domingo, 9 de mayo de 2010

Altar garden in honor of Bety Cariño

Washington, DC--

Friends of Bety Cariño gathered on Mother's Day to create a small garden and altar designed to honor her life and to demand an end to the state sanctioned paramilitary violence which took her life.

If you're in DC please visit the altar. It's on 16th Street NW between Fuller and Harvard.

Who is Bety Cariño?

Alberta “Bety” Cariño Trujillo was assassinated by paramilitaries in rural Oaxaca on April 27, 2010. She was the executive director of CACTUS—Centro de Apoyo Comunitario Trabajando Unidos—Center for Community Support Working Together based out of Huajuápan de León, Oaxaca, Mexico. Her life and work were devoted to challenging the political, economic, and social structures that threatened the cultural and ecological integrity of her community in la Mixteca region of rural Oaxaca, Mexico. With love, faith and commitment, Bety’s daily routine confronted neoliberal socio-economic models, corporate corruption and political dynasties that have ripped apart la Mixteca with forced migration, industrialized agriculture and political violence. Bety was 37-years old and the mother of an 8-year old son and a 5-year old daughter.

Why honor her with an altar garden?

During her burial a mourner called out: "Que te quede claro, a Alberta no la vas a enterrar. La vamos a sembrar, porque es de las flores más bellas, y su ejemplo dará fruto. Be sure that we are not going to bury Alberta. We are going to plant her because she is of the most beautiful flowers, and her example will bear fruit.”

Why install the altar garden at the Mexican Cultural Institute?

Bety Cariño is a true modern-day revolutionary who fought relentlessly to uphold and support the many cultures of the Mixteca region.

How can you help?

This altar garden honors Bety Cariño and is hopefully a lasting reminder that there are communities all over the world that support the struggle for cultural and political autonomy in Oaxaca. You’re invited to contribute to the altar whether you knew Bety or not. Your contribution is a demonstration of solidarity and a symbol that the spirit of Bety Cariño will not be forgotten. Her struggle lives on.

For more information about how to get involved:

You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep spring from coming

--Pablo Neruda

In Honor of the World's Mothers. In Memory of Bety Cariño! Qué Viva la Mixteca!

Dear Friends and Family:

This mother's day may we remember the great mothers who have sacrifices so much to make this world better for the generations to come.

This Sunday, please pause and remember Bety Cariño, a mother and freedom fighter in the struggle for peace and justice who was

assassinated last week in rural, Mexico. Bety was an admired friend whose murder has produced feelings I did not know existed. Read my

response to this heinous and cowardly murder, and please never stop dreaming of a better tomorrow.

Free the land...emily posner

ps...i know its long, but I have a lot to say

Her face reflects the grief of the great Rio Grande

A once bountiful river now abused and damned

Sucked dry of the life that it once had

Cause she’s distracted, extracted and sad

Like a scared mother in the heart of Baghdad

Today wrinkles crevasse her cheeks deeply

like tearful currents cutting contours steeply

as a canyon’s rebellious raging river

exposing earth’s history layer by layer

the epochs and the era’s

500 years of colonial players

who have fossilized

geopolitical divisions

of internalized conquer and divide impositions

etched into stone by controlling politicians

who are the wardens of poverty’s imprisoning conditions.

Excerpted from Rivers Run by Emily Posner

Just over a week has passed since one of my dearest comrades en lucha sent me a chat message me online from her home inside the Beltway. Without warning the IM appeared, “If you haven’t heard already, I need to tell you something really bad that happened in Oaxaca [Mexico].” As my eyes scanned the sentence, an uncontrollable sickening feeling sunk my heart deep into my digestive tract. A slow fear of the horrendous truth about to be shared pulsed through my body, undeniably warning of the pain to come. It was a moment similar to that deafening period when the timpani controls the orchestra's coming direction.

I was sitting in Cochabamba, Bolivia—half way across the world from the Washington DC apartment where the g-chat had originated. My personal involvement in a growing global water justice movement had brought me to the South America to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the region’s Water War. In 2000, the people of this Andean valley united across economic and cultural differences to resist a water utility privatization scheme imposed on their community by the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and Bechtel Corporation. Despite the unprecedented level of state violence inflicted upon this city's mostly indigenous population, for months the people of Cochabamba took to the streets and eventually kicked out Bechtel and regained public control over their water utility. A decade later, water justice activists from around the world had come and gathered to celebrate the people’s victory over neoliberal economics and to recognize its significance in all of our localized struggles for the rights to clean and affordable water and the rights of mother earth.

Within this context, many of us in Cochabamba spoke often about the particular model of social justice organizing in Southern Mexico, as well as the great inspiration derived from the literature, history, dignity, and courage of that region's culture. Just a few days earlier, I had discussed with a new friend about my brief experience with the Triqui community in western Oaxaca State and their mutual aid relationship with CACTUS, a grassroots organization whose community work I support and highly respect. In this environment of celebration, it had became all-to-easy to romanticize and forget the on-the-ground reality of those organizing for peace and justice in Chiapas, Oaxaca and other areas in Southern Mexico. The unexpected chat message was a poignant and sharp reminder of the dangers faced by social justice organizers, journalists, the poor and indigenous populations of the area.

My hands quickly typed a response to her, asking for one moment so that I could sign into skype, knowing that a face to face conversation was more appropriate than continuing this conversation on gmail. A half of second later, I wondered how would we have possibly communicated if this had been just five years earlier, and an instantaneous and silent blessing of gratitude for the technology available at my fingertips emerged from an unknown place in my soul. The inexplicable and intuitive grip that still held hostage my internal organs seemed an obvious forewarning to the news I was about to receive. I briefly hesitated to dial. As my thumb and index fingers stumbled over the computer's touch pad, an almost forgotten incident flashed subconsciously before my eyes. Blurring with the present, I confused real time with the past, and returned to a moment when I had to make similar calls through tears after our roommate tragically passed away in a bus accident doing relief work in New Orleans. I prayed to learn that perhaps our shared friend in Oaxaca was sick or hospitalized; but when the skype video finally initiated, my girl’s puffy eyes and streaked cheeks revealed everything that I had feared.

They had killed Bety!

I do not remember the exact words that we shared. Instead my memory is stained with the sound of a raw wail that erupted from my guts, the feeling of angry tears burning my cheeks, and the rotten taste of political violence forever corrupting my faith and respect of our human dignity. Through cyberspace we cried great rivers together over our world's immense loss. Rivers, which I have since learned, have joined thousands of other salty tributaries throughout this hemisphere and far away lands.

They are Rivers

strongly flowing through Arizona's deserts

swiftly crossing Oaxaca's highlands

widely flooding cities from Mexico City to Toronto

fully washing over valleys reaching from the Appalachians to the Andes.

They are rivers that dig beds in our cheeks with meandering tears of never-ending streaks.

Bety, your death has not passed in silence!

