Attempted murder of APPO member Ruben Valencia

In the latest of a string of intimidations and attacks, an attempt is made on the life of the libertarian activist and former APPO Councilor RUBÉN VALENCIA NUÑEZ.

Oaxaca de Magon
City of Resistance
January 10, 2009

We wish to denounce the intimidatory actions that have endangered the life of our comrade in the popular movement in Oaxaca


Tonight, Saturday 10th January at approximately 10:57 at night, our comrade RUBÉN VALENCIA NUÑEZ and another person were walking on the street Porfirio Díaz, headed for the political-cultural space ‘CASOTA’, found at 408 Crespo, in the centre of the city of Oaxaca. A number of persons (approximately three), on board a moving vehicle, colour electric blue and apparently a Peugeot began to shout insults. One of them shouted “Fucking APPO” in the direction of comrade RUBÈN, amongst other things. One then attempted to exit the vehicle but was dissuaded by the others not to do so before the vehicle continued on, stopping about a block away.

Faced with this situation, the comrades continued walking and took refuge in a café on that same street. Only five minutes after arriving and whilst comrade RUBÉN VALENCIA NUÑEZ was in the bathroom washing his hands, the same person who had shouted at him in the street entered the premises full of people, and installed himself next to the bathroom with our comrade inside it. Without any exchange of words he produced a sharp, stabbing weapon and between pushes and shoves, aimed three blows at our comrade at the level of his neck, nape and head, causing three wounds. At this time the comrade only felt the blows (not realising they were wounds) as due to the pushing he had exited the bathroom area with the aggressor. During the confusion a waiter was caught up and was wounded in the neck by the same weapon.

The attacker, approximately 28, robust and with short hair (of the style common to the ministerial or judicial Police) remained blatantly barefaced in the place for several seconds more before later retreating, leaving behind the weapon. It was at this point that our comrade became aware of his injuries due to the blood that was quickly staining his clothes.

The comrade was taken to hospital to be attended to and is now out of danger. The wounds were: one cut, approximately 3.5cm long and 1cm deep at the nape of his neck. Another, approximately 3cm long and 1cm deep also in the neck, damage from a blow to the head and a scratch from the left eye to the ear, along with other scratches from the same weapon. Six stitches were needed in each wound and it must be noted that one wound was only 1cm from the jugular vein, which would have had fatal consequences had it reached it. The waiter was admitted with a neck wound by the same weapon, which we are unaware of the gravity.

We firmly DENOUNCE these acts as part of a strategy of repression and violence orchestrated by the government of the state of Oaxaca, but carried out through paramilitary police groups or civilians in the service of that same state. For this we denounce to the entire world the possibility of the initiation of a selective repression, in the style of the dirty war suffered by the social movements of this country thirty years ago. The aggression suffered at this moment by comrade RUBEN comes at the head of a string of aggressions, intimidations and detentions against different comrades in the social movement over recent months, and whilst none of which have been successful, demonstrate the authoritarian and illegal acts of the State that continue with this latest aggression, which may signal a new and yet more dangerous type of governmental repression and violence carried out by paramilitary police, paramilitaries and thugs in the service of the bad government of ULISES RUIZ ORTIZ, in the style of a dirty war.


– Our decision to continue on our path of building a different Oaxaca, where those who seek justice for the people are not repressed and where assassins are punished. A Oaxaca in which it is possible to live without fear or repression.

– These acts demonstrate the urgency of the need for change and the necessity to continue forward so that in the future murderers will not govern.


– An end to the criminal strategies of repression and intimidation against the different struggles of the peoples of Oaxaca on the part of the Mexican State and the State Government.

– Respect for the life and peace of each of those comrades of the people of Oaxaca who continue building alternatives, for a just, dignified and free life.

– Punishment of those responsible for this action against comrade RUBÉN VALENCIA NUÑEZ.

We respectfully request that the peoples of Mexico and the World to be attentive of this situation that Could mark the beginning of a strategy of Dirty or Low-Intensity Warfare against the legitimate movement of the peoples of Oaxaca.


