Oaxaca: Omar Esparza denounces group contracted to murder him; threats against lawyers in the case of Bety and Jyri

June 10, 2015

Foto @ Aristegui Noticias

Photo @ Aristegui Noticias

Omar Esparza Zárate, widower of Bety Cariño, a human-rights defender who died alongside Jyri Jaakkola for participating in a humanitarian-aid caravan to San Juan Copala in 2010, denounced the existence of an armed group that seeks to kill him, being contracted by Antonio Cruz (alias “Toño Bird), the leader of the Movement for Triqui Struggle and Unification (MULT), which is allied with the Union for Social Welfare in the Triqui Region (UBISORT). Omar Esparza holds the federal and state governments responsible for whatever attack he or his family would suffer, due to their failures to arrest all those responsible for the murders of Bety y Jyri. In an interview with Revolución Tres Punto Cero, Esparza indicated that “someone heard the conversation and told us to take the necessary security measures. It is not just a death-threat. There exists an armed group that has been hired to kill me.”

Beyond this, David Peña, lawyer from the National Association of Democratic Laywers (ANAD), declared in an interview with Aristegui CNN that the case is pending. Though three have been incarcerated, 10 arrest-orders are still open. He indicated that the “government of Finland (where Jyri Jaakkola had held citizenship) has been present and attentive to the process from the beginning. We have been accompanied by the Finnish Embassy, other embassies from the European Union, and the European Parliament itself held a special audience within the subcommittee on human rights.” He added that “this case was discussed by the Finnish president with Peña Nieto, who reiterated the Mexican State’s commitment to resolving the case. He has made this claim on three or four separate occasions. The problem is that the commitment Peña Nieto supposedy has is not translated into concrete actions.” Regardless, David Peña added that “there has been a near-total absence of the judiciary: no protection for witnesses, or investigation of those responsible. No resources for the arrest of the murderers, nor even now to guarantee the security of those who of us who are promoting the process, who in recent weeks have received death-threats and warnings to abandon the case.”

The lawyer explained the history of the Triqui region, wherein a group was created “by PRI governments with their finances. These groups have been publicly recognized, even by the Federal Attorney General’s Office, as a paramilitary group.” This group “attacked the caravan. We performed a process of documentation and investigation and succeeded in identifying who it was who attacked the caravan. Then the arrest-orders are released, but only three have been implemented, with 10 more pending. We are in an initial process of the trial against these three people, but the problem is that these put us at risk. Though we have 3 people incarcerated, 10 others are free, including two of the principal leaders. They have economic and military power, and with this protection or permissibility toward them on the part of politicians, they continue operating.”

For more information (in Spanish):

Acción Urgente: Preocupación por la seguridad de Omar Esparza, Viudo de Bety Cariño (Red Todos los Derechos para Todas y Todos, 3 de junio de 2015)

Ausencia de la Federación en el caso del asesinato de Bety Cariño y Jyri Jaakkola: David Peña en CNN (Aristegui Noticias, 1 de junio de 2015)

Entrevista de Aristegui Noticias (29 de mayo de 2015)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Oaxaca: 5 years since the murder of human rights defenders Bety Cariño and Jyri Jaakkola (28 April 2015)

Oaxaca: Two female witnesses threatened in the murder case of Bety Cariño and Jyri Jaakkola (March 1, 2015)

Oaxaca: 4 years and 7 months later, presumed murderer of human-rights defenders Bety Cariño and Jyri Jaakkola is apprehended (February 8, 2015)

Oaxaca: 4 years and 7 months on, presumed murderer of human-rights defenders Bety Cariño and Jyri Jaakkola is apprehended

February 8, 2015


On 21 January, Elías Cruz Merino, leader of the Movement for Triqui Unification and Struggle (MULT) and official of San Juan Copala, was arrested as one of the presumed murderers of the human-rights defenders Bety Cariño y Jyri Jaakkola (Finnish).  Both were killed in April 2010 as they participated in a humanitarian caravan headed to San Juan Copala.  Cruz Merino is accused of the premeditated murder of the two activists.

Since April of last year, the National Association of Democratic Lawyers denounced that those responsible for the murders had been plainly identified, but that the government had refused to implement the corresponding arrest-orders.

