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Oaxacan Anarchists Demand Justice
Email: elcorajedemagon (nospam) hotmail.com
01 Aug 2002
ANARCHISTS JUMP ON SCENE IN OAXACA MEXICO TO DEMAND JUSTICE AND AN END TO PARAMILITARISM
CHECK OUT GLOBAL LINK FOR UPDATES
ANARCHISTS JUMP ON SCENE IN OAXACA MEXICO TO DEMAND JUSTICE AND AN END TO PARAMILITARISM
CHECK OUT GLOBAL LINK FOR UPDATES
The Travesty of Teojomulco
On May 31, 2002 in a spot in the Oaxacan southern forests, known as El Parraje de Agua Fria, a dump truck carrying 27 inhabitants from the community of Santiago Xochiltepec was fired upon from the tops of hills on either side of it by several hooded men dressed in black. The men fired AR-15 and AK-47 rounds indiscriminately until they felt safe enough to approach the vehicle. The driver, who was seated next to his young son, was instructed to dump the load of bodies out... and the rifle rounds resumed. One of the 27 passengers survived the massacre, and is a primary witness not yet seen by anyone, but the Attorney General’s office since then. The assailants disappeared, leaving the driver and his son alive as witnesses to the massacre. The driver’s first account of the events included five hooded men. The very next day, under the auspices of the Oaxacan State Attorney General (Procurador General del Estado), Sergio Santibañez, 17 residents from the multi-community municipality of Santo Domingo Teojomulco were detained, without arrest or search warrants, by state municipal police with "preventive" jurisdiction, i.e. a military feel.... machine guns, combat boots, and fatigues. The Teojomulcoteco´s homes were ransacked for goods and money. Among the 17 detainees, a 69 year old women and four adolescents ages 13, 14, 16, and 17. The children were pulled from their parents arms with no reason for the arrests. When detained men asked why, the answer was a vulgar, "It doesn’t matter, but you are screwed!!" After the arrests, when people from the community asked for the evidence which lead to the detentions, the Attorney Generals office produced a statement from the driver identifying every one of the detainees by name and face. The driver has not been seen by the public, the media, or the defence attorneys to date. Additional evidence provided after the arrests, were positive gun powder tests on all 17 detainees: A piece of evidence now nullified by the release of the two youngest detainees under public pressure. The attorney general sited three different motivations for the massacre: 1- Traditional agrarian land disputes, 2- Forest rights, and finally 3- Narcotics trafficking in the area. In so far as traditional land disputes, there are. Teojomulco has had ancient land disputes with Xochiltepec in the past however Teojomulco had made peace with neighbouring Xochiltepec. Geographically, Teojomulco and Xochiltepec are separated by another community and therefore a land dispute would have to overlap another entire community. Of the 26 dead Xochiltepecos, only two were not Evangelical Christians. The Evangelical minister from Xochiltepec immediately produced a document to denounce the arrests of Teojomulcotecos in the Agua Fria case, as the two communities had come to peace some time before. Teojomulco does still have a deadly land dispute with neighbouring Texmelucan, so much so, that to cross into one another’s territory, is potential death. Most of the deaths in this land dispute have been from 22 rifle rounds a distance away, not strategic military style assassinations. As for forest rights, Teojomulco had just received legal rights to forest resources in the form of a deed three days before the massacre.... Teojomulcotecos had no reason to be jealous of Xochiltepecs forests. As for Narcotics trafficking, the region is obviously controlled largely by that resource, as it is able to exist amidst the intense Ministerial / Preventive check points. Teojomulcotecos have opened the doors to having their land searched, claiming no drugs will be found. And every body knows around these parts who the real narcotics traffickers are... and they’re not American ghetto youths, as much as they’re not the indigenous or mestizo farm workers from the area.
So... why kill 26 campesinos, and arrest 17 others? It’s not an easy question to answer, and even dangerous to ask. What do the Teojomulcotecos say: "It has to be institutional paramilitaries from the state government." But why? "Natural resources in the region." they say. It begins to make sense. It also begins to get interesting.
