Minnesotans urge the Mexican consulate to investigate ongoing paramilitary violence in Oaxaca San Juan Copala, Mexico after the assassination of indigenous leader, wife.
May 21st, St Paul, MN — A group of Minnesota activists delivered a letter to the Mexican consulate in the wake of yesterday’s assassination of community leader Alejandro Ramirez and his wife Cleriberta Castro in their home in San Juan Copala.
“We are here to condemn continued paramilitary attacks on women, children, and movement leaders in Oaxaca San Juan Copala, Mexico,” shouted one protester. “We demand an immediate investigation into these calculated murders and campaign of intimidation by the Mexican government!”
Activists hung a banner over I-35 on Monday, and urged friends and family to call into the consulate all week leading up to today’s protest.
Officials at the consulate made copies of the letters while expressing concern with the issues raised, but denied any government involvement with the paramilitaries. They cited economic development of the San Juan Copala region as a solution for the civil conflict in the area.
Many Oaxacans share a different vision of “development.” They see the word used as a pretext to exploit their communities, and undermine their internationally recognized right to self determination as indigenous people, rather than a path to peace.
A May 18 communique from the Autonmous Municipality Of San Juan Copala reads: “We make clear that this resistance struggle has as its final goal to recuperate our history and culture, with a great respect for our mother earth; to achieve development towards the dignified life that we all desire, where peace and justice reign.”
According to the independent website http://mywordismyweapon.blogspot.com/:
“San Juan Copala made international headlines last month when alleged members of the Union for the Social Well-being of the Triqui Region (UBISORT) opened fire on an international aid caravan headed to the besieged community. Mexican social leader Bety Cariño and Finnish observor Jyri Jaakkola died in the attack. The caravan was bringing food, clothing, water, and medicine to San Juan Copala, which UBISORT paramilitaries have blockaded since January. No one can enter or leave the community, and the paramilitaries cut off electricity and running water.
The intense international outrage that followed the caravan attack did nothing to stem the violence. Two weeks after the attack, UBISORT paramilitaries kidnapped six Triqui women, five children, and a baby when they snuck out of Copala to purchase food in the market of the nearby town of Juxtlahuaca. The Oaxaca state government and the Oaxaca State Human Rights Commission refused to accompany the woman back to San Juan Copala to ensure their safe passage.”
“We as U.S. citizens have the responsibility to hold our own government accountable for the increased militarization of Mexico,” explained one organizer.
“Since 2008, the U.S. government has used the “war against drugs and organized crime” to justify $1.6 Billion in funding for the Merida Initiative giving weapons, intelligence and training to a repressive regime. There can be no question that U.S. foreign policies are financing the militarization of communities in Oaxaca,” she said.
With all eyes on Oaxaca, San Juan Copala has called for a second, larger international caravan to the autonomous municipality on June 8.