Alberta “Bety” Cariño Trujillo was assassinated by paramilitaries in rural Oaxaca on April 27, 2010. She was our mutual friend from Huajuápan de León, Oaxaca, Mexico. Thirty-seven years old and the mother of two young children, Bety was more than an acquaintance; she was a trusted ally in our global movement from below and to the left. She was a true modern-day revolutionary, wholly committed to dismantling the political, economic, and social infrastructure that threatened the cultural and ecological integrity of her community in la Mixteca of rural Oaxaca, Mexico. Bety was the example worth following. With love, faith and commitment, Bety’s daily routine confronted neoliberal socio-economic models, corporate corruption and political dynasties that have ripped apart la Mixteca with forced migration, industrialized agriculture and political violence.

La Mixteca and all of its profound history was just as much a part of Bety as were her hands and feet. Her every breath inhaled the trying environmental and economic conditions forced upon her people; and her every exhale spoke of an ancient resistance steadfastly committed to the dreams of a different tomorrow. Bety's unwavering vision reflected her localized Mixtecan experience, and is perhaps best recounted by subcomandante marcos of the Zapatistas. He writes about la Mixteca and its people in his essay “To the Indigenous National Congress” (March 2001):

They fear it because it allows past history to be seen. They fear it because today it rebels. They fear it because it announces a tomorrow. They fear our language, and that is why they persecute and kill it.

Bety was the executive director of CACTUS—Centro de Apoyo Comunitario Trabajando Unidos—Center for Community Support Working Together. Cactus worked in the predominantly indigenous Mixtecan community in Oaxaca State. The organization worked as part of the Zapatista’s Other Campaign (la otra campaña) and adhered by many of the horizontal organizing models that have originated from the Lacandón Jungle in Chiapas, home to the Zapatista National Liberation Army. Prior to the 2006 Oaxacan Uprising, Bety and CACTUS supported local indigenous communities, helping them to secure money for small business and agriculture projects.

Bety and CACTUS worked often in rural regions of La Mixteca that have been ripped apart by free-trade policies. Places like La Mixteca are the ground zero of NAFTA, where agricultural subsidy dumping has all but destroyed local agriculture, forcing thousands of Mixtecan farmers to abandon their land, local genetic seed pools, and indigenous knowledge base of their surrounding environment. Unable to sustain their livelihoods, men from this region’s rural towns have traveled North to look for jobs in maquiladora’s along the border or to venture on to the United States. Void of men, La Mixteca has become a region of children, women and the elderly. subcomandante marcos summarizes well the contemporary circumstances of the Mixteca in his fable “How Big is the World?” (Feb 2006). In responding to the story’s title, he writes that a young indigenous Mixtecan woman says:

My papa went to the United States more than twelve years ago. My mama works sewing balls. They pay her ten pesos for each ball, and if one of them isn’t good, they charge forty pesos. They don’t pay then, not until the contractor comes back to the village. My brother is also packing to leave. We women are alone in this, in carrying on with the family, the land, the work. And so, it’s up to us to also carry on with the struggle. The world is as big as the courage this injustice makes me feel, so big it makes my blood boil.

The world of la Mixteca complicates the immigration story spun by US mainstream press. Nothing is easy, concrete or simple when it comes to comprehensively understanding migration throughout North America and Central America, and its subsequent and complex impacts of families, communities, cultures and gender roles on BOTH sides of every border between Canada and Panamá. The women and children in rural Oaxaca are rarely given a voice to broad audiences, or allowed to tell their stories, in US discourses about immigration. They rarely get to ask those on this side of NAFTA's economic borders, “What might it mean to you to loose your father to migration for years? What would it feel like to mortgage your family's land of generations in order to have enough money to travel North? What would you do if you saw all of your sons abandon their community in order to earn enough to support their families?

Bety was committed to bringing these populations and their voices to the forefront of the political process. And it is their perspectives, I believe, which make draconian measures in the US like the militarization of the border, private for-profit detention centers and the recent Arizona legislation that much more reprehensible and racist.

With the acute presence of global economic policies undermining Mixtecan family structures as a backdrop to the Oaxaca narrative, it is important to recognize that this region also has been plagued by political violence intimately connected to voter fraud and political dynasty. The PRI is a Mexican political party that stands for the Institutional Revolutionary Party in English. For nearly 9 decades, the PRI dominated the Mexican Federal Government until the election of Vicente Fox in 2000 finally brought to power a different political party. In Oaxaca, nevertheless, the PRI continues to hold political power by maintaining a system of caciquismo, where they support the authority of local political bosses. In turn, these bosses sell their votes to the PRI in order to ensure the continuance of certain social services like road repair, schools and educational supplies.1 This manner of dominance is also often upheld by paramilitary violence, which has more or less become institutionalized in rural Oaxaca. In June 2006 Nancy Davies published on Narco News, a web-based news service committed to Latin American journalism, that “Oaxaca is a contentious state, with conflicts in towns, on public and communal lands. Assassinations each year number between 20 and 30. The state has 570 municipalities, but in 2004, 750 cases of agrarian conflict.”

This type of violence, as reported by Davies, has largely been associated with Oaxaca's rural communities. So when Section 22 of the Oaxacan teachers union went on strike in May 2006, as they do every year, it was surprising that the PRI government opened fire on a group of peaceful urban protesters. A following shock came when the city's population responded to police aggression with a direct and collective ya basta(ENOUGH!) scream, loud enough to be heard by media outlets and journalists from every corner of the world. They came into the streets and evicted the police from the city. Then, their initial ya basta eruption turned into a people’s movement to remove, as the Zapatista's commonly say, the bad government headed by Ulises Ruíz. (First elected in 2004 with great suspicion of electoral fraud, Ulises Ruíz continues to be the governor of Oaxaca.) A coalition of civil society groups—known as the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca (APPO)—emerged as the driving organizing force of the diverse groups taking to the streets. For eight months the APPO led a popular rebellion against the Ulises Ruíz corrupt government. Over 27 people were killed or disappeared, an estimated 350 individuals were wounded and 370 arrested. Brad Will, an indymedia journalist from New York, was also killed by a paramilitary in October while reporting from one of the street blockades in the capital.

Outside of Mexico, main stream and alternative media outlets primarily reported about what happened in the capital of Oaxaca. The media, however, hardly touched on how this revolt was carried through in other more rural parts of the state, or the impacts that this four year old revolt has had in places like la Mixteca and in the lives of social justice organizers like Bety Cariño.

APPO had committees in places throughout the state of Oaxaca. In Huajuapan de León, CACTUS was on APPO’s organizing committee. In November 2006, this region sent a large group of supporters to participate in a planned mega-march. Their buses were attacked en route to the capital, and nearly 50 poor people from a community associated with FNIC (another APPO member organization) were arrested and detained in an unknown prison. It is events like this where the power and significance of the Zapatista’s and their organizational model must be recognized.Through CACTUS’s relationship with la Otra Campaña, Bety and others were able to find their comrades across the country in Nayarit, and immediately initiated a network of support in Nayarit for the Oaxacan political prisoners.