The Teojomulcotecos, as the Xochiltepecos, were both PRI communities. As most of you know the PRI- Partido Revolucionario Institutional, Institutional Revolutionary Party, is the party under whose thumb Mexico had existed for over 70 years. Both communities were PRI communities. Neither community was political at all... not until now. The Teojomulcoteco´s site PRI party infighting as the reason for the massacre. On a national level, as in the state arena, the PRI is falling apart into a million pieces, two of which are fighting one another for the most power. These two factions of the same party had been revealed most intensely to the nation and the world when a PRI presidential candidate (Colossio), was assassinated under the auspices of the PRI president (Gortari). Gortari´s brother Raul was convicted of orchestrating the hit, and to this day Gortari lives in "exile", while still boarding Westinghouse Corporation, the number two producer of nuclear weapons in the world... by the way. Other known facts about Gortari are a history of violence and narcotics-trafficking affiliations, a regular Al Capone as president, and the initial PRI proponent of free trade agreements and the neo-liberal agenda. Gortari represents the inception of the neo-liberal mindset to the Mexican political economy, and Colossio, and PRI presidents past, represent old money and are known as the "Dinosaurs". In Oaxaca, the states governor, Jose Casab Murat, the son of Iraqi oil barons, represents the neo-liberal PRI, while the states former governor Diodoro, represents the dinosaurs. Both PRI factions are essentially the same, save for democratic rhetoric from the dinosaurs, and a George Bush ferocity with regards to market deregulation from the neo-liberals, both are tenants of imperialistic capitalist expansionism. In Oaxaca the PRI communities are divided up into either Diodoristas, or Murateros. There still are Diodoristas in office, (Mufat) and Murat must contend with their power in the struggle for control of the land, and its resources.
Back to Agua Fria... well it won’t take a genius to know that the Teojomulcotecos did not commit the atrocity. And given the history of repression in the region, institutionalized paramilitaries make the only sense, but why? The only substantiated theory to date is that Diodoro ordered the massacre in order to destabilize Murat´s control of the region, and weaken his chances for re-election. The substance comes in many forms. The concrete evidence is as follows: 1- The detained school children, were in school the day of the massacre, as per their classmates, professors, and a documented role call. They community of Teojomulco had a "tequio" (traditional community work day, with mandatory participation) the day of the massacre, in order to build a basketball court. All community members were present, and all testify (in vain) to the fact. The substantive yet circumstantial evidence is as follows: 1- Murat and Diodoro are at each others throats. 2- The region is filled with natural resources, which may only be exploited by the opulent and their access to North American technologies. 3- In the PRI infighting there is a struggle for control of key Plan Puebla Panama development areas (an industrialization project with a corridor from the state of Puebla, just south of Mexico City, to the nation of Panama). 4- Neither the Teojomulcotecos, nor the Xochiltepecos are narcotics traffickers. And most of all, 5- is Murat´s reaction. Murat did everything in his power, to keep the federal government out of the investigation, and he did so successfully, by arresting 17 residents from a PRI community, who, in his opinion, would surely receive no support from Oaxacan activist groups, and as a depoliticized community, it would certainly fall through the cracks. Murat´s reaction was instantaneous, within hours of the discovery of the massacre. No time for formal investigations when you are looking for a scapegoat. Murat expected the Teojomulcoteco sacrificial lamb, to go by unnoticed. WRONG!!!
A strong contingent from the Oaxacan left created an alliance to support the Teojolmulcotecos, who by this time had been camping out in the arches of the states government palace for over a month. The alliance’s name is COMPA- Coordinadora Oaxaqueña Magonista Popular Antineoliberal. Oaxacan Popular Magonist (Anarcho-syndicalist) Antineoliberal Coordination
COMPA rounded up over three thousand supporters, several negotiation teams, attorneys, and a massive mobilization for the Teojomulcotecos. COMPA is formed from groups who have, themselves been politicized for some time, due to their experiences with arbitrary detentions, threats, harassments, instigations, kidnappings, rape, torture, disappearances, and assassinations. COMPA is also very familiar with the enemy, and its many faces, in this case, Diodoro and Murat. Murat made a wonderful mistake in counting on Teojomulco to fall through the cracks and remain silent. As of last week COMPA begin trying to negotiate with the government for the release of the Teojomulcotecos; negotiations of a guerrilla protest tactic. "Release the prisoners, or we will mobilize thousands to the city and in protest take over the Zocalo (central plaza). Release the prisoners or we will block roads. Release the prisoners or will confront police with a willingness to die... you wouldn’t want a blood bath on your hands, would you? Release the prisoners, or we will keep adding to our list of demands for all the communities, in order to make this impossible for you..."
