The Ballot and the Bomblet

August 2nd, 2007 – South Notes writes: Mexico’s Ejercito Revolucionario Popular (EPR) guerrilla group has claimed responsibility for the two explosive devices found in Oaxaca City yesterday. One of the devices damaged the shuttered front entrance of the Sears department store in the Plaza del Valle shopping center district, while the other (placed in a Banamex branch in a different neighborhood) did not detonate.

The EPR communique published online today by the Center for the Documentation of Armed Movements says the explosions are part of a national campaign to demand the physical presentation of two of the group’s militants, Edmundo Reyes Amaya and Gabriel Alberto Cruz Sánchez, who both disappeared from the streets of Oaxaca City on May 25th of this year.

On July 10th, the EPR took credit for 8 separate explosions over the course of 5 days which targeted the infrastructure of Pemex, Mexico’s state-owned oil company. All of the explosions were in the central states of Guanajuato and Queretaro, outside of the EPR’s traditional area of influence in southern Mexico. In those particular attacks, the disruption in the flow of gas forced auto manufacturers Honda and Nissan to temporarily close their factories in 3 states.

On July 28th, an EPR commando attacked the site of a prison in construction in Chiapa de Corzo, Chiapas. The guerrillas locked up the construction site’s custodians, painted slogans like “they took them away alive, we want them back alive” on the walls, fired shots into the air, and left.

The federal government of Mexico and the state government of Oaxaca deny holding Edmundo Reyes Amaya and Gabriel Alberto Cruz Sánchez in their prisons. The EPR maintains the two men are in clandestine military custody and their recent communique accuses a General by the name of Oropeza Garnica of having ordered the missing men’s capture. Human rights groups that have touched the politically sensitive issue of the disappearance, have urged the government and military to adhere to international laws, which, even in the case of war, would require some neutral party to verify the physical condition of the prisoners.

The EPR has written that while the whereabouts of Edmundo Reyes Amaya and Gabriel Alberto Cruz Sánchez remain unknown, their campaign of “politico-military harassment” will continue. The attacks over the course of the past few weeks have caused varying degrees of property damage, but no one has been injured or killed.

Meanwhile, Oaxacans will vote in statewide elections for representatives to the state legislature on Sunday, August 5th. The APPO is calling for a “punishment vote” against the PRI (which has dominated the state’s political scene for nearly 80 years), against the PAN party of President Felipe Calderon, and against the smaller parties that have made alliances of convenience with the big two. Mexico City’s Milenio newspaper reports that the president of the local electoral institute has requested the presence of the armed forces to provide security during the elections.