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(en) Revving up the dirty war in Oaxaca, Nov 11, 2006

Date Mon, 13 Nov 2006 13:58:35 +0200

After some weeks of relatively quiet nights, beginning Friday 27
October with the by-now infamous attack on one of the barricades in
Santa Lucia del Camino,^*[1]* <#1the entire relatively peaceful
complexion of the struggle ^*[2]* <#2has become badly tainted by the
presence of the so-called Federal Preventive Police (PFP in its Spanish
initials). Under PFP ‘protection’, and with PFP participation, the
combined level of the dirty war by the Oaxaca PRI contingent of Ulises
Ruiz and the PFP mushroomed — so intolerably in fact that the church
offered asylum to members of the popular movement because of the threats
and the jump in the numbers of dead, arrested, and disappeared.
Unfortunately (and predictably), it's not ‘just’ the state agents and
allied paramilitaries who are doing the really dirty work.

There are people who were snatched by the PFP who haven’t even
been identified, some of them seized at the most active large conflict
area — the university campus,^*[3]* <#3where the radio station is
located — on helicopters and not accounted for (according to some of the
material I've read).^*[4]* <#4Most assuredly the PFP, or at least some
of its ‘special forces’, is itself a terrorist organization. I’m certain
the so-called ‘counter terrorism’ operations discussed in the Narco News
article by Diego Enrique Osorno ^*[5]* <#5are being actively
implemented by both Ulises Ruíz’s state and paramilitary agents, and by
the highly-trained hit teams of the PFP, the latter undoubtedly led by
officers trained at the School of the Americas. Terrorism against
popular social movements is serious business for repressive governments,
whether in Central America, Mexico, Iraq, Palestine, Colombia, or wherever.

*/The escalation of terror timetable/*

Prior to 27 October the rate of deaths among members of Section 22
(the Oaxaca part) of the Education Workers Union and of the Popular
Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca (APPO in its initials in Spanish) had
been amzingly low, as I emphasized in my earlier reports and
commentaries.^*[6]* <#6It is difficult — probably impossible at this
time — to obtain precise figures for the killed, injured, arrested,
kidnapped, tortured, and disappeared, but what is quite clear is that
the rates have risen sharply within the past several weeks.^*[7]* <#7>

*First 5 months, 15 May to 13 Oct* – about 6 known violent deaths (from
note [2] link)
*13 days, 14 Oct to 26 Oct* – 5 violent deaths (from Nancy Davies, ND,
and above first 5 months)
*3 days, 27 Oct to 29 Oct* – 6 violent deaths, 33 wounded (from ND)
*29 Oct* – 22 arrested, subsequently released, plus 11 arrests reported
by telephone but unconfirmed
*30 Oct* – 12 arrested, subsequently released, plus 6 arrests reported
by telephone but unconfirmed
*1 Nov* – 4 arrested, imprisoned
*2 Nov* – 46 arrested, imprisoned, plus 25 arrests reported by telephone
but unconfirmed
*4 Nov* – 2 arrested, imprisoned
*5 Nov* – 1 teacher arrested when he came to attend a meeting with heads
of families (parents)
*3 students* disappeared outside Radio Universidad (from ND, specific
date not given)
*3 minors* were arrested and imprisoned (specific dates not given)
*3 arrests* reported by telephone but no contacts with the arrestees
made (specific dates not given)

The above data provide a conservative view of the extent of terror
imposed by the state and federal governments on the people of Oaxaca
from 27 Oct to 5 Nov.^*[8]* <#8There are widespread credible reports
of homes being broken into by PFP special troops with neither search
warrants nor arrest warrants and people having been arrested and their
homes trashed in supposed searches for illegal weapons. Along with these
illegal activities of the PFP, the PRI-operatives of Ulises Ruíz also
stepped up their paramilitary type operations. The intensity of this
surge of state-imposed terror became so flagrant in the past few days
that on Thursday 9 Nov APPO asked the diocese of Oaxaca to grant asylum
to its members – particularly its prominent members who are under threat
of assassination. The legal officer of the local Catholic hierarchy,
speaking officially, responded promptly – the same day – positively, and
with a scathing indictment of the lawless state behavior, asserting in
part that there exists “state terrorism and a schizophrenic
persecution”.^*[9]* <#9>

To appreciate the full significance of this indictment by Wilfredo
Mayren, the legal officer of the local diocese, it’s important to know
that the Antequera-Oaxaca Archbishop, José Luis Chávez Botello, had
until then, for almost six months, maintained a disgustingly
pseudo-neutral position, repeatedly saying he deplores violence, that he
wants peace, without ever before acknowledging that the violence was in
fact coming almost exclusively from the power structure. He had white
flags flown from the two major Catholic architectural treasures of the
city, signifying a desire to end the conflict and return to ‘normal’,
the ‘normalcy’ enjoyed by the well-to-do and suffered by the poor
majority. His preference was for Oaxaca to return to the usual suffering
endured by the impoverished majority of Oaxaqueños, to whom the Church
could offer eternal joys in heaven, but hardly a crust of bread on
earth, to say nothing of human dignity and human rights. In this light
the Church’s belated but welcome condemnation of state terrorism is
profoundly significant.