I had the distinct privilege of working with COMPA on this movement, from its inception. My friend and I began camping out with the Teojomulcotecos a week and a half before the negotiations led to a massive mobilization by COMPA. We noticed that nobody, on an international level, wanted to have anything to do with them. Rupert Knox of Amnesty International’s British office made Amnesty’s first visit to Oaxaca after the Agua Fria massacre. Among his many findings, was the fact that Sergio Santibañez, the states attorney general, was also the states worst human rights violator, in arbitrary detentions, paramilitary actions, disappearances, and brutality, bar none. In addition, Santibañez was the spokesperson for the state government, to the world, with regards to the massacre. That is where we got the whole, agrarian, forrestal, narcotics rhetoric.... directly from Santibañez. Knox made an attempt to meet with Santibañez, and the appointment was refused. Knox left Oaxaca. Fortunately the Teojomulcotecos had COMPA, who without, they might have fallen through the many cracks of Murat´s plan: an easy solution to a complicated dilemma.
Jose Casab Murat has an interesting past to contribute to the whole dichotomy. Many of you have probably heard about the Tlaltelolco massacre of 1968, where the nation’s Secretary of Governance, (and later president) Echeveria ordered the assassination of hundreds (maybe thousands) of students, professors, and innocent bystanders at a protest in Mexico City. Echeveria later became president and is most recognized as the author of the "Guerra Sucia" (dirty war) against the Lucio Cabañas guerrilla, and leftist university movements. In this dirty war, actions such as torture, disappearances, and murder were common place, as well as an additional massacre in 1971. The dirty war and Echeveria are going to trial as we speak, because of a series of pictures released anonymously last December to the Spanish branch of Proceso Magazine, and Mexico City’s own El Universal. The pictures proved conspiracy theories that had gone numb for some time. They were pictures that were obviously taken by a government operative with easy access to the unfolding drama. In December, when the pictures were released, a student seen in them came out from hiding to say "That is me, this is true, I was there.... it really happened that way." A week later this student, now an old man, was found dead in a Mexico City hotel room, shortly after having met with friends he hadn’t seen since the massacre. The initial official cause of death was alcohol poisoning, and an independent autopsy ordered by his wife, discovered no alcohol in the man’s body. He was whacked, old style mobster like. What does this have to do with Murat? Well Murat was one of Echeveria´s Porro´s (urban paramilitaries) during this period of time, and once, he even saved Echeveria´s life from a civilian attack. Murat helped Echeveria create "Los Halcones", the nation’s paramilitary response to the Cabaña’s rebellion. This was the inception of the dirty war. This is Murat´s M.O. all the way, but he wasn’t counting on COMPA.
On Thursday July, 19th the tension was thick in the air. The Guelaguetza, the states most important tourist event was already being disrupted by the Teojomulcotecos presence in the Zocalo. The Guelaguetza is intended as a revival of indigenous cultures from the entire state. It is a celebration of indigenousness, but more than that, it is a white wash of the states indigenous crises, and a real Walt Disney version of reality. The Teojomulcotecos were camped out in the most prized location for artisans to set up and sell their wares. As the most prized location, the space usually goes to Mafia. The artisans were supposed to have been there a week ago by now, but couldn’t because of the Teojomulcotecos. The states government would not intervene in the situation, in order to contribute to a potential confrontation, between "indigenous" artisans, and the Teojomulcotecos. On Thursday, the artisans showed up, and tried to take the space by force, with not a cop in sight... at least not any in uniform. The first instigation was foiled. The Teojomulcotecos, were ill prepared, but reacted swiftly enough. They locked arms around the space in silence, locking the artisans who had made it through, in, and those who had not, out. Immediately, COMPA coordinators organized a meeting with the artisans, to come to an agreement... hours later, no cops, and a potentially explosive situation. After hours of negotiation, and firm stances by both sides, COMPA agreed to give the artisans half the space. The artisans in turn agreed that was the only fair solution. Win, win.
