Oaxaca: Harassment and robbery of female human-rights defender

October 25, 2014


The Network of Female Activists and Human-Rights Defenders of Oaxaca denounced that on 8 October, the home of defender Silvia Gabriela Hernández Salinas, a member of the Oaxacan Voices Building Autonomy and Freedom (VOCAL) collective, was forcibly entered to remove her personal computer and two external hard drives.  Despite the fact that the house contained other valuable items, only the digital materials in question were stolen, such that the Network believes that the robbery is associated with her work in favor of the defense of human rights.

In Oaxaca, mobilizations were undertaken on 2 and 8 October to demand the presentation of the disappeared students from Ayotzinapa alive.  It should be mentioned that Silvia Gabriela participated in both such protest-actions.  Furthermore, she indicated that months previously, she had been confronted by members of the State Preventive Police and was arrested on 6 July 2007, when supporters of the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca (APPO) clashed with police following the procession of the popular Guelaguetza in Oaxaca City.

This case adds to the list of 59 attacks against 22 human-rights defenders, 3 journalists, and 6 collectives and organizations in the state of Oaxaca that have been committed in the first half of 2014.

For more information (in Spanish):

Denuncian allanamiento y robo defensora de los DH (Noticias Net, 10 de octubre de 2014)

Allanan domicilio de defensora de DH; suman 60 ataques en Oaxaca solo en 2014 (Página 3, 9 de octubre de 2014)

Oaxaca: Primer lugar en ataques a mujeres defensoras de DH y periodistas (Consorcio Oaxaca, 23 de mayo de 2014)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Oaxaca: Attempted murder against a member of VOCAL (12 January 2009)


Oaxaca: mass-repression of youth-protests in observation of the anniversary of the Tlatelolco massacre

October 20, 2010

During the afternoon of 2 October, hundreds of Oaxacan youth protested in Oaxaca de Juárez in observation of the forty-second anniversary of the Tlatelolco massacre, which left dead some 300 individuals, both students and non-students.  The protests held in Oaxaca sought to denounce the impunity in which the case of Tlatelolco still find itself, in addition to the impunity enjoyed by the present governor of the state, Ulises Ruiz Ortiz, for his role in the repression of the popular political-opposition movement of 2006.  Confrontations between protestors and police resulted in the detention of between 75, according to the declarations of the police itself, and 118 individuals, the latter being the number provided by the social organization Oaxacan Voices Constructing Autonomy and Liberty (VOCAL).  Whether the actual number is 75 or 118, the total arrested represents the highest number of people arrested in a single day by the Oaxacan government since 25 November 2006.

The youth protest was called for 4pm, and was to begin at the state university UABJO; the police operation against it commenced shortly after the initiation of the march.  The state police claims that it intervened following the attempted destruction of a Volkswagen store, a McDonald’s, an an Acuario by a group of hundred youth.  According to the police, young “anarchopunks” attacked the glass separating the Volkswagen cars from the street with sticks and stones before moving on to confront those patronizing McDonald’s and ransacking the Acuario store.  In contrast to this version of events is that of the Coordination of Libertarian Youth, which states that repression on the part of the police began during a period of the march that was “mostly peaceful.”  The Coordination denounced that the arrested were beaten and sexually assaulted by police, and that youth that hadn’t even been participating in the protests were also arrested.

The arrested were taken to the police-station located in the municipality of San Bartolo Coyotepec; the majority were released the same day, save for 7 youth who were transferred to the UMAN-PGR jail, accused of drug-possession.  These seven were released the following day, although one youth, named Ramón, continued imprisoned as of 4 October.  The Coordination of Libertarian Youth has organized a “march against police brutality” for Saturday 23 October.