It was during this period that an unfounded arrest warrant was placed on Bety Cariño, her husband Omar Esparza and other CACTUS organizers. She also received death threats, and someone on the radio someone threatened to cut out her tongue.

When the arrest warrant was issued, Bety put out an online call to her international community for both support and human rights accompaniment. Our mutual friend received Bety's email. She previously had traveled to la Mixteca to support Bety and CACTUS's work in rural Oaxaca. Knowing that she had to go and stand beside her comrade in this time of political unrest, she phoned me and within two weeks the two of us were on planes heading south. Armed only with documentary equipment and a spirit of solidarity, I ventured to a Mexico I only knew through text books, the poetry of subcomandante Marcos and the stories told by migrants working the blueberry and broccoli fields of my home in Maine. The idea was to accompany Bety and her husband, and bring an international presence to la Mixteca with the hope that our white skin and gringo accents would deter a police arrest or politically motivated violence against our friends.

Bety immediately made a strong and warm impression on me when we first met in Mexico City in Decemeber 2006. After our introduction, I wrote on our blog…

Today, [my friend] and I met her comrade from CACTUS. Bety is a mother, sister, daughter, organizer and freedom fighter. Her energy and spirit are clearly rooted in visions and dreams for a better Mixteca, Oaxaca, Mexico and world. Bety sees through the facades of neoliberalism because of her profound experiences of living with the economic, political and cultural hardships that the ideology has brought to her community. The world would be a more loving place if there were more people like this woman.

Despite traveling all morning with her two children that she hadn’t seen for a month (because she had gone into hiding due to the political violence in Oaxaca), Bety spent hours with [my friend] and I this morning. She brought us up to date on her specific situation and the political repression that her people are enduring.

We remained in Oaxaca for two and a half weeks. Stories of the trip can be found at the blog My most vivid memories of this trip remain the long evenings of speaking passionately with Bety and her husband about their parallel experience of Oaxaca's political crisis to mine as a relief worker in post-Katrina New Orleans. With both occurrences fresh on our minds, we compared and contrasted the successes and failures of our social movement(s) respective responses to the power vacuums that the political disasters produced in both locations. A commonality we discovered is that the well-armed right will violently defend the status quo through the State and paramilitary/vigilante force when the traditionally disempowered organize themselves horizontally and transparently.

I distinctly remember visiting San Juan Copala just after Christmas on this trip. A group of us traveled many hours on a rundown road to the indigenous community near the Pacific Coast of Oaxaca State. We went to observe the APPO, primarily led by the Indigenous Tiquis Tribe in that area, return the municipal seat to the PRI government. They were the last municipality to concede power back to the PRI after 8 months of rebellion in Oaxaca. At the same time, this community declared itself to be autonomous and under EZLN (Zapatista) control, making San Juan Copala the only Zapatista community outside of Chiapas. And since January 2007, the Triquis associated with the EZLN have maintained their autonomy from the PRI despite being constantly under siege by the ruling political party and associated paramilitary organizations. Hours before sunset, I clearly remember when Bety hastily gathered our group to return to Huajuapán de León. Traveling at night through this region of Oaxaca was not an option.

Bety and CACTUS supported the autonomous movement in San Juan Copala. Starting in 2007, my friend worked with CACTUS to provide technical, financial and labor support to a radio station used by the autonomous community. Violence in this region reached a new low when in April 2008, Felícitas Martínez and Teresa Bautista, two young indigenous reporters, ages 20 and 22, with the Radio Copala community station, were ambushed and assassinated on a rural road outside of San Juan Copala. The women were trained by CACTUS volunteers from California just before their murder.

Two years later, just days after Bety's assassination, during an April 30, 2010 Democracy Now! interview, free-lance journalist Kristin Bricker succinctly outlines the contemporary situation in San Juan Copola:

San Juan Copala declared itself autonomous in 2007 following the 2006 uprising that nearly overthrew the governor. Ever since then, they’ve been the subject of paramilitary violence. The organization that carried out the attack is the UBISORT which is an organization that has been declared a paramilitary organization by the United Nations High Commission on Refugees. The state’s ruling party, the PRI, created the organization in 1994 in order to control the Triqui region. Likely out of fear that the Zapatista uprising would inspire indigenous people in Oaxaca as well, which to some extent, was the case. The autonomous municipality of San Juan Copala, for example, are adherent to the Zapatista’s Other Campaign and take much of their inspiration from them. UBISORT paramilitary organization continues to be led by PRI members, that’s the ruling party in Oaxaca, and its leaders were actually both state representatives in the Congress. The UBISORT is very open about its close relationship with the PRI. What happened with the attack on the caravan is that the caravan was taking basic necessities, as you said, to San Juan Copala because the community has been under siege since January. Paramilitaries have blocked access to the community with rocks and armed gunman. And the teachers have been unable to give classes. And the paramilitary has cut off electricity and it cut off the water. The people of San Juan Copala are completely incommunicado. Nobody can enter. Nobody can leave.

Bricker's interview was in response to a paramilitary attack that she survived while accompanying a human rights envoy to San Juan Copala. She and Bety Cariño joined a caravan of 27 others. Journalists, international human rights organizers, teachers and local activists gathered in Huajuapan de León to travel the same road Bety and I took three-and-a-half years earlier. This time they carried food, water, medicine and educators with the hopes of passing through UBISORT's blockade to take this needed humanitarian relief to the people of San Juan Copola.

Instead their caravan was attacked by UBISORT paramilitaries. The backtires were shot out of the SUV Bety was traveling in, which prevented the car from being able to escape. Bety was shot in the head, as was Jyri Jaakkola, a human rights observer from Finland, who sat next to Bety in the car. I could not help but think of the countless times that I sat next to this fearless woman as we traveled together.

In her interview, Bricker continued to describe Bety as

dearly loved and she [Bety] was a very important political leader in the region. She was the director of CACTUS, which is an organization that advocates for indigenous rights, particularly indigenous women’s rights. They do radio projects in the area, in the Mixteca. She was probably one of the two most important people politically who was on that caravan. And so it is very suspicious that it was her who was shot in the head.

Suspicious indeed!

We still had so much to learn from Bety Cariño, who til her dying breath remained

loyal to horizontal organizing,

devoted to ecological stewardship,

dedicated to revitalizing local agriculture and economies,

confrontational to racism, patriarchy, and greed,

faithful to a vision of world where many worlds fit,

and committed to democracy, liberty and justice!

Bety could not have been taller than 5’2’’! Those cowards who ordered her murder could only have been scared of her voice, because it was

A voice committed to speaking truth to power.

A voice that spoke for the voiceless

A voice more dangerous than 1,000 rioters

A voice that others listened too….

A voice that clearly identified those of the bad government

A voice that never wavered

A voice that never stumbled

A voice that others listened too….

A voice of love that undermined from below and to the left

A voice of sovereignty

A voice of autonomy

A voice of dignity

A voice that others listened too….

A voice that lives in my steps

A voice that breathes in her children’s hearts

A voice that grows strengthening sustenance amongst the vitality of the three sisters

A voice that finds water amongst the cacti forests

A voice that sings the moon to sleep

A voice that welcomes the eastern sun with thanks

Un voz de pie, nunca de rodillos!

