SIPAZ Activities (From mid-August to mid-November 2010)
Don Samuel Ruiz García © Friar Bartolomé de las Casas Human Rights Center
ARTICLE : BEYOND CHIAPAS – The legacy of Don Samuel Ruiz García (1924-2011)


13 January: Members of the mediation commission between the Revolutionary Popular Army (EPR) and the federal government decide to reactivate and enlarge the commission in an attempt to locate two EPR members who disappeared in Oaxaca in May 2007, Edmundo Reyes Amaya and Gabriel Alberto Cruz Sánchez.

15 January: The Federal Attorney General’s Office (PGR) rejects the appeal for legal protection granted at the end of December in favour of Juan Manuel Martínez Moreno, who the PGR claims is responsible for the murder of Brad Will. Martínez Moreno asks the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca (APPO) to take “significant measures” to secure his release, as the PGR’s decision reflects “political rather than legal issues.”

17 January: The First Regional Forum of the Peoples of the Southern Sierra in Defence of Their Land and Natural Resources is held in Santa Cruz Zenzontepec. It is attended by peoples of the southern sierra and civil society organizations that work in defence of the land, territory, and natural resources of different parts of the country.

18 January: The State Assembly of Section 22 of the National Educational Workers’ Union (SNTE) blocks access to the headquarters of the state governor’s office in an attempt to call for its demands to be heeded. These demands include public clarification of the murder of a teacher in San Agustín Loxicha in December 2009 as well as an armed attack against another teacher during the previous week.

22 January: Six members of APPO begin a three day hunger strike in Oaxaca City to demand that governor Ulises Ruiz Ortiz be put on trial for various crimes he has been accused of in relation to the social conflict in 2006. The hunger strikers also collect signatures calling on the local and federal Chamber of Deputies take action against the governor. The petition is delivered to the state legislature on 5 February.

23 January: Three people are killed, two women raped, and a hundred Central Americans robbed of their money and belongings during a double-assault carried out against migrants in the municipality of Chahuites.

27 January: The Federal Commission for Electricity (CFE) initiates a lawsuit before the Federal Attorney General’s Office (PGR) against representatives and leaders of social organizations that constitute the Mexican Alliance for the Self-Determination of Peoples, which demands the reduction of electricity prices and the release of three of their members detained in Campeche. One of the defendants is the coordinator of Commission of the Union of Indigenous Communities of the North Zone of the Isthmus of Oaxaca.

2 February: Four foreigners are detained in Oaxaca for having asked governor Ulises Ruiz about the Brad Will case. According to the four, between six and eight police officers, some in plain clothes and others in uniform detained them, took them to the Santa María Coyotepec police station, and later transported them to the State Attorney General’s Office. The next day they are released “for lack of evidence.”

2 February: At least four indigenous people are killed and two injured in an ambush carried out in the community of San Miguel Copala, according to UBISORT, with which the victims were associated.

From 5 to 7 February: The Seventh Gathering of the Movement of Those Affected by Dams and Reservoirs in Mexico and in Defence of the Rivers (Movimiento de Afectados por las Presas y Represas en México y en Defensa de los Ríos (MAPDER) takes place in Paso de la Reina, Jamiltepec Municiaplity, Oaxaca.

17 February: After spending 14 months in prison, Juan Manuel Martínez Moreno, accused by the Federal Attorney General’s Office (PGR) of the killing of U.S. journalist Brad Will, is freed from the Santa María Ixcotel Central Penitentiary in the municipality of Santa Lucía del Camino.

11 March: Indigenous members of the Independent Triqui Movement for Unity and Struggle (MULT-I) retake the municipal offices in San Juan Copala, which had been occupied since December 2009 by the Union for Social Welfare in the Triqui Region (UBISORT), which is linked to the PRI. They denounce UBISORT gunmen for the shooting and wounding of 64 year old María Rosa Martínez.

24 March: Representatives of six municipalities in Oaxaca opposing the construction of the Paso de la Reina dam denounce the Federal Commission for Electricity and National Commission for Water as well as the state government for intending to start construction work without the consent of approximately 17,000 indigenous people and campesinos. In a press conference in Mexico City they state that they have already formally complained of the works to the National Commission for Human Rights, noting that the authorities have refused to inform them of the damage that the project will cause.

7 April: The federal judicial authorities turn down Governor Ulises Ruiz’s appeal, as a result of which the way is opened for him to face impeachment in Oaxaca, as local representatives of the PAN, PRD and Convergencia political parties have been demanding from the state Congress since the previous year. The PRI Governor (Ruiz) had sought federal protection after the Electoral Tribunal of the Federal Judicial Authorities (Tribunal Electoral del Poder Judicial de la Federación, or TEPJF) ruled that he had violated the Constitution by using public funds to promote his image during the 2009 elections.