Omar Esparza Zárate, widower of Bety Cariño and leader of the Indigenous Zapatista Agrarian Movement (MAIZ), affirmed that this arrest constitutes an advance, but he observed that 10 other arrest-orders remain unobserved.  He noted: “For us it is clear that they continue to be protected by certain power-groups in Oaxaca.  Still, we will continue to demand that justice not be delayed but instead expedited.”    Esparza Zárate also announced that European parliamentarians will carry out a visit to Mexico in February to pressure the Mexican State and continue demanding justice.

For more information (in Spanish):

Capturan a policía implicado en crimen de los activistas Cariño y Jaakkola (Proceso, 22 de enero de 2015)

Encarcelan a dirigente del MULT por homicidio de ‘Bety’ Cariño y de finlandés (Radio Formula, 22 de enero de 2015)

Capturan a presunto homicida de Bety Cariño (Noticias.net, 23 de enero de 2014)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Oaxaca: Parents of Jyri Jaakkola visit Mexico for fifth time to demand justice (7 December 2014)

National/Oaxaca: Mothers of the disappeared express solidarity with Omar Esparza and his family on hunger strike (18 May 2014)

Oaxaca: In response to 4 years of impunity, hunger strikes and protests taken to resist murders of Bety Cariño y Jyri Jaakkola (2 May 2014)

Oaxaca: Three-year impunity continues in the case of the murders of Bety Cariño y Jyri Jaakkola (17 May 2013)

Oaxaca: 12 arrest-orders released against presumed material authors of the murder of the Mexican defender Bety Cariño and the Finnish observer Jyri Jaakkola (12 October 2012)

Oaxaca: MORENA-affiliated Triqui leader kidnapped and executed

February 5, 2015

Foto @ Contralínea

Photo @ Contralínea

On 11 January, Julián González Domínguez, leader of the International Network of Oaxacan Indigenous Persons (RIIO) and representative of the Movement for National Regeneration (MORENA) in the Triqui region, was murdered after an armed group forcibly removed him from his home in the La Brama Paraje Pérez community in the Santiago Juxtlahuaca municipality.  The RIIO state coordination expressed that Julián González, founder of the Movement for the Unification of Triqui Struggle (MULT) and MULT-Independent (MULT-I) was subsequently found in the same municipality with two gunshot wounds in the head.  It added that the leader had received death-threats owing to agrarian conflicts in the region.

It should be noted that González Domínguez was the point-man for organizing the visit of Andrés Manuel López Obrador to the Tlaxiaco municipality on 24 January.  His wife had previously been awarded precautionary measures by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR).

For more information (in Spanish):

Asesinan a líder triqui, impulsor de la autonomía (Contralínea, 13 de enero de 2015)

Ejecutan a líder de Morena (Noticias Net, 13 de enero de 2015)

La Mixteca, Oaxaca, asesinan dirigente de MORENA (Regeneración, 11 de enero de 2015)

Comando asesina en Oaxaca a dirigente triqui afín a Morena (Excelsior, 12 de enero de 2015)

Oaxaca: Concern for the alarming increase of murders in the state

April 26, 2014

Ignacio García Maldonado, ex miembro de la APPO asesinado. Foto (@Noticiasnet.mx)

Ignacio García Maldonado, murdered ex-member of the APPO. Photo (@Noticiasnet.mx)

During the past three weeks there has been a significant increase in the number of murders and extrajudicial executions in Oaxaca; some of these have been had a political character within the context of the social struggles being experienced in Oaxaca.

On 28 March, Basilio Guzmán Sánchez and Martín Sánchez Pérez were murdered in the Constanza del Rosario, being members of the Movement for Triqui Unification and Struggle (MULT). That same day, the logging capitalist César Ramírez Guendüláin was murdered in the Santa Lucía del Camino municipality

The next day, Ignacio García Maldonado, former member of the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca (APPO) and ex-political prisoner, was murdered in Oaxaca City together with his friend Emanuel López Martínez.  Furthermore, in the community of San Miguel Soyaltepec, six people were shot, and Eliserio Valencia García was executed in Santa Cruz Loxicha, being the brother of the mayor of San Agustín Loxicha.

On 11 April, two teachers from Section 22 of the National Union of Educational Workers (SNTE-CNTE) together with their 7-year old child in Pochutla.  The previous day, there was a report of the murder of the leader of the Freedom Union, Germán Hernández Juárez, in Trinidad de Viguera.

