year, numerous attempts by community members to resist Border Patrol violations of property rights, indigenous rights, community rights and human rights have been met with retaliatory measures in this community which is designated as one of the poorest in the United States, according the the 2008 U.S. Census. Eyewitnesses in El Polvo connect the violations experienced to intensified militarization of the Texas-Mexico border wall construction, the war on terror, the war on drugs and the war on migrant workers.
Contact Eloisa G. Tamez (El Calaboz) at Eloisa.email@example.com
and April Cotte (El Polvo) at firstname.lastname@example.org