<i>"The Name of Our Country is América" - Simon Bolivar</i> The Narco News Bulletin<br><small>Reporting on the War on Drugs and Democracy from Latin America
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Abductions of Civil Movement Leaders Continue in Oaxaca

Three Men Kidnapped, Beaten and Released While Rueda Pacheco Says Teachers Have Left the APPO; Ulises Ruis Denies Role in Recent Apprehensions


By Nancy Davies
Commentary from Oaxaca

December 21, 2006

Oaxaca, December 19, 2006: The government of Ulises Ruiz Ortiz (URO) categorically denies having anything to do with the abduction of three prominent Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca (APPO, in its Spanish initials) men who were intercepted in their car and kidnapped at gunpoint by persons in civilian clothing. According to first reports, the APPO activists were taken to a private home, beaten and tortured and then dumped behind Soriana (a store in the Oaxaca Plaza shopping mall area) after a two hour ordeal. One of the APPO men said he recognized one of their assailants as a police member.


Illustration: DR 2006 Latuff
Florentino López, spokesperson for the APPO, speaking on the program Primero Noticias, said that his kidnapping, along with two other companions, took place after a meeting of the State Council of the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca (CEAPPO, in its Spanish initials). “Several persons dressed in civilian clothing intercepted and stopped us. They had firearms of diverse calibers. They took us to a secure house and while on the road we were tortured.”

As Lopez reported, “[they wanted to know] what the agreements were of the assembly, they demanded the names of our family members, they demanded the names of our companions in the assembly, and we were beaten continuously during the two hours. We didn’t know who they were, but they mentioned that they were with the Death Squad, and also said they are with an organization that displays crossed insignias, which we think are fascist groups, in coordination with a person in the ministerial police by the name of Barrita, who took some of my companions and they recognized him.” Captured with Lopez was Macario Otálo Padilla, the former director of Section 22 of the National Teachers Union (SNTE, in its Spanish initials).

Padilla identified the head of the Auxiliary Police of Bancaria, Industrial y Comercial (PABIC) Alejandro Barrita Ortiz, as head of the group of local agents who grabbed the three and beat them. The third person taken is a student of the School of Law and Social Sciences of the Benito Juárez Autonomous University of Oaxaca (UABJO, in its Spanish initials), Pedro García García.

After being interrogated, the men were taken by local police to Military Air Base number 15, where they were put in the hands of federal forces, again interrogated and photographed. Padilla, quoted in Noticias, said, “… here they treated us a trifle better, they didn’t beat us. They gave us a medical exam to show that we were fine so that afterwards we couldn’t complain to the Human Rights organizations. These people were hooded, although one could see the insignias on their uniforms.” Padilla recognized Barrita through an open office door.

From there, the three were taken on another ride during where they were again beaten, before being left in the Oaxaca Plaza shopping center.

Padilla laid blame for their detention and beating on the governor Ulises Ruiz Ortiz, the Secretary of Government Manuel García Corpus and the Secretary for Citizen Protection Lino Celaya Luría. He also blamed President Felipe Calderón and Calderon’s Secretary of the Interior, Francisco Ramírez Acuña. “They are directly responsible for this aggression,” he stated.

He also attributed blame to the Secretary General of Section 22 of SNTE, Enrique Rueda Pacheco, “for betraying the movement and making a deal with Ulises Ruiz.”

For his part, Rueda Pacheco accuses the APPO of betraying the teachers because the APPO wanted to continue the struggle when the teachers voted to accept the government offers and return to classes. Rueda says that from now on Section 22 won’t do anything in the way of marches or aid the APPO. Section 22 won’t have another assembly of its own until sometime in January. In fact, there have been no teacher assemblies since the November vote to return to classes.

Rueda also stated that he doesn’t know who paid the fines which were paid in connection with the release of 43 prisoners, and furthermore he added that he doesn’t care because that’s not his role. However, in a possible contradiction he also claimed, in a Noticias report, that Section 22 was solely responsible for obtaining the release of the 43 held in Nyarit, and that neither the APPO nor the Human Rights organizations were due any credit. He also said he is negotiating again with the Secretary of the Interior to guarantee that no more teachers will be arrested.

On Tuesday morning even the radio announcer of Radio Hit, Noticias news, speculated on whether the public will support – or fail to support – the teachers next May when they do their annual march/strike. The question of who betrayed whom is, in my personal opinion, answered this way: Rueda betrayed the teachers, Section 22 betrayed the APPO. Not all teachers agree with the decisions made by Rueda, but no teacher assembly has been held since the vote to return to classes.

