<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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“Transition to Democracy” Alliances Firm Up

Citizen Forums Face the PRI While Mexico’s Supreme Court Closes Legal Pathways


By Nancy Davies
Commentary from Oaxaca

October 9, 2009

Oaxaca lives a strange time of confrontations. It almost appears that the governments – and I use the word in plural – are provoking trouble and excuses for repression. Or else, how stupid can they be? The Supreme Court of Mexico (SCJN), in a preliminary report, exonerates both former president Vicente Fox, and Ulises Ruiz Ortiz (URO), current Oaxaca governor, of any wrong-doing associated with the social movement. The violations of human rights, including assassinations by deaths squads, unwarranted home invasions, unwarranted arrests, torture, imprisonment by sweeps of people on the street – neither official was responsible for any of that. The blame, says Minister of Justice Mariano Azuela Guitron, must fall on commanders of various local operations; the federal and state political authorities had nothing to do with it, like at Atenco.


Public forum on education, health, and science and technology.
D.R. 2009 – Nancy Davies
Azuela Guitron will release the formal SCJN decision on Tuesday October 13. He maintains that the Supreme Court has always placed responsibility on those who are not political federal and state authorities. According to the Oaxaca priest Father Wilfrido Mayren Pelaez, (Padre Uvi) the federal regime shows complicity and cover-ups all over Mexico, using the Court as its vehicle. According to the widow of Lorenzo Colmenares, Florina Jimenez, “the Supreme Court may pardon him (Governor Ulises Ruiz Ortiz), but the families will never,” nor other functionaries involved like Jorge Franco Vargas. Colmenares was shot by police.

According to Azuela Guitron, the administration’s failure lay merely in being inept at planning or supervision of the commanders, like Ardelio Vargas Fosado who is now a PRI deputy and new president of the Commission for National Defense. The other commander, General Sanchez Gutierrez, who in 2006-2007 was coordinator of the Federal Aid Forces for the Federal Preventive Police, was just named head of Public Security for Campeche, in that state’s new government. Both functionaries answered in 2006 to the Secretary of Public Security, and until last month to the Attorney General of the Republic Eduardo Medina Mora, who also was not responsible for any violations of human rights.

Medina Mora, free of any liability, identified (in exchange?) twelve members of the Federal Preventive Police, as “presumed participants” in the repression of November 26, 2006.

Under Vargas Fosado and General Sanchez, the police and military functioned in a way that admittedly violated human and civil rights. Twenty-eight “responsible” persons have been identified as violators of civil rights, including the director general of Public Security Jose Manuel Vera Salinas, the director of the Ministerial Police Jose Moreno Rivas, and the director of the police unit PABIC, Joaquin Dario Berges y Dorantes. As for URO, it seems he is guilty of lacking resources to satisfy the demands of Section 22 of the Coordinating Committee of the National Education Workers Union, where supposedly the conflict originated. The federal and state authorities really wanted to present an effective solution to the demands of the union.

Azuela states, when “they decided to use public force to solve the social conflict…in the execution of the orders, acts occurred which also showed a lack of efficiency and professionalism on the part of the police units; they provoked the violation of guarantees… and violated the constitution…some people were the victims of cruel and inhuman treatment during their detention and transporting to various prisons…excesses occurred in the repression of the activists, who were using stones, slingshots and bazookas…it is accepted that there were people with serious wounds…one of them was killed and far from contributing to the solution of the conflict this occasioned more violence and repression, a situation was generated of more disorder than existed before the operation….” That’s the run-down of what occurred, which nobody disputes.

By exonerating Fox and Ruiz, the SCJN closes the last legal recourse to obtain meaningful justice. The Noticias headline for Wednesday, October 7, 2009 says, “Section 22 of SNTE Rejects the decision of the Court”. What can they do now? According to the state PRD leader Amador Jara Cruz[1], it’s time for Section 22 to “promote the transition”.

Jara recognizes that Section 22 of SNTE is the vanguard of the social movement in Oaxaca, “then I think that it should assume its responsibility, if it really wants the transition to democracy and social transformation of the state.”