On Friday July, 20th, delegations from approximately 300 Oaxacan communities began arriving at the Oaxacan Zocalo, on behalf of Tejomulco, COMPA, and COMPA´s respective organizations. On the same day, more Teojomulcotecos headed north to the city as well, facing harassment at a ministerial / preventive check point placed strategically for their departure. Friday night was a mad house: at least 2000 people arrived then. Expecting acts of repression, COMPA coordinated committees for the weekend’s activities, and the entire participant’s security. Friday night, a massive rally was spontaneously organized in the Zocalo. The noise and disturbance forced Murat to call and ask for negotiations immediately. Saturday morning, the negotiations did not come, and more activists and supporters had arrived through the night. Plan B: COMPA, once again, spontaneously organized a four hour blocking of roads around the Zocalo´s periphery. Sixteen road blocks on strategic intersections, formed a perfect square, with a two block radius around the Zocalo. The block lasted 3 hours, no cars were allowed in or out, and pedestrians, were handed flyers in English and Spanish, and kindly asked for donations, as they passed through, yet no negotiations. The COMPAs were not having it, so that night, yet more spontaneously than ever before, the entire camp of now over 3000 protestors began a march that could have lead them, to their deaths. Intelligence had arrived in the camp that 1500 ministerial / preventive troops had been mobilized to the area, and that they were building up near the Zocalo, a standard intimidation tactic. The 3000 protestors marched directly for the police: Men in front and back, with machetes and sticks banging against each other, as against telephone poles and metal fences, and women and children in the middle. The march stopped on its side of an intersection with the troops directly in front of it. The gas masked preventive forces, had water hoses going, attack dogs barking, and rifles affixed. The front line of either side raised their arms in the air as a sign of peace, even though both mobs screamed bloody murder. COMPA coordinators told the government negotiator at the scene, that they had no intention of retreating until an official negotiation with the governor was clarified, and in addition warned that if the negotiation was not made, or made and ignored, they would advance without hesitation, and even disturb the televised Guelaguetza events that evening and the following day. The cop got on the phone and called the governor. He asked for half an hour to make a decision. In that half an hour, the worst instigation transpired. Inside the crowd lurked an infiltrator who was later identified as a transit motorcycle cop. He released 5 canisters of tear gas, where only the women and children were, at which time another squad of troops marched into the northern intersection of the east / west confrontation, leaving only one exit point... apparently (there were more troops around the corner to seal the area). The intent was to create a hysteria which would either end the march altogether, or cause a confrontation with the police. The latter of the two seems most probable, given that the infiltrator hit the COMPA where it most hurts, and where it would seem to be weakest: women and children. Foiled again Murat, the COMPAs didn’t budge, men moved in to diffuse the gas, the women and children stood firm, and eventually they all took a step forward. Many women fainted, and many people were injured, but the COMPA´s stood their ground. A message gets to the front lines "Bring ambulances immediately, or we will all have hell to pay!" As ambulances came the governor had no choice to give in to dialogue and he made a cell phone promise to meet with the COMPA´s at seven the following morning. The troops stepped back, and the COMPA´s marched directly back to the Zocalo. Seven in the morning rolled around that Sunday, and still no negotiations. Each time a negotiation was ignored, the number of demands grew. Each time, the actions grew. The COMPAs had 15 men women and children go out to the Guelaguetza´s main event to begin flyering for public support. The fifteen were brutalized, thrown in jail, and had all of their cameras confiscated. An immediate mobilization was organized to confront police again, and finally the negotiations began. First order of business was the release of the 15 flyer distributors, which was granted immediately. Second order of business was the release of the Teojomulco prisoners, and then followed a list of over 300 demands from each of the participating communities concerning everything from water and schools, to investigations on paramilitary activities. Negotiations lasted over ten hours. Murat agreed to initiate a new investigation, in order to release the prisoners in a timely manner. The COMPAs told him that he was not trusted, and that he should understand that under no circumstance, was their presence over. Murat was told: "If you don’t release all the prisoners, in a timely fashion, (i.e. two months) we will block every major entrance and exit to the entire state next time... remember, these are only delegations from communities. From our own homes there is so much more we can do, and with many more supporters.” The governor agreed. The delegations left around 6am this morning, (Monday July, 22) and the Teojomulcotecos remain in the Zocalo to keep pressure on the process. And the COMPA´s, well they are always just around the corner, and Murat cannot ignore that.
