January 2007 – from Edinburgh Chiapas Solidarity Group: The New Year has seen more brutal repression in Oaxaca, including the murder of teacher Enriqueta Santiago Santiago by a death squad after her abduction on 12th January.
Resistance such as street and prison demos is continuing (though with fewer people than earlier) while indigenous Triquis have declared an autonomous municipality. A “megamarch” has been called for 3 February in Oaxaca City.
BREAKING THE SIEGE OF OAXACA
An article in Indymedia Chiapas reports 10,000 people marched in Oaxaca City on 10 January, aiming at breaking the siege imposed by the Federal Police occupation.
The demo was headed by the families of the prisoners of the struggle. Those jailed include 16 women in the Tlacolula prison, and 19 men in Miahuatlán jail.
PROTEST AT POLICE ATTACK ON PRISON PICKET
3,000 sympathisers of APPO (Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca) and the grass-roots movement took to the streets of Oaxaca City on 14 January to protest at the violent eviction of the picket outside the prison of Miahuatlan de Porfiro Diaz, and to demand the liberation of the12 demonstrators arrested that day.
The prison picket, in solidarity with prisoners jailed during the struggle in Oaxaca, was violently attacked by police on 13 January. This followed a march to the prison by the Committee of Families of People Assassinated, Disappeared and Political Prisoners of Oaxaca (COFADAPPO).
Conflict broke out after a man started filming the protestors. When demonstrators asked what he was doing, he ran away, then turned and threatened the protestors with a knife. The man was a policeman, and the police claimed he was attacked by the demonstrators – a claim they deny.
Following this episode, the police attacked the picket, arresting 7 people; a further 5 were arrested during the march.
(source La Jornada, Mexican daily, 15 Jan.)
ON THE STREETS AGAIN
Demonstrators marched in Oaxaca City on 17 January to demand the dismissal of state governor Ulises Ruis Ortiz, the removal of the Federal Preventative Police (PFP) from the State of Oaxaca, and freedom for all the ‘political prisoners and prisoners of conscience.’
The protest was called by the Committee of Families of People Assasinated, Disappeared and Political Prisoners of Oaxaca (COFADAPPO), due to the government´s failure to fulfill the agreement to free all those imprisoned, by the end of 2006. The numbers involved were variously reported as between ‘hundreds’ and ‘three thousand’.
The protestors heard of two recent arrests of activists, and that teacher Enriqueta Santiago Santiago, 47, had been seized by paramilitaries on 12 January in Tlaxiaco, Mixteca and had since been found dead, shot six times. At the end of the demo, police arrested 8 demonstrators, including Ramiro Martinez Caballero of the Oaxaca Zapatista Network and Eduardo of the Autonomous Block of Libertarian Resistance, both adherents to The Other Campaign. In addition the CIPO – RFM group denounce new threats against their house in the neighbourhood of Santa Lucia del Camino, Oaxaca City.
The day before, on 16 January, 23 year old APPO activist Juan Carlos García Cruz, was abducted, presumably by pro-government paramilitaries.
(Note – CIPO-RFM = Popular Indigenous Council of Oaxaca, ‘Ricardo Flores Magon’. Ricardo Flores Magon was a prominent anarchist activist at the time of the Mexican Revolution)
(source La Jornada 18.1.07, CIPO-RFM article)
TRIQUIS DECLARE AUTONOMY
Indigenous Triquis have announced the creation of the autonomous municipality of San Juan Copala in Oaxaca state.
A Triqui spokesperson said: ‘In recent months 10 of our comrades have been murdered……The attackers were paramilitary groups of the State Government.’ He went on to say that the autonomous municipality was already in being, and that they sought harmony and peace for their peoples, and to work against their marginalisation, a situation which the state government forced them into.
APPO have declared : ‘APPO recognises and backs the decision of our brothers the Triquis to disown the local authorities which have been imposed on them, to organise themselves and form, from 1 January 2007, the Autonomous Municipality of San Juan Copala, consisting of the former municipalities of Juxtlahuaca, Putla de Guerrero and Tlaxiaco……
The Triqui Nation, as it has been known historically, has always been in struggle, and is one of the peoples hardest hit by the State Government, and that is why we call on the peoples of Mexico and of the whole world to organise ourselves to demand the recognition of the Autonomy of this municipality and above all to demand respect and recognition for our brothers the Triquis……’
(source La Jornada 13 January, plus APPO leaflet distributed Mexico City Jan 2007)
Note: While recognising the long tradition of struggle by the Triqui indigenous group, and the honest contribution to the struggle of many grass-roots Triquis, some activists are very critical of Triqui structures and leaders for their authoritarian, hierarchical and patriarchical nature.
LATEST NEWS 19 Jan : Roberto García Flores, a Triqui activist involved in the formation of the autonomous council, was shot dead by assasins. Local Triqui activists accuse a Triqui group called the MULT, who are opposed to the formation of the autonomous council, of being responsible. Nevertheless preparations were continuing for the ceremony, due for 20 january, to celebrate the formation of the autonomous council.
HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION DENOUNCE ASSASSINATIONS IN OAXACA
The International Civl Commission for the Observation of Human Rights (CCIODH) has concluded that 20 sympathisers and supporters of APPO and the popular movement in Oaxaca have been murdered in illegal executions in the last few months. These murders have been carried out by paramilitary groups or death squads presumably linked to the State Government.
The International Commission has also documented further widespread violations of human rights in Oaxaca, including illegal and arbitrary arrests and inhuman and degrading treatment. During a month of investigations the Commission carried out 350 interviews, not only of activists but also of government authorities and of hospital directors.
Now the Commission are to present its conclusions to the European Parliament, including its investigation into the violent eviction of the picket outside the prison of Miahuatlan de Porfiro Diaz.
(source La Jornada)
NOTE APPO itself gives the following figures for those killed by the authorities and their gunmen in Oaxaca : During the first 15 months of URO´s administration 29 were assassinated. From June to October of 2006 at least eighteen were assassinated and from November to date, twenty-four were assassinated. (APPO statement, 30 Dec 2006)
APPO STREET PROTEST OUTSIDE PARLIAMENT IN MEXICO CITY
APPO are maintaining a small village of stalls and protest banners in the main square of Mexico City, outside the Mexican parliament. Around 15 stalls are distributing information and selling handicrafts to sustain the struggle, while a loudspeaker blasts out revolutionary speeches and songs.
Edinburgh Chiapas Solidarity Group
e-mail: edinchiapas at yahoo.co.uk