Attacks Against the Triquis Escalate
Violence from PRI UBISORT Becomes Chronic
By Nancy Davies
Commentary from Oaxaca
December 11, 2009
Last November 28 in the autonomous municipality of San Juan Copala three acts of aggression occurred. Two of them were mentioned in Narconews: While the so-called Union for the Social Well-being of the Triqui Region (UBISORT in its Spanish initials), an organization firmly linked to the PRI, was blocking the only entrance to the township, other armed groups ascended the surrounding hills and began to shoot indiscriminately at the population. The immediate outcome of the aggressions was one dead nine year old, two other kids wounded, suspension of classes in the schools, and the closing of the Monday market which the town had been able to re-open only after years of effort. The town lives with anxiety: children won’t leave their houses, men leave hidden in trucks, and women who want to abandon the region don’t do so because it’s too risky; they say their fellow townspeople will regard them as cowards, or worse, as traitors.
The circle around the San Juan Copala autonomous municipality was both political and military. The third aggression is a campaign of disinformation. Some press accounts, without visiting the region, asserted that the autonomous municipality had been dismantled. One of the reports claimed that members of the Movement for Triqui Unification and Struggle (MULT, in its Spanish initials), descended from the hills shooting more than 500 rounds from AK-47s, weapons for exclusive use by the army. That the autonomous municipality, founded in 2006 in response to the teachers-APPO popular social movement, was ending. That the townspeople unanimously came together to celebrate the end of autonomy and furthermore, elected a constitutional authority. That the new authority named was none other than Anastasio Juárez Hernández, a migrant who lives in the state of Querétaro, brother of Rufino, the operator from UBISORT working with the state government.
Two days later, when the municipal authority had cleared up the facts — the authorities remained in their offices, there had been no election of anybody and that what really happened was an external aggression — some daily papers still insisted that the autonomous municipality had been dismantled. MULT denied the version issued by San Juan Copala which insisted that MULT had participated in a military aggression, but anyway the papers did not print it. Nothing was reported regarding the dead child, nor the wounded, nor the state of alarm among the people. Only Las Noticias, the only statewide left-sympathetic Oaxaca newspaper, followed the facts as they became available.
On December 9 UBISORT members kidnapped from San Juan Copala the wife and four minor children of Jordán González Ramírez, a sympathizer of the autonomous municipality who maybe killed a man last Tuesday. The UBISORT group claims Jordán González shot Pablo Bautista Ramirez in response to Bautista’s attacks against the home of González. Whether or not that is true, armed PRIistas installed blockades around the town to avoid any exit or entrance. The town president José Ramirez Flores explained that a group of UBISORT militants, identified by name by Jordán Gonzalez´ mother, entered his home at five A.M.. They kidnapped his wife and children. Later they demanded that the family pay 50,000 pesos within twenty-four hours, or they would murder one of the children.
On December 10 UBISORT placed the corpse of Pablo Bautista Ramirez on the desk of town president José Ramirez Flores. Dozens of heavily armed UBISORT militants had taken over the municipal palace, holding at bay the Independent Movement for Triqui Unification and Struggle, (in its Spanish initials MULT-I, to be distinguished from MULT), to which most of San Juan Copala’s population belong. UBISORT’s initial goal was to depose José Ramirez Flores and impose as new president Anastasio Juarez Hernandez.
Wait a minute, didn’t I just say that was a lie? The lie was reported and then it became true? Did some reporter spill the beans ahead of the appointed time?
Well, the door to the municipal palace was forced open by UBISORT militants, and their group brought along the corpse. At that time, the president issued a bulletin stating that the murder of Pablo Bautista had been an act of self-defense because Pablo Bautista had several times shot at the home of Jordán González. José Ramirez added that Bautista died on the road, traveling toward a hospital. President Ramirez recounted the events leading up to the palace take-over, and concluded by saying that the town authorities were willing to investigate whatever charges the family of Pablo Bautista brought; that in no moment had they concealed facts of that sort; during three years of autonomy they had demonstrated their ability to resolve cases through dialogue between accusers and accused, and then turn the results over to the proper authorities. The town president concluded by saying they would hold responsible the state government and its political operator UBISORT for any death among the kidnapped family and any future deaths among the Triqui population.
Thus inhabitants of the town are very clear about who’s hitting on it, and say so. What seems inexplicable is the viciousness of shooting against unarmed townspeople, murdering a child, and then kidnapping an entire family, while at the same time the media carry on a statewide campaign to discredit San Juan Copala.
Clearly state PRI controlled political groups are behind the aggression, that’s obvious. Why? There’s more involved than confrontation between organizations operating in the same region. More than two years ago, I was told by a Triqui authority that they refused entry and recognition to any groups, seeking a more or less peaceful town. A week ago I was told by a Triqui man (who lives safely in Oaxaca) that Triquis have the custom of taking vengeance like Hatfields and McCoys, holding grudges for generations. I don’t believe that. I think it’s promoted, and now more than ever.
One answer to the aggression could lie with the upcoming gubernatorial election in July 2010. Not only the Triquis have been attacked. Leonardo Clemente Cruz, an indígenous Chinanteco who was kidnapped on November 24, was found dead. But it’s not very logical to think the government commits acts of destabilization unless they can blame others. Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador has just published a four part series describing his tour through Oaxaca (http://www.amlo.org.mx/ ) — and it’s all peace and praise. Another explanation was put forward by the township of San Juan Copala itself. President José Ramirez Flores believes the kidnapping of the five persons constitutes another act of provocation, like shooting the children. Generating violence, he claims, would justify militarization of the autonomous municipality and its communities.
Asking for the intervention of the Army – have we heard that before? Non-Mexicans may not know that the Triquis suffered this measure long before 2006, during the seventies and eighties. Like Oaxaca residents in 2006, they know what army occupation entails.
From a broader perspective, one could point out that the aggression is not just against Triqui autonomy, but against all who struggle for autonomy, in Oaxaca regions as well as in Chiapas. As Francisco López Bárcenas wrote in La Jornada on December 11, “Something is happening.” Lopez Barcenas says that we don’t yet know what that “something” is, but surely in days to come we will be its witnesses. “Meanwhile, the life of the people is changing like in times of war, the Triquis say, and surely other people (say so) too.”
What I say, is that Mexico is well on its way to being militarized.
 much of this material is thanks to “La guerra contra los triquis” La Jornada, December 11, 2009, Francisco López Bárcenas
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