The most recent report I have is from a long-time friend currently
in Oaxaca, Amanda Aquino, who prefaces her interview with a human rights
worker,^*[10]* <#10>

November 9th, 2006

Oaxaca is living a brutal government repression of the social movement,
where there are disappearances, torture, detentions, killings, and many
injured. Given the situation, it is difficult to know exactly how many
people have been affected, but there is no doubt that there are severe
violations of human rights. According to the Oaxaca Network for Human
Rights (Red Oaxaqueña de Derechos Humanos ), from June 14th through
November 5th, there were 145 detained, 34 of whom have been freed, 17
dead, and 33 seriously injured, including 5 journalists injured and one
killed. Some sources speak of 65 disappeared. There are numerous people
who have also received death threats.


^*[1]* (to be added later)

^*[2]* Relatively peaceful struggle, analyzed in the essay “A revolution
with an absolute minimum of violence”: It’s not ‘news’ – but it should
be”, at http://site.www.umb.edu/faculty/salzman_g/Strate/2006-10-13.htm .

^*[3]* Campus of the Benito Juárez Autonomous University of Oaxaca. The
location of University City, which houses Radio Universidad, is
described in the report “Attack on the University Radio”, at
http://site.www.umb.edu/faculty/salzman_g/Strate/2006-11-02.htm .

^*[4]* (to be added later)

^*[5]* Diego Enrique Osorno, “Operation “Clean-Up” in Oaxaca: Following
the CIA’s “Psychological Operations” Manual for the Nicaraguan Contras,
the State Government Has Unleashed a Bloody Counterinsurgency Strategy
to Eliminate the Social Movement”, at
http://site.www.umb.edu/faculty/salzman_g/Strate/2006-11-02.htm .

^*[6]* Amazingly low casualty rate in non-violent revolution. See for
example the discussion of fatalities in the essay linked to in note
^*[2]* <#2above.

^*[7]* Figures compiled from my paper of 13 Oct (linked to in note [2]
above), info from Nancy Davies, and lists prepared by the Oaxaca Human
Rights Network, dated 5 Nov 2006. The total of 11 violent deaths for the
first 5 months and 13 days agrees with the figure for violent deaths
prior to 27 Oct in the Network report. The Network address is Red
Oaxaqueña de Derechos Humanos, Crespo 524, Centro, C.P. 68000, Oaxaca,
México. Telfax 01-951-514-1634. <rodhmx@yahoo.com.mx

^*[8]* I have not atempted to collect data from 5 Nov onward.

^*[9]* Report on asylum, at
http://www.cronica.com.mx/nota.php?id_nota=270483 . It was posted at
1:27 am Friday morning as follows. My translation follows the Spanish.

November 9th, 2006

_Note_: Because of the urgent need to get information out as rapidly as
possible, I am foregoing my usual effort to provide as complete a list
of sources as I would wish. Although I will post this immediately,
somewhat incomplete, I will try to fill in the missing references later.


*The Archbishopric of Oaxaca decides to give asylum to leaders of APPO*
By: Notimex in Oaxaca

Friday 10 of November 2006 | Time of Publication 01:27

The legal officer of the archdiocese of Oaxaca, Wilfredo Mayren,
indicated that the Catholic hierarchy decided to give asylum to the
leaders of the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca (APPO) because
there exists "state terorism and a schizophrenic persecution" against them.

In a brief interview, he said that there are those who think that
arresting or eliminating people is going to solve the problem. In facing
that [situation] the Church must fulfill one of its principal missions,
which is to help and protect whoever is truly in danger, in his physical
integrity as well as mortally.

Because of this, he said, the Catholic Church decided to offer the house
of God [as sanctuary] because otherwise "we would have demonstrated a
myopic and shortsighted view [of what is happening]. Thus he is able to
offer protection to those who are in danger, and not from not from what
they have done. If we had not done anything we could never have lived it

He thought that this Thursday, they will be able to continue an extended
dialogue with the members of APPO to establish reciprocal compromises.
"We would like to say to them that with dedicated common sense there
will be efforts to get to a negotiated resolution to the conflict."

At the same time he indicated that the church indeed saw a true danger
to the leaders of APPO and because of that the archbishopric approved
giving them asylum.