After celebrating the 2006 winter solstice with Bety, I wrote that while humanity’s struggles for peace and justice are as diverse as the earth around us, we all dream of a better world looking at the same stars. These are the same stars gazed upon by US slaves escaping bondage on the underground railroad, and that provided sanctuary to the civil rights protesters when they marched from Selma to Montgomery. They are the same stars that protected the integrity of the Sandinista revolution and St. Patrick Battalion. They are the same stars that those of Landless Peasant Movements stare at from reclaimed land, and looked upon by autonomous communities from liberated territories. They are the same stars our night eyes study from the forests we defend, the streets we block, and the earth we occupy. They are the same stars that keep our inspiration sacred, our dreams magically real, and our hope unwavering. And perhaps it is this reason that those who dedicate themselves to eradicating oppression and marginalization often unite under the symbol of the star. For it is under one universal sky that our diverse desires for hope, dignity, sovereignty and justice are born.

In my most recent thoughts of Bety I have found myself returning often to the comfort of the soft lyrics of Sueños con Serpientes (Dreams with Snakes) by Cuban folk singer Silvio Rodriguez:

Hay hombres que luchan un día There are people who fight one day
Y son buenos. And they are good.
Hay otros que luchan un año There are others who fight one year
Y son mejores. And they are better.
Hay quienes luchan muchos años There are those who fight many years
Y son muy buenos. And they are very good
Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida: But there are those that fight all their life
Esos son los imprescindibles. Those are the indispensable!

At night when I stare at the same sky in rural Maine that I stared at 3.5 years ago in Oaxaca, I think of you Bety and see that

Her face reflects the spark

Of the fireflies at night

Who through the chaos of the dark

Stay the course to bring the light

And though the struggle of our plight

May be long

And full of blight

It is the truth in her face for the reasons why I fight.

Excerpted from Rivers Run by Emily Posner

During Bety's burial a mourner called out: "Que te quede claro, a Alberta no la vas a enterrar. La vamos a sembrar, porque es de las flores más bellas, y su ejemplo dará fruto. Be sure that we are not going to bury Alberta. We are going to plant her because she is of the most beautiful flowers, and her example will bear fruit.”

Dear Bety….we miss you like the land clear-cut of its forests and the river void of its salmon. My heart is sieved like the mountain once filled with gold or the spring once bountiful with water. They have stolen part of us Bety, and I will never forgive the bad government for that. But you are here in everything we do.

Tierra, Libertad o Muerte!

Land, Liberty or Death

written with great yearning, Emily Posner

lunes, 26 de febrero de 2007

Thank You for Your Support of Omar Esparza Zarate

To all the dignified and honest people who spoke out on behalf of Omar Esparza and justice and dignity in Oaxaca,

[español está al fondo]

Over the last nine months Omar Esparza Zarate, who works with the Center for Communal Support (CACTUS) has become one of the key organizers in the Mixteca region of Mexico with the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca, a grass roots movement formed in response to the violent and repressive policies of Oaxacan governor Ulises Ruiz. As a part of the state backlash against this movement Omar has unjustly become one of many targets of harassment and repression.

On February 9, 2007 at around 11:00am two officials from the Agency of Federal Investigation (AFI) arrived at the CACTUS office, located in Huajuapan de Leon, Oaxaca. After identifying themselves they asked to speak with Omar. The person who attended the officials told them Omar Esparza couldn't be found in the city for work reasons. The agents indicated they had brought an order to appear for the human rights activist in conjunction with a criminal investigation, signaling that he should appear immediately in the Regional Office of the Attorney General in Huajuapan de Leon. The agents wouldn't explain why Omar was being served an order to appear and indicated that if he wanted to know what he was accused of he would have to appear himself. Upon realizing that Omar Esparza wasn't in the office, the agents photographed the outside of the office and the organization's truck, which they found parked outside. They left without leaving a copy of the order to appear.

On Friday February 23 Omar decided to face the authorities and dispute their claims in the hopes of returning to his work without fear of further persecution and it worked--at least for now. The Oaxacan government knows the whole world is watching. We need to keep current with what is happening in Mexico and make sure authorities know that repressive tactics will not be tolerated.

Thanks to all the support and solidarity Omar is safe for now.

I translated the following statement sent out by the Cuali Nemilistli Human Rights Network explaining the status of Omar's case and the details of what occurred on Friday.

In Solidarity,
Tennessee Watson,

To all the dignified and honest people who spoke out on behalf of Omar Esparza,

To the civil society of Mexico and the world,

Thank you so much!
February 23, 2007 various organizations and people accompanied Omar Esparza to his appearance before the Attorney General (PGR) in the city of Oaxaca.* There were people present from The National Association of Democratic Lawyers, UCIZONI, the Oaxacan Human Rights Network, Espiral 7, the Binational Front of Indigenous Organizations (FIOB), the Cuali Nemilistli Human Rights Network, and obviously the Center for Communal Support (CACTUS). We didn't arrive alone; we arrived accompanied by the word and support of all of the people who responded to the call for Urgent Action, by those who sent messages of solidarity, by those in other countries ready to protest at Mexican consulates and embassies, by those who were already preparing new ways of protesting, by those who gave their word and heart in order to defend Omar, Oaxaca and Dignity.

We arrived at the PGR at 1:00 pm. After waiting a while in the reception area of the local office of the PGR in Oaxaca (which of course is in the middle of no where outside of the city in the country where they try to hide themselves from the world) an agent of the Public Ministry, accompanied by the Regional Commander of the Federal Agency of Investigations (AFI) came to escort Omar Esparza and his lawyer, David Peña to the office where they would have the proceedings.

Afterwards came the long wait outside the PGR, that passed by between preoccupation, jokes and speculation. After approximately three hours, finally, Omar and David came down the stairs and left the building. As they left came the collective questions: What happened? and What did they accuse you of?

Omar and David explained that it dealt with a criminal investigation of the theft of a computer from the offices of the Federal Electoral Institute (IFE) in Oaxaca that apparently occurred during the last elections when Omar acted as an elections councilor. The PGR wanted Omar to appear only to give his testimony and nothing else.*

In their account of what happened Omar and David told us that present in the office was a representative of the PGR from Oaxaca, the commander of the AFI, the Public Ministry, and two representatives from the Oaxacan office of the Attorney General of Justice (PGJ). The first thing they said to David and Omar is: "it's not for what you all think." Later came the protest from the representative from the PGR about all the "unnecessary noise" that had been made around this and "the calls and letters that they had received from many states and countries asking about Omar's case." The Commander of the AFI was also a little bothered by being exposed to national and international public opinion.

While David and Omar told the details of the meeting, a black truck speed off carrying what was mostly likely agents from the Oaxacan PGJ office. They were fleeing the crowd, the press, and having to respond to the civil society--something that also seems to be a tradition of the Oaxacan authorities.

