CACTUS communiqué on Oaxaca caravan attack

Update regarding the attack on the humanitarian mission that was visiting San Juan Copala, Oaxaca: The death of Bety Cariño is confirmed

(28/04/2010 1:15 PM)


The humanitarian caravan, comprised of international observers, human rights advocates, journalists, teachers and members of various Oaxacan organizations, which was headed to the autonomous municipality of San Juan Copala, was ambushed by a group of armed men, leaving several people injured and some presumably dead.

Official information regarding the number of people dead or wounded is not available as the local government has refused to enter the area. For its part, the federal government has ignored the appeals of several civil society organizations and Deputies and Senators to go in and rescue the victims.

Only the lamentable, sad and painful death of our comrade and sister Bety Cariño, director of CACTUS and member of the Indigenous Community Radio Network of Southeast Mexico, and of Jyri Jaakkola, a Finnish human rights observer, have been confirmed.

Bety Cariño Trujillo was a human rights worker for more than 15 years; she accompanied communities in the Mixteca region, building the capacity of the indigenous peoples of the region and offering solidarity and advice to the women of the area so that they may defend their rights. Similarly, she spurred the creation of economic mutual aid networks in several communities in the area and together with several organizations succeeded in creating the Indigenous Community Radio Network of Southeast Mexico. At the time, she was accompanied by an international organization for the protection of human rights workers given the risks she faced in carrying out her work in defense of the rights of indigenous peoples.

Bety will be remembered as a comrade and tireless fighter who lost her life accompanying a humanitarian caravan that sought, as she always did, to benefit the poorest of the poor; as a reliable comrade, committed and untiring, who will join our struggles with her spirit and who will not let us stop until justice and punishment is achieved for this stupid act of barbarism and violence perpetrated by a paramilitary group which acts under the orders of the state government of Oaxaca.

At the time of sending this communique, at least six people can be considered to have been disappeared from the area of the attack.

Among the disappeared are one Belgian citizen, three members of VOCAL, and two journalists from the magazine “Contralínea” who accompanied the humanitarian mission. The state authorities have refused to enter the area to check on the status of the mission members, though according to comrades’ reports, in Juxtlahuaca there is a convoy of approximately 45 state police officers in the company of the District Attorney and specialists who were to enter the area of the attack today at 10 AM. At this moment the result of that operation is unknown.

At this moment the following are disappeared:

1. Martin Sautan – Belgium
2. David Venegas – Oaxaca – VOCAL
3. Noé Bautista – Oaxaca- VOCAL
4. Fernando Santiago – Oaxaca – Brigadas Indígenas (Indigenous Brigades)
5. David Cilia – Contralínea
6. Éricka Ramírez – Contralínea

As a result of this brutal attack against human rights defenders and international observers, of representatives of the media, and of the horrible murder of our comrade Bety Cariño, we demand that the federal and state authorities:

– Enter the area of the attack, recover the bodies, rescue the disappeared or kidnapped, and attend to the wounded.

– Live presentation of the disappeared activists, advocates and journalists.

– Guarantee the security of the wounded and the survivors.

– Involve the Federal Attorney General’s Office in the investigation of these events.

– Investigate and sanction the material and intellectual authors of these events, some of whom are inhabitants of La Sabana Copala, as the attack was carried out from houses in the town, and who presumably belong to the paramilitary organization known as Unity for the Social Well-Being of the Triqui Region (UBISORT).

– An impartial, expedient, and accurate investigation led by the Federal Attorney General’s Office in order to punish the murderers in this paramilitary group.

– Immediate dismissal from office of the State Interior Minister, the State Attorney General, and the State Minister of Public Security and Public Protection for refusing to intervene in a timely manner once they were aware of the events, preferring instead that the attacking paramilitary group act with impunity.

We request the involvement of national and international civil society organizations to denounce these events, for the media to make them known, and for all of society to jointly demand their clarification.

Center of Community Support Working Together A.C. (CACTUS)
Indigenous Community Radio Network of Southeast Mexico
Mexican Alliance for Peoples Self-determination (AMAP)

translation courtesy of Scott Campbell,