Lastly, on 12 April, six people were murdered, two of them minors, by a commando group in the municipality of Huajuapan de León in the Mixteca region, and the next day, Eduardo Vásquez Ramírez, Secretary of the Committee of Vigilance of the Commissioner’s Group for Communal Goods from Santa María Petapa, was killed in the Matías Romero municipality in the Tehuantepec Isthmus.

With reference to the political crimes, the Oaxacan group Services for an Alternative Education (EDUCA) has expressed that “this context places us close to the risk that violence will take over all institutions and the administration of justice, beyond encouraging society in general to express its differences by means of bullets rather than reason […].  We are sure that only justice and not impunity can be the public action that marks the path toward the restitution of faith and credibility in the institutions […].  Violence without a doubt puts at risk the transition and the political changes demanded by Oaxacan society.  It is necessary to recover our faith in the institutions, as it is necessary to recover our faith in ourselves.”

For more information (in Spanish):

Asesinan en Oaxaca a 2 maestros y su hijo de 7 años; suman 4 crímenes en 24 horas (E-Oaxaca, 13 de abril de 2014)

Asesinan a secretario de Vigilancia del Comisariado de Bienes Comunales de Petapa (Página 3, 13 de abril de 2014)

Investigan asesinato de seis personas por comando armado en Huajuapan (Noticias, 13 de abril de 2014)

Asesinan a líder del sindicato Libertad en Oaxaca (Proceso, 11 de abril de 2014)

La violencia pone en riesgo la transición en Oaxaca: EDUCA (EDUCA, 01 de abril de 2014)

De nuevo, Oaxaca: amenazas y ejecuciones (La Jornada, 31 de marzo de 2014)

Asesinan a dos colaboradores del ex líder de la APPO Flavio Sosa (La Jornada, 30 de marzo de 2014)

Ejecutan a hermano del alcalde de Loxicha, Oaxaca (Proceso, 30 de marzo de 2014)

12 ejecuciones en 48 horas encienden focos rojos en Oaxaca (Página 3, 30 de marzo de 2014)

El mensaje es claro: estamos en la mira y el centro del asunto es 2006“: Comuna Oaxaca (Página 3, 30 de marzo de 2014)

Ejecutan a empresario (Noticias, 29 de marzo de 2014)

Matan a balazos a dos activistas del MULT (Noticias, 29 de marzo de 2014)

Oaxaca: provisional measures are requested for those displaced from San Juan Copalá, and MULT demands the clarification of the death of Pazos Ortiz

November 8, 2010

On Tuesday 26 October, the Center for Human Rights and Assessment of Indigenous Peoples (CEDHAPI) and the Bartolomé Carrasco Center for Human Rights (Barca) “urgently” requested before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) the granting of provisional measures for the displaced 135 residents of the autonomous municipality of San Juan Copalá, located in the northwestern Triqui region of the state of Oaxaca, who had previously received precautionary measures from the IACHR on 7 October.  In their petition to the IACHR, CEDHAPI and Barca noted that Omeheira López Reyna, director of the Institution for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights from the Secretary for Governance, had not to date responded to the requests sent by both organizations.  They demanded that a meeting be held to discuss the implementation of the precautionary measures; it is precisely in light of the ignoring of such demands that CEDHAPI and Barca requested the provision of provisional measures, which would, according to them, represent “measures of protection for cases of extreme gravity and urgency, when it is necessary to avoid irreparable damage to people.”

In other news, members of the Movement for Triqui Unification and Struggle (MULT) have continued participating in road-blocks in several municipalities in the state of Oaxaca following the murder of their leader Heriberto Pazos Ortiz in Oaxaca de Juárez on 23 October.  In a press conference last week, members of MULT’s political commission demanded the clarification of the circumstances surrounding the killing of Pazos Ortiz, noting that “the State has undertaken a dirty war against social organizations and MULT; it seeks to destabilize the Triqui region to justify its militarization of it.” They added that soldiers had arrived to the Triqui communities of San Miguel Copala and Llano Aguacate, sympathetic to MULT, on Saturday 30 October.

