Special Report from Oaxaca by Frontera NorteSur, June 21, 2016
The June 19 government crackdown on striking Mexican teachers culminated in deadly violence in the southern state of Oaxaca, transforming a showdown between the Pena Nieto administration and the National Coordinator of Education Workers (CNTE) into a larger political crisis that once again cast Mexico in the international human rights spotlight.
Even as the controversy over the still-unresolved forced disappearance of the 43 Ayotzinapa college students in 2014 simmers on the world stage, the Oaxaca episode garnered fresh denunciations from non-governmental organizations and activists in Europe, South and Central America, Australia, and the United States. Jan Jarab, Mexico representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, condemned the latest violence.
Weeks of intensifying protests against federal government’s 2013 education reform, which many public school teachers and their supporters oppose as an infringement on labor rights and a step toward privatization, took a violent turn Sunday, June 19, when federal and state police attempted to dislodge CNTE members and supporters from the town of Nochixtlan, Oaxaca. Continue reading →
By Frontera NorteSur, Censored News, Friday, October 10, 2014
Swelling outrage over a police massacre and the forced disappearance of scores of students swept Mexico and the world this week.
Tens of thousands of demonstrators demanded justice for six people killed September 26 and 27 by municipal police officers and paramilitary gunmen in Iguala, Guerrero, as well as the safe return of 43 Mexican students from the Raul Isidro Burgos Rural Teachers College of Ayotzinapa reported kidnapped and disappeared by the same aggressors.
“Your dignified rage is our rage,” stated a communiqué from the general command of the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN), shortly before 20,000 masked Zapatistas staged a silent march October 8 through the streets of San Cristobal de las Casas in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas.
On the other side of the country, hundreds of people marched in Ciudad Juarez in the biggest local demonstration of its kind in more than three years. The demonstration was led by students from Ayotzinapa’s sister school of Saucillo, Chihuahua. At the march’s conclusion protesters blockaded the Bridge of the Americas connecting Juarez with neighboring El Paso, Texas, for a half-hour on the evening of October 8.
The Mexican Consulate in New York has been occupied by the Movimiento por Justicia en el Barrio in solidarity with five political prisoners from the community of Bachajón, Chiapas. On February 3, Chiapas state police raided the community and arrested 117 people. After worldwide protests erupted in response, the government released 112 of the prisoners. But five remain in jail, facing charges of murder or attempted murder.
The Bachajón Zapatista supporters are adherents to the Other Campaign, which was initiated by the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN) in order to form national and global alliances amongst leftist organizations and movements.
The arrests stem from a confrontation between rival indigenous groups that occurred the previous day in San Sebastian Bachajón, which is an ejido, or communally held lands. Marcos García Moreno, an ejido member who belonged to the faction that allied itself with the government, was shot and killed during the confrontation with ejido members who are Other Campaign adherents. The government accuses the Other Campaign adherents of murdering García Moreno and attempting to murder a second man who was shot during the confrontation. The Other Campaign adherents deny the charges. They say they were unarmed, and that the government-allied ejido members were shooting guns into the air during the confrontation.
The government has attempted to paint the conflict as a dispute between rival indigenous factions over control of a tollbooth that charges a fee to enter the Agua Azul waterfalls, one of Chiapas’ most popular tourist attractions. However, the Bachajón adherents and their lawyers at the Fray Bartolome de las Casas Human Rights Center (“Frayba”) say that they have proof that the tollbooth confrontation was designed to provoke government intervention and police occupation of the region. The Bachajón adherents argue that the government orchestrated the confrontation at the tollbooth “as a pretext to take over the Agua Azul Waterfalls Ecotourism Center for its transnational interests and projects.” Continue reading →
Written by Peter Watt and Alba Cruz, Upside Down World, 11 November 2010
Following the 2006 uprising in the city of Oaxaca in southern Mexico, the official crackdown on dissidents, social movements and human rights defenders reached unprecedented proportions. Human rights organizations note with alarm that the presence of around 50,000 military and police personnel patrolling the streets and controlling much of civilian life – often under the pretext of a war on narcotrafficking – has made Oaxaca and the rest of Mexico increasingly dangerous.
Alba Cruz, a human rights lawyer working with the Comité de Liberación 25 de Noviembre de Oaxaca, has experienced the climate of fear and intimidation first-hand. Since taking on over 100 cases relating to human rights violations in Oaxaca, which include the murder, torture and forced disappearance of activists, continual threats have been made to her personal safety. She represented Juan Manuel Martínez Moreno, the man wrongly convicted (and subsequently released in February 2010) of the murder of US independent journalist and political activist, Brad Will. Eyewitness accounts suggest that Will was shot by police dressed in civilian clothing.
Outside the Middle East, Mexico is now the recipient of the United States’ largest foreign aid program. After numerous declarations from civic and human rights groups that the program – the Mérida Initiative – closely emulates Plan Colombia, an aid program which allowed Colombia to become the most flagrant violator of human rights in the Western Hemisphere, US Congress blocked release of the funds to Mexico unless the administration of Felipe Calderón could prove it was committed to protecting human rights and investigating alleged violations. The prosecution of Martínez, who was released this year after Cruz and the Comité de Liberación 25 de Noviembre de Oaxaca presented evidence which demonstrated that he could not have murdered fellow activist, Brad Will, was a particularly cynical attempt to secure the funds of the Mérida Initiative, while justice for the real killers remains elusive. Continue reading →
Demonstration of the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca (APPO) in 2006
Weekly Update on the Americas, October 26, 2010
Two unidentified men shot and killed Catarino Torres Pereda, general secretary of the Citizen Defense Committee (Codeci), at the indigenous rights group’s office in Tuxtepec in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca on the afternoon of Oct. 22. The murderers escaped in a car waiting for them nearby.
In the evening members of Codeci and other organizations protested the assassination with a demonstration at the Alameda de León plaza in the city of Oaxaca, the state capital.
Codeci was part of the protest movement against Oaxaca governor Ulises Ruiz Ortiz that shut down much of the state for five months in 2006, and Torres was one of the first activists to be detained in the wave of repression Ruiz Ortiz used to fight the movement. Federal and state police arrested Torres on Aug. 6, 2006, and he was held in the Almoloya de Juárez federal prison until his release on bail on Mar. 8, 2007.
Torres continued his work for indigenous rights, and this year he participated in the Free Oaxaca State Democratic Convention, which supported coalition gubernatorial candidate Gabino Cué Monteagudo, who defeated Eviel Pérez Magaña, the candidate of the centrist Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and Gov. Ruiz’s chosen successor. According to Tania Santillán, a Codeci leader, the assassins were wearing shirts with election propaganda for Pérez Magaña. (La Jornada (Mexico) 10/23/10) Continue reading →
On Tuesday morning, the world awoke to the news that a mudslide had buried 80% of Tlahuitoltepec, Oaxaca, a municipality of 10,000 people. Tearful
Tlahuitoltepec officials told the press that 300-500 people were feared buried under the mud, while Oaxaca’s Governor Ulises Ruiz Ortiz placed the number of possible deaths at “up to 1,000.”
The federal government deployed the military and federal police to the zone, and even the United States offered its assistance in digging out Tlahuitoltepec residents. Now, as more rescue crews are gaining access to the municipality, the government has toned down its assessment of the damage. Eleven people are reported missing, with no confirmed deaths.
However, rescue crews have still not reached six communities in Tlahuitoltepec. Electricity and phone service are down in the majority of the municipality, and many roads are covered with debris or have washed away.
Regardless of its final death toll, the disaster was foreseeable and highlights the deadly consequences of the state’s notorious, rampant corruption in public works. Continue reading →