New Criminal Charge Filed Against Indigenous Land Defender in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec

David Hernández Salazar during an assembly of the National Indigenous Congress in March of 2023. Photo: Aldo Santiago

The Secretariat of Infrastructure, Communications, and Transportation recently filed a legal complaint against the Indigenous Binnizá, David Hernández Salazar, for the crime of damage to public roads and highways. Salazar has been active in the struggle against the construction of an industrial park of the Interoceanic Corridor megaproject in his community of Puente Madera, in the municipality of San Blas Atempa, in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, Oaxaca. He was notified on October 18, 2023 of the new charge.


The complaint was filed by legal representatives of the Secretariat of Infrastructure, Communications, and Transportation before the National Attorney General’s Office. The human rights defender is required to appear in court for his initial hearing on December 1, 2023. According to the human rights organizations Front Line Defenders and RED TDT, Salazar and his lawyers do not have any additional information regarding the legal complaint.


Salazar, who is part of the Assembly of Indigenous Peoples of the Isthmus in Defense of Land and Territory (APIIDTT), is facing another criminal charge filed by the municipality of San Blas Atempa, along with certain individuals. That complaint is filed at the Regional District Attorney’s Office of the Isthmus, located in Tehuantepec.


There are 17 outstanding arrest warrants against Indigenous men and women of Puente Madera related to that case. The next hearing will be on Tuesday, November 7.


You might be interested in- In Defense of the Isthmus: The Persistent Struggle Against the Interoceanic Corridor.


On March 14, 2021, the Indigenous Binnizá community of Puente Madera began a struggle in defense of their common use lands, known as El Pitayal, against the construction of an industrial park. They demand their community autonomy and self-determination.


“During a civil observation mission, in July of 2023, 23 national and international civil society organizations visited the Binnizá community. We denounced the acts of criminalization and defamation against 17 human rights defenders in Puente Madera for their organizing work against the industrial park, also known as Development Poles for Wellbeing (PODEBI), of the Interoceanic Corridor in San Blas Atempa. This criminalization includes the human rights defender, David Hernández Salazar,” the organizations RED TDT and Front Line Defenders explain in a communique.


In another communique, the organizations pertaining to the Front of Oaxacan Organizations (FORO) denounced the actions of criminalization against Salazar “as part of the campaign of defamation, harassment, persecution, and threats on part of the three levels of government, state institutions, SEDENA (Secretariat of National Defense), political party organizations, politicians, and businessmen who are interested in the imposition” of the industrial park in the common use lands of San Blas Atempa.


In the communique, the organizations demand the charges against Salazar and other members of the community of Puente Madera be dismissed and their human rights be guaranteed.

Human Rights Defender

David Hernández Salazar is a human rights defender and representative of the community of Puente Madera. He is also a member of the general coordination of the Assembly of Indigenous Peoples of the Isthmus in Defense of Land and Territory (APIIDTT). Since 2017, he has been actively involved in the struggle to defend the common use lands known as El Pitayal, which at the time were being threatened by the extraction of materials in Cero Igú and by the installation of an electric substation. As a member of the APIIDTT, since 2021, Salazar has represented the Indigenous Binnizá community of Puente Madera in defense of their territorial rights and self-determination, against the installation of one of the industrial parks of the Interoceanic Corridor, in the common use lands of San Blas Atempa, Oaxaca.

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