Letter to an authoritarian government. Communiqué from VOCAL

To: Mr. Marco Tulio Lopez Escamilla, Minister of Public Safety of the State of Oaxaca

CC: Mr. Gabino Cue Monteagudo, Governor of the State of Oaxaca.

As the indigenous people of Oaxaca that we are, ancestral inhabitants of these lands for thousands of years before your ancestors came from Spain to plunder our wealth, which they continue to do, we wish to respond to some of the allegations you made yesterday. Even though they are cloaked in the ambiguity, fallacy and vulgarity so characteristic of the speeches of politicians and functionaries, we understand that they refer to us, and so we want to answer in the only way we know how –clearly and directly.

With reference to the events of last August 7, when the latest indigenous Triquis of San Juan Copala who had been killed by PRI paramilitaries were brought to this city’s Zocalo for a wake, you stated to the local press yesterday that the Triqui women holding a vigil for their dead “only wanted to put on a show and to this end, shamefully utilized dead people who weren’t even their own kin.” You also stated that you have clearly identified the “professional troublemakers” who “are in charge of shouting slogans and confronting the police,” people who “are not from the region and are not family members of any of the aggrieved and displaced people.” You stated that these “non Triquis,” are “utilizing the conflict to provoke instability” and that their support for the autonomous municipality of San Juan Copala “is only perverting it and plunging it into controversy.” To make all the conservatively minded citizens rest easy, you assure them that these “professional troublemakers” will be jailed. “We have them clearly identified and located,” you said, as you concluded your remarks with a resounding platitude: “Impunity in a democratic government is inconceivable”.

Mr. Marco Tulio, you have unwittingly given us the most precise description possible of human solidarity: Taking on the grievances suffered by others as if they were one’s own, even though one is not of the same people, the same region or does not speak the same language. We wholeheartedly agree with your definition. But what we don’t agree with and will never agree with is your perspective. For us, human solidarity is an honorable quality; for you it is a crime. You have also provided us with one of the truest statements imaginable: “Impunity in a democratic government is inconceivable.” We couldn’t agree more. But for starters, we would mention the impunity existing in the Gabino Cue government for the 26 murders committed by Ulises Ruiz in 2006, the impunity for the 23 people killed in San Juan Copala to date, the impunity for more than 500 arrests and illegal jailings ordered by Ulises Ruiz and his functionaries in 2006, the impunity that buries our dead a little deeper with every passing day in the land where they have come to rest. They are José Jimenez, Lorenzo Sampablo, Brad Will, Emilio, Eudacia, Jorge Alberto, Bety, Jiry, Teresa, and all who have died in the long march towards freedom. Impunity in a democratic government is inconceivable, yet in a government like disguised PRI boss Gabino Cue’s, it is totally conceivable, and even inevitable.

There are just a few things you didn’t say, which may not be so important to conservatively minded citizens, but are highly important to everyday people and workers, to sisters and brothers who are intelligent and who care about what happens in this state.

One of the things you didn’t say is that the encampment of the women and children displaced from the autonomous municipality of San Juan Copala, now located in the arcade just outside the government office building, is made up of families expelled from their homes under gunfire by UBISORT paramilitaries of the PRI party, after these gunmen had already murdered dozens of indigenous Triquis and two members of a solidarity caravan. After waiting for justice from your government in this camp for an entire year, the only thing the women and children of San Juan Copala have received is trickery.

You also forgot to say that on August 7, your government’s state police patrol cars in Huajuapan tried to block the transfer of the bodies of the three Triquis murdered in Copala, delaying the passage of the vehicles for several hours in blatant disregard of the “health risk” that this posed. You forgot to say that on August 7, you threatened to jail several Copala women if they didn’t remove the bodies from the Zocalo’s arcade, and that once they agreed to remove them, you and your police tried to stop them from going back to their camp with their children even though the cold stones of the sidewalk are the only home they now have, since their true home is being occupied by paramilitaries tolerated by the government. You did this to keep the people of Oaxaca from seeing the brutal injustice that our peoples continue to endure.

You forgot to say how it’s possible to speak of all this without being filled with shame.

And so then, we’re here today to say that we will not demand a protective order, that we will not flee from our land, that we will not beg for forgiveness, and that above all, we will not stop standing in solidarity with the displaced women of San Juan Copala.

We’re here to say that we are not afraid of you, neither you yourself nor anyone like you. You need to hold power to feel ten times more courageous than you really are, when you have ten times less courage that we do. While you were crouched in the safety of your palaces, ready for just the right moment to seize power, we were combating the tyrant Ulises Ruiz Ortiz from the first days of his vile government in 2006 to the very end. And now you protect him, betraying the will of the very people that put you in power.

We’re here to tell you that we know what you’re after with all these threats and provocations. You want to isolate the Triqui women and keep the society from showing solidarity with them as you prepare to EVACUATE THE DISPLACED PEOPLE’S CAMP. We will not respond to provocations, neither will we fail to stand in solidarity with the Triqui women and children, no matter what the consequences.

And finally, we’re here to tell you that we are now initiating a statewide, national and international campaign to denounce the fascist, authoritarian threats that we are receiving, as well as the authoritarian and hypocritical nature of your government.

We will not stand by idly awaiting the bloody sting of repression. Let us remind you that you are only temporary, while we are eternal. Let us remind you that five years from now, your privileges, power and bravado will be over, while our rage and desires for justice will be stronger than ever.

We respectfully close, but not without reminding you that you have been identified as a repressor by Section 22 of the Teachers Union and that the teachers continue to demand your resignation. Irma Piñeiro also seemed to be a permanent fixture, yet she was the first rat to leave the sinking ship of the Gabino Cue government.

Fraternally and combatively yours,

The survivors of the paramilitary ambush of the caravan in solidarity with the autonomous municipality of San Juan Copala on April 27, 2010.

Oaxacan Voices Constructing Autonomy and Freedom -VOCAL-

Oaxaca de Magón, August 19, 2011

City of Resistance