Criminal charges which could be laid in connection with a land occupation; reports of land disputes occurring in the vicinity of a nature reserve in Ajusco; whether the Francisco Villa Popular Front (Frente Popular Francisco Villa, FPFV) was involved in any such disputes (2000-November 2001) [MEX37951.E]

According to two reports published by the Mexico City newspaper Excelsior, individuals brought to court in connection with cases of illegal land occupation would generally be charged with the crime of [translation] "dispossession" (despojo) (19 Aug. 1996; ibid. 13 Sept. 1999), which is punishable by imprisonment of between three months and five years and by a fine of between 50 and 500 pesos [between CDN$8.62 and CDN$86.2] (Mexico 14 Aug. 1931). Furthermore, under the terms of Article 395 of the Federal Criminal Code (Código Penal Federal), individuals who repeatedly [translation] "promote the dispossession of urban properties in the Federal District" are liable to a prison term of between two and nine years (ibid.).

In September 1999, members of the Party of the Democratic Revolution (Partido de la Revolución Democrática, PRD) sitting in the Federal District Legislative Assembly introduced a proposal to stiffen penalties against those found guilty of selling, occupying or renting properties located in [translation] "ravines" (barrancas) or protected areas of the Federal District (Excelsior 13 Sept. 1999). Under the proposed reforms, individuals found guilty of such acts would be liable to a maximum prison term of 12 years and a fine of more than 170,000 pesos [CDN$29,308] (ibid.). No information on whether this proposal resulted in any changes to the legislation could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

Several reports refer to charges being brought against persons allegedly involved in illegal land occupation; examples follow.

In a 1999 report, the Nuevo León state government indicated that action was being taken against those carrying out [translation] "land invasions and the exploitation of marginalized families." Of 18 cases brought against individuals allegedly involved in such acts, nine charges of dispossession and nine of fraud had been laid by the authorities (ibid.).

On 1 April 2001, Mario Alvarez Rodríguez, leader of the United Workers Central (Central Unitaria de Trabajadores, CUT) in the State of Chiapas, was detained and charged with dispossession in connection with the occupation of a 532 hectare property in the municipality of Palenque by 50 peasant families (La Jornada 15 Apr. 2001). No additional information on this case could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

In June 2001, law enforcement personnel in Chiapas took part in an operation to remove individuals from land they had previously occupied in Tapachula, Huehuetán and Suchuiate (ibid. 4 June 2001). While 130 individuals were arrested in the operation, a spokesperson for the state prosecutor's office indicated that charges of dispossession and [translation] "damages" (daños) would be brought only against the group's leaders (ibid.). No additional information on this case could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

Ajusco, located in the district of Tlalpan, contains one of Mexico City's principal forest zones (Gaceta de UNAM 28 Oct. 1999). In 1989, the Mexico City Ecological Park (Parque Ecológico de la Ciudad de México) was established on Ajusco Hill (cerro del Ajusco) (El Universal 12 Apr. 2001). The authorities reportedly expropriated 727 hectares of land for the purpose of creating this park (ibid.).

No reports of land disputes in Ajusco between 2000 and 2001 could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate. However, individuals have occupied land in an irregular fashion in this region (ibid.; La Jornada 3 Jan. 1998), including protected areas (ibid.). On 17 October 2000, the Mexico City newspaper La Jornada claimed that approximately half the land allocated to eight national parks in the Federal District, including Ajusco Hill, had been lost to land invasions, squatter settlements, real estate speculation and [translation] "disorderly" urban development.

Furthermore, in early 2001, individuals described as [translation] "professional land invaders" started a series of fires in Tlalpan district, including one on 6 April 2001 in protected areas of Ajusco which damaged 20 hectares of land (ibid. 11 Apr. 2001). According to La Jornada, the fires were being set in order to facilitate subsequent land invasions and sale of the properties (ibid.). The Tlalpan district chief, Gilberto López y Rivas, claimed that groups linked to the PRD or Party of Institutional Revolution (Partido Revolucionario Institucional, PRI) may be behind the fires, adding that the district had launched a [translation] "special operation" in concert with law enforcement authorities and the Secretariat of the Environment (Secretaría del Medio Ambiente) in order to prevent the recurrence of such acts (ibid.). No additional information on this case could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

No mention of any activities by individuals linked to the Francisco Villa Popular Front (Frente Popular Francisco Villa, FPFV) in the Ajusco region could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Excelsior [Mexico City]. 13 September 1999. Ethel Riquelme. "Cárcel hasta por 12 años a quienes vendan y ocupen predios en áreas de reserva del DF." [Accessed 27 Nov. 2001]

_____. 19 August 1996. Alberto Rocha. "Entre 50% y 60% de los habitantes de la zona metropolitana ocuparon predios ilegalmente." [Accessed 27 Nov. 2001]

Gaceta de UNAM [Mexico City]. 28 October 1999. Pía Herrera Vázquez. "Presenta la Delegación de Tlalpan programa de protección ambiental para el Ajusco." [Accessed 27 Nov. 2001]

La Jornada [Mexico City]. 4 June 2001. Angeles Mariscal. "Se acabaron las invasiones de terrenos en Chiapas: Zebadúna." [Accessed 27 Nov. 2001]

_____. 15 April 2001. Angeles Mariscal. "Pablo Salazar no tolerará ninguna invasión más de tierras en Chiapas." [Accessed 27 Nov. 2001]

_____. 11 April 2001. Bertha Teresa Ramirez. "Zonas de reserva en Tlalpan, en la mira de invasores profesionales." [Accessed 27 Nov. 2001]

_____. 17 October 2000. Raúl Llanos Samaniego. "Hay 709 asentamientos en zonas ecológicas: informe." [Accessed 27 Nov. 2001]

_____. 3 January 1998. Ricardo Olayo. "En 9 meses de 97, 7.7 invasiones de predios al día en el Distrito Federal." [Accessed 27 Nov. 2001]

Mexico. 14 August 1931. Código Penal Federal. [Accessed 27 Nov. 2001]

Nuevo León. 1999. "Segundo informe del gobierno." [Accessed 27 Nov. 2001]

El Universal [Mexico City]. 12 April 2001. Alberto Cuenca. "Poco control en áreas ecológicas." [Accessed 27 Nov. 2001]

Additional Sources Consulted

Delegación de Tlalpan.

IRB databases.

Latin American Regional Reports: Mexico & NAFTA Report [London]. Jan. 2000-Oct. 2001.


Internet sites including:

La Crónica de Hoy [Mexico City]. 2001.

Fundación Amigos del Ajusco.

Gaceta [Mexico City]. 1997-2001.

El Informador [Guadalajara]. 2001.

La Jornada [Mexico City]. 1996-2001.

La Neta.

Procuraduría General de la República (PGR).

Secretaría de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (SEMARNAT).

World News Connection (WNC).