18 April: An activist from the the Independent Triqui Movement for Unity and Struggle (MULT-I) is assassinated by armed men belonging to the Union for Social Welfare in the Triqui Region (UBISORT) in the town hall in San Juan Copala. At the same time UBISORT installs checkpoints to prevent food being brought into the town and cuts off water and electricity supplies.

25 April: The plenary assembly of Section 22 of the National Educational Workers’ Union (SNTE) agrees unanimously to launch a new offensive against the government of Ulises Ruiz, agreeing to make new occupations of public buildings and to organise mass marches (including one to Mexico City) in order to demand the impeachment of the governor.

27 April: A caravan of human rights observers is attacked by members of the Union for Social Welfare in the Triqui Region (UBISORT) on its way towards the autonomous municipality of San Juan Cópala. The caravan aimed to bring humanitarian aid to the inhabitants of San Juan Cópala and to document their situation. Beatriz Alberta Cariño Trujillo, director of CACTUS, and a Finnish national, Jyri Jaakkola are killed in the attack. The attack provokes a strong reaction at both the national and international level, among NGOs as well as international organisations. The Governor of Oaxaca state, Ulises Ruiz Ortiz (of the PRI) denies that the state government is responsible in any way for the attack. In addition, he questions the participation of foreigners in the caravan, suggesting that their migration status should be investigated. Because of the broad impact of the attack the Federal Attorney General’s Office (PGR) states that it will undertake the investigation of the events.

6 May: The PRI deputies in the state Congress absolve Governor Ulises Ruiz of the charges of committing electoral crimes and he therefore avoids being impeached.

10 May: Two unknown assailants attack Marcelino Coache Verano, an activist in the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca (APPO) and secretary of the union of town council staff in Oaxaca City, and threaten to kill him.

12 May: Several of the United Nations’ special reporters note that they are “deeply worried by the deterioration in the situation in which human rights defenders in Mexico work“.

13 May: Authorities of the autonomous municipality of San Juan Copalá announce the organisation of another caravan to bring humanitarian support to the town. In honour of the two activists killed in the caravan of 27 April the new caravan is named “Bety Cariño y Jyri Jaakkola”.

13 May: Evencio Nicolás Martínez Ramírez, Secretary of the Government of Oaxaca warns that “those who try to enter the Triqui zone will be putting themselves at risk”.

14 May: Presumed members of UBISORT kidnap a group of eleven women and children from San Juan Copalá while returning to their community from a visit to buy provisions in Santiago Juxtlahuaca. They are freed the following day.

17 May: In a press conference, Rufino Juárez Hernández, leader of UBISORT, declares that “not even the minimum conditions” are present for a new caravan to San Juan Copalá, and denies responsibility for any “unfortunate incident” that might happen to the caravan. He adds that international observers “with blue eyes and long hair” are not going to resolve issues in the Triqui area.

17 May: The San Juan Copalá municipal authorities ask for the presence of the Mexican and International Red Cross in the municipality to assess the situation faced by its inhabitants.

20 May: Timoteo Alejandro Ramírez, one of the Triqui leaders of the San Juan Copalá autonomous municipality’s, and his wife Cleriberta Castro, are assassinated in Yosoyuxi.

1 June: The European Parliament’s Sub-Commission for Human Rights demands that the Mexican Government guarantee the safety of the second caravan to San Juan Copala, planned for 8 June.

7 June: Organisations belonging to the Network for the Peace of Chiapas issue a statement on San Juan Copalá, demanding security guarantees for members of the new humanitarian aid caravan.

8 June: The “Bety Cariño y Jyri Jaakkola” humanitarian aid caravan, made up of around 300 people bringing between 30 and 35 tonnes of supplies to San Juan Copala is unable to enter the automous municipality, as it faces a road block manned by UBISORT members.

24 June: An attack by presumed UBISORT members leaves a girl wounded in San Juan Copala.

26 June: a further attack allegedly carried out by UBITSORT leaves two women injured in San Juan Copala.

30 June: a confrontation between citizens and government official in San José el Progreso results in the death of two officials: the municipal president from the PRI, Oscar Venancio Martínez, and the councillor for health, Félix Misael Hernández, as well as the wounding of two and the detention of twelve other people. The same day, an unknown group kidnaps Father Martín Octavio García Ortiz, the local priest, who has been supporting the organising of opposition to the activities of the mining company Cuzcatlán. The group that kidnapped the priest hands him over to the State Attorney General’s Office, which frees him after holding him for 48 hours in order to resolve his legal situation“.

1 July: Severiano Flores Ramírez, the priest said to be a UBISORT activist in the Triqui region, is assassinated. The San Juan Copalá administration and the MULT-I deny responsibility.

