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Oaxacan Movement for Popular Power Culminates in Capitol

by los corajes Sunday, Sep. 15, 2002 at 6:09 PM
elcorajedemagon@hotmail.com

In Putla de Guerrero, Oaxaca, a popular movement against the corruption and violence of their mayor operating with the compliance of the state government unites politically diverse groups to empower the populace. a history of conflict and actions by CODEP

TO THE PUBLIC OPINION, SOCIAL ORGANIZATIONS, NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS GROUPS - WE ASK FOR YOUR VIGILANCE BEFORE THE REPRESSION THAT EXISTS IN PUTLA DE GUERRERO, OAXACA, MEXICO, ESPECIALLY AGAINST THE PEOPLES MOVIMENT OF THIS MUNICIPALITY.

CONTEXT

The Southeast region of Mexico, for its natural and cultural riches, is currently under the gaze of the largest capitalists in the world thanks to the Puebla Panama Plan, initiated with great enthusiasm by the government of Vicente Fox Quezada. The resistance of the people in this region, however, has provoked local governments to formulate strategies of political control in order to defeat any obstacles to this profitable capitalist project.


Putla de Guerrero is a municipality located in the Mixteca region of Oaxaca. Here, forest resources, aquifers and fertile land abound. These characteristics, along with the general poverty of its inhabitants, the majority indigenous Triquis and Mixtecos, have made the region a prize possession of caciques (political and economic tyrants). The region is full of violence from the circulation of arms, principally from the post-revolutionary era, which did not cease with the installation of military bases, but rather, in some cases, this illegal market has flourished. In the past 10 years, from its geographic location and the previously mentioned conditions, the region has converted into a narcotrafficking zone.

AN ILLEGITIMATE MUNICIPAL GOVERNMENT

In the state of Oaxaca there are more than one-hundred municipalities with conflicts generated by the recent electoral process. One of these is Putla de Guerrero, where through fraudulent elections carried out October 7, 2001, PRI (Revolutionary Institutional Party) candidate Cuitlahuac Santiago Espinoza became municipal president (mayor). In less than three months after taking office, the municipal building had been taken over twice due to the civil unrest of the communities that make up the municipality.

THE FIRST TAKING OF THE MUNICIPAL PALACE

On December 28th, independent social organizations and citizens in general took possession of the municipal palace in the name of the Peoples Movement of Putla de Guerrero in order to demand 4 principal demands:

1. The prevention of Cuitlahuac Santiago Espinoza from taking office as mayor because of the fraud that gave him the election.


2. The demand of an audience with the previous administration, headed by priista Ulises Mota Sanchez.


3. To impede the introduction of contaminated water from the river de la Cuchara into the citys drinkable water system and instead, to recognize the drinkable water project from Cerro del Tejon proposed by the Peoples Movement.


4. To demand the integration of 5 opposition city councilmen in the city council.

This last demand was granted on January 29th of 2002, with the promise to comply with the second and third.

THE SECOND TAKING OF THE MUNICIPAL PALACE

On the 18th of March eight municipal agents (community leaders) met with Cuitlahuac Santiago Espinoza in the Secretary of State office in Oaxaca city to ask him to give the budget funds from ramo (budget fund grant) 28 in order to administer it themselves. All the projects of ramo 33 had remained incomplete in the communities and ramo 28 had never been distributed. The request was rejected, and so they looked to the support of the Peoples Movement and the integration of more municipal agents to demand the resources.

In this manner 32 municipal agents out of a total of 48 agencies and ranch communities that make up the municipality joined forces and attempted to negotiate again with Cuitlahuac, who with an attitude of rejection, violence, and an unwillingness to solve the problem launched threats and columns against the municipal agents through reporter Saul Gonzalez Servin, a news official at the local radio station.


