by Scott Campbell
At the demonstration at the Mexican Consulate in solidarity with San Juan Copala and to demand justice for Bety Cariño and Jyri Jaakkola on Friday, the Deputy Consul Ismael Naveja came out to speak with some of us briefly and proposed we bring a statement with specific demands and concerns that he will communicate to officials in Mexico.
After consulting and soliciting input from individuals and organizations in Oaxaca who were involved with the solidarity caravan, Kevin Caplicki and I produced the below statement and delivered it to Deputy Consul Naveja on Tuesday afternoon. While we certainly are not expecting it alone to spur the Mexican government into action, it is one tactic that can be widely employed to demonstrate solidarity with the caravan members and the autonomous municipality of San Juan Copala.
May 4, 2010
Dear Deputy Consul Naveja,
We are presenting you this letter on behalf of a community of individuals and organizations in New York concerned with recent incidents in the state of Oaxaca.
As you know, on April 27, a humanitarian caravan carrying aid to the besieged community of San Juan Copala in the Mixteca region of Oaxaca was ambushed by armed men from the paramilitary organization UBISORT. Using army-grade weapons, they fired on the defenseless caravan, killing Beatriz Alberta Cariño, director of Center of Community Support Working Together (CACTUS), and Finnish international human rights observer Jyri Antero Jaakkola. Several more were wounded, others spent days in hiding in the countryside, and other still were threatened with death by UBISORT gunmen.
We denounce this attack in the strongest possible terms. It is outrageous and unacceptable that a paramilitary group linked to the PRI and Oaxaca governor Ulises Ruiz can not only attack a humanitarian caravan but can lay siege to a community for months on end with complete impunity and with no response from the federal government.In light of this grave situation, we strongly urge that the following be communicated to and acted upon by the federal government:
- Identify and punish the individual(s) responsible – both materially and intellectually – for the murders of Beatriz Cariño and Jyri Jaakkola and the injuries inflicted upon Mónica Citlali Santiago Ortiz, Noé Bautista Jiménez and others.
- End the paramilitary attacks and harassment in the Triqui region and in particular against the autonomous municipality of San Juan Copala.
- Ensure respect for the rights guaranteed to indigenous communities such as San Juan Copala as outlined in the International Labor Organization Convention Number 169, including their right to autonomy and self-government.
- Enforce respect for the human and individual rights of the inhabitants of San Juan Copala, including their,
- Freedom of movement and travel
- Right to education
- Right to health care
- Right to food
- Right to freedom of association
- Guarantee the physical and psychological well-being and safety of all members of the humanitarian caravan, their family members and supporters, in particular caravan members Rubén Valencia Nuñez and Gabriela Jiménez, as well as Beatriz Cariño’s family members, especially her husband Omar Esparza, all of whom have received death threats. The harassment by plainclothes police officers of caravan member Noé Bautista Jiménez, who is currently in the IMSS Hospital General de Zona 01 in Oaxaca, along with his family and friends, must also cease immediately.
- Open federal investigations by the PGR into crimes of commission or omission against the caravan and the autonomous municipality of San Juan Copala by the following individuals:
- Ulises Ernesto Ruiz Ortiz, Governor of Oaxaca
- Evencio Nicolás Martínez Ramírez, Secretary-General of the Government of Oaxaca
- María de la Luz Candelaria Chiñas, Oaxaca State Attorney General
- Jorge Franco Vargas “El Chuky”, PRI Federal Deputy
- Carlos Martínez, PRI candidate for the Oaxaca state congress
The attack on the humanitarian caravan and the continued aggression against the autonomous municipality of San Juan Copala are matters of great concern to individuals and organizations in Oaxaca, in Mexico and around the world. As the government of Oaxaca, led by Governor Ulises Ruiz Ortiz, has shown no interest in ensuring the human rights of that state’s inhabitants, and instead has been an active violator of the human rights of Oaxacans, it is incumbent upon the federal government to act and ensure those responsible for the paramilitary attacks are brought to justice and that human rights are respected and enforced in Oaxaca and the rest of Mexico.
We look forward to your response to our concerns and federal government’s plan of action regarding the events in San Juan Copala.
East Coast Coordinator,
Friends of Brad Will