For more information (in Spanish):

NGOs request intervention of the IACHR in the case of San Juan Copala (Proceso, 26 October)

Provisional measures for 135 persons from San Juan Copala (CIMAC, 2 November)

CEDHAPI-Barca petition to the IACHR

The Triqui movement will intensify its protests in Oaxaca and Mexico City starting today (La Jornada, 4 November)

MULT demands the clarification of the death of its leader (La Jornada, 29 October)

Ombudsman from Oaxaca has not yet opened file on killings of Triquis (La Jornada, 5 November)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Oaxaca: Heriberto Pazos Ortiz, leader and founder of MULT, is killed (26 October)

Oaxaca: new ambush in Triqui region against individuals who had been granted precautionary measures by the IACHR (20 October)

Oaxaca: new ambush in Triqui region against individuals who had been granted precautionary measures by the IACHR

October 20, 2010

On Saturday 16 October there occurred yet another ambush in the northwestern Triqui region in the state of Oaxaca that left two dead–Serafín Ubaldo Zurita and Teresa Ramírez Sánchez–and two injured–Domingo Ramírez Ortega and Jordán Ramírez González.  Ramírez Sánchez and Ramírez González, ambushed on the road toward the community of Yosoyuxi, had been awarded precautionary measures by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) in a 7 October decision that granted protection to 135 Triqui residents of the autonomous municipality of San Juan Copalá.  According to Reina Martínez Flores, spokesperson for the camp of displaced Triqui women located in the Zócalo of Oaxaca de Juárez, the groups Union of Social Welfare for the Triqui Region (UBISORT) and the Movement of Triqui Unification and Struggle (MULT) were to blame for this new aggression.

This attack comes days after thousands of MULT members and sympathizers marched in Oaxaca de Juárez to express their interest in promoting peace in the Triqui region.  The march, held on Tuesday 12 March, remained silent until the end, when all of a sudden came cries of “Long live the Zapatista Army of National Liberation!” and “What is it that MULT wants?” that met with the response “Peace.” In the rally held at the march’s close were presented delegates from 18 Triqui communities who are to participate in the dialogues organized Arturo Lona Reyes, bishop emeritus of Tehuantepec, and Romualdo Wilfrido Mayrén Peláez, coordinator of the Diocene Commission for Justice and Peace from the archdiocesis of Antequera-Oaxaca, with the Movement of Triqui Unification and Struggle-Independent (MULT-I).  Heriberto Pazos Ortiz, leader of MULT, announced that MULT would await MULT-I to advance in dialogue, a process that has met with challenges in light of the ongoing violence suffered in the Triqui region in recent months.  With relation to the number of people who participated in the marches organized by MULT on 12 October, Pazos Ortiz claimed there to have been “some forty-thousand militants,” but city officials estimate that in fact the marches were comprised of 10,000.

The same day 150 members of the Alliance of the Mexico Valley, the Front of Peoples in Defense of Land, the Movement of Indigenous Zapatista Artisans as well as Triquis marched in Oaxaca de Juárez to demand that the precautionary measures granted by the IACHR on 7 October for the displaced Triquis of San Juan Copalá be observed.

All of these developments come following recent revelations made in La Jornada that claim there to exist 11 deposits of “important metals” near San Juan Copalá; among them are two copper deposits, two iron deposits, as well as gold and silver deposits.

For more information (in Spanish):

Bulletin from the autonomous municipality of San Juan Copala (17 October)

Urgent Action from Barca in light of recent violence (“Bartolomé Carrasco” Center for Human Rights, 18 October 2010)

Ambushed Triquis had precautionary measures from the IACHR (Noticias de Oaxaca, 18 October)

Two Triquis who were ambushed by armed group die (La Jornada, 18 October)

MULT marches for peace in the Triqui region (La Jornada, 13 October)

Triquis demand implementation of precautionary measures in San Juan Copala (La Jornada, 13 October)

MULT marches in silence; it claims to seek dialogue and peace (Noticias de Oaxaca, 12 October)

MULT flyer for the 12 October march

IACHR calls for the protection of 135 Triquis (La Jornada, 10 October)

IACHR demands that Mexico protect the residents of Copala (Noticias de Oaxaca, 9 October)

IACHR awards precautionary measures to Copala habitants (Noticias de Oaxaca, 9 October)

Mining avarice, background of San Juan Copala (La Jornada, 9 October)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Oaxaca: the autonomous municipality of San Juan Copala is dismantled (30 September 2010)

