The following is an URGENT call for solidarity in order to highlight the increased militarization in Oaxaca and in other communities throughout the world. We recognize that the recent armed attack against the compañeros participating in the Support and Solidarity Caravan for San Juan Copala, Oaxaca (which includes two dead, one wounded, and many disappeared) have deep roots extending to histories of imperialism and white supremacy. Imperialism, because repression is historical and based on domination, subjugation, and displacement. White supremacy, because violence is systemically and institutionally perpetuated against indigenous peoples, so-called third worlds, people of color, and other marginalized groups in an effort to maintain privileges of wealth and power. We recognize this broader context, that the injustices in Oaxaca do not operate in a bubble, that repression is a global phenomena situated in very different local contexts.
Military Aid in Mexico
In Mexico, militarization has considerably increased in the past years. Since 2008, the U.S. government has used the “war against drugs and organized crime” to justify the funding of the Merida Initiative (also known as Plan Mexico by its opponents), which provides funding, training, and military equipment to the Mexican government. But in reality, the Initiative criminalizes social movements and contributes to systemic human rights violations. The Initiative was first signed by the Bush-Rice Administration and is now supported by the current Obama-Clinton Administration.
In 2010, the Merida Initiative was extended and the budget was increased by 15% by U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, who states that Mexico has met the human rights conditions of the bill. Clearly, the U.S. has negated military and paramilitary violence against autonomous communities, grassroots organizations, social justice activists, and community-based media groups in resistance.
Context of Triqui Region
The indigenous Triqui Region, located in the mountainous western part of Oaxaca, is known for its immense levels of violence instigated by the state government and paramilitary groups. Beginning in the Spanish invasion and leading up to contemporary times, the Triquis have historically resisted against colonial powers and the Mexican government attempting to steal their lands, autonomy, and self-determination. Throughout recent years, infiltration from political parties and divide-and-conquer methods have deeply divided the community and organizations. Numerous organizations throughout the Triqui Region have split; in 2006, the Movement for Triqui Unification and Struggle (MULT) split and formed the Movement for Triqui Unification and Independent Struggle (MULTI). And another organization, the Social Welfare Union of the Triqui Region (UBISORT), which is identified as a paramilitary group with ties to the PRI political party, also has a presence in the Triqui Region. In 2008, two young women from a community radio station in San Juan Copala, were shot dead by gunmen for their political participation in the radio and values for autonomous processes. Their cases remain unsolved.
Attack on Support and Solidarity Caravan
On Tuesday, April 27th, a caravan headed to San Juan Copala was attacked by gunmen identified as members of UBISORT, an organization with affiliations with the PRI (Independent Revolutionary Party) political party. At least two are reported dead, Beatriz Carino, director of CACTUS, and Jyri Antero Jaakkola, an observer from Finland, several are missing, and at least one is wounded.
The caravan was organized to provide basic necessities, such as water and food, and to accompany teachers from the Section 22 teacher’s union who were denied from entering the community for over 5 months. Participants of the caravan includes: representatives from the Assembly of Peoples of Oaxaca (APPO), Center for Community Support Working Together (CACTUS), members of Independent Triqui Movement of Unity and Struggle (MULT-I), Oaxacan Voices Constructing Autonomy and Liberty (VOCAL), Mexican reporters, and international observers from Belgium, Finland, Italy, and Germany. VOCAL reports in a press release the injustices in San Juan Copala: “electricity has been turned off, the community has no access to drinking water or medical personnel…and (the community) is subjected to permanent harassment from military troops that set up roadblocks just outside the town”.
Call for Solidarity
For these reasons, we make a humble call to action to all organizations, solidarity collectives, youth groups, students, cooperatives, community-based media groups, LGBTQ communities, workers, teachers, and cultural centers to denounce the militarization and state-sponsored terrorism and violence in Oaxaca and throughout the world, to denounce the funding of the Merida Initiative signed into law by the U.S. government, and to demand a thorough investigation and punishment for those responsible for the current violations in Oaxaca.
We also ask friends and allies to keep posted as new information rolls through, to keep fighting against injustices and militarization in your local communities, and to consider sending letters to your Mexican Embassies and to authorities in Oaxaca.
CASA Chapulin Collective, Oaxaca
Colectivo Contra Impunidad, Urguay
Friends of Brad Will, New York
Mujeres sin miedo, Mexico City