2 July: Rufino Juárez Hernández, leader of UBISORT, declares that it will have to be seen whether the conditions are in place for the installation of polling stations in some areas of the Triqui region for the 4 July elections. He adds that UBISORT will do all it can in order that Triqui citizens can exercise their constitutional right to vote.

4 July: In state elections, the coalition “United for Peace and Progress”, made up of the PAN, PRD, PT and Convergencia parties, defeats the alliance of the PRI and Green Ecologist parties, winning the state governorship as well as the mayorship of the capital and a majority of deputies’ seats in the state Congress. It is estimated that 56% of the population takes part. The elections bring 80 years of PRI rule in the state to an end.

5 July: Eviel Pérez Magaña, the governorship candidate for the PRI – Green Ecologist alliance accepts his defeat in the elections, although he says in his speech that the PRI continues to be the most popular party among Oaxacans, as it had obtained 550,000 votes, 250,000 more than those obtained by the PAN.

11 July: A commando of at least fifteen people opens fire on a prison in Tehuantepec, allowing three prisoners to escape: Artemio Enrique Cruz, Víctor Jiménez Reyes y Cristian Alberto Santos Pérez.

12 July: Around 150 presumed members of UBISORT ambush inhabitants of the community of Guadalupe Tilapa using high calibre weapons, leaving six people injured.

19 July: The start of a campaign “Justice for Our Dead” is announced, as part of a struggle to ensure the killing of Bety Cariño and Jyri Jaakkola does not go unpunished.

19 July: between 100 and 300 agents of the Oaxaca City municipal police violently disperse around a hundred street vendors linked to the APPO from the central plaza and Alameda de Leon park. Hooded youths and some of the vendors respond by attacking the Terranova restaurant, property of the family of the ex-PRI candidate for municipal president, Beatriz Rodríguez Casasnova. The confrontation leaves two wounded and eight arrested, including four minors.

22 July: A group from San Sebastián Nopalera in the municipality of Santa Lucía Monteverde opens fire on the community of Zimatlán de Lázaro Cárdenas, leaving one person wounded. The group is identified as paramilitaries by the victims. The inhabitants of Zimatlán try to flee the area, but are unable to do so due to a siege maintained by the attackers. They call for a humanitarian caravan to help evacuate children, women and old people.

29 July: Anastasio Juárez Hernández the municipal agent designated by the UBISORT and brother of the leader of that organisation is assassinated.

9 August: Triqui women from the autonomous municipality of San Juan Copala publish a press release denouncing the violence and marginalization experienced daily in the Triqui region of Oaxaca.

16-18 August: A civillian observation mission “Water is Life; Let us Defend us its Existence” takes place in several communities in the central valleys of Oaxaca.

22 August: An ambush in the Triqui region leaves 3 dead and 2 injured, all associated with MULT-I. The attack is attributed to MULT and UBISORT. The caravan of women and children that was to depart for Oaxaca de Juárez the following day to protest the violence prevailing in the region is cancelled.

24 August: In a press-conference in Mexico City by Eeva and Raimo Jaakkola, parents of Jyri Jaakkola, demand justice for the murder of their son and Bety Cariño.

26 August: The house of Mayen Pilar Arrellanes Cano, member of CEDEDH (Center for the Defence of Human Rights “IIN NTUSU”), founder of the “25 November Liberation Committee” and recipient of precautionary measures granted by the Inter-American Court on Human Rights in 2007, is broken into by unknown persons.

7 September: The rape of two Triqui women is denounced; Amnesty International takes up the case, calling for urgent action.

11-12 September: The Sixth National Assembly of the Environmentally Affected takes place in the municipality of Magdalena Ocotlán, Oaxaca.

13 September: According to representatives of MULT-I, 500 armed men invade the autonomous municipality of San Juan Copalá, where they occupy the municipal palace and demand that 100 families leave the town, threatening them with death if they refuse. A woman is injured in the attack.

16 September: 24 Finnish civil society organizations send a letter to President Calderón, the judiciary, and the Senate demanding that human rights be respected in San Juan Copala and that the paramilitary siege in the region be ended.

18 September: Two MULT-I sympathizers are killed and four more disappear in the Triqui region.

20 September: Joaquín Rodríguez Palacios, Sub-Secretary General of the Government of Oaxaca, confirms the claim by Jorge Albino, spokesperson for San Juan Copala, that the residents of the autonomous municipality now have neither “food nor water.”

20 September: MULT-I denounces the actions of MULT and UBISORT militants for entering San Juan Copalá and burning down 100 homes. Ten Triqui women and nine children begin a hunger-strike in the Zócalo of Oaxaca City to denounce the events in San Juan Copala.

