What’s going on in Eloxochitlán de Flores Magón, Oaxaca?

x carolina

It’s shameful that the anniversary of the Mexican Revolution was marked in Eloxochitlán de Flores Magón, Oaxaca, with a bloody police attack against 37 women, men, girls and boys just setting out for Mexico City to commemorate the anniversary of the death of the great man born in the municipality that bears his name, Ricardo Flores Magón.

“We want justice,” said a comrade in a rally held outside the Oaxaca house of government in Mexico City on Wednesday, November 28.

“We don’t want this crime to go unpunished,” added another demonstrator “and we don’t want the imprisonment of Pedro Peralta to go unpunished either. He was kidnapped, tortured and seriously wounded on August 10 of this year while doing voluntary community service work after the Hurricane Ernesto emergency.”

At the rally, members of the Community Assembly of Eloxochitlán denounced a reign of injustice and terror perpetrated since 2010 in the municipality by the illegitimate President Manuel Zepeda Cortéz, who refused to recognize four representatives elected according to tradition and custom by the Assembly and imposed his own government.

At the end of the rally, a small group went into the government building to deliver a document and demand that the Oaxacan government resolve the conflict in the town. Their demands include freedom for Pedro Peralta, now being held in the regional Cuicatlán prison, and prison for those responsible for the violent events of November 20.

An official statement was read describing what happened to the people who had just boarded the AU bus that night: “…gunshots were heard, and a group of around 20 masked men bearing arms unexpectedly boarded the bus. We don’t know exactly how many because they came in really violently. We began to hear shots and immediately noted that they were masked, armed policemen, led by Municipal President Manuel Zepeda Cortez, Eleazar Bravo, Eleazar Hernández Ordaz, Gilberto Betanzos Gonzales, Vidal Zepeda, Vicente Zepeda, and Vidal Zepeda Romero, who all directly took part in the attack. They intercepted the driver and took him off the bus, breaking windows and shooting tear gas into the bus where indigenous children, old people, women and men were seated. After they had the driver under conrol, they used heavy blows to force us to get off the bus. Several people were seriously injured. We ran away in fear for our lives, but that didn’t keep us from seeing that the men who ambushed us left their official vehicles nearby. We think the fact that public officials would cover their faces means that they’re just a group of killers. It’s obvious that nobody’s human rights or political rights are respected in our town. Instead, our community people are unprotected, subjected to extreme violence, kidnapped, terrorized and full of rage at the kind of things that have happened under the cruel regimen of Manuel Zepeda Cortés”.

One comrade told what had happened in the community since the 2010 elections and also about the arrest warrants for ten people that have been issued: “If we look at it, that election was totally illegal and the Oaxaca state government supported it from the beginning. Since then, they’ve unleashed a war against us Community Assembly members in reprisal for our opposition to Manuel Zepeda Cortéz. The Community Assembly has never, never been affiliated with any political party and it never will be. That’s why there’ve been reprisals against Assembly members. We’ve been the victims of many abuses. Ten arrest warrants have been issued for our comrades. A temporary protective order has been issued, but they aren’t totally free. They could be arrested any minute. We’ve gone to the proper Oaxaca government officials, but it doesn’t look like the government is one bit interested in resolving the conflict. Instead, it has given strong backing to the Municipal President.”

One university student explained that there is no freedom of expression or freedom to demonstrate in Eloxochitlán. When people have put up posters demanding freedom for Pedro Peralta in their own homes, the police have torn them down. On November 20, there was a parade led by Manuel Zepeda, and the police demanded that people take down their posters “because the president was about to pass by.” What does exist is the indiscriminate use of armed force; this has been true since 2010. “First there was a military intervention at the beginning of Manuel Zepeda’s term of office. We have a video on Youtube where people are interviewed about how the soldiers went into their houses and searched them and felt up the women. The Huautla police are also encroaching on our community…There was a case of feminicide but it was covered up…There was an attack on the Community Assembly while people were doing independent community work, and then the Municipal President arrived with his people. The police blocked the road and beat people who were working the land.”

One comrade said how angry he was about the stain on the memory of one of the most important men in the history of the country, born in Eloxochtitlán de Flores Magón, Oaxaca, in the Sierra Mazateca, where oblivion, exploitation and racism now prevail. He also talked about the efforts of the historic town to live an honorable, autonomous life:

“The Community Assembly, has recovered its indigenous roots, its language, its history, its traditions; it’s made its own decisions so that none of the worthless, pillaging political parties that we have in this country and the world will meddle in our affairs, divide us and take away that ancestral force that belongs to indigenous people to make their own decisions, to live in solidarity and mutual support.”

“We’re here today to say that it’s not right for political parties to come in and divide families, spark blood feuds for money, all for dirty money…We’re here to lift up our voices, and we want those political parties to get the hell out of our town—PRI, PAN, PRD, PT, Convergencia, all of them, Alianza too. It’s their fault that lots of comrades in Eloxochitlán can’t even stay in their own houses. They have to hide, or go to other towns to live an appalling life without enough to eat, with no place to live, or forced to move in on other comrades.”

“In August, Pedro Peralta was beaten by government agents and he is now in jail, accused of federal offenses. With no proof whatsoever, they say he had a gun whose use is restricted to federal agents. With no proof whatsoever, they say he fired the gun. He was heavily beaten and was sent to the hospital for a week, where the medical care was totally inadequate. He has serious wounds in his head and thorax.”

“We don’t want to come here to the Oaxaca House of Government one more time and have our words carried away with the wind. We don’t want to be ignored one more time. The abuses we’ve talked about are constant, not only in Oaxaca, but also in Guerrero, in Michoacán, in the State of Mexico, in Chiapas, Tabasco, Veracruz, and the far corners of the country where the police and political power are used to get people out of the way who are opposed to the power mongers.”

“We want the autonomy of the Community Assembly of Eloxochitlán to be recognized, we want it to have decision-making power, to have the power to decide what to do with their land…We want respect for the Eloxochitlán community and many other communities that are threatened by political bosses, that are threatened by mining interests, that have no one to recognize that their human rights have been violated, just as they are in Copala and other places in Oaxaca. We want justice.”