SIPAZ Activities (July – October 1999)


1959: the teacher Genaro Vázquez Rojas founds the Guerrero Civic Association (ACG) to struggle against the low prices that North American companies are paying for copra (the marrow of coconut from which oil is extracted) and other agricultural products. Soon after, Vázquez Rojas also creates the Independent Campesino Center (an agrarian organization on the national level) and the National Revolutionary Civic Action (ACNR).

11 November 1966: Genaro Vázquez Rojas is detained by the Guerrero police, at the doorway of the Independent Campesino Center in Mexico City and taken to Chilpancingo, the capital of Guerrero. He is accused of organizing a student movement against the government.

Another teacher, Lucio Cabañas Barrientos, tries to politically organize the people of Atoyac, Costa Grande, through the Party of the Poor (PDLP), a student and farm workers’ organization that struggle against landholders who exploit local farmers. In his classes, the rural teacher exhorts to his students the creation of a new system in which the rich were not in control and the factories were re-appropriated and put into the hands of workers. He also proposes financial, judicial, educational and social reforms focused on the well-being of workers, rural farmers and women, as well as a change to Mexico’s policy of dependency towards the United States. All of this leads to his expulsion from the state to a school in Durango. Later he will be reinstated in Guerrero, thanks to pressure from his students.

18 May 1967: the staff and families of students at a school in Atoyac, led by Lucio Cabañas, organize a protest to demand the withdrawal of teachers who were dividing the school. The protesters decide to occupy the school. The government strongly cracks down on the protest: the state judicial police and thugs hired by the “caciques” of the region fire at the protesters, leaving five dead and dozens wounded. From that day forward, Lucio Cabañas Barrientos goes underground to struggle against the government.

In the following years, Lucio Cabañas Barrientos operates in the Guerrero Coast: his Rural Justice Brigades attack Mexican Army battalions and police units, rob banks, and hold hacienda owners, ranchers and businessmen hostage, always in protest against the local government. Cabañas thus becomes one of the government’s main enemies and the Mexican Army is engaged in a constant search for him.

22 April 1968: Genaro Vázquez Rojas is freed from jail by an armed group of his supporters. From this date forward, he continues an underground and armed struggle against the government.

2 February 1972: Genaro Vázquez Rojas dies in a car accident during a high speed pursuit on the Mexico-Morelia highway. He was 35 years old.

30 May 1974: the Party of the Poor of Lucio Cabañas Barrientos holds hostage the PRI senator and candidate for governor Rubén Figueroa Figueroa to pressure the government. They free him 100 days later on the 8th of September after the handing over of 50 million pesos.

Soon after, Lucio Cabañas Barrientos and his men take refuge in the municipality of Tecpan de Galeana. The then Secretary of National Defense, Hermenegildo Cuenca Díaz carries out an attack against them with a force of more than 5,000 soldiers. A first confrontation with the soldiers takes place on October 11, 1974 on Achotla Montaña , from which Lucio manages to escape with three wounds in his left leg. The Mexican army looses track of him for several weeks. On November 30, thanks to an informant, the soldiers find the rebels again. Seventeen of Lucio’s men are killed, but he succeeds in escaping once again with three of his guerrillas.

However, the commander of the XXVIII Military Zone, General Eliseo Jimenez Ruiz, takes 4 girls between the ages of 16 and 20 years old hostage from the town of Guayabito and threatens to torture, rape and kill them unless someone provides information on the whereabouts of the rebel. The following day, the commissioner of the municipality of Guayabito reveals Lucio’s location to the general.

2 December 1974: Special Forces troops surround Lucio at El Ototal and kill him with a bullet to the face and several other shots in the back.

The Party of the Poor, created by Lucio Cabañas Barrientos, will survive until 1989, at which point its members will combine with other clandestine groups that in 1995 will be at the origin of the Popular Revolutionary Army (EPR), the Revolutionary Insurgent People’s Army (ERPI) and the Peoples’ Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARP).