This story is not over. The PGR still will carry out more proceedings, and according to what they said if they don't find more information the case will be filled. Later we realized that the Oaxacan authorities "were scared by the exposure the case had," and the pressure from civil society, all of you and us, forced the federal and state authorities to contain their repressive spirit and as a consequence use the issue of the stolen computer as an out.

From our heart, thank you for your support, for your words and your action that brought us to win this small battle in favor of Omar, Oaxaca and Dignity; and to be clear with the authorities that we are here, we are alert and, we are organized, that Omar and everyone who struggles for justice, for liberty and for dignity are not alone.

We will continue paying attention to this case and alert to the security of Omar. Having gotten this we need to continue scrutinizing the authorities. We can't trust them. We don't believe in them. We need to question the idea that federal agents used intimidation tactics in order to meet with someone, and then when the person does present themselves the authorities declare it's not that big of a deal and that they only want him to testify for a case that they will probably file for lack of evidence anyway. It doesn't satisfy us that the authorities were scared by the national and international solidarity in response to Omar's situation, and that they were angry about the "unnecessary noise" because they felt scrutinized. Who are they afraid of if their obligation is to respond to the civil society and to be transparent.

Continuing the struggle,

Eduardo Almeida Sánchez

The Cuali Nemilistli Human Rights Network

P.S. for the PGR, AFI and the PGJ: If you only needed Omar to appear to testify, was it really necessary to arrive in a truck full of AFI agents at the CACTUS office with an arrogant attitude against the members of that organization, taking photos of the outside of the office, of the vehicles and saying that Omar had to present himself to the PGR in order "to know what he was accused of."
Proposal: After Atenco, Oaxaca, the aggressions towards human rights activists and journalists, the civil society ahs become a little distrustful, therefore make harmless things seem harmful, because in these times that thing that smells of repression usually is.

*Office of the Attorney General, Procuraduría General de la República, is an institution belonging to the Federal executive branch that is responsible of the investigation and prosecution of federal crimes.

*I had originally heard authorities said they wanted to question Omar about claims he'd made as an elections observer about electoral fraud. The most recent information says it was over a stolen computer. Sorry for any confusion.


A todas las personas dignas y honestas que se manifestaron por Omar

A la sociedad civil nacional e internacional

¡Muchas Gracias!

El día viernes 23 de febrero varias organizaciones y personas acompañamos a Omar Esparza a su presentación ante la Procuraduría General de la República (PGR) en la Ciudad de Oaxaca. En ese momento, en dónde estuvieron presentes compañeros de la Asociación Nacional de Abogados Democráticos, UCIZONI, la Red Oaxaqueña de Derechos Humanos, Espiral 7, el FIOB, la Red Cuali Nemilistli de Derechos Humanos y, evidentemente, el Centro de Apoyo Comunitario Trabajando Unidos (CACTUS), en ese momento, no llegábamos solos, llegamos acompañados de la palabra y del apoyo de todas las personas que respondieron a la Acción Urgente, de las que enviaron mensajes de solidaridad, de las que en el extranjero estaban listas para tomar de manera simbólica las representaciones diplomáticas de México en otros países, de las que ya estaban preparando nuevas formas de manifestarse, de todos los que prestaron su palabra y su corazón para defender a Omar, a Oaxaca y a la Dignidad.

Llegamos a la PGR un tanto tarde, como nos suele pasar a la sociedad civil, a eso de las 13:00 hrs. Después de un rato de esperar en la recepción de la Delegación de la PGR de Oaxaca, que por cierto está en un campo en medio de la nada, en las afueras de la ciudad, como si trataran de esconderse del mundo; tras esa breve espera, llegó una Agente del Ministerio Público (MP), acompañada del Comandante Regional de la Agencia Federal de Investigaciones (AFI) para escoltar a Omar Esparza y a David Peña (su abogado) hacía la oficina donde tendría lugar la diligencia.

Después vino la larga espera a las afueras de la PGR, la que transcurrió entre preocupación, bromas y especulaciones. Tras aproximadamente tres horas, por fin, Omar y David bajaron unas escaleras y salieron del edificio, primera buena noticia, salieron del edificio. A su salida vino la pregunta colectiva de ¿Qué pasó? y la duda de las últimas dos semanas ¿De qué lo acusan?

Omar y David explicaron que se trataba de una averiguación previa iniciada por el robo de una computadora en las oficinas del Instituto Federal Electoral (IFE) de Oaxaca, hecho que al parecer ocurrió en las pasadas elecciones en las que Omar fungió como Consejero Electoral. Omar no fue señalado directamente, pero al parecer, los federales trataron de insinuar su responsabilidad. Esto quiere decir que la PGR quería que Omar se presentara solo para dar su testimonio y nada más (ajá, sí, seguro).

En su relato, Omar y David nos contaron a los que esperábamos afuera, que en la diligencia estuvieron presentes el Delegado de la PGR en Oaxaca, el Comandante de la AFI, la MP y dos representantes de la Procuraduría General de Justicia (PGJ) de Oaxaca. Lo primero que les dijeron a David y a Omar fue: "no es por lo que ustedes creen". Y luego vino el reclamo del Delegado de la PGR por todo el "ruido innecesario" que se había hecho en torno a esto y por "las llamadas y cartas que recibieron de muchos estados y países preguntando por el caso de Omar". El Comandante de la AFI estaba también un tanto molesto por haber sido expuesto ante la opinión pública nacional e internacional.

Mientras David y Omar contaban los pormenores de la reunión, una camioneta negra salió a velocidad de fuga con lo que no podían ser más que agentes de la PGJ de Oaxaca, salieron huyendo de la sociedad civil, de la prensa, de tener que responder ante la sociedad, algo que parece ser ya una tradición entre las autoridades Oaxaqueñas.

Esta historia no termina, todavía la PGR llevará a cabo más diligencias, y según dijeron, si no encuentran más elementos, el caso se archivaría. Más tarde nos enteramos que las autoridades de Oaxaca "estaban espantadas por la exposición que tenía el caso", y que al parecer sí había intenciones de ir sobre Omar, pero que la presión de la sociedad civil, de todos ustedes, de este nosotros, había obligado a las autoridades federales y estatales a contener sus ánimos represivos y como consecuencia usar este asunto de la computadora como una salida.

De corazón, muchas gracias por su apoyo, por su palabra y su acción que llevaron a ganar esta pequeña batalla a favor de Omar, de Oaxaca y de la Dignidad y a dejarles claro a las autoridades que estamos aquí, que estamos alertas, que estamos organizados, que Omar y todos los que luchan por la justicia, por la libertad y por la dignidad no están solos.

Seguiremos atentos del caso y alertas por la seguridad de Omar, pues a estas alturas no no es posible confiar en las autoridades, no creemos en ellas, no nos convence la idea de que se movilicen agentes federales en una diligencia intimidatoria para citar a alguien para que se presente a conocer de qué se le acusa, y que al momento de presentarse le digan que no era para tanto, que únicamente se quería un testimonio para un caso que probablemente se archivará por falta de elementos, porque no tienen elementos, no nos convence que las autoridades se asusten por la solidaridad nacional e internacional ante el caso de Omar, que se enojen por el ruido innecesario, que reclamen por sentirse vigilados, ¿a qué le temen? Si tienen la obligación de responder a la sociedad civil y de ser transparentes.

