Mexican peasants seize farm linked to Salinas family (fwd)
spoons at jefferson.village.Virginia.EDU
Sun May 19 17:47:29 MDT 1996
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Date: Sun, 19 May 1996 10:26:38 -0500 (CDT)
From: Chegitz Guevara <mluziett at shrike.depaul.edu>
To: "lists -- Conference iww.news" <iww-news at igc.apc.org>,
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Subject: Mexican peasants seize farm linked to Salinas family (fwd)
Marc, "the Chegitz," Luzietti
personal homepage: http://shrike.depaul.edu/~mluziett
political homepage: http://shrike.depaul.edu/~mluziett/chegitz.html
Mexican peasants seize farm linked to Salinas family
By Rene Villegas
TEPOZTLAN, Mexico, May 15 (Reuter) - For frustrated and poor
peasants in this rural community, the real target of their ire,
former Mexican President Carlos Salinas de Gortari, is out of
their reach. He was forced into exile in disgrace.
But something they could get their hands on -- an elegant
country estate belonging to Salinas' brother-in-law -- was there
for the taking. So this week they took it.
Hundreds of impoverished Mexicans have occupied the
62-square-mile (100-square-km) property since Sunday, painting
on the front gate ``House of the People'' and hunkering down by
digging ditches across roads leading there.
The property, about 50 miles (80 km) south of Mexico City,
legally belongs to Guillermo Occelli, who is the brother of
Salinas's wife, Cecilia Occelli. But the peasants who took it
over claim the real owner is Salinas.
``It's been in the hands of the people since Sunday,'' one
protestor told Reuters.
The occupation occurred peacefully but nonetheless startled
the owner and relatives and friends who were lounging around the
pool area, protesters said.
``They were given 15 minutes to leave the property and they
did so without problems or violence,'' said Jose Gonzalez Meza,
a lawyer for the protestors.
Protestors also say it was inappropriately obtained from
the government's communal property system and they plan to take
it back for good, hoping to turn it into a luxury hotel to raise
money for the desperately poor communities nearby.
``Our protest has to do mainly with Carlos Salinas de
Gortari for embezzlement and influence trafficking,'' Jose
Gonzalez Meza, a lawyer for the protesters, told Reuters.
Gonzalez said the property was worth 500 million pesos,
about $67 million.
``The brother-in-law Occelli never put together even $10
million in his life,'' Gonzalez said.
Salinas fled Mexico a year ago after his brother, Raul, was
arrested on suspicion of masterminding a political murder.
Investigators later found more than $100 million in a Swiss bank
account registered to Raul Salinas, who held a post in his
brother's government from 1988 to 1994.
The mansion gives the impression of fabulous wealth, if not
for its size alone but also for the swimming pool, Mediterranean
architecture and three ornamental fountains spouting cascades of
It also has an artificial lake, tennis courts, verdant
gardens and jacuzzis in three of its 10 bedrooms.
Most of the peasants, estimated at up to 2,000 strong, are
>from the nearby town of El Sarco, which has no running water or
The protesters filed a complaint with the government seeking
the return of the estate to the communal property system eight
months ago but upon seeing no progress decided on the ``peaceful
and temporary occupation,'' Gonzalez said.
Occelli in turn has put in a claim to have the peasants
removed by police, the Mexico City daily Reforma reported on
The protesters said they plan to remain there until the
Attorney General's office rules on the matter.
``This is part of the cancer of corruption in Mexico,''
Reuter N:Copyright 1996, Reuters News Service
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