Oaxaca: the autonomous municipality of San Juan Copalá is dismantled

September 30, 2010

On 13 September, a group of 500 heavily-armed men entered the Municipal Palace of San Juan Copalá, occupying it with fire.  There, they presented an ultimatum demanding the removal of 100 families from the municipality within 24 hours.  In the following days, given rumors of a possible massacre, the Movement for Triqui Unification and Struggle-Independent (MULT-I) made public a number of denunciations regarding the violence: on 18 September were killed David García Ramírez and Paulino Ramírez Reyes, MULT-I sympathizers.  The same day were disappeared Eugenio Martínez, Jordán González Ramírez, María Agustina Flores y Susana López Martínez, all residents of the autonomous municipality of San Juan Copalá.  Jorge Albino, member of the autonomous municipality, warned during the weeked of 18 September that the residents of San Juan Copalá no longer had “either food or water,” claim confirmed by Joaquín Rodríguez Palacios, general sub-secretary of governance in Oaxaca, two days later.  On 19 September, authorities of San Juan Copalá made yet another call for the organization of another humanitarian-support caravan for the residents of the autonomous municipaliy.

According to declarations made by Jorge Albino (MULT-I), on 20 September militants from MULT (Movement for Triqui Unification and Struggle) and UBISORT (Union for the Social Welfare of the Triqui Region) entered San Juan Copalá at mid-day and began to burn 100 homes, causing the MULT-I sympathizers still residing in the community to flee. On 23 September, all had fled, with entire families displaced.  MULT declared publicly not to have participated in these acts.

On 20 September, 10 Triqui women and 9 children began a hunger strike in the Oaxaca de Juárez’s Zócalo in protest of recent events, while residents of the autonomous municipality held protests outside the Secretary of Governance in Mexico City and a rally in front of the Oaxaca State Attorney General’s Office.

At the same time negotiations aimed at reducing the violence lived in San Juan Copala that had been called by the Catholic Church failed.  Only one MULT representative came to the proposed meeting arranged by Arturo Lona Reyes, bishop of Tehuantepec, and the legal adviser of the Archdiocese, Wilfrido Mayren Peláez.  MULT-I initially responded by saying that it was not in principle opposed to such negotiations, although it established pre-conditions for such: “the cessation of violence and aggression, as well as guarantees for the life and integrity of the residents of San Juan Copala; the presentation with life of the disappeared, in addition to permitting human-rights and civil-society organizations access to the region, so that they can verify the conditions lived in the community.”

In light of this alarming context, Amnesty International released an urgent action demanding that the Oaxaca’s state government and the federal government investigate the aggression and sexual violence directed against two Triqui women on 7 September, as well as other aggressions against the residents of San Juan Copalá, and that their basic rights be observed.  Similarly, the Ecclesiastical Observatory and the Bartolomé Carrasco Regional Center for Human Rights (Barca) declared that, in case that violence continue unabated in the Triqui region, primary responsibility would lie with the state and federal governments.  Gabriela Juárez, execuive secretary of the Ecclesiastical Observatory, observed that “we are outraged by what has happened in San Juan Copala, because while our brothers are being ravaged, the government celebrates the bi-centennial, as though they wanted us to forget about the violence.”


In contrast, in declarations published in La Jornada on 25 September, Ulises Ruiz Ortiz, governor of Oaxaca, claimed there not to be paramilitaries, dead, or disappeared in San Juan Copalá: “That is merely an invention of those who claim such [to exist].” The governor also rejected calls for public security forces to resolve the conflict, declaring that “the problem is one of different ideologies […] that will be solved if the three groups come together to promote dialogue and accords.”

For more information (in Spanish):

The destruction of Copalá (La Jornada, 27 September)

In Copala, there are neither dead nor paramilitaries: Ulises Ruiz (La Jornada, 26 September)

MULTI demands a cessation to violence in San Juan Copala (La Jornada, 22 September)

Triqui children and women begin hunger strike against paramilitary siege (La Jornada, 21 September)

Ulises Ruiz is called on to stop “genocide” (La Jornada, 21 September)

Triqui people call for an urgent caravan against armed attacks in Copala (La Jornada, 20 September)

Second murder in one day of MULTI members in Copala (La Jornada, 20 September)

Residents of San Juan Copala demand protection from public-security forces for the autonomous municipality (La Jornada, 18 September)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Oaxaca: threat of massacre in San Juan Copala is denounced (20 September)

Distrito Federal: visiting Mexico, the parents of Jyri Jaakkola demand justice for the case of their son and that of Bety Cariño (9 September)

Oaxaca: new ambush in Triqui region leaves 3 dead and 2 injured (1 September)

Oaxaca: mujeres triquis denuncian contexto que padecen (20 de agosto)