… continuará y continúa.

Eduardo Almeida Sánchez

Red Cuali Nemilistli de Derechos Humanos

P.D. para la P.G.R., la A.F.I. y la P.G.J.: ¿Si sólo querían que Omar se presentara a testificar, era realmente necesario que llegara una camioneta civil llena de agentes de la AFI a las oficinas de CACTUS en actitud prepotente contra los integrantes de esa organización, tomando fotos de la fachada de la oficina, de los vehículos y diciendo que Omar tenía que presentarse ante la PGR para "saber de qué se le acusaba"? Propuesta: después Atenco, Oaxaca, de las agresiones contra defensores de derechos humanos y periodistas, en la sociedad civil nos hemos vuelto un tanto desconfiados, así que no hagan cosas inofensivas que parezcan malas, porque en estos tiempos lo que huele a represión casi siempre lo es.

miércoles, 21 de febrero de 2007

Support CACTUS organizer Omar Esparza Zarate

Dear friends/Queridos amig@s,

My first instinct with messages like this, pleading for you to help an endangered activist in some far off place, is to skim them over and never follow-up. I BEG you to read on and to take action. The following is a comunique I translated from a human rights network in Mexico asking you to send messages to Mexican authorites demanding the human rights of activist Omar Esparza Zarate are respected. Omar is a dear dear friend--more like a brother. I've been working with him and CACTUS for the last 3 years. Over the last nine months Omar has become one of the key organizers in the Mixteca region of Mexico with the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca, a grass roots movement formed in response to the violent and repressive policies of Oaxacan governor Ulises Ruiz. As a part of the state backlash against this movemnt Omar has unjustly become one of many targets of harrassment and repression. Right now he is being hunted by the equivalent of the Mexican FBI for reasons they have not disclosed. He's been underground for the last couple months and this coming Friday February 23 Omar has decided to face the authorities and dispute their claims in the hopes that he can return to his work without fear of further persecution. In order to successfully refute their charges Omar needs our help. We need to let Mexican and Oaxacan authorities know that Omar has the support of concerned people across Mexico, the United States and the world. Please read on, take action and then forward this comunique!

In solidarity,
Tennessee Watson

URGENT ACTION: Fear for the safety of Mixtecan human rights activist: OMAR ESPARZA ZARATE of CACTUS

Cuali Nemilistli Human Rights Network

Urgent Action, February 2007


To the Mexican Federal Government and Oaxacan State Government,
To the Governments of the World,
To the general public,
To the press,

The Cuali Nemilistli Human Rights Network asks for you urgent intervention against the harassment, and risk to the safety and physical integrity of human rights activist OMAR ESPARZA ZARATE from the Center for Community Support (CACTUS) based in Huajuapan de Leon, Oaxaca, Mexico. CACTUS is a member organization of the Cuali Nemilistli Human Rights Network.

February 9, 2007 at around 11:00am two officials from the Agency of Federal Investigation (AFI) arrived at the CACTUS office, located in Huajuapan de Leon, Oaxaca. After identifying themselves they asked to speak with Omar Esparza Zarate, member of CACTUS. The person who attended the officials told them Omar Esparza couldn't be found in the city for work reasons. The agents indicated they had brought a warrant for the human rights activist, signaling that he should appear soon in the Regional Office of the National Attorney General in Huajuapan de Leon, to find out what he's accused of in relation to things that happened at the end of 2006.

Upon realizing that Omar Esparza wasn't in the office, the agents photographed the outside of the office and the organization's truck, which they found parked outside. They left without leaving a copy of the warrant.


Omar Esparza Zarate is 30-years old. He is originally from Tehuacan, Puebla, but he has lived in Huajuapan de Leon, Oaxaca for the last six years. He has a background in social work.

Over the last several years, Omar Esparza Zarate has done diverse work on the subject of the defense of human rights, community development and research in the Mixteca region (which includes parts of the states of Oaxaca, Puebla and Guerrero) as a member of the Center for Communal Support (CACTUS). Founded in 1990, CACTUS has for the last six years been a part of the Cuali Nemilistli Human Rights Network.

At the end of 2006, the years of work that CACTUS and particularly Omar Esparza Zarate have done in the Mixteca brought about solidarity from the communities of the Mixteca and participation in the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca.

We want to emphasize that this is not the first troublesome act Omar Esparza or his organization have suffered from.

January 24, 2006 Omar Esparza Zarate was detained and jailed arbitrarily by municipal police in Huajuapan de Leon, Oaxaca. Upon leaving the CACTUS office, along with his partner, he was intercepted by patrol car number 021 y surrounded by 5 other police units demanding that he descend from his trunk. Omar Esparza demanded that the agents explain their motive for his detention or that they show a warrant, which bothered the officers. Two police officers got out of their patrol car and explained that this was a routine operation since they had been information that there was a pick-up truck transporting arms.

20 agents proceeded to violently open the truck. In spite of the fact that one of the agents recognized Omar has a member of a human rights organization, eight officers got him out of the truck and forced him to the back of the patrol car, handcuffing him, insulting him, and forcing him to remain on his knees until the commander of the municipal police arrived.

After an hour of detention, the municipal trustee of Huajuapan, José Miguel Camacho Morales, gave him a misdemeanor and fined him 200 pesos (about 20 US dollars) in order to be released.

After this happened Omar Esparza presented a complaint to the State Human Rights Commission for which he still hasn't received any kind of a reply.

Months after, in the early morning of June 12, 2006 unknown subjects entered the offices CACTUS shared with PANEE-the National Patronage of Literacy and Educational Extension, where they opened the file cabinets and searched through accounting and administrative files for both organizations with information about groups and people they worked with, as well as personal items. They also took two cameras and 5,000 pesos (roughly 500 US dollars).

At the end of 2006, Alberta Cariño, Omar Esparza Zarate's partner and member of CACTUS, was the subject of various anonymous phone threats, in which they said that if she continued to talk with the public, that they were going to cut her tongue out.


It goes without saying that we are preoccupied with the tense political climate and lack of stable government that the state of Oaxaca is currently living with, as well as the systematic violation of human rights the State Government of Oaxaca commits daily.

Omar Esparza Zarate, as a human rights activist has raised up his voice in defense of the most vulnerable and unprotected groups, fighting to better living conditions y exposing the authors of various human rights violations.

The work of human rights activists is fundamental and unfortunately extremely dangerous in our country, and deserves special protection; therefore we should take all actions possible to protect this work. Attacking the individual and collective rights and guarantees of human rights activists, is an attack against those that they protect and those with whom they work to obtain a better standard of living in the region.

We are afraid for the security, physical integrity and freedom of Omar Esparza Zarate in the face of these acts of harassment and threats that that he has been the subject of, along with his family.

