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Religious Leaders Demand Justice in Oaxaca

by Monday, Jul. 13, 2009 at 7:56 AM

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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