Since the 27 April attack on a civil observation mission en route to the municipality of San Juan Copalá in the Triqui region of Oaxaca by presumed members of the group Union of Social Welfare for the Triqui Region (UBISORT), several distinct voices have denounced the events. On 12 May, a number of special rapporteurs from the UN claimed that “we are profoundly concerned about the deterioration of the situation of human-rights defenders in Mexico.” The European condemned the 27 April attack and demanded that “federal, state, and local authorities do all that is possible to identify, arrest, and judge those responsible for these murders.”
Amidst the present humanitarian crisis suffered in San Juan Copalá, representatives of the autonomous community announced on 13 May that another humanitarian-aid caravan would be organized, this one constituted by at least 300 participants. Initially slated to take place in late May, it was for some reason delayed until June 8. In homage to the two activists who lost their lives in the attack on the caravan in April, the new convoy will be named “Bety Cariño and Jyri Jaakkola.” Jordge Albino Ortiz, a representative and member of the Movement for Unification and Triqui Struggle-Independent (MULT-I), noted that the “humanitarian conditions” lived in San Juan Copalá are at the moment “extreme,” given that residents of the community continue to be encircled by members of UBISORT.
Indeed, authorities of the community recently requested the intervention of the International Red Cross and its Mexican counterpart, so that they detail the ongoing humanitarian crisis in San Juan Copalá. The Diocese Commission on Justice and Peace from the Oaxacan archidiocesis and the Carrasco Briseño Regional Center on Human Rights, or Barca, demanded the “immediate” presence of the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) in San Juan Copalá, given the “grave human-rights violations” experienced in the municipality.
An alarming development that occurred recently was the kidnapping and subsequent release of 11 residents of San Juan Copalá on 14 May, presumably by members of UBISORT. The detained were 6 women, 3 girls, 2 boys, and an infant, all of whom had been participating in a larger group from the autonomous municipality that were taken while returning to their community from the city of Santiago Juxtlahuaca. They were ambushed by armed men in La Sabana; according to their testimony, the men fired in the air, threatened them with death, and stole their money and goods.
Serious doubts exist regarding the security situation of those who would participate in the new caravan. Rufino Juárez Hernández, leader of UBISORT, announced that “not even the minimal [security] conditions” exist for a new convoy and that hence “lamentable events could occur.” He added that the presence of observers “with blue eyes and long hair” would not resolve the situation in the region, and that “there is no security for people to travel [here].” Evencio Nicolás Martinez Ramirez, secretary of governance in Oaxaca, warned on 13 May that “whoever attempts to come near the Triqui region puts herself at risk.”
For more information (in Spanish):
OHCHR Press Release on situation in Mexico (12 May)
Triquis announce new humanitarian caravan to Copala (La Jornada, 17 May)
Another humanitarian convoy will attempt to cross the paramilitary encirclemente of Copala (La Jornada, 18 May)
Red Cross is requested in San Juan Copala (El Universal, 18 May)
CNDH asked to come to San Juan Copala (El Universal, 17 May)
UBISORT detains 11 women and children from San Juan Copala in the Triqui sierra, it is said (La Jornada, 16 May)
UBISORT released women and children (La Jornada, 17 May)
Those who go to Triqui region put themselves at risk (La Jornada, 14 May)
For more information from SIPAZ:
Oaxaca: Information-update on observation-caravan attack (3 May)