22 September: During the monthly commemoration of the Acteal massacre, Las Abejas express their solidarity with the residents of San Juan Copala, linking the present case in the Triqui region with what happened in Chenalhó in the 1990s.

23 September: The autonomous municipality of San Juan Copala is dismantled.

24 September: The home of Juan Manuel Martínez Moreno, accused of the murder of U.S. journalist Brad Will in 2006, is broken into by unknown persons.

25 September: Ulises Ruiz Ortiz, governor of the state, declares that the idea that there are paramilitaries, displaced people, and violence in the Triqui region “exists only in the minds of those who claim it to be true.”

2 October: During protests in Oaxaca City to commemorate the anniversary of the Tlatelolco massacre, between 75 and 118 individuals, the majority of them minors, are arrested by police.

7 October: An additional event for the Third Global Meeting of those Affected by Dams and their Allies, originally held in Temacapulín, Jalisco from 1 – 6 October, is held in Oaxaca.

7 October: The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) grants precautionary measures to 135 displaced residents of San Juan Copalá.

12 October: 10,000 MULT sympathizers protest in Oaxaca City calling for peace in the Triqui region. At the same time 150 members of the Alliance of the Valley of Mexico, the Front of Peoples in Defence of the Land, the Movement of Indigenous Zapatista Artisans as well as a number of Triquis protest in favour of the implementation of the precautionary measures granted by the IACHR on 7 October.

14 October: Eugenio Ángel Molino, Municipal Secretary in San Juan Jaltepec Yaveo, Oaxaca, and office manager of the Union of Indigenous Communities of the Northern Zone of the Isthmus (UCIZONI) in María Lombardo is released. According to Carlos Beas Torres, leader of UCIZONI, Ángel Molino had been kidnapped on 8 October by individuals led by the “Narco-Rancher” Guillermo Bautista.

16 October: An ambush in the Triqui region leaves two dead and two injured. MULT-I blames MULT and UBISORT for the attack. Those who died had been awarded precautionary measures by the IACHR.

22 October: Catarino Torres Peresa, General Secretary of the Committee for Citizen Defence (CODECI) and an activist of the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca (APPO), is assassinated in the city of Tuxtepec.

23 October: Heriberto Pazos Ortiz, founder and leader of MULT, is assassinated in Oaxaca City.

24 October: The governor-elect of Oaxaca, Gabino Cué Monteagudo, declares that his government will not allow the murder of Heriberto Pazos Ortiz to go unpunished.

26 October: The Centre for Human Rights and Advice for Indigenous Peoples (CEDHAPI) and the Bartolomé Carrasco Centre for Human Rights (BARCA) requests that the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) grant provisional measures to the 135 residents of the autonomous municipality of San Juan Copalá who had already been granted received precautionary measures on 7 October.

30 October: MULT denounces the arrival of soldiers in the Triqui communities of San Miguel Copala and Llano Aguacate.

30 October: Two individuals claimed by the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca (APPO) to be members of the “death-caravans” of 2006 are killed in Oaxaca City.

3 November: The government of Ulises Ruiz Ortiz is denounced for being the subject of the greatest number of complaints of constitutional violations to the Supreme Court (SCJN) between 2004 to 2008. A total of 39 formal complaints were made during this period.

4 November: MULT announces that it will intensify road-blocks in the state of Oaxaca to protest the killing of Pazos Ortiz.

18 – 20 November: Section 22 of the National Education Workers’ Union (SNTE) and organisations affiliated to the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca (APPO) take part in a Democratic State Convention to start a process of discussion between peoples, communities, organisations and other political actors in order to develop from the grass-roots a new social, political and organisational compact. They propose the punishment of Ulises Ruiz Ortiz and other officials implicated in the 2006 repression, as well as the preparation of a new constitution for the state.

25 November: To mark the anniversary of the 2006 repression, thousands of APPO supporters take to the streets of Oaxaca City, calling for justice in relation to the events of the 2006 conflict.

1 December: In a ceremony in the state Congress to which more than 3,000 people are invited, Gabino Cué is invested as the new govenor. At the same time, protests take place in the streets to celebrate the exit of Ulises Ruiz Ortiz and to demand that the new governor responds to the demands of the people.

10 December: Amnesty International sends an open letter to Gabino, the new governor of Oaxaca state, setting out the main challenges in terms of human rights, ad calling for him to develop a plan of action to address these.

14 December: In a communiqué, the Revolutionary Popular Army (EPR) addresses the autonomous municipality of San Juan Copala. It affirms its solidarity with the Movimiento de Unificación y Lucha Triqui (MULT), and the MULT’s murdered leader, Heriberto Pazos Ortiz. For the first time it also laments the assassination of Timoteo Alejandro Ramírez, regional autonomous leader and leader of the Movimiento de Unificación y Lucha Triqui Independiente (MULT-I).