To Non-Governmental Organizations
On the 31st of May of 2002, in the place known as “Agua Fria”, a municipal of Santiago Textitlan, in the Sierra Sur of Oaxaca, Mexico: a group of armed men detained a dump truck that was carrying workers who were from the municipal agency of “Santiago Xochiltepec”, and massacred 27 of the occupants. Approximately 20 hours after, state police forces irrupted into the municipal agency of “Las Huertas”, in the municipality of “Santo Domingo Teojomulco”, located 50 kilometers from the spot of the killings. Guided by hooded men without search or arrest warrants they indiscriminately apprehended 17 townspeople.
They arrested four students, all minors, as well as a 69 year-old woman who they accused of possessing military weapons.
In a desperate attempt to hide their ineptitude at preventing or explaining the acts and to present an image to Mexico and the world of efficiency, the government of the state of Oaxaca proclaimed to the media that the 17 arrested were guilty of the massacre, without conducting an investigation, flagrantly violating individual guarantees and constitutional rights.
Fifteen of the detainees were kept in the prison at Santa Maria Ixcotel, Oax., and two in the “Consejo de Tutela” (detention center), these last two have already been liberated.
Since the arrest the governor through the State Department of Justice (Procuraduria) adopted a condemning attitude, manipulating the media through the concealment, misinforming, and distortion of information. In the trial the defence was obstructed in its abilities through tampering, ensuring that the arrested would automatically received imprisonment at the conclusion of the proceedings.
From the start Governor Jose Murat through the State Department of Justice (Procuraduria) intended to sustain three theories for explaining the motivations of the massacre.
1. Narcotrafficking. Narcotrafficking does not exist in Santo Domingo Teojomulco and the police have not been able to prove otherwise.
2. Illegal Forest Exploitation. This could not be a motive of the massacre, because it has been over 30 years that the community has harvested wood.
3. Agrarian Conflict. This theory is also not sustainable. Since Teojomulco won land dispute legislation on April 17, 2001, the conflict between Teojomulco and Santiago Xochiltepec has ended.
If the motives maintained by the government are false, it demands a federal investigation, because it is clear that the State government acts with partiality to fabricate the guilty and clean its “image”. It makes evident that the massacre furthers obscure interests that they wish to be hidden. The manner in which the 26 campesinos from Xochiltepec were executed suggests the actions of commandos specially trained for this type of act. The type that has never been used by any village in the region and has, rather, much resemblance with what occurred in Acteal, Aguas Blancas and other places were paramilitary groups have struck. Coincidentally, this region has the richest mineral resources in the country. The exploitation of this is contemplated in the neoliberal project of “Plan Puebla – Panama”. There has been an initial investment of $250 billion where one of the principal actors is the ex-wife of ex-president Carlos Salinas de Gortari.
Faced with the gravity of these acts and the governmental actions against us, from June 7th the people of Teojomulco have ignited a struggle with a caravan march to Mexico City and an indefinite sit-in outside the governor’s palace, in order to demand:
1. That the federal and state governments carry out responsibly the investigations to find those truly guilty, as much materially as intellectually, and to use the full force of the law, as we are among the first to denounce those deplorable acts.
2. Immediate and unconditional liberty for the fifteen companions unjustly detained.
We condemn the government repression against Santo Domingo Teojomulco!!!
We demand that the actions be brought to light and the true guilty punished!!!
Immediate and unconditional liberty of the fifteen detained, whose “fabricated guilt” is used to hide the authority’s ineptitude!!!
We call upon organizations of Mexico and the world to support us in our struggle to make justice.
Political and legal judgment against Jose Murat and Sergio Santibañez for the omission and negligence in the application of justice!!!
