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Religious Leaders Demand Justice in Oaxaca

by Monday, Jul. 13, 2009 at 2:56 PM

I am part of a group working in Oaxaca on behalf of the innocent man, Juan Manuel Martínez Moreno, who has been held in prison for some months and just yesterday was formally sentenced by the judge for the murder of Brad Will.

I attach here a letter sent last week to the Mexican and U.S.presidents, Calderon and Obama, asking for their help in pressuring that justice be done in this case.

The letter is signed by 81 Mexican and 84 U.S. clergy, priests, pastors, and religious sisters and brothers.

Kathy Dahl-Bredine (Text of letter below)


Oaxaca, Oaxaca, Mexico

June 30, 2009

- Mr. Felipe Calderon Hinojosa, President of Mexico,

-Mr. Barack Obama, President of the United States,

We are priests, pastors, and members of religious orders of the United States and Mexico who, with all due respect, address this letter to you to express our concern regarding the homicide case of Bradley Roland Will. The hopes and dreams that arise from our common faith in Jesus Christ move us to send it to you.

On October 27, 1006 the United States citizen and journalist Bradley Roland Will, of Evanston, Illinois, was filming a march by the Oaxacan social movement, which was progressing toward the village of Santa Lucia

del Camino, a suburb of Oaxaca City for the U.S. news agency Indymedia. During the demonstration sporadic violence broke out between a few demonstrators and some groups made up of government employees and

sympathizers of the PRI party. Brad Will was injured by a firearm and subsequently died.

The first indications in the murder of Brad Will were that the crime was committed by Abel Zarate, a town councilor of Santa Lucia del Camino, and Oswaldo Manuel Aguilar Coello, a municipal police officer, both of whom had strong ties with the PRI party, which was in power in the state of


In November 2006 the two aforementioned government officials were arrested and detained. The district judge of the Court of First Instance of Etla indicted them, and they were sent to prison. A few weeks later, however, the two were set free.

Subsequently the Attorney General on the national level took over the investigation of the case. To the surprise of many, this office took as a certainty the hypothesis put forward in November 2006 by the then prosecuting attorney of the State of Oaxaca, which affirmed that the journalist had been murdered by members of the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca (APPO).

As the official investigation was notorious for its bias, in September 2008 the National Commission for Human Rights issued a recommendation to disqualify the whole investigation.

Nevertheless, in October 2008 Juan Manuel Martínez Moreno, a baker from Oaxaca City, was detained and sentenced to prison for the murder of the journalist Brad Will. Juan Manuel is not responsible for the crime with

which he is charged. Throughout the entire judicial process there have been many grave irregularities which make the case unjust and illegal.

But there is more yet. Juan Manuel, his family, and his attorneys have been the object of various types of pressure and intimidation. Juan Manuel was an active participant in the community life of the village of Santa Lucia del Camino, principally through his parish. The recognition he enjoys among his neighbors is obvious by the fact that he was invited to be a member of the local Education Committee and in the area of sports activities for the local village council of Santa Lucia del Camino. Juan Manuel does not appear in the films of the homicide of Brad Will. A number of local priests of Oaxaca have known Juan Manuel personally for many years.

The parents of Brad Will, on their part, continue their demand for justice and have maintained that Juan Manuel is not responsible for the death of their son.

In a wider context, it is necessary and very significant to remember that the more than 23 homicides which occurred in the social conflict of Oaxaca initiated in 2006 remain in absolute impunity, without a single suspect detained, only, surprisingly, Juan Manuel Martinez Moreno, accused in the murder of the U.S. journalist. All of those murdered during the political conflict were Oaxacans, with the exception of Bradley Roland Will.

On another note, many people have expressed to us their concern that the accusation, arrest, and imprisonment of Juan Manuel are merely a justification and a means of speeding up the obtaining of the funds to initiate Plan Mérida. In this case, Juan Manuel would be a scapegoat. This would be tantamount to a repeat of the condemnation and Calvary of Jesus.

We consider that since October 2006, the homicide of the American journalist and the irregular imprisonment of this Mexican citizen must occupy the attention of the institutions of justice of both countries.

For that reason we, priests, pastors, and members of religious orders, both U.S. and Mexican, urge you to use the positions of authority you occupy in the United States and Mexico to:

1.. Learn in detail the course of the investigations carried out in the legalities of the case.

2.. Take into account the recommendations of the Mexican National Commission of Human Rights and the international Human Rights organizations on this affair.

3.. Respond to the demands for justice and respect the views of the family of the journalist Brad Will.

