Urgent: New Attack on the Autonomous Municipality of San Juan Copala

Update: We’ve received information that all the women and children disappeared have been freed.

Oaxaca de Juárez, Oaxaca. May 16, 2010

To the news media
To the peoples of Oaxaca
To the peoples of Mexico
To the peoples of the world

For the last five months, San Juan Copala has been under siege by UBISORT paramilitaries, a situation that had been denounced and that prompted the Autonomous Municipality to send out a solidarity call for a caravan to lend them support. This was the caravan that was brutally attacked on April 27, 2010.

A new attack against the autonomy of San Juan Copala is now underway. As of now, there are reports of the kidnapping and disappearance of at least 11 people. The fact that they are women and children underscores the magnitude of the crime.

Members of the autonomous municipality of Juan Copala have denounced the kidnapping at gunpoint of six women and five boys and girls by a group of men belonging to the Union for the Welfare of the Triqui Region (UBISORT), commanded by Rufino Juárez in the La Sabana community. This happened when a group of 35 women and children from San Juan Copala reached the UBISORT controlled community of La Sabana, where they were told that they would be executed if they tried to return to Copala with food and medicine.

The members of the autonomous municipality hold Rufino Juárez responsible for the attack. Based on the testimonies of 24 women who were able to escape, two women from San Juan Copala are wounded, as well as a one-year old baby boy. They provided the names of some of the people who were kidnapped: Felipa de Jesús Suárez, Martiniana Aguilera Allente, Marcelina Ramírez and Lorena Merino Martínez, along with Rosario Velasco Allente, Josefa Ramírez Bautista and another little girl, two four-year-old boys and a one-year-old boy.

The attacks go on against San Juan Copala’s process of defending its autonomy. Paramilitary forces, with the complicity of the state government, continue to commit crimes against a defenseless people under siege in its struggle for survival. It has no public services, food, or medicine, and is in a state of total isolation and military encirclement.

For these reasons, we call on the people of Oaxaca, Mexico, the international community, and all social and human rights organizations, embassies, groups, collectives, and all our conscious brothers and sisters and people of the world to speak out vigorously in support of the Autonomous Municipality of San Juan Copala and to publicly condemn the aggressors who are repressing a town that is building its autonomy and claiming its right to self-determination.

Let’s make a visible show of solidarity and support. We ask you to keep demanding the live presentation of disappeared people and punishment for those responsible for the murders in the Triqui Region, to stay abreast of the comrades from San Juan Copala who have sought refuge in the Yosoyuxi community, and to demand an end to the violence against the autonomous municipality.

We demand the immediate live presentation of the women and children kidnapped by UBISORT paramilitaries in the La Sabana community on May 14.

We hold the Ulises Ruiz government, and particularly his Secretary General Evencio Martínez responsible for the physical and moral integrity of the Triqui comrades who are staying in the Yosoyuxi for fear of being killed by UBISORT paramilitaries if they return to San Juan Copala.

We demand that local, state, and federal governments put an end to paramilitary and military attacks in the Triqui Region, and to the financing, arms, and impunity granted to these groups in our state.

We demand the immediate withdrawal of the paramilitary blockade around San Juan Copala and respect for the autonomous indigenous communities


Oaxacan Voices Constructing Autonomy and Freedom (VOCAL)