The Criminal Negligence of Ruiz and Calderon (English translation)
- The Criminal Negligence of Ulises Ruiz and Felipe Calderon
Proceso, August 29, 2010
On July 12, 2010, the German Eurodeputy Franziska Keller presented a report in which she characterized the observance of human rights in the region of San Juan Copala, Oaxaca as so "terribly bad" that an escalation of violence in the region was likely.
On July 21, 2010, four members of the "Movimiento Unificador de Lucha Triqui Independiente" (MULTI) were killed when traveling with a group of women to the city of Oaxaca to protest prevailing conditions in the autonomous municipality San Juan Copala.
The spokesperson for MULTI, Jorge Albino Ortiz, said the women had been attacked by agents of the organization UBISORT (Unidad de Bienestar Social de la Region Triqui), a paramilitary group linked to Governor Ulises Ruiz whose term of office expires November 30, 2010.
In her report to the EuroParliament wich was also sent to the German Parliament, Keller wrote that recent violence in the region of San Juan Copala was not an isolated case and more deaths were possible.
The Eurodeputy was in Mexico from June 30 to July 4, 2010 and was accompanied by Satu Hassi of Finland who submitted her own report to the EuroParliament in which she affirmed Keller's conclusion that the present siege against the people of San Juan Copala could not continue without tragic results.
Hassi reported that she and Keller interviewed representatives of the Mexican government who assured them no emergency situation existed in San Juan Copala because the women were free to leave the village to shop for food and the alleged lack of electricity in the region was a myth.
The two Eurodeputies came to Mexico to get the latest developments regarding the assassinations of Jyri Jaakkola of Finland and Beatriz Cariño of Oaxaca who were killed during an attack by a paramilitary force on April 27, 2010 when they attempted to get through UBISORT's seige of San Juan Copala and deliver needed supplies to the people.
In her report, Keller wrote that on July 2, 2010, she and Hassi traveled to Oaxaca where they interviewed fifty people regarding conditions in the Triqui region of the state. "The people described a difficult situation: no electricity, no water system, no medical attention, no teachers in the schools. Armed groups have taken positions in the hills around San Juan Copala and open fire on anyone who dares to leave their home."
Keller and Hassi interviewed several women who had been wounded. The doctor treating them reported the bullets used expanded when hitting their targets, the type of bullet prohibited by international conventions.
High powered guns and unusual bullets suggest that local armed groups are receiving the support of Ulises Ruiz' government.
The two Eurodeputies met with various human rights activists as well as victims of violence in Oaxaca. Representatives of the Oaxacan government were also invited to meet with them but replied they were too busy preparing for the elections of July 4, 2010.
Keller's report includes the following assertions: Food is scarce in San Juan Copala and as the people there have no incomes they need help from other communities. On May 14 of this year, 30 women of San Juan Copala traveled to the village of Juxtlahuaca to get assistance. Two of them were kidnapped for several hours and the women therefore asked the police for help in returning to San Juan Copala. The authorities agreed and provided an escort of 300.
The police, however, did not take them to San Juan Copala but to Yosuyoxi, a different village. When they asked why, the police said they were just following orders. The women therefore had to walk home alone from Yosuyoxi to San Juan Copala and were attacked when near Sabana, a community controlled by UBISORT. The majority of the women got away safely but nine were kidnapped by 15 armed men who took their purchases and money and held them for a day.
Before traveling to Oaxaca, the eurodeputies met in Mexico City with Alejandro Negrin, Carlos Garduños and Marcela Mora, government officials with various responsibilities in the area of human rights and law enforcement. The Europeans were assured by these leaders that they were familiar with the problems in Oaxaca and through a series of programs are working to resolve them. At the same time, they said that in Mexico each state has great power and the federal government has limited ability to affect local policies and programs without an invitation to do so from the state.
The Euro-deputies reported that the Mexican officials with whom they talked do not believe paramilitary groups are operating in Oaxaca and see the attacks taking place as isolated incidents resulting from long-term conflicts within the Triqui community.
Keller and Hassi argue that while it is clear there are three different groups involved the conflict, the people of San Juan Copala with whom they talked believe the real cause of the problems are directly related to economic and political interests.
Keller's document concludes, "Although the Mexican government presents itself as committed to human rights and has signed all relevant international agreements, the government does not intervene in state conflicts. The indigenous people of Oaxaca therefore suffer from discrimination and violation of their rights but the Mexican government does not act to protect them."