4.. Consider the violations of human rights committed against the Mexican citizen Juan Manuel Martinez Moreno.

5.. Make this case a common cause for justice of both countries. We, U.S. and Mexican priests, pastors, and members of religious orders now have a common dream supported by the certainty of faith:

· We dream of the day when the practice of all work of service, whether civil or religious, "will defend the poor among the people and help the children of the poor", as in Psalm 72;

· We dream of the day when relations between our two countries will make possible that "justice and peace will embrace", as in Psalm 85;

· We dream of the day in history when there will be no "distinction between Jew and Greek, circumcised and uncircumcised, stranger, foreigner, slave, or free", but "Christ will be all in all", as Paul says to the Colossians.

· We dream and we long with expectation for the day when "the truth will make us free", as Jesus says, because we will have sought first the Kingdom of God and his justice, and then, "all the rest will be added to it."

So we hope that you will consider these concerns that we have expressed. We thank you for the attention that you give this matter.

cc: Secretary of State, United States, Ms. Hillary Clinton

Secretary of Government, Mexico, Mr. Fernando Gómez Mont.


Priests, Pastors, Religious Sisters and Brothers

United States:

Abbot Edmund Boyce, OSB, St. Benedict's Abbey

Amy W. Echeverria, Director, Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach

Br. John A. Kerr, TOR

Br. Mark Carrico, OFM, Capuchin, Executive Director, House of Peace

Br. Mark Gehret, OFM

Br. Michael Gosch, CSV

Br. Rich Reinhardt, OFM Cap.

Hermes Kreilkamp

Catherine Moloney

David Buer, ofm/ San Xavier Mission/ Tucson, AZ, St. Barbara Province,


Denise Ryman

Fr Donald MacKinnon CSsR, social justice coordinator for Redemptorists

/Denver Province

Fr Roland Lozano, C.M.F., Pastor, Our Lady Queen of Angels Catholic Church

Fr. Abbot Claude Peifer, O.S.B., St. Bede Abbey

Fr. Al Hirt, OFM

Fr. André Weller, Cap

Fr. Aquinas R. Schneider, OFM

Fr. Bill Remmel, SDS, Most Holy Trinity Parish, Tucson, AZ

Fr. Brian Braun OFM Cap

Fr. Charles T. Mocsiran, OFM Cap, Province of St. Augustine

Fr. Dan McLaughlin, MM

Fr. David G. Schultenover, S.J., Department of Theology, Marquette University

Fr. Donald F. Reilly, O. S. A. , Prior Provincial, St. Thomas of Villanova

Province of Augustinians

Fr. Ed Witt SJ

Fr. Eugenio Toland,

Fr. Gregg Petri, ofm

Fr. Jerome A. Zawada, OFM - Franciscan Community

Fr. Jim Van Vurs, OFM

Fr. John Celichowski, OFM Cap., Provincial Minister, Province of St.

Joseph of the Capuchin Order, Capuchin Province of St. Joseph

Fr. John Patrick Mellitt, ofm cap

Fr. John R. Morris, O.P.

Fr. Jose Ortega MSpS

Fr. Kevin Schroeder, O.F.M.

Fr. Marcus Keyes, Director, Glenmary Commission on Justice

Fr. Mark Schroeder, O.F.M., Mission San Luis Rey

Fr. Mark Weber, SVD

Fr. Michael Fones, O.P.

Fr. Pat J.Universal

Fr. Rev. William P. Linhares, TOR

Fr. Simon McGurk, OSB, St. Anselm's Abbey

Fr. TL Michael Auman, OFM Cap.

George Wilson, S.J.

Fr. Tom Speier, OFM, St. Francis Friary

Fr. Tony Marti, OFM Capuchan

Friar Philip Fabiano, OFM

Kathy O'Keefe

Kenneth Ristow

Lisa Haugaard, Executive Director, Latin America Working Group

Mark McDonough

Mary Ratkowski

Nuala Briody

Rev Séamus P. Finn OMI, Director, Justice, Peace & Integrity of Creation,

Missionary Oblates

Rev. Charles M. Hughes

Rev. Christopher P. Promis, C.S.Sp., Congregation of the Holy Spirit

Rev. Clay Thomas, a Presbyterian minister in Florida

Rev. Delle McCormick (United Church of Christ), BorderLinks, Tucson, AZ

Rev. Dr. David Ensign, pastor, Clarendon Presbyterian Church, Arlington, VA.