We are also just as afraid that this harassment against Omar Esparza Zarate represents only the beginning of a wave of harassment and repression against the members of the Center for Communal Support (CACTUS), and against the inhabitants of the Mixteca region and other regions of the State of Oaxaca that have participated in the movement of the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca.

Consequently we make the Mexican Federal Government and the State Government of Oaxaca responsible for whatever acts of violence or intimidation that Omar Esparza Zarate, his family, or members of CACTUS maybe subjected to.

The Cuali Nemilistli Human Rights Network points out that the events referred to above contradict the right to personal liberty, legal safeguards, equal treatment before the law; liberty of thought, speech, and the right to free assembly, protected by different articles of the Constitution of the United States of Mexico and the State of Puebla, the Universal Human Rights Declaration, the American Convention on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Therefore the Cuali Nemilistli Human Rights Network asks urgently:

1.- That the necessary measures are taken to stop the harassments and threats against human rights activist Omar Esparza Zarate, his family and the rest of his co-workers from the Center for Communal Support (CACTUS).

2.- That the liberty, safety and physical integrity of the members of CACTUS, especially Omar Esparza Zarate and his family is guaranteed.

3.-That concrete and urgent measures are taken to implement the Declaration of Defenders from the Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.

4.- That there is the application of what is stipulated by the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United nations on December 9, 1998, in particular that which refers to the protection of the all people "to conduct human rights work individually and in association with others, and to seek the protection and realization of human rights at the national and international levels," therefore the State should "take all necessary measures to ensure the protection of everyone against any violence, threats, retaliation, adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the Declaration," ( and in the resolution about the Defenders of Human Rights in the Americas AG/RES. 1671 (XXIX-O/99), adopted by the Organization of American States on June 7, 1999.


The Cuali Nemilistli Human Rights Network

Please send your appeals to the following directions and carbon copy

Louise Arbour, Alta Comisionada de las Naciones Unidas para los Derechos Humanos, (High Commissioner for United Nations Human Rights Commission)

Sr. Amerijo Inalcaterra, Representante en México de la Oficina del Alto Comisionado de las Naciones Unidas para los Derechos Humanos, (Mexican Representative to the United Nations Office of the Human Rights High Commission)

Sr. Santiago Cantón, Secretario Ejecutivo de la Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos, (Executive Secretary of the Interamerican Human Rights Commission)

Lic. Felipe de Jesús Calderón Hinojosa, Presidente de la República, (Mexican President)

Lic. Francisco Javier Ramírez Acuña, Secretario de Gobernación, (Secretary of the Interior)

Lic. Eduardo Medina-Mora Icaza, Procurador General de la República, (Attorney General)

Lic. José Luis Soberanes Fernández, Presidente de la Comisión Nacional de Derechos Humanos. (President of the National Human Rights Commission)

Actuaria Eugenia del Carmen Diez Hidalgo, Unidad para la promoción y defensa de los Derechos Humanos de la secretaria de Gobernación.

Lic. Ulises Ruiz Ortiz, Gobernador del Estado de Oaxaca, (Governor of Oaxaca)

Lic. Manuel García Corpus, Secretario General de Gobierno del Estado de Oaxaca, (General Secretary of the Government of Oaxaca)

Lic. Rosa Lizbeth Caña Cadeza, Procuradora General de Justicia del Estado de Oaxaca, (Attorney General for Oaxaca)

Lic. Jaime Mario Pérez Jiménez, Presidente de la Comisión de Derechos Humanos del Estado de Oaxaca, (President of the Oaxacan Human Rights Commission),

M.A. Manuel Moreno Rivas, Director de la Policía Ministerial del Estado de Oaxaca, (Director of the ministerial police)

C. Comandante Regional de la Mixteca de la Policía Ministerial del Estado de Oaxaca, (Mixtecan Regional Commander of the Ministerial Police)

Lic. Roberto Eliud García Salinas, Visitador adjunto de la Oficina Regional de la Mixteca de la Comisión Estatal de Derechos Humanos del Estado de Oaxaca. (Micxteca Office of Oaxacan State Human Rights Commission)

Red Cuali Nemilistli de Derechos Humanos




Puebla, Puebla a 20 de Febrero de 2007.

A los Gobiernos Federal y del Estado de Oaxaca.

A los Gobiernos del Mundo.

A la opinión pública.

A los medios de comunicación.

La Red Cuali Nemilistli de Derechos Humanos solicita su intervención urgente ante el hostigamiento y el riesgo para la seguridad e integridad física del defensor de los Derechos Humanos OMAR ESPARZA ZÁRATE , del Centro de Apoyo Comunitario Trabajando Unidos (CACTUS, A.C.) de Huajuapan de León, Oaxaca, organización integrante de la Red Cuali Nemilistli de Derechos Humanos.


El día viernes 9 de febrero de 2007, cerca de las 11:00 horas se presentaron en las oficinas del Centro de Apoyo Comunitario Trabajando Unidos (CACTUS A.C.), ubicadas en Huajuapan de León, Oaxaca, dos oficiales de la Agencia Federal de Investigación (AFI), quienes tras identificarse solicitaron hablar con Omar Esparza Zárate, miembro de CACTUS, el compañero que los atendió les dijo que Omar Esparza no se encontraba en la ciudad por motivos de trabajo, los agentes señalaron que llevaban una Orden de Presentación para el defensor de derechos humanos, señalando que debía comparecer "pronto" en la Oficina Regional de la Procuraduría General de la República en Huajuapan de León para conocer de qué se le acusa, en relación con hechos sucedidos a finales de 2006.

Al conocer que Omar Esparza no se encontraba en las oficina de la organización fotografiaron la fachada de esta y la camioneta que se encontraba estacionada afuera y se retiraron sin dejar copia de la orden de presentación.


Omar Esparza Zárate tiene 30 años de edad, es originario de Tehuacán, Puebla, pero reside en Huajuapan de León, Oaxaca desde hace 6 años, cuenta con estudios en Trabajo Social.

Desde hace varios años, Omar Esparza Zárate realiza diversos trabajos en materia de defensa de derechos humanos, desarrollo comunitario e investigación en la Región Mixteca (que abarca zonas de los Estados de Oaxaca, Puebla y Guerrero) como integrante del Centro de Apoyo Comunitario Trabajando Unidos (CACTUS A.C.), fundada en 1990 y que desde hace 6 años forma parte de la Red Cuali Nemilistli de Derechos Humanos (RCN).

A finales de 2006, el trabajo que por años ha realizado CACTUS y en particular Omar Esparza Zárate en la región mixteca, lo llevó a solidarizarse con las comunidades de la mixteca y a participar en el movimiento de la Asamblea Popular de los Pueblos de Oaxaca.

Deseamos hacer énfasis en que este no es el primer acto de molestia que sufre Omar Esparza y su organización.

