by Kristin Bricker
In a press conference organized by Section 22 of the teachers union in Oaxaca, APPO counselor Gabriela Jimenez recounted her experience in the international aid caravan that was attacked by gunmen yesterday. She says that the gunmen identified themselves as members of UBISORT, an organization affiliated with the ruling Institutional Revolution Party (PRI). The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees identifies UBISORT as a paramilitary organization.
Jimenez, who was briefly detained by gunmen following the attack, told the press, “They told us that they were the ones that controlled the area.”
Jimenez recounts that a reporter from the caravan offered to interview the armed, masked men that were holding them hostage. “And they [the gunmen] responded that they would have to interview their leaders, Heriberto Pasos and Rufino Juarez Hernandez.” Juarez Hernandez is the leader of UBISORT. Pasos is the leader of the Movement for Triqui Unity and Struggle (MULT), an organization that has also allied itself against the autonomous municipality of San Juan Copala.
“They told us that they were going to take back Copala. They said they were going to drive people from their homes. They said, ‘Wherever you walk, this is all UBISORT territory. In front of you is MULT [territory]. Behind you is UBISORT. On this side is UBISORT.”
Jimenez claims that the gunmen told her that they had the support of Oaxacan governor Ulises Ruiz Ortiz. “They said it just like that.”
Jimenez says that the gunman took the caravan members’ identifications and noted their names on a piece of paper. She said, “They were going to be watching us, because the MULT and UBISORT’s power extends to Oaxaca City.
The paramilitaries also sent a death threat to Oaxacan community organizer Omar Esparza through Jimenez: “Tell him that he’s next. We’re going to find him, wherever he is, and we will kill him.” Esparza is the husband of Alberta “Bety” Cariño, whom the paramilitaries shot in the head yesterday during the ambush.