Support and Solidarity Requested for VOCAL and the Social Movement in Oaxaca

We of the space called Oaxacan Voices Constructing Autonomy and Freedom (VOCAL) are writing to denounce the serious climate of harassment, criminalization, and persecution that the Ulises Ruiz Ortiz government and the local news media have directly unleashed against some of our members in recent weeks.

In particular, the repression began to get heavier after the events of June 20, 2008, when the organized people impeded Ulises Ruiz Ortiz’s presence in a public act convened by the municipal government of Zaachila.

They are blaming our members for initiating violence, when this was provoked by the PRI party municipal President Noe Perez, and his father, Mr. Natalio Pérez, who pistol in hand, fired at people peacefully protesting to defend themselves against the imposition of Ulises Ruiz Ortiz’s presence in their lands. This aggression is documented in photos and videos.

Nevertheless, for several days the local news media, echoing the statements of Ulises Ruiz and other government functionaries, have spread the story on television, radio, and in the written press that the violence was provoked by some of the schoolteachers in the town of Zaachila, “el Alebrije” (David Venegas), and VOCAL members. Threats have been circulated in these same news media that the full force of the law will be brought to bear against those who provoked the violence, thereby putting the blame on the people’s organization that is alive as a movement. In response to this resistance, the government’s response is clearly to try to discredit movement organization in Oaxaca with the same old dirty strategies: seeking out leaders to co-opt, repressing activists, blocking alternative information pages, stepping up the arrest of graffiti artists and beating them before they turn them loose, making false accusations, and intimidating all those movement spaces in struggle who aren’t willing to negotiate the dignity of resistance; this dignity is visible in the reorganization going on among different peoples in the neighborhoods, barrios, collectives, and spaces, and it resounded in the streets on June 14, 2008. At the same time, the police presence is steadily increasing and there are calls for the application of more federal force.

Direct harassment against us has occurred in news broadcasts on Channel 9, the state TV channel, with photos displayed of several VOCAL members: Silvia Gabriela Hernández Salinas, Efraín López, Eduardo Zanabría, Rubén Valencia, and David Venegas Reyes. News reports say that there are warrants out for all these comrades and that they will be arrested any minute.

They accuse us of provoking violence in our state of Oaxaca with the clear intent of justifying repression, prison, and even our disappearance by the government in complicity with the news media at their service.

Our case is not an isolated example; on the contrary, it is a symptom of the wave of repression against all the rest of the comrades in the Oaxacan social movement who are beset by the permanent police presence.

The police presence at many of our private homes and meeting places is constant. We consider the risk of being arrested as latent and highly probable. It is this situation that prompts us to make this climate of repression and harassment public. We will not let these hostilities continue; they clearly reveal the climate of repression by the state and federal government against all of us who participate in the Oaxacan social movement. The true motives that the state is now directing its repression against VOCAL, just as it has against other movement comrades in other circumstances, are clear. We are true to our word and keep up our clear, public, peaceful participation in the social movement in Oaxaca and ceaselessly struggle for the demands of our movement to overthrow Ulises Ruiz Ortiz: punishment for the murderers of our people, freedom for all political prisoners, and an in depth transformation in Oaxaca.

We know we’re not the only ones at risk because different peoples, collectives, organizations, teachers, and neighborhoods are also in struggle, making it possible to strengthen the social movement in Oaxaca. We are being targeted now because we have responded to calls for solidarity and support that some of the peoples have sent out to the movement as a whole, and we have done it in solidarity as brothers and sisters. This poses a serious risk for the state at a time when it is bent on dividing and conquering a social movement in Oaxaca that is setting out on the road towards a true, deep, radical change in our society—a change born in the people’s roots and nourished by the ancestral wisdom almost blotted out during the last 500 years of such heavy imposition and injustice. Today Oaxaca says enough is enough! We’re not willing to live the way we have before. After 2006, nothing or nobody will ever be the same again.

We demand justice, freedom, and an end to the hostilities against the social movement as a whole and against our comrades Silvia Gabriela Hernández Salinas, Efraín López, Eduardo Zanabría Hernández, Rubén Valencia Núñez and David Venegas Reyes, and ask all of you comrades to help us in spreading the word about our situation. No matter how hard they try to silence us or stop us, we know what they’re trying to do and we’re not going to let them do it. We’ll never tire of denouncing their repression.

Ulises Ruiz out of Oaxaca!

Freedom for all political prisoners in Oaxaca, Mexico, and the world!

Punishment for all those guilty of murders and disappearances!

Freedom and justice for the peoples of Oaxaca!

Voces Oaxaqueñas Construyendo Autonomía y Libertad, (VOCAL)

Important note: To help us in the collective dissemination of this mail, we ask that you write “Adhesión comunicado” on the subject line.

Address for sending notice of adhesions:

Send a copy of this communiqué to:

Felipe Calderón, Presidente

Lic. Juan Camilo Mouriño Terrazo, Secretario de Gobernación

Lic. Eduardo Medina-Mora Icaza, Procurador General de la República,

Ulises Ruiz Ortiz, Des-Gobernador del Estado de Oaxaca,

Evencio Nicolás Martínez Ramírez, Procurador del Estado de Oaxaca

United Nations High Commission for Human Rights

Representative in Mexico of the Office of the UN High Commission for Human Rights

Jina Hilani, Special Representative of the UN Secretary General on Human Rights Defenders