Oaxaca: Information update on observation-caravan attack

May 3, 2010

Two days after the attack occured against an observation caravan in the Triqui region in the state of Oaxaca, the four people initially reported missing made it out of the region. Two of them suffered gunshot wounds from the act of agression. Meanwhile, various national and international human rights organizations denounced the attack which took place on April 27 and demanded that the authorities clarify the events surrounding the crime.

According to press reports, April 29 saw the emergence of David Venegas and Noé Bautista, members of the organization Oaxacan Voices Constructing Autonomy and Liberty (VOCAL, for the Spanish acronym), and rescued the same day were Érika Ramírez and David Cilia, reporters for the magazine Contralinea. Noé Bautista and David Cilia suffered bullet wounds from the April 27th attack. With this, there are no longer any missing persons remaining among those who participated in the caravan. Confirmed dead as a result of the attack were Beatriz Alberta Cariño Trujillo, director of the Center for Community Support Working Together (CACTUS), and Finnish human-rights observer, Jyri Jaakkola.

The agression against the observation caravan has raised strong national and international condemnation, from both non-governmental and supranational organizations. The National Network for the Rights of Everyone (RedTDT, for the Spanish acronym), in conjunction with more than 60 civil society and human rights organizations from Mexico, released an Urgent Action demanding that the state and federal governments undertake an exhaustive and impartial investigation of the attack and bring those responsible to justice. Also, Amnesty International and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (CIDH),  and the United Nations Office for the High Comissioner of Human Rights in Mexico (OACNUDH) condemed the attack on the caravan which had among its purposes the delivery of humanitarian aid to the population group surrounded by the paramilitary organization, Union of Social Welfare for the Triqui Region (UBISORT), in the autonomous municipality of San Juan Copalá.

The attack occured within the context of ongoing state-level election campaigns. Oaxaca’s governor, Ulises Ruiz Ortiz, denied all responsibility on the part of the state government for the April 27 attacks.  Furthermore, he questioned the participation of foreigners in this caravan, suggesting that their migratory status be investigated.

The Peace Network, comprised of various human-rights organizations that work to promote peace in Chiapas, claimed that “the government of Oaxaca is calling into question international observation, a peaceful civil-intervention mechanism that has proven key in putting an end to violence in several locations and contexts.”

For more information:

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Oaxaca:  attack on observation-caravan–2 dead and 4 missing (29/04/2010)

Oaxaca:  the Peace Network condemns armed attack against observation-caravan in San Juan Copalá (01/05/2010)


Oaxaca: the Peace Network condemns armed attack against observation-caravan in San Juan Copalá

May 1, 2010

The civil organizations that constitute the Chiapas Peace Network strongly condemn the attack that members of a humanitarian caravan comprised of representatives of human-rights organizations, journalists, and international observers suffered on 27 April.  The caravan was en route to the community of San Juan Copalá in the Triqui region when it was ambushed and fired upon, presumably by individuals associated with the Union of Social Welfare for the Triqui Region (UBISORT), an organization linked to the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and claimed by some to be a paramilitary group.  The attack left two dead:  BEATRIZ ALBERTA CARIÑO TRUJILLO, member of the Center of Community Support Working Together A.C. (CACTUS) and JYRI ANTERO JAAKKOLA, a Finnish international observer, as well as a number of injured.

This attack was directed at a humanitarian, non-violent observation-caravan; it brings to mind the risks to which human-rights defenders and journalists are subject in México.  We express our concern for the vulnerable situation of those who work to defend and promote human rights in light of the increasing tendencies of violence, criminalization of such work, and governmental indifference to the protection of life and physical security of such workers.

Particularly grave, in our view, is the fact that, following the death of the Finn Jyri Antero Jaakkola during the attack, the Oaxacan state government is calling into question international observation, a non-violent mechanism of civil intervention that has served to put an end to violence in several locations and contexts.

The state government has denied responsibility for these acts of violence.  It should be said, though, that impunity regarding the several murders and violent acts that have been experienced in the Triqui region has contributed, at least by means of omission, to create a violent situation in the zone.  Finally,we find it worrisome that, as is often the case in Chiapas, the response to this attack be limited to a mere re-establishment of public order instead of an examination of the root causes of the violence that has been experienced in the Triqui region.

