Monday, August 27, 2007

Mal Goberniero

First Atenco, then Oaxaca – Chiapas, You’re Next
Take the four Spanish citizens snatched off the street in Oaxaca a couple of weeks of ago. Laia Serra (human rights lawyer), Ramón Sesén (professor), Nuria Morelló (anthropologist) and Ariadna Nieto (journalist) were walking with a Mexican friend in the historic centre of Oaxaca at 9.30pm on 5th August when they were surrounded by police, thrown up against a wall, then forced into a pick-up truck. They were taken to what appeared to them to be military or police quarters “...where people were dressed in blue and green uniforms. When they took us out of the truck they covered our heads and dragged us to a wall where we were forced to kneel down while they took away our back packs, fanny packs, documentation, and money.” After being robbed, they were variously photographed, interrogated, threatened, beaten, sexually assaulted, forced to do “humiliating acts” and terrorized – but they were not informed of what offences they were accused of or why they had been detained ie, they were subjected to what now appears to be standard Mexican police procedure – violent arbitrary detention. THEN they were taken to a police station, processed (but not permitted to make a phone call or contact their Consulate), and appeared before a judge who informed them that they had been caught without identification – she was completely uninterested in the fact that the police who took their bags had it all, and ordered their transfer to an immigration detention centre in Mexico City, pending deportation. From there they managed to contact the Spanish Consulate, and were finally released on 13 August, when Mexican authorities admitted they were in the country legally, and there was no justification for their deportation. Of course it is pure coincidence that both Laia and Ramón were involved in the 5th International Civil Commission for the Observation of Human Rights, which in February presented a damning report detailing human rights abuses in Oaxaca, and all four had attended the Zapatista International Encuentro in Chiapas the previous week...


his month alone:

- on August 2 in the Community of Francisco Villa, Autonomous Municipality of La Paz, Northern Zone, anti-Zapatistas burned down María López Oñate’s house. There are constant threats against this community to keep the population in fear, especially threats of rape directed at the women.

- August 10 in the Community of Ba yulumax, Autonomous Municipality of Chilón, 13 members of the paramilitary organization OPDDIC brutally attacked Leonardo Navarrese, kidnapping, beating and shooting him, resulting in six serious bullet wounds, while his son Juan received a head injury, and a bullet wound in his shoulder.

- August 18, in addition to the attack in Montes Azules, seven people were detained in Buen Samaritano, San Manuel Municipality. Their identities and whereabouts are stillunknown, as are their physical and psychological welfare.

- Eviction threats also currently exist for the communities of Salvador Allende and Nuevo Corozal.

These recent repressions are hot on the heels of the Second Zapatista International Encuentro, a seemingly exceedingly cynical response to international interest, and a challenge to all defenders of human rights.

The events of Atenco, Oaxaca, Chiapas are clearly not aberrations. They all involve the considered, premeditated, and continued use of municipal, state, and federal forces and institutions to illegally, and with apparent total impunity, trample the human rights of both Mexicans and foreigners alike, including those of international human rights observers and media representatives like the four Spanish citizens abducted by police in Oaxaca, like Valentina Palma, Cristina Valls, and María Sostres similarly abducted then deported from Atenco, like Brad Will murdered in Oaxaca while trying to get word out to the rest of the world about what was happening then, and is still happening today, right now, in Mexico – gross, systematic, federally- and seemingly internationally-sanctioned, human rights abuses – and this from the country occupying the chair of the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Hat tip to Nezua.

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