Meanwhile, according to the December 19 La Jornada, about 300 teachers from the state region of Cañada, members of Section 22 of SNTE, chained shut the doors of the State Institute for Public Education (IEEPO, in its Spanish initials), and wouldn’t permit the employees to enter the building.

The teachers belong to 88 units of basic education in the region, where conflicts continue with municipal authorities who won’t permit these teachers to return to classes since they were activists in the teachers popular movement. Several mayors hired scabs to work during the strike and on returning to classes on November 16, the teachers found their positions occupied. After two consecutive days seeking a response from the Secretary of the Interior the teachers decided to blockade the entrance to IEPPO.

For the number of teachers who have been victimized by the lies of the URO regime, with or without the connivance of Rueda Pacheco, who have lost their positions and/or been arrested, plus the shenanigans on the national level of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI, in its Spanish intials) SNTE president Elba Esther Gordillo, handing to her son-in-law an important post in elementary education, one has to wonder if the national union of SNTE, of which Section 22 is already a broken part, will completely fracture. It appears to mirror the national conflict between the political parties of the Democratic Revolution Party (PRD, in its Spanish initials) and the PRI.

304 people have been arrested in Oaxaca from June 14 to present, among them teachers, university students, leaders of civil society and members of the APPO. Since the return to classes several teachers have been apprehended in classrooms, right in front of their children students. On the November 25 confrontation between the APPO and the Federal Preventive Police (PFP, in its Spanish initials) many were arrested and tortured with no cause. All the arrested suffered arbitrary insults including no communication, denial of legal defense, denial of medical attention, as well as physical and psychological abuse.

The APPO has documented 17 dead, by the hands of the paramilitaries, in the social struggle. Physical signs of torture have been documented by Human Rights observers. The Human Rights lawyers denounced the violations of human rights of 291, detained in the repression following the PFP attack, who have been subjected to electric shock to the genitals, soles of boots, beatings and broken fingers.

It is still unknown for what cause many were arrested, what they were accused of, or (except for the claim of Rueda Pacheco) why some were freed. URO admitted that up to 80% were caught in a general sweep, and were not guilty of anything. Furthermore, for the forty-three liberated, no one knows who paid their fines. This abuse of judicial and legal authority indicates a strategic coordination on the part of several government functionaries.

Perhaps the Attorney General coordinated with the State Supreme Court, as Noticias reported, “to have these people detained although it was known their detentions were illegal, thus the very authorities themselves committed crimes against the legal process.”

The Committee for the Freedom of the University Prisoners carried out a march from the Rectory of the UABJO to the Plaza de la Danza to demand the freeing of three workers, ten students and the presentation of their ten disappeared, alive. During a meeting they demanded, in addition to the freeing of the prisoners, a halt to the repression, the cancellation of arrest orders, and the departure of the PFP and of Ulises Ruiz Ortiz as governor. The student march was the third march since the start of the PFP repression.

The first post-attack march was the largest, with 10,000 families and supporters demanding the release of the prisoners, the departure of the PFP and the departure of URO. It was followed by the women’s march, and then the students’.

Many APPO adherents who fled during the most frightening part of the repression, the week of December 3, have returned home. The movement, despite the outstanding arrest warrants, appears to be regrouping to maintain the struggle to get URO out and the state reorganized.

The zocalo has been cleared of PFP (who were replaced with state police, minus tents and trucks), in an apparent effort to make appearances satisfactory for Christmas tourism. The blue-clad police replacing the grey-clad police also wear full riot gear and stand behind grey iron barricades in the roads leading into the zocalo, but permit pedestrian passage on the sidewalks. Nearly every building in the Historic Center has been repainted as part of the new “beautification” taking place.

As kind of a side joke, about a hundred members of the Independent Organization of Merchants Established in the Historic Center carried out a march under the watch of the redeployed PFP, to denounce the “cowardly” attitude of the representative of the Secretary of the Interior, Diego Herrera Chávez, because the federal government has not freed up the resources promised to them in recompensation for money lost during the popular movement. The commercial group explained that damages exceeded 400,000,000 pesos, for which the merchants seek interest free credits and reduced taxes.

Their march gathered in Llano Park in front of the Christmas scene and artificial tree placed there for the holiday season.

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The Narco News Bulletin: Reporting on the Drug War and Democracy from Latin America