In light of the present situation, the organizations that comprise the Chiapas Peace Network demand

  • The immediate intervention of the State Attorney General’s Office of Oaxaca and of the Federal Attorney General’s Office, so that they engage in an impartial investigation, put an end to violence in the area, and punish the material and intellectual authors of these murders.
  • That immediate action be taken to address the violence that is experienced in Triqui communities, with special emphasis on respect and guarantees of internal dialogue
  • That the supposed paramilitary groups in the region be investigated and dismantled

  • That conditions which allow for the re-establishment of security for the entirety of the population without qualification be established–an eventuality we see as unlikely if the region is to be be militarized
  • That solutions be found to that which constituted the basis for the creation of the caravan–that is, the lack of access to basic services among the general population


Member-organizations of the Peace Network

Educación para la Paz (Edupaz)

Centro de Investigaciones Económicas y Políticas de Acción Comunitaria, A.C. (Ciepac)

Desarrollo Económico y Social de los Mexicanos Indígenas, A.C. (Desmi)

Servicio Internacional para la Paz (Sipaz)

Comisión de Apoyo a la Unidad y Reconciliación Comunitaria, A.C. (Coreco)

Enlace, Comunicación y Capacitación A.C. (Enlace CC)

Servicios y Asesoría para la Paz, A.C. (Serapaz)

Centro de Derechos de la Mujer de Chiapas, A.C. (CDMCH)

Centro de Derechos Indígenas, A.C. (Cediac)

Comité de Derechos Humanos Fray Pedro Lorenzo de la Nada, A.C.

Centro de Derechos Humanos Fray Bartolomé de las Casas, A.C. (Frayba)

For more information from SIPAZ:

Oaxaca: Attack on observation caravan–2 dead and 4 missing (29 Abril 2010)

Oaxaca: Attack on observation caravan—2 dead and 4 missing

April 29, 2010

On 27 April, a civil-observation caravan was attacked in the community La Sabana, presumably by members of the organization Union of Social Welfare for the Triqui Region (UBISORT), while en route to the autonomous municipality of San Juan Cópala. To date, it has been confirmed that two have died, one has been injured, and four are still missing.

According to information provided by different sources, the caravan, which was comprised of more than twenty participants, both Mexicans and internationals, departed for San Juan Cópala the same day from Huajuapan de León, and was at 2:30pm stopped and fired upon in La Sabana by presumed members of UBISORT, an organization associated with the Revolutionary Institutional Party (PRI) that has been reported as bearing the characteristics of a paramilitary group. It has been confirmed that Beatriz Alberta Cariño Trujillo, director of the Center of Community Support Working Together A.C. (CACTUS), and the Finnish international observer Jyri Jaakola have died as a result of the attack. Additionally, Mónica Santiago Ortiz was injured with a gun-shot wound and was received the same day at a hostpital in Juxtlahuaca.

In a telephone interview with SIPAZ, Mónica Santiago confirmed that David Venegas and Noé Bautista, both from the organization Oaxacan Voices Constructing Autonomy and Liberty (VOCAL), as well as two journalists from the magazine Contralínea are missing. According to a communiqué released jointly with CACTUS, the Network of Indigenous Community Radios from Southeastern México and the Mexican Alliance for the Self-determination of Peoples (AMAP), the missing journalists are Ericka Ramirez and David Cilia. Santiago Ortiz related that when the caravan arrived in La Sabana, the road was blocked with rocks, and that it was when the three vehicles that constituted the caravan attempted to turn around that they were fired upon. Beatriz Alberta Cariño Trujillo and Jyri Jaakola were both immediately killed by the gunfire.

According to a VOCAL communiqué, “those who remained in the attacked area were forcibly removed from the vehicles and taken monte abajo for interrogation; some were threatened with death and released on the road. Our comrade RUBEN VALENCIA NUNEZ, member of VOCAL, was detained by members of the paramilitary group; the latter took from him his electoral identification and cellular phone, threatened to kill him, and later released him.”

The caravan embarked with the objective of providing humanitarian aid to members of the Movement for Triqui Unification and Struggle-Independent (MULT-I) in San Juan Cópala, who, as has been recently denounced, have been approached by the UBISORT group for the past several months. In a communiqué released on 17 April, authorities of the autonomous municipality, who are adherents to the Other Campaign of the Zapatista Army for National Liberation (EZLN), declared that “electricity and water services have been cut off, and checkpoints have been erected [in La Sabana] at the entrance and exit [of San Juan Cópala].” One of the caravan’s objectives was to document the situation in which the affected populations found themselves. Members of CACTUS, VOCAL, Section 22 of the National Union of Educational Workers (SNTE), as well as councilmembers of the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca and observers from Germany, Belgium, Finland, and Italy, participated in the caravan.

For more information (in Spanish):

San Juan Copala: chronology of an announced repression (La Jornada, 29 April)

Several of those ambushed in Copala are missing (La Jornada, 29 April)



Mexican woman and Finnish man killed in ambush on caravan in Oaxaca; several are missing (Cronica de Hoy, 29 April)

Rare participation of foreigners in a zone with problems: Ulises Ruíz (La Jornada, 29 de abril)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Oaxaca:  Autonomous Municipality of San Juan Copala attacked (18 June 2009)

Oaxaca:  UNHCR and IACHR condemn assassination of two of Copala’s community radio announcers (18 April 2008)