April 27, 2011, marks one year since the armed ambush against the caravan carrying humanitarian aid to the men, women, and children of the autonomous municipality of San Juan Copala, who had been under a siege imposed by the PRI paramilitary group UBISORT for several months. In the attack, Bety Cariño and Jyri Antero Jaakola were murdered; she was a member of CACTUS and he belonged to the Finnish collective Barco Stelle and ISI TULLI and also worked with VOCAL in Oaxaca. Mónica Citlali Santiago and Noé Bautista of VOCAL, as well as Contralinea reporter David Cilia, were wounded by gunshots in the attack. Some comrades were reported disappeared for two days in the mountains as they tried to escape from UBISORT gunfire. Even though this paramilitary attack came to the attention of the general public in Mexico and much of the world, and led to immediate worldwide protests and demands by conscious men and women that the Mexican government put an end to the violence against San Juan Copala, the government of the murderous Ulises Ruiz in collaboration with Felipe Calderon’s federal government maintained an unwavering position of total complicity with UBISORT. This paramilitary group is still waging a war of extermination against the indigenous Triqui people in the region who are struggling for the autonomy of their communities as part of the San Juan Copala project.
Despite overwhelming evidence of paramilitary violence in the region, epitomized by this photographically documented attack, both the state and federal governments have stubbornly denied that it exists and have hypocritically insisted that three equally violent, armed organizations ––UBISORT, MULT and MULTI–– are at war. They maintain this position despite the fact that the autonomous government of San Juan Copala has called for an end to the differences between Triqui groups that have been kept alive by traditional organizations in the region for decades. It is precisely the search for the unity of all Triquis in an autonomous project that sparked the creation and maintenance of government-backed paramilitary groups in the region that use armed force to impede the achievement of unity, autonomy, and peace with justice among the Triqui people. Under the logic of divide and conquer, which persists up until this day, the state government now led by Gabino Cué has sought to undermine this struggle for unity and autonomy by reducing peoples’ demands to purely economic issues and refusing to even superficially address the problem of the existence of paramilitary groups. Neither has the government taken the necessary step of punishing those responsible for many murders in the region, in particular UBISORT Rufino Juarez and Antonio “toño pajaro”.
We know that the Gabino Cué government does not have sole responsibility for the policy against the autonomous municipality of San Juan Copala. The decision to use armed paramilitary groups to stop the efforts of the indigenous peoples of Mexico to achieve autonomy has been made and dictated at the highest circles of transnational power in Washington and this clear counterinsurgency strategy is carried out to a T by military lackeys in the ranks of the Mexican Army. Nevertheless, the subservience of the Gabino Cué government makes it responsible for and complicit with all the violence and impunity that still reign today, one year after the vicious paramilitary attack. Those who bear the brunt of this violence are the Triqui men, women, and children who made the decision to struggle for autonomy and who have not even been able to return to their community from which they were displaced by UBISORT paramilitaries.
We call on all of you to remember, because in the face of the criminal silence of the powerful, it is only the memory of the poor and humble people of the world that keeps the truth alive and creates the possibility of achieving justice. We send an urgent, honest call to you in the social movement in Oaxaca, Mexico and the world to raise your voices on April 27, wherever you are, to say NO MORE impunity and to demand punishment for those responsible for the paramilitary violence in Copala and the immediate, unconditional return of Triqui people to their homes in San Juan Copala and other towns in the region.
To all men and women of conscience and to all lovers of justice who live in Oaxaca or who can travel to our state, we urge you to participate in the march that will take place at 10 o’clock in the morning from the flower market to the Zócalo of the city of Oaxaca, and to also join in the activities beginning at 1 o’clock in the afternoon in the Zócalo.
Justice for Copala!
Justice for Bety Cariño!
Justice for Jyri Antero Jaakola!
Freedom, Justice, Peace, Dignity!
Yours in combat, sisters and brothers,
Autonomous Municipality of San Juan Copala
Oaxacan Voices Constructing Autonomy and Freedom (VOCAL)
“Working Together” Community Support Center (CACTUS)
Coordination against Impunity and Repression
Oaxaca de Magón, city of resistance, April 2011