On the 25th of June, 2002, the Peoples Movement and the municipal agents took possession of the municipal palace and for 72 hours blocked the federal highway Alfonso Perez Gazga on its two entrances to the city of Putla with approximately 1500 citizens, but instead of giving a solution to the conflict the mayor attacked the movement using the municipal police and hired thugs. For this we denounce the following:

VIOLENT ACTS ON THE PART OF THE MUNICIPAL PRESIDENT (MAYOR)

1. On July 22nd, the municipal police beat, threw toxic gas and imprisoned a group of vendors, among them Mr. Martin Cruz, activist of our organization CODEP, for supporting the Peoples Movement.

2. On August 4th, the white guards (paramilitaries) of Cuitlahuac beat a group of activists from the Peoples Movement that was soliciting supplies and economic solidarity in the municipal market in order to sustain the movement. In this aggression Agustin Cholula Gonzalez, municipal agent of San Jose Tierra colorada was gravely injured, being beaten by a large calibre weapon. Also injured was the municipal agent of San Isidro Zafra and 4 women who were beaten and gassed.

3. On August 25th, 6 members of CODEP were accosted by municipal police while returning from a communal assembly with other CODEP activists from the community Zaragoza Siniyuvi Putla. These acts took place in the region of the canyon about 300 meters before arriving at the detour to Concepcion del Progreso, at approximately 5:00 in the afternoon. The CODEP members were travelling to Putla in two vehicles (yellow CODEP taxis) when they were intercepted by a black city truck with municipal police. By order of the police chief they were removed from their vehicles violently, beat and gassed. Those attacked were Maria del Carmen Ramirez Gonzalez, Beatriz Ortiz Cruz, the professor Jose Garcia Perez, Eraclio Bautista Aparicio, Juan de Jesus Lorenzo Saguilan and Guadalupe Ortiz Cruz.

For this last event a legal complaint was submitted to the Ministerio Publico (court system) of Putla against the police chief, but on the 26th of the same month, Cuitlahuac Santiago Espinoza, with every intention to impede our complaint, continued his legal actions, making a series of false accusations through the press, radio, and television against various agents, opposition councilmen, and members of CODEP, for a supposed kidnapping and intent of homicide.

RESPONSIBILITY OF THE STATE GOVERNMENT

The participation of the state government in this conflict has been as follows:

On the 18th of July a commission from the House of Representatives headed by local representative Sofia Castro offered to give a rapid response to this problem, but never carried out the promise made in front of 500 citizens from this municipality.

On the 21st of July we continued with the actions of pressuring, occupying the toll-booth of the highway between Huitzo-Oaxaca. Because of this action, president of the House of Representatives Juan Diaz Pimientel, gave a document to the municipal agents stating that the process of removing Cuitahuac from office was under way, which was in fact untrue.

With still no solution made, on July 31st the federal highway from Oaxaca-Mexico City.

On August 21st 2000 people mobilized in Oaxaca City to put the problem to the governor, Jose Murat Casab. He promised to give a response within 24 hours but up to now it continues unresolved.

The municipal agents and the Peoples Movement have received only lies and deception on the part of the state authorities. The governor wishes to impose Cuitlahuac Santiago Espinoza, a corrupt and violent person, against the will of the people. The long delay in solving this political conflict has put the municipality in a state of no governance, while giving time to fortify groups of hired thugs, financed with the economic resources of the municipality. There are signs that he is preparing a brutal repression against this democratic movement in the following days of celebration of Mexican independence, and for this:

WE HOLD RESPONSIBLE JOSE MURAT CASAB FOR ALL VIOLENT ACTIONS THAT OCCUR IN THIS MUNICIPALITY, FOR THE REPRESION AND VIOLATION OF THE HUMAN RIGHTS OF THE PEOPLE OF PUTLA.

CODEP (Committee for the Defense of the Rights of the People)

AUGUST 31, 2002

September 14th, people from Putla join with demonstrators from Teojomulco and other communities around the state of Oaxaca threatening to disrupt the Governors Independence Day address on midnight of the 15th, in a massive action to demand justice, dignity, liberty, and an end to the political corruption, violence, and impunity that permeates the lives of everyone here.

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