“Every one of the teachers knows that the governor Ulises Ruiz Ortiz and the president of the state executive committee of the PRI, Jorge Franco Var­gas, are those who directly struck them in 2006 and then, I believe, we should be in agreement with them that it’s necessary to transition to democracy in Oaxaca; furthermore, their plea in these past years has been for the departure of Ruiz Ortiz from the governorship, as well as punishment for those responsible for the aggression against them. In this tenor it is their opportunity in legal terms to join in this process to promote social change in Oaxaca, which has to do not only with the departure of the PRI from power, but also attending to a series of reforms to benefit the Oaxaqueños”, he sustained assuredly. He expresses that one of the final resolutions of the National Congress, the highest authority of the PRD is that the broad opposition alliance should involve not only the parties but mostly the social movement in Oaxaca, among them the unions, and in the state there are two or three unions which have played an important role in defending the interests of society: the teachers and the Health workers.”

As for the union, it stated “It is impossible that no responsibility be attributed to Fox, Ruiz Ortiz, Franco Vargas (now a federal congressperson) and Lizbeth Caña Cadeza (state Attorney General now state auditor) when they gave the order to repress the teachers and peoples’ movement.”

The Supreme Court demonstrates once more, Santiago Chepi, secretary general of the union affirms, that it is violating the rights of the people. “We will set loose all the battles, the legal, the political and the mobilizations” to prevent the “consummation of this insult” against the people of Oaxaca, which means that since the pronouncement of the Court has to be formally approved, before it is, the people will make its own judgment. According to Santiago Chepi, we might be back to 2006.

The difficulty is that not all of the Oaxaca teachers are activists, nor militant against the PRI. Some, in fact, belong to the PRI. Nobody knows what kind of retribution URO’s forces will seek. Two people have been murdered this year already, one a PRD activist and one a teacher. The state legislature, which agreed to the removal of the mayor of San Pedro Jicayán where the teacher was shot, passed the first part of the legislation but never proceeded to the final step. That is, the town authority remains the same.

I attended another public forum on Monday Oct 5, regarding education, health, and science and technology. Once again the politicos were present to show their intention to join the anti-PRI alliance, and the PT and PAN leaders in the audience were introduced from the front table. I would say, as an observer, that the crowd was not larger, but alliance intentions were more visible and more forceful. The prime movers in civil society are working hard. To my eyes, the situation grows more embattled daily—peace? there is no peace. The “good” news was suggested to me privately, that Jorge Franco Vargas might not be an automatic choice by URO, since El Chucky might prefer to wheel and deal behind the scenes. But many people have unconfirmed scenarios to throw around.

The minuscule shift at this forum was that the October 5 topics involved areas where the government is constitutionally responsible: health and education. (The Mexico constitution was written as a socialist document, giving every citizen rights to housing, health, education, food). Also discussed were advances in technology and science. So it was easy to point out that the government of Oaxaca has done zippo regarding its constitutionally charged responsibilities. The government of Oaxaca invests almost no money. Education is a disaster because, according to Victor Raul Martinez Vasquez of the Sociology department of the autonomous university (UABJO), no education system exists, no principles, plans or goals have been set forth. Illiteracy is high, many kids don’t attend the compulsory nine years, the infrastructure is abominable, and so forth. Not the teachers union’s sole fault: where is the government? Health care looks similar. There is no science, the UABJO is perishing from internal fighting, no technology studies develop because there is no feeder education system. The panel moderator, Leticia Valdez, explained how her father went with a heart attack to the new vaunted Specialties Hospital. He was admitted, but received no care, because these new medical facilities have inadequate trained staff, the hospitals are mere showpieces. Her father died.

The political alliances, ideologically implausible though they may be, gather force. Since leaders like the PRD Chuchos are former PRI, and Gabino Cue was too, before he jumped for Convergencia, nobody thinks this is the dawn of a new era. PRD leader Jesus Ortega confirmed the alliance of the PRD with the PAN in Oaxaca, while AMLO continues to navigate the hinterland. The installed powers will ally in a PRI-Green Party-PANAL coalition, I suspect.

As I was told by an activist, “This is an opening moment. There will be perhaps a year in which the people can act”. By the same logic it is also a moment when the military and fascists can act.

[1] interviewed by Luis Ignacio Vasquez, Noticias Oct 6, 2009

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