VOCAL (Oaxacan Voices Constructing Autonomy and Liberty)

CASOTA (Oaxacan House of Solidarity and Self-Sustaining Work)

University of the Earth-Oaxaca

Diploma of Barefoot Investigators

English translation from

This post is also available in: Spanish


  1. I don’t have much faith in the Mexican government,they didn’t do anything about the US journalist murdered by their police over a yr ago.

  2. algo ingenueo el comment anterior.
    el gobierno mexicano al igual que el de los usa es una mierda fachista…
    ni fe ni confianza, dastruir al gobierno es la llave, la primer paso p imaginar otra vaina, otra manera de vida

  3. Prominent APPO Member Survives Attempted Murder in Oaxaca

    by Kristin Bricker – January 28, 2009

    Unknown assailant stabbed long-time activist Ruben Valencia Nuñez in a café after shouting disparaging remarks about the APPO

    On January 10, an unknown assailant attacked prominent Oaxacan activist and former Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca (APPO) advisor Ruben Valencia Nuñez in a public café in Oaxaca City. The attempt on Valencia’s life follows other recent attacks against Oaxacan activists, in particular the Oaxacan Voices Constructing Autonomy and Liberty (VOCAL) collective, of which Valencia is a member.

    The attack on Valencia occurred at approximately 11pm on January 10 as he was walking from a meeting in a café to the Oaxacan Autonomous House of Solidarity and Self-Sustaining Work (CASOTA). As he left the meeting in the café, about three people in a blue car without license plates began to follow Valencia and another person who was walking with him.

    Valencia told Narco News that as the car pulled up alongside him, the occupants shouted at him, “Fucking APPO! We’re going to fuck you up!” Valencia says he asked them what they had against him. Soon thereafter, the men got out of their car and approached Valencia. Valencia says he had “no other choice” but to enter the nearest café.

    Upon entering the café, Valencia headed to the bathroom. At least two men from the car followed him inside. One of them stationed himself next to the bathroom door and waited for Valencia to exit.

    “It all happened so fast,” Valencia says. When he came out of the bathroom, the man produced a “sharp weapon” and attacked Valencia from behind. Both men fell to the ground in the scuffle.

    When Valencia picked himself up off the floor, he saw that the men had fled, leaving behind the weapon in the café. At that point Valencia realized that the attacker hadn’t merely pushed him around. Valencia’s shirt was quickly becoming soaked with blood; he had three stab wounds in his neck and head and other more minor injuries in other parts of his body.

    VOCAL issued a statement describing Valencia’s injuries. Valencia suffered three stab wounds to the nape of his neck, “one being 3.5 centimeters long and approximately one centimeter deep…[A]nother wound was three centimeters long and one centimeter deep.” Valencia told Narco News that the third blow to the nape of his neck “opened up a wound two centimeters deep and seven centimeters long” just one centimeter from his jugular vein. Valencia says that if the attacker had hit his jugular, “I would have been dead in five minutes.”

    Doctors tell Valencia that one of the wounds might have damaged a nerve in his brain. In the days following the attack, Valencia says, “I kept forgetting things, I’d get tongue-tied, I had a tick, and my head hurt.” Most of the symptoms have gone away, except the headaches. Valencia says he will undergo tests to determine if he has suffered neural damage. He is currently undergoing acupuncture and massage therapy to help speed his recovery.

    “Selective Repression, Dirty-War Style”

    Valencia doesn’t know who attacked him in the café. The man who stabbed him was approximately 28 years old, “with a solid build and short hair.” He was dressed in plainclothes and did not cover his face during the attack. The man “looked like ministerial or judicial police,” says the VOCAL statement.

    While the attackers’ identity is unknown, VOCAL considers the incident to be “part of a strategy of repression and violence orchestrated by the Oaxacan state government, but though groups of parapolice or civilians working for the state. We denounce to the whole world the possibility of the beginning of selective repression in the style of the dirty war that this country’s social movements suffered over thirty years ago.”