Rev. Dr. Diana C. Gibson, Co-Executive Director, Council of Churches of

Santa Clara County

Rev. George Crespin, Diocese of Berkeley

Rev. Gordon Judd, CSB, Vicar General, Congregation of St. Basil, Cardinal

Flahiff Basilian Centre

Rev. John Dear, SJ., Corralitos, NM,

Rev. Joseph Nangle OFM

Rev. Joseph Nelson, OFM, Franciscan Border Project,

Rev. Jozef Timmers, OFM Cap.

Rev. Stuart Taylor co-pastor St. Mark's Presbyterian church, Tucson, AZ

Re. Thomas P. Shaughnessy, Columban Fathers

Rev. Vince Pastro, Diocese of Seattle

Rev. William J. Morton, SSC, Columban Border Ministries

Reverend Dr. T. Anthony Spearman, Clinton Tabernacle A.M.E. Zion Church,

Hickory, NC,

Sister Carol Boschert

Sister Marian Durkin, CSA

Sr Janet Gardner, OSF General Minister, Sisters of St. Francis of the

Providence of God

Sr. Elizabeth Ohmann, OSF

Sr. Joan D. Healy

Sr. Joan Malherek, Maryknoll Sister, Ossigning, NY

Sr. M. Amalie Milot, CSA

Sr. Margaret Kilduff, Maryknoll Sister

Sr. Margaret Rose Ibé, Maryknoll Sister

Sr. Marie Lucey, OSF, Associate Director for Social Mission, LCWR

Sr. Mary Ann Hilgeman, CSJ

Sr. Mary Schanen

Sr. Moira J. Hurley, MM, Maryknoll Sister,

Sr. Philip Mary Reilly, OP, Dominican Sister of Sinsinawa

Sr. Phyllis Wirtz, OSF

Sr. Magdalene Karecki, SSJ-TOSF, Sisters of St. Joseph-Third Order of St.


Very Rev. Gary E. Sanders OSA, provincial of the Province of St. Augustine in California


Pbro. Adán Carrasco Ambrosio, Diócesis de Huautla de Jiménez

Pbro. Adolfo Torres Hernández, Diócesis de Tehuacán

Pbro. Alfono Carrasco Maliachi, Diócesis de Coatzacoalcos

Pbro. Álvaro Gómez Hernández, Arquidiócesis de Oaxaca

Pbro. Anastasio Hidalgo Miramón, Diócesis de Tehuacán.

Pbro. Anastasio Ramos, Diócesis de Tapachula

Pbro. Ángel Ángeles Cruz, Arquidiócesis de Oaxaca

Pbro. Ángel Sánchez, Diócesis de Cuernavaca

Pbro. Antolín Espino Delgado, Diócesis de Huejutla

Pbro. Antonio Martín Romo, Diócesis de Huejutla

Pbro. Armando Muñoz Jarquín, Diócesis de Puerto Escondido

Pbro. Arturo Nicolás Vásquez, Diócesis de Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca

Pbro. Bernardino Macías Vera, Diócesis de Tehuacán.

Pbro. Bernardo Murcio Velasco, SJ., Arquidiócesis de Oaxaca

Pbro. Bulmaro Castro, Diócesis de Tehuacán.

Pbro. Carlos C. Rodríguez Rivera, s.j Centro de Reflexión y Acción Laboral

Pbro. Eduardo Godínez, Arquidiócesis de Oaxaca

Pbro. Eloy Martínez, Diócesis de Cuernavaca

Pbro. Emeterio López Sánchez, Arquidiócesis de Oaxaca

Pbro. Emilio Zaragoza Lara, Diócesis de Tula

Pbro. Enrique Camargo Meléndez, Tehuacán. Diócesis de Tehuacán.