For more information (in Spanish):

VOCAL denounces 2 October repression (4 October 2010)

Police confirms 75 arrested for vandalism (Realidad Oaxaca, 3 October 2010)

Coordination of Libertarian Youth Blog

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Oaxaca: violent eviction of vendors associated with the APPO in Oaxaca de Juárez (22 July 2010)

Oaxaca: following the caravan “Bety Cariño and Jyri Jaakkola” to San Juan Copalá

June 21, 2010

On June 8, the humanitarian support caravan “Bety Cariño and Jyri Jaakkola,” composed of some 300 people, left from the Oaxacan municipality of Huajuapan for San Juan Copalá to deliver between 30 and 35 tons of food to the autonomous municipality that has for months been surrounded by members of the group Union for the Social Welfare of the Triqui Region (UBISORT for the Spanish acronym), which is linked to the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). The caravan was not able to enter the community due to a blockade that UBISORT members had created on the road to San Juan Copalá; the road-block was made up of a line of stones at the location of  La Pavimentada and a group of Triqui women guarded by armed men, including Rufino Hernandez Juarez, leader of UBISORT.

Participating in the caravan were residents of San Juan Copalá, members of the Other Campaign, deputies from the PRD and PT, members of the Mexican Alliance for the Self-Determination of Peoples (AMAP), the Mexican Union of Electrical Workers (SME), the Mexican Action Network on Free Trade (RMALC), other civil society organizations, members of the Catholic church, human rights groups, environmentalists from various Mexican states, as well as journalists and European observers. The caravan was escorted by 500 officers of the State Preventative Police (PEP), who according to accounts recommended that the members of the caravan desist from continuing in face of the UBISORT road-block. After hearing gun shots fired near the blockade, the caravan leaders concluded that conditions were lacking to continue and so decided to return to Huajuapan to ensure the safety of the caravan members.

According to the analysis of Jorge Albino Ortiz, a representative of San Juan Copalá and coordinator of the caravan, state police laid a “fence” on the road to the autonomous municipality on June 8 precisely to protect UBISORT. He asserted that the police actions against the caravan show the state government’s support for this organization and added that the state administration acts in this way to negate the autonomous project that has been developed in the municipality since 2007.

According to Romualdo Wilfrido Mayrén Peláez, coordinator of the Diocesan Commission for Justice and Peace with the archdiocese of Oaxaca, there has since 8 June been considered the possibility that the International Red Cross and the United Nations deliver the tons of food currently stored in Huajuapan to San Juan Copalá.  He also mentioned the  prospect of organizing another caravan, this one composed entirely of women.

The area remains very tense. In the words of Triqui activist Marcos Albino, “Triqui children have not had been able to have childhoods, given the climate of violence encouraged by the governor Ulises Ruiz.” Mayrén Peláez, legal representative of the archdiocese of Oaxaca, has argued that “what is happening in San Juan Copala is a war: there are disappearances, deaths and aggressions.” For his part, the PRD legislator, Alejandro Encinas, announced in early June that he expected the Organization of American States and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to appoint a representative to document human-rights violations in the area.

Solidarity marches also took place on the 8th in Mexico City, Queretaro, and Oaxaca de Juarez. The demonstrations in Mexico City, organized by female Triquis, students, and members of civil society organizations, were met by riot police who attacked their members. In Queretaro, the demonstrators demanded security guarantees for the caravan as well as a speed-up of the investigation by the Federal Attorney General’s Office (PGR) in San Juan Copalá. In Oaxaca de Juarez, members of Oaxacan Voices Constructing Autonomy and Liberty (VOCAL) engaged in a roadblock, during which electoral propaganda promoting the candidacy of Eviél Perez Magaña (PRI-Green Ecologist) in state elections to be held in early July was burned. According to David Venegas, a member of VOCAL, these activities were coordinated with the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca (APPO).

