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Friday, May. 11, 2001 at 7:34 PM
800 families removed from a small comunity near the huinday factory in Tijuana.
800 families forcefully removed from an ejido in Tijuana
by Juan F. Pazos, 5/9/01
Combined units from the Police and Army, about 600 of them, proceeded to
forcefully remove 800 families from the Ejido Francisco Villa this morning
in Tijuana. The first radio and television reports raised fears on
supporters from the American side that Maclovio Rojas was the actual target. After a telephone conversation with Hortensia Hernandez, it was confirmed
that the eviction was limited to the 180 hectares of this neighboring Ejido located next to the Huinday plant.
"These poor people moved in a few months ago, and Saturday's incident was
the perfect excuse for this. These people have nothing. They took over this national land in order to begin building their homes" explains Hortensia. On Saturday, there was a death reported when an outside group attempted to invade a section of this disputed land creating a violent confrontation. Hortensia points to a tactic used by the interests outside the community who send in " un grupo de choque" in order to create a destabilizing situation, and justifying the intervention of the local authorities. These actions usually favor the side who is after the control of the land in order to create a profitable development.
With local municipal elections a month away, Hortensia points to further complications; "these people are caught in a political game where the local PANista government is using the current situation to undermine the campaign of a current PRD candidate who is being accused of sending in the group." This is just one of the many issues involved in the maze that the regularization of the ownership of ejidos, national property held in common, and other disputed lands has generated within the country. These are common occurrences in the history of Tijuana which have increased in last decade with the population explosion.
There are few options for these 800 families. The price tag for a new lot in a neighboring development is about ,000--which none can afford. Ejidos, like Maclovio Rojas, provide another choice since the lots are free of charge to people who are able to verify they don't own land, and are willing to commit to living there without renting, or sale and mortgage of the property without the Assembly's permission. But this community is currently involved on a 13 year-old battle to legitimize their property and community rights. It has resulted, among other things, in the refusal of local agencies to provide all the basic services to a population of about 2,000 families.
Another option is to "parachute," once again, into land belonging to the country and that's not being use. According to Artemio Osuna, the other visible figure in Maclovio, there are 240,000 hectares within the triangle of Tijuana, Ensenada, and Tecate that belong to the nation, and are being usurped by a few politicians and land developers, who continue to profit while the rest suffers.
Small communities like Francisco Villa, Maclovio Rojas, and San Quintin continue their battle to maintain the few hundred hectares they currently call home. Meanwhile, the lucrative business of real state development and its influence on local politics creates further misery for these people. Reports suggest that other communities in Mexicali and Ensenada are trying to attract more people to their current ejidos in order to protect themselves from forceful removal.
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