Oaxaca de Juárez, Oaxaca. March 15, 2012
To the communication media
To Public Opinion
To the State and Municipal Authorities
To the General Citizenry
The Oaxaca Collective in Defense of the Lands and the organizations signed below have received information from the residents of the municipality of San José del Progreso and the Coordinator of the United Peoples of the Valley of Ocotlán (CPUVO), that today, March 15, 2012, our companions Bernardo Vásquez Sánchez, Rosalinda Canseco and Andrés Vásquez Sánchez were ambushed by armed groups at the turnoff to Santa Lucía, Ocotlán, Oaxaca between 9:00 and 10:00 at night while they were riding in an automobile.
According to information received, Bernardo Vásquez Sánchez, Leader of Coordinator of the United Peoples of the Valley of Ocotlán, died from gunshot wounds.
Bernardo Vásquez Sánchez and the CPUVO had been alerting state and federal authorities since 2008 about possible confrontations in the community of San José del Progreso, due to the initiation of mining operations by the company Cuzcatlán S.A de C.V., a branch of the Canadian Fortuna Silver Mines, without consent of the community.
In repeated occasions the members of the CPUVO complained that the mining company was financing armed groups in the community with the endorsement of the municipal president of San José del Progreso (Alberto Mauro Sánchez).
State authorities ignored those denunciations, to the extent that they affirmed that the opposition group was seeking only to destabilize the community, when the facts were to the contrary.
On January 18 of 2012, C. Bernardo Méndez Vásquez was assassinated by order of the municipal president of San José del Progreso Alberto Mauro Sánchez. In that ambush C. Abigaíl Vásquez Sánchez was gravely wounded. State authorities again did not get involved, on the contrary, they gave aid to the presumed murderers by once again criminalizing the members of the CPUVO.
Given these facts we denounce:
We repudiate the passive and indolent attitude of the state government in the face of this social and political conflict in San José del Progreso. Up to this moment there has been no punishment of those responsible for the death of our companion Bernardo Méndez Vásquez, assassinated January 18, 2012.
We demand of the state and federal authorities justice and punishment of those responsible for the death of Bernardo Vásquez Sánchez, assassinated March 15, 2012.
We again denounce that the mining company Cuzcatlán counts on armed groups within the community and enjoys complete backing by municipal and state authorities.
We hold responsible the municipal president of San José del Progreso, Alberto Mauro Sánchez, and the mining company Cuzcatlán for the cowardly assassinations of Bernardo Méndez Vásquez and Bernardo Vásquez Sánchez.
We again demand that the principal petition of the Coordinator of the United Peoples of the Valley of Ocotlán (CPUVO) be respected: the immediate departure of the mining company since, by their entry and by their acts of corruption it is clear that diverse confrontations have been generated in the community, sadly ending the lives of two defenders of human rights.
We demand justice:
Colectivo Oaxaqueño en Defensa de los Territorios
Servicios del Pueblo Mixe, Ser Mixe A.C.
Servicios para una Educación Alternativa EDUCA A.C.
Centro de Derechos Indígenas Flor y Canto A.C.
Centro de Derechos Humanos Bartolomé Carrasco Briseño, BARCA A.C.
Centro de Derechos Humanos Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez, Centro Prodh A.C.
Unión de Organizaciones de la Sierra Juárez de Oaxaca, UNOSJO S.C.