In a statement released on June 10, the editors of La Jornada asserted that impunity in Oaxaca, experienced in relation to the Triqui region, reflects that “the rule of law [there] is nonexistent.” For his part, Miguel Concha, president of the Human Rights Center Fray Francisco de Vitoria, said that the inability of the new caravan to enter San Juan Copalá “confirms that there are armed groups that are out of control or protected by the government Oaxaca,” a conclusion that is shared by David Peña, of the National Association of Democratic Lawyers, who said in an interview that “in this region of Oaxaca there is an absence of the rule of law […]. There, the one who commands an armed group, is clearly paramilitary.” Peña added that “we can’t conceive that an armed group has more power and control in the region that both governments [i.e. state and federal]. “

For more information (in Spanish):

With road-blocks and shots the humanitarian convoy is prevented from reaching San Juan Copala (La Jornada, 9 June)

They are protected by the police (La Jornada, 10 June)

The real war of the Mexican government, against indigenous peoples: a special report (La Jornada, 12 June)

The International Red Cross is asked to take supplies to San Juan Copala (La Jornada, 10 June)

The prospect that a female-only caravan be sent to Copala is considered (La Jornada, 9 June)

Security in San Juan Copala worsens; attacks reach other communities, it is said (La Jornada, 3 June)

Solidarity marches in 3 locations (La Jornada, 8 June)

Riot-police in the capital obstruct march in support of aid-caravan (La Jornada, 9 June)

Copala: violence and power-vacuum (La Jornada, 10 de junio)

Blog of the Autonomous Municipality of San Juan Copala

Cyber-action for San Juan Copala: All with the Caravan Bety Cariño and Jyri Jaakkola

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Oaxaca: On the “International and National Humanitarian Caravan Bety Cariño and Jyri Jaakola” to San Juan Copala (8 June 2010)

Oaxaca: The Peace Network’s Communiqué on the Caravan to San Juan Copala (9 June 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)

Oaxaca: anti-mining roadblock in San José Progreso is evicted by the State and Federal Police

May 7, 2009

On May 6, community members who had been blocking the entrance to the mining project Cuzctalán in the municipality of San José Progreso since March 16, were evicted by the State and Federal Police forces. Social movements and organization of Oaxaca, such as Oaxacan Voices Building Autonomy and Liberty (VOCAL), the Regional Human Rights Center “Bartolomé Carrasco Briseño” A.C. (BARCA-DH), and the Diocesan Commission for Peace and Justice, denounced the excessive use of force against the citizens demanding their right to the land, as well as the abuse and violation of the human rights of the indigenous communities.

Twelve members of the community were detained during the eviction and there was one injured policeman according to various sources. VOCAL stated in their denunciation that “according to information from those in the community, approximately 1500 police evicted the roadblock which was demanding the definite closure of the mine, 12 people were detained (their names are not known), 4 people have arrest warrants, and 5 communities are surrounded by police at the moment.”

It is important to remember that on March 14, 600 people affected by the Canadian mining companies Fortuna Silver Inc. and Continuum Resources Ltd. by way of their Mexican subsidiary Compañía Minera Cuzcatlán, decided to organize themselves to stop the advance of these mining projects. These companies cover 54,000 hectares in the town of San Jerónimo Taviche, municipality of Ocotlán. In an assembly they asked for the support of their representatives “to protect their territory”, a request which was denied by the municipal president. Faced with this, the decision to close “the mine, in an orderly and peaceful manner” was taken and carried out by 600 people by way of a roadblock, begun on March 16. Since March 20, they denounced that the roadblock has been constantly threatened by members of the Secretary of Public Security, the Secretary of National Defense, and the State Police in various police and military operations.

For More Information (In Spanish):

Desalojan a opositores de la mina en San José del Progreso, Ocotlán, Oaxaca, denuncia, VOCAL (6/5/2009)

Boletín de prensa sobre el desalojo en San José del Progreso, BARCA-DH (6/5/2009)

Acción Urgente: Riesgo inminente de represión al movimiento de resistencia contra Empresa Minera Cuzcatlán, BARCA-DH (24/3/2009)

Desaloja policía a pobladores en una mina en Oaxaca; hay 12 detenidos, La Jornada (6/5/2009)

Policías desalojan a comuneros que se oponen a cosntrucción de mina, Olor a mi tierra (6/5/2009)

Levantan a bloqueo en Sa José del Progreso sin incidentes, Las Noticias de Tuxtepec (6/5/2009)

Preparan el operativo en cuartel de la policía; se dirígen a San José del Progreso, Ocotlán, ADN Sureste (6/5/2009)

