Thursday, November 16, 2006


Mexico, November 17th

There's a lot of news out of Mexico, too much to report properly. Here are some snippets: Bridget Huber The Cathedral of Oaxaca was the last stop for a peace caravan led by Las Abejas, a Catholic pacifist group made up of indigenous people from 48 communities in Los Altos, the Chiapan highlands. Las Abejas is well known in Southern Mexico, thanks to a 1997 massacre that took the lives of 45 Las Abejas members, including many women and children. Group members were killed when paramilitary troops stormed their church in Acteal as they prayed for peace in Chiapas. Last week Las Abejas and others took their prayers to Oaxaca. A corrected report of a paramilitary attack in a small town in the Lacandon rain forest of southern Mexico on November 13th: The first wave, of 40 attackers, came dressed as civilians armed with machete swords and sticks, shouting insults at the families of Viejo Velasco. The paramilitary nature of the attackers is underscored by the fact that they were followed by a larger second wave of two hundred attackers: many dressed in official police uniforms, others in black uniforms, they carried firearms exclusively allowed the Armed Forces and police agencies (semi-automatic M-16 and R-15 weapons, .22 caliber rifles plus shotguns). Another view of the arrival of the federal Preventive Police in Oaxaca, with speculation about the death of photojournalist Brad Will: “It’s very possible that [Governor Ortiz] created the situation for Will’s death, knowing that Fox would have to respond with force. Will was fairly high-profile; he was present at a press conference with the controversial former governor, and reportedly was collecting information about one of the murders. We’ll probably never know the truth, but if URO did stage the assassination, clearly it was a successful strategy." A report of threats against opponents of Ulises Ruiz Ortiz: Radio Ciudadano, also known as Radio Patito, continued broadcasting names of the movement adherents as well at those of teachers, with suggestions to capture or harm them. This station is generally regarded as supported by the PRI government. The names of the Radio Universidad broadcasters are well known and have been made public. Human rights protests to prevent the pro-government station from issuing threats have been ignored. By the end of the week, November 10, the Radio Universidad signal was completely blocked. Classes back in session in Oaxaca City and the Central Valley region José Manuel Nava, former Washington correspondent of Excélsior and head of the paper until 2004was murdered. A student of UNAM reports that Oaxaca looks normal, but there is an undercurrent of tension. At a meeting of about 1600 APPO protestors at the Hotel del Magisterio, there was unease with all outside visitors. The debates were confused and directionless. But in the end, the process, in which people spoke about their concerns and were heard by their neighbors, was what the meeting and the movement is about. Everyone has become a potential leader and people have lost their fear. From other reports, the church is waffling about whether it represents official morality or the morality taught by Jesus, and may or may not be offering sanctuary to APPO.
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