Just seven days after the police and military forces raided the autonomous community of Taniperlas in the neighboring state of Chiapas, approximately 500 anti-riot and judicial police raided, around 3:00 am on April 18th, the offices of the Regional Attorney for Justice of the Papaloapan Basin in the largely indigenous town of Tuxtepec in Oaxaca. The day before these offices had sponsored a gathering to demand the release of their fellow comrades, Leandro Marciel Montor and Catarino Torres Pereda, both directors of the Committee for Citizen's Defense (CODECI), and currently incarcerated in the Regional Prison of Tuxtepec. By all accounts the raid was violent: 2 civilians dead, dozens injured, some seriously, and at least 73 detained. There are also reports of disappearances. The detainees are currently being held in Oaxaca City, and they include members of the Ricardo Flores Magon Indigenous and Popular Council (CIPO-RFM), Committee for the Defense of Pueblo Rights (CODEP), and the Indigenous Organizations for Human Rights in Oaxaca (OIDHO).
Roughly three hours later, in a similar operation, police raided a group of members of CIPO-RFM at the courthouse in neighboring Putla de Guerrero who were demanding the release of their two comrades in Tuxtepec. Reports indicate that upwards of 200 police participated, with the help of approximately 60 heavily armed, plain-clothed men, presumed to be PRI militants. Casualties there bring the unofficial total from the two raids to: 2 dead, dozens injured, dozens disappeared, and upwards of 100 imprisoned.
The latest attacks constitute an elevation by the state and federal government in waging a war of terror and intimidation on the Indigenous regions of Mexico. Moreover, they are an attempt to undermine the national Indigenous autonomy movement which has gained a solid foothold in Oaxaca and Chiapas, in particular.
Official Statement by Representative of the National Indigenous Congress (CNI), Senor Melquides Rosas, given in Oakland, CA on April 20th:
To international organizations and entities to send letters to the Oaxacan and Federal governments demanding the release of the Indigenous prisoners who were detained last Saturday in Tuxtepec and in Putla de Guerrero, Oaxaca. These Indigenous prisoners belong to the Indigenous organizations: OIHDO, UZISONI, and CODHP. Also to bring to justice the assassins of the two Indigenous dead. Finally to condemn the violence carried out by the Oaxaca government".
We join Senor Rosas in calling upon individuals and organizations to send letters to the Oaxacan governor and to President Zedillo. The governor's address is given below. President Zedillo's is:
Dr. Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de Leon
President of the Republic of Mexico
Mexico City, Mexico 06067
Fax: 011525) 516-5762/515-4783
Please feel free to use the draft letter that follows:
Lic. Diodoro Carrasco Altamirano
Oaxaca City, Oaxaca
Governor Diodoro Carrasco Altamirano:
I am writing to you to condemn the violence perpetuated by police forces in the raid in Tuxtepec and in neighboring Putla de Guerrero. The victims of these police raids were exercising their constitutionally protected right to demonstrate against the government's illegal incarceration of Leandro Marcial Montor and Catarino Torres Pereda. The deaths, beatings, and incarcerations carried out by the police constitute a violation of national constitutional law and of human rights.
I therefore call up on your government:
The government cannot expect lasting peace if it continues to deny Indigenous communities the fundamental rights to life, dignity, and autonomy. It is incumbent upon your government to live up to its role in guaranteeing the universal application of constitutional and human rights to all of its citizens.