Habitantes de Magdalena Ocotlán bloquean la carretera; demandan la liberación de detenidos en desalojo, ADN Sureste (6/5/2009)

Oaxaca: military incursion in San Miguel Panixtlahuaca

April 30, 2009

On April 23, two different sources published information about a military incursion in the indigenous community Chatina de San Miguel Panixtlahuaca, district of Juquilia on the coast of Oaxaca. Oaxacan Voices Building Autonomy and Liberty (VOCAL) denounced that “at nine in the morning, 15 trucks full of armed and hooded soldiers of the Federal Army arrived” surrounding the community “with roadblocks (… ) not allowing anyone to enter or leave, and in addition they began to search houses looking for weapons”.

On the website “Punto y Aparte” the operation was also mentioned as part of a “national campaign of disarmament”. Nevertheless, members of Section XXII stated that more than a routine campaign, the presence of 300 members of the military “with their faces covered” was actually related to the fact that they brought photos of “three people who they were searching for, in relation to a supposed guerrilla camp operating in the zone since 2000”. They fear that the state is being turned into a “laboratory for the Mexican Army, which has been ordered by Felipe Calderón to find and kill members of the Popular Revolutionary Army (EPR)”.

The operation seemed to have ended without anyone detained, but it left the population alarmed. VOCAL denounced in their communiqué that the military incursion is part of “the repression which the State and Federal Government continues carrying out against the communities, people, and organizations which rose up against the government of Ulises Ruiz in 2006, especially because in this community there was participation in 2006, when the uprising of the peoples of Oaxaca began”. In addition, they stated in the communiqué that the events are also related to the resistance the people have shown to the hydroelectric dam project “Paso de la Reina” and also to 3 other dam projects which are being built in the land of indigenous peoples of Oaxaca.

For More Information (In Spanish):

Ejército federal sitia la comunidad de San Miguel Panixtlahuaca, VOCAL (23/04/2009)

Militares ponen en estado de sitio a la población de San Miguel Panixtlahuaca, Punto y Aparte (24/04/2009)

Denuncian sitio militar en Panixtlahuaca; versiones de que buscarían eperristas, Centro Prodh (24/04/2009)

México: Informe sobre la militarización en Oaxaca, Red de información para organizaciones indígenas de México

Oaxaca: David Venegas is absolved of all crimes on April 20

April 28, 2009

On Monday, April 20 David Venegas Reyes “Alebrije” was cleared off all charges regarding supposed possession of cocaine and heroine, which ended the two year long criminal process in which he was jailed for 11 months. David Venegas was freed on March 5, 2008 “completely exonerated of the crime of burning buildings on November 25, but still charged with the crime of possession of cocaine and heroine with intent to sell”. He has been out of jail for more than a year under conditional freedom, which means that he had to appear before a judge once every 15 days.

Oaxacan Voices Building Liberty and Autonomy (VOCAL) stated in their press release on April 21 that the sentence, “far from being a sign of that the Mexican judicial system is functioning, was a result of the strength of the popular movement and the solidarity of people from all over Mexico and the world. The judicial system in Mexico is sick to its guts and it is an instrument of the government used to repress those who fight for justice and liberty”.

It is important to remember that since his liberation in March of 2008, David Venegas has worked for the liberation of other “political prisoners” in Oaxaca and in Chiapas, where he showed his solidarity with the protest in front of the Government palace in Tuxtla in March of 2008, which was protesting for freedom for the prisoners in hunger strike. On April 12, a Cultural Political Week was organized by the family and friends of political prisoners, as well as members of the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca (APPO) in support of the liberation of the prisoners of the APPO: Víctor Hugo Martínez, Miguel Angel García, Pedro Castillo Aragón, and Juan Manuel Martínez.

For More Information:

Judge Declares APPO Adviser David Venegas Innocent of Drug Charges, Kristin Bricker, Narconews, (4/21).

For More Information (In Spanish):

“Obtenemos la libertad de absoluta de David Venegas  “alebrije”, VOCAL (21/04/2009)