1975-1976: The senator held hostage by the Party of the Poor, Rubén Figueroa Figueroa, is elected governor of the state of Guerrero. He maintains close ties with Miguel Nazar Haro, who in 1976 serves as the head of the Federal Office of Security (DFS), a federal organization that is accused of employing inhumane methods of police work and of carrying out forced disappearances, genocide and torture. Nazar Haro is considered the founder of the paramilitary group known as the White Brigade or Special Brigade. This group is formed by soldiers and members from various agencies engaged in combating guerrilla movements in Mexico in the 1970s and early 1980s through methods of torture, detentions, disappearances, and executions. In a report released by the National Commission on Human Rights (CNDH) about the “Dirty War”, Nazar Haro appears as one of the most relentless figures in the combat against guerrillas. Human rights organizations and groups of families of the disappeared implicate the White Brigade in the disappearance of 1,200 people in Mexico. Nazar Haro along with General Mario Arturo Acosta Chaparro (State Director of Police and Transit in Guerrero, as well as a member of DFS and the White Brigade) are the main figures accused of forced disappearances, torture, and summary executions in the state of Guerrero.

1979: Professor Othón Salazar, candidate for the Mexican Communist Party (PCM), wins the municipal leadership of Alconzauca de Guerrero, a marginalized indigenous municipality in the state’s Montaña region. This is the first municipal opposition government in all of Mexico, made legendary given the context of a constant persecution of opposition groups. The communists begin the work of organizing the people of the Montaña region, calling for the constitution of the Council of the Peoples of Montaña (CPM). The region becomes known as the “Red Mountain.”

1989: the PRD is established in the state of Guerrero through 10 district assemblies in areas with presence of various opposition groups and organizations. From this point on, the PRD starts to receive an increasing number of votes and steadily wins control of more municipalities.

21 October 1990: the Council of Nahua Peoples in Alto Balsas (CPNAB) is established, bringing together a large group of village authorities, municipal commissioners and leaders responsible for communal lands in the Alto Balsas region. The heads of the council visit indigenous communities throughout the state and solicit support from various sectors of Mexican society.

September of 1991: the Guerrero Council on 500 Years of Indigenous, Black, and Popular Resistance (CG500ARI) is founded with the goal of coordinating a continental campaign to oppose the celebration of the 500 years of conquest. Indigenous Councils are created in many states throughout Mexico, but the Guerrero council will be the only one that will continue in existence after the counter-celebration activities.

1992: the parish of Santa Cruz El Rincón, in the municipality of Malinaltepec in the Montaña region, calls a meeting of communities to analyze the conditions and needs of the indigenous peoples in the Montaña and Coastal regions. A group consisting of municipal authorities, church leaders and community leaders meets over the course of the following year. These meetings will lead to the creation, three years later, of the Community Police. Father Mario Campos Hernández, priest of Santa Cruz El Rincón, is one of the driving forces behind the project.

2-12 October 1992: The “March for the Dignity and Resistance of Indigenous Peoples” takes place from Chilpancingo (the capital of Guerrero) to the central plaza of Mexico City within the framework of various movements opposing the 500-year anniversary celebration of the so-called “Encounter Between Two Worlds,” and so as to celebrate instead 500 years of Indigenous Resistance.

During the administration of José Francisco Ruiz Massieu, from 1987 to 1993, 200 supporters of the PRD are assassinated. The Inter-American Human Rights Commission (CIDH) will present claims for violations of human dignity against civil security and military corps during his administration, highlighting in particular the actions of General Heriberto Salinas Altés, commander of the 9th Military Regiment based out of Acapulco.

The final days of the José Francisco Ruiz Massieu administration and the first days of the subsequent administration of Rubén Figueroa Alcocer are particularly violent. On February 9, 1993, 24 farmers are killed by high-powered weapons near the community of Huautla, in the Montaña region of Guerrero. The government claims that the mass murder is the result of ongoing family disputes over drug trafficking. Four months later, on June 5, 1993, 170 judicial police officers enter the community of Yolotla (population of about 300 inhabitants), to apprehend those allegedly responsible for the February 9th massacre, provoking a confrontation of more than 6 hours. Two community members are killed, many community members – both male and female – are hit and injured by bullets, houses are robbed and burned, and 14 people are arrested. Ten farmers are sentenced to 30 years in prison, despite having proven that they had not been at the scene of these events.

During the administration of Rubén Figueroa Alcocer, politically-motivated assassinations increase. The municipal elections in October 1993 are particularly violent, with six people killed and four disappeared. All of the victims had strong ties to the PRD. In all cases, the government presents the victims as delinquents, guerrillas, drug traffickers, or claims that the murders were the result of personal arguments or family problems.