    Valencia is a prominent and experienced Oaxacan activist. He was one of the founders of Oaxaca’s Universidad de la Tierra (Unitierra in its Spanish abbreviation) in 2001. Unitierra considers itself to be “a community of learning, study, reflection, and action.” Unitierra is open to all students regardless of they have previous school experience. According to co-founder Gustavo Esteva, students plan their own curriculum and study a range of subjects including, “practical trades such as urban agriculture, video production, or social investigation, or areas of study such as philosophy or communication.” Valencia currently sits on Unitierra’s Coordination Council and in the past was a member of its board of directors. One of Valencia’s primary responsibilities has been to connect Unitierra with towns and communities, and, since the 2006 uprising, with “popular neighborhoods” (colonias populares in Spanish) and social movements within Oaxaca City.

    Valencia recently authored a book about the 2006 uprising with his Unitierra colleague Esteva and fellow VOCAL collective member David Venegas. The book is called Hasta las Piedras Se Levantan (loosely translated as “Until the Stones Pick Themselves Up”).

    Valencia is from the Tehuantepec Isthmus in Oaxaca, a resource-rich region that has been targeted by international “development” projects such as the Plan Puebla-Panama (now known as the Mesoamerica Project). Valencia participated in various regional movements to protect the Isthmus’ natural resources from “foreign companies who, supported by the Mexican government, try to take over our territory.” He has also participated in projects to promote organic and sustainable agriculture and animal husbandry in the Isthmus. Recognizing Valencia’s ten years of activist organizing in the region, APPO activists from the Tehuantepec Isthmus elected him to be one of the 260 advisors to the APPO during the uprising.

    The attack against Valencia came just days before he was supposed to moderate a presentation of renowned Uruguayan journalist, professor, and author Raul Zibechi’s new book in the Benito Juarez Autonomous University of Oaxaca’s law school. Valencia and other members of the Oaxacan “Barefoot Investigators” collective organized the event.

    The attempt on Valencia’s life differs from the strategies of repression the government utilized during the 2006 uprising, when protestors had to erect barricades in the streets of the state capital in order to protect themselves from death squads run by state police and parapolice. Journalist John Gibler, who was present during most of the uprising, says, “The shootings [in those days] seem to have targeted the support base—people who were just coming out to help, rather than the people who were grabbing headlines by giving interviews to the press or people who had already had a rather well-known trajectory in local or state politics or activism.”

    Valencia knows that the attack on him may signal a change or escalation in the government’s strategy. “Other compañeros have suffered physical aggressions, kidnappings, and threats, but after 2007 they hadn’t dared to send hit men to try to kill APPO members. That’s what’s worrisome…this may be a strategy [to send] paramilitaries or plainclothes police to make a political assassination look like a regular fight.” Valencia adds, “Oaxaca is a pressure-cooker that can blow at any moment, and the government knows it.”

    “The Government is Afraid We’re Making a Comeback”

    The attack on Valencia is the second violent attack APPO participants have suffered within the past two months. In the middle of the night on December 8, 2008, Oaxaca state police raided the political-cultural space known as CASOTA. VOCAL, which actively participates in the APPO, and other local collectives run the space. During the raid, police opened fire on the house with live ammunition, destroyed the house’s front door and windows, shot tear gas into the house, and beat those inside with bricks, billy clubs, and stones. The activists say a two-year-old child was in the house at the time of the raid.

    Despite the recent surge in violence, Oaxacan activists are not deterred. “[The government] knows that the people’s fear isn’t as big as their courage and rage, because they want to change society and take down the government,” says Valencia. “The people aren’t the same after [the conflict in] 2006.”

    Gibler concurs. He says that in 2006, “with every assassination more people took to the streets. Instead of being terrified and running away, the response was a surge in popular support for the teachers and the peoples’ movement.”

    Valencia says the increase in violence could be because “the government knows that VOCAL and other spaces, peoples, collectives, and organizations aren’t giving up the struggle and won’t stop reorganizing the movement and the APPO.” He says 2009 holds a lot of promise for the APPO because it will hold a state-wide congress in February, the local teachers union has new leadership, and local elections will occur in July (the APPO organized heavily around the 2006 elections and delivered a severe blow to the ruling Institutional Revolution Party and its attempts to rig the vote). The government is aware of this convergence of factors, and, according to Valencia, “It’s afraid we’re making a comeback.”


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