^*[10]* Amanda Aquino’s full report follows:

November 9th, 2006

Oaxaca is living a brutal government repression of the social movement,
where there are disappearances, torture, detentions, killings, and many
injured. Given the situation, it is difficult to know exactly how many
people have been affected, but there is no doubt that there are severe
violations of human rights. According to the Oaxaca Network for Human
Rights (Red Oaxaqueña de Derechos Humanos ), from June 14th through
November 5th, there were 145 detained, 34 of whom have been freed, 17
dead, and 33 seriously injured, including 5 journalists injured and one
killed. Some sources speak of 65 disappeared. There are numerous people
who have also received death threats.

Below is an interview with one of the members of the Human Rights
Collective, working to defend human rights and documenting cases of

From the “planton” of Santo Domingo, Oaxaca:

What is the human rights situation here in Oaxaca?

Human rights basically do not exist here anymore. All human rights are
out of order. You can be at any moment kidnapped by people who call
themselves police. They can be mercenaries. They can put you in jail.
They can make you disappear. And you don´t have any human rights.

This is ironic because Mexico, this year, is in the human rights
leadership in the UN. They should watch and guard human rights, but they
are the first to do away with them.

What violations of human rights have there been?

The violations can be killing them, torturing them, beating them. We
have now reports of people who were in jail. They were kept for two,
three days without any food, nothing to drink. They wanted to go to the
toilet but they didn´t give them a toilet, just made them urinate in
their pants, this kind of abuse. They are threatening their families.

And we also have numbers. We are talking about at least 45 disappeared
people. We have the first report of people who saw with their own eyes
how a teacher was thrown out of a flying helicopter. Also we have a
report, not verified yet, of a doctor who works in a hospital, who saw
twenty dead people the 2nd of November (the day of a major confrontation
between government and popular forces). This was in a hospital of Oaxaca.

We are still in the process of verifying all this. There is a danger
that days go by and that a lot of these crimes cannot be proved anymore.
Therefore, it is very very important that everybody join us, gives us a
hand to document this.

Is it known how these people were disappeared?

Some were kidnapped from their houses. The police entered in the middle
of the night, at one, two in the morning, without arrest warrants, and
they took our compañeros away. Others disappeared from the barricades.
Others we know were walking on the street and they took them away also.
Others disappeared last Sunday, when there was a march here in Oaxaca
and there was great national support. People came from Mexico City,
Chiapas, and there were military checkpoints. There they also
disappeared various compañeros.

Do you have documented cases of people who have been killed or detained?

We know that from the 14 of June (when the government repression began)
until today, November 9th, there have been 17 dead people. We have the
names of all of them, their age. Two were children, one a 14-year-old
child and one a 12-year-old child. Detained, from the 29th of October
(when the federal police force came in) until the 5th of November, we
have 87 people who were detained. But one should say they were kidnapped
because there were no arrest warrants. 34 of them have been freed.

What information is there in terms of who is responsible for these

We know that the responsible is the government of the state of Oaxaca,
Ulises Ruiz (the “governor”), and some of his police force, dressed in
civilian clothes killed some of the 17 people. Some of the 6 people who
have been killed in the last few days were killed by the PFP, the
federal police force, which was sent in on the 29th of October.

Besides this, we are getting everyday reports of shootings at the
university campus, where Radio Universidad is. It´s almost a daily
affair. People come and take out their guns and shoot at the students.

What are the efforts that are being done to protect human rights?

Here, we are working hard with volunteers and lawyers. We have a
collective. First we try to locate the prisoners in the jails, and to
liberate them. But the work has to go much further. We have to find the
disappeared! The liberated come back and can report on the abuses, the
violence, the beatings. But we are very very worried about the disappeared.

What would you ask of people listening to you from other parts of the

We ask for solidarity. You can create committees in solidarity and put
pressure on your local politicians where you live and also demand from
the Mexican embassies and consulates wherever you are that human rights
be respected here and to call an end to this violence.

Aside from the detained, the disappeared, I already have seen with my
own eyes, people who are obviously traumatized, and who have psychosis
due to the violence they have witnessed. Yesterday, a woman came here
who was crying, and the next minute she was laughing. This was the
effect of the trauma that these people are suffering. Two days ago, a
woman came by who was participating in a peaceful women´s march, which
passed the zocalo, where the police threw rocks and she ended up with
her nose and mouth torn up and bloody.

There are many abuses. And here we cannot expect anything from the
government, from the judicial branch, because they are the same people
who are committing these crimes.

Anything else you would like to share?

I would like to call on all the compañeros and compañeras of the world,
who hear this: international solidarity live on! The struggle of the
people of Oaxaca is for a better world, and this is the same struggle
that people in the United States, in Europe, wherever they are carry on.

Interview by Amanda Aquino, Indymedia.

All comments and criticisms are welcome. <george.salzman@umb.edu
<mailto:George Salzman <george.salzman@umb.edu>>

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/Last update of this page: 11 November 2006/

George Salzman was a long-time maverick physics faculty member at
the University of Massachusetts Boston Campus. Now retired, he has
lived for seven years in Oaxaca. He can be contacted at
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