UNITY, STRUGGLE, AND PROGRESS
“The submissive are the traitors of progress, the worthless stragglers who slow the march of humanity… to offer the neck to the yoke without a protest, without anger, is to castrate the most precious power of man…”
Ricardo Flores Magon
THIS OFFICIAL GUELAGUETZA HIDES THE INDIGENOUS AND SOCIAL REALITY THAT EXISTS IN OUR STATE!
Year after year, governments like that of now PRI governor JOSE MURAT put on the Guelaguetza, converting it from an indigenous tradition into a tradition of money-making and an instrument of the governor in order to show a façade, a fictitious exhibition of his government, while in our communities the –PRI- governor uses assassination, kidnapping, imprisonment, the disappearing of social leaders, and attacks by paramilitaries in order to make effective his dominion and control over the communities.
This dirty action has been present in Agua Fria, where paramilitaries assassinated 26 indigenous, while 15 people from Las Huertas, Teojomulco, are blamed by decree of the governor.
This same form of governing we can see in the agrarian conflicts in the coast, like that of Santa Cruz Tepenixtlahuaca and Tataltepec de Valdes, Amoltepec, and other neighboring towns, Quieri and Lachivia in the Sierra Sur, and las Chimalapas in the Isthmus, are only a few examples. Agrarian conflicts are latent in all regions of the state, and this omission by the government is resulting in the death of thousands of indigenous peasant-farmers.
In the same manner were the deaths, kidnappings, and the expulsion of indigenous Triquis at the hands of paramilitaries from San Miguel Copala. All these crimes remain unpunished, as it is now the paramilitaries act with the protection of the State Attorney General (Procuraduria) and the Government.
This government protects tyrannical authorities (caciques) like that of Santiago Cuixtla, Santos Reyes Nopala, where the town would not recognize the municipal authority because they violated the citizen’s rights. Nonetheless, the state government is protecting and sustaining under its care that authority with support from a wealthy (cacique) group.
The standards of living for the Oaxacan population has descended gravely as much in the city as in the country. The price increase and scarcity of resources aggravate this situation more each day. High health costs, like what we pay for education, and so many other shortages now longstanding in our generation, negate concretely the right to a dignified life for us and our children.
The governors of the state and country, like good puppets of the great national and international wealthy, have no interest in the grave situation in which the poor people live, on the contrary, they are promoting the Plan Puebla Panama, the project of power and money in order to monopolize all the resources of the south of Mexico within a few hands and to convert our territories into gigantic centers of exploitation, where the indigenous will only be cheap and available labor, peons without rights, slaves of the twenty-first century.
For all of the above we call upon the people in general to understand us, to unite and join in these protests, because only organized and mobilized will we be able to have a favorable answer to our demands, and with it we will change the government of the rich to a government of the people.
END THE REPRESSION AND HARRASSMENT OF THE PEOPLE OF SANTO DOMINGO TEOJOMULCO!
PRESENT ALIVE AND FREE GREGORIO A. ALVARADO LOPEZ!
LIBERTY FOR JULIO SANDOVAL CRUZ – LEADER OF MIULI-FPR!
ANTI-NEOLIBERAL POPULAR MAGONIST OAXACAN COORDINATOR
- COMPA -
ALIANZA MAGONISTA-ZAPATISTA (AMZ): ORGANIZACIONES INDIAS POR LOS DERECHOS HUMANOS EN OAXACA (OIDHO), CONSEJO DE ORGANIZACIONES SOCIALES E INDEPENDIENTES DE LA CUENCA (COSIC), FRENTE UNICO EN DEFENSA INDIGENA (FUDI), COMITE POR LA DEFENSA DE LOS DERECHOS INDIGENAS DE XANICA (CODEDI); FRENTE CIVIL DE LA SIERRA SUR, COMITE DE DEFENSA DE LOS DERECHOS DEL PUEBLO (CODEP), UNION DE CAMPESINOS POBRES (UCP), FRENTE AMPLIO DE LUCHA POPULAR (FALP), UNION DE LA JUVENTUD REVOLUCIONARIA DE MEXICO (UJRM)
OAXACA, JULIO DEL 2002