Pbro. Eusebio Pérez Hernández, Diócesis de Huejutla

Pbro. Fernando Cruz Montes, Arquidiócesis de Oaxaca

Pbro. Francisco Ibarra, Diócesis de Aguascalientes

Pbro. Francisco Ponce Salmerón, Diócesis de Tehuantepec

Pbro. Alfonso Girón, Diócesis de Tehuantepec

Pbro. Francisco Silencio Cruz, Arquidiócesis de Oaxaca

Pbro. Gil Antonio Torres Varela, Arquidiócesis de Oaxaca

Pbro. Gil López López, Diócesis de Puerto Escondido

Pbro. Jaime Meneses Lavariega, Diócesis de Puerto Escondido

Pbro. Fidel Zurita García, Diócesis de Puerto Escondido

Pbro. Severiano Mendoza Delgado, Diócesis de Puerto Escondido

Pbro. Atanasio Matías Juárez, Diócesis de Puerto Escondido

Pbro. Gregorio Cruz González, Arquidiócesis de Oaxaca

Pbro. Guillermo Velásquez Gordillo, Arquidiócesis de Oaxaca

Pbro. Gustavo Andrade Hernández, Diócesis de San Cristóbal las Casas

Pbro. Héctor Santiago Pacheco, Diócesis de Puerto Escondido

Pbro. Héctor Javier Villa Hernández, Diócesis de Cd. Juárez

Pbro. Herminio Guerrero F., Diócesis de Tehuantepec

Pbro. Víctor Cabrera Rodríguez, Diócesis de Tehuantepec

Pbro. Herminio Olmedo Peña, Diócesis de Puerto Escondido

Pbro. Humberto Chávez Vázquez, Tehuacán. Diócesis de Tehuacán.

Pbro. Ignacio Fernández Pardo, Diócesis de Tapachula

Pbro. Jesús Morfín Cartagena, Diócesis de Huejutla

Pbro. Jesús Ramos Muñoz, Arquidiócesis de México

Pbro. Jorge J. Pastor Salvador, Diócesis de Huautla de Jiménez

Pbro. Jorge Pérez García, Arquidiócesis de Oaxaca

Pbro. José Barón Larios, Diócesis de Huejutla

Pbro. José Francisco González González, SJ., Arquidiócesis de Oaxaca

Pbro. José Rentería Pérez, Arquidiócesis de Oaxaca

Pbro. José Sánchez, Diócesis de Cd. Guzmán

Pbro. Juan Ignacio Ortega, Diócesis de Tehuantepec

Pbro. Roberto Raygoza Beltrán, Diócesis de Tehuantepec

Pbro. Ranulfo Pacheco López, Diócesis de Tehuantepec

Pbro. Pablo Andrés García Cruz, Diócesis de Tehuantepec

Pbro. Ramón Rosado Ambrosio, Diócesis de Tehuantepec

Pbro. Juan Ruiz Carreño, Arquidiócesis de Oaxaca

Pbro. Leoncio Hernández Guzmán, Arquidiócesis de Oaxaca

Pbro. Lino Tenorio Cayetano, Diócesis de Tehuantepec

Pbro. Lucio Santiago Santiago, Diócesis de Tehuantepec

Pbro. Santiago Ramos, Diócesis de Tehuantepec

Pbro. José Goncalvez N., Diócesis de Tehuantepec

Pbro. Benito Pardo, Diócesis de Tehuantepec

Pbro. Manuel Arias Montes, Arquidiócesis de Oaxaca

Pbro. Mario Ordiano Ramírez, Diócesis de Tehuacán.

Pbro. Miguel Ángel Morelos García, Arquidiócesis de Oaxaca

Pbro. Milán Maya Vázquez, Arquidiócesis de Oaxaca

Pbro. Modesto González Sánchez, Diócesis de Huautla de Jiménez

Pbro. Nicolás Ramírez García, Arquidiócesis de Oaxaca

Pbro. Oscar Enríquez, Diócesis de Cd. Juárez Chih.

Pbro. Pedro Antonio Bravo Martínez, Diócesis de Huautla de Jiménez

Pbro. Raúl Cervera, S. J, Revista Christus.

Pbro. Ricardo Rivera Barragán, Diócesis de Tehuacán.

Pbro. Rufino Jiménez Quiroz, Diócesis de Puerto Escondido

Pbro. Samuel Mora Castillo, Diócesis de Huejutla

Pbro. Sergio Herrera, Arquidiócesis de Oaxaca

Pbro. Víctor Villalobos Baltasar, Diócesis de Huautla de Jiménez

Norma Angélica Ortega, Hijas de la Cruz, Directora Jardín de Niños José y


Aniceto Corona Mendoza, Hijos de la Caridad, Superior Regional

Jesús Acosta González, sj Director Centro Laboral México, CELAMEX

Vladimiro Valdés Montoya, sj Director Servicio Jesuita a Migrantes

Oscar Rodríguez Rivera, sj Centro de Derechos Indígenas, CEDIAC

Gustavo Vilchis Fotografo Independiente

Addresses for reference:

Tenayuca 350

Col. Sta. Cruz Atoyac

Delegación Benito Juárez

CP 03310, México, D. F.


Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns

P.O Box 29132

Washington, DC 20017


(202) 832-1780

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