El 24 de enero de 2006 Omar Esparza Zárate fue detenido y encarcelado arbitrariamente por policías municipales de Huajuapan de León, Oaxaca. Al salir de las oficinas de CACTUS, en compañía de su esposa, fue interceptado por la patrulla número 021 y rodeado por otras cinco unidades policíacas para exigirle que descendiera de su camioneta. Omar Esparza exigió a los agentes que le explicaran el motivo de la detención o que le mostraran una orden por escrito donde se ordenara esta, lo que molestó a los agentes. Dos de los policías bajaron de su patrulla y le explicaron que era una operación de rutina pues tenían información de que en una camioneta llevaban armas.

20 agentes procedieron a abrir violentamente la camioneta, a pesar de que uno de los agentes lo identificó como integrante de una organización de derechos humanos y entre 8 agentes lo bajaron de su camioneta y lo introdujeron por la fuerza a la batea de la patrulla, esposándolo, insultándolo y obligándolo a permanecer de rodillas hasta que se presentó el comandante de la policía municipal.

Una hora después de la detención, el síndico municipal de Huajuapan, José Miguel Camacho Morales, quien calificó la falta, y le fijó una multa de 200 pesos para obtener su libertad.

Tras estos hechos Omar Esparza presentó una queja ante la Comisión de Derechos Humanos del Estado, queja por la cual aún no se obtiene ninguna respuesta.

Meses después, en la madrugada del 12 de junio de 2006 sujetos aún desconocidos se introdujeron en las oficinas que en aquel entonces compartían CACTUS con el Patronato Nacional de Alfabetización y Extensión Educativa (PANAEE), donde abrieron a la fuerza archiveros y registraron expedientes contables y administrativos de ambas organizaciones, así como información de grupos y personas con las que trabajaban y objetos personales, además de haberse llevado dos cámaras fotográficas y 5 mil pesos .

A finales de 2006, Alberta Cariño, esposa de Omar Esparza Zárate e integrante de CACTUS fue objeto de diversas amenazas telefónicas anónimas, en las cuales se le decía que si seguía hablando de más al pueblo, le iban a cortar la lengua.


Sobra expresar nuestra preocupación por el tenso clima político y de ingobernabilidad que se vive actualmente en el Estado de Oaxaca, así como la sistemática violación a los derechos humanos que comete a diario el Gobierno de dicho Estado.

Omar Esparza Zárate, como defensor de derechos humanos, ha alzado la voz en defensa de los grupos mas vulnerables y desprotegidos, luchando por mejorar sus condiciones de vida y desenmascarando a los autores de diversas violaciones a los derechos humanos.

El trabajo de los defensores de derechos humanos es fundamental y por desgracia sumamente riesgoso en nuestro país, y merece de una protección especial, por lo tanto, deben tomarse todas las acciones posibles para protegerlo, pues al atentar contra sus garantías individuales y colectivas, se atenta directamente contra las de aquellos a los que protege y con quienes trabaja para obtener un mejor nivel de vida en su región.

Tememos por la seguridad, integridad física y la libertad de Omar Esparza Zárate ante estos actos de hostigamiento y amenazas de que ha sido objeto junto con su familia.

Tememos, de igual manera, que el hostigamiento contra Omar Zárate Esparza represente únicamente el comienzo de una ola de hostigamiento y represión en contra de los miembros del Centro de Apoyo Comunitario Trabajando Unidos y contra los habitantes de la región mixteca y otras regiones del Estado de Oaxaca que han participado en el movimiento de la Asamblea Popular de los Pueblos de Oaxaca.

Por lo anterior, hacemos responsables a los Gobiernos Federal y del Estado de Oaxaca de cualquier acto intimidatorio o violento de que sea objeto Omar Esparza Zárate, su familia o los miembros del Centro de Apoyo Comunitario Trabajando Unidos A.C.

La Red Cuali Nemilistli de Derechos Humanos señala que los hechos referidos contradicen los derechos a la libertad personal, a la seguridad jurídica, igualdad ante la ley, libertad de pensamiento y expresión y el derecho a la libre ocupación, protegidos por diversos artículos de la Constitución Política de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos y del Estado de Puebla, la Declaración Universal de Derechos Humanos; la Convención Americana de Derechos Humanos y el Pacto Internacional de Derechos Civiles y Políticos.

Por lo anterior la Red Cuali Nemilistli de Derechos Humanos solicita urgentemente:

1.- Que se tomen las medidas necesarias para que cese el hostigamiento y las amenazas en contra del defensor de derechos humanos Omar Esparza Zárate, su familia y el resto de los miembros del Centro de Apoyo Comunitario Trabajando Unidos (CACTUS).

2.- Se garantice la libertad, la seguridad y la integridad física de los integrantes de CACTUS, en especial de Omar Esparza Zárate y su familia.

3.- Se tomen medidas concretas y urgentes para implementar la Declaración de los Defensores emitida la Declaración sobre el Derecho y el Deber de los Individuos, los Grupos y las Instituciones de Promover y Proteger los Derechos Humanos y las Libertades Fundamentales Universalmente Reconocidas.

4.- Asegurar la aplicación de lo dispuesto en la Declaración sobre defensores de los de Derechos Humanos, adoptada por la por la Asamblea General de Naciones Unidas el 9 de Diciembre de 1998, en particular en lo referente a la protección del derecho de toda persona"...individual o colectivamente, a promover la protección y realización de los derechos humanos y las libertades fundamentales, en los planos nacional e internacional y a esforzarse por ellos" ( Art.1), así como en lo relativo al deber del Estado de garantizar protección por las autoridades competentes de toda persona, individual o colectivamente, frente a toda violencia, amenaza, represalia, discriminación, negativa de hecho o de derecho, presión o cualquier otra acción arbitraria resultante del ejercicio legitimo de los derechos mencionados en la presente Declaración (8art. 12.2) y por la resolución sobre Defensores de Derechos Humanos en las Américas AG/RES. 1671 (XXIX-O/99), adoptada por la Organización de los Estados Americanos el 7 de junio de 1999.


Red Cuali Nemilistli de Derechos Humanos.

Favor de enviar sus llamamientos a las siguientes direcciones con copia para

Louise Arbour, Alta Comisionada de las Naciones Unidas para los Derechos Humanos,

Sr. Amerijo Inalcaterra, Representante en México de la Oficina del Alto Comisionado de las Naciones Unidas para los Derechos Humanos,

Sr. Santiago Cantón, Secretario Ejecutivo de la Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos,

Lic. Felipe de Jesús Calderón Hinojosa, Presidente de la República,

Lic. Francisco Javier Ramírez Acuña, Secretario de Gobernación,

Lic. Eduardo Medina-Mora Icaza, Procurador General de la República,

Lic. José Luis Soberanes Fernández, Presidente de la Comisión Nacional de Derechos Humanos.

Actuaria Eugenia del Carmen Diez Hidalgo, Unidad para la promoción y defensa de los Derechos Humanos de la secretaria de Gobernación.

Lic. Ulises Ruiz Ortiz, Gobernador del Estado de Oaxaca,

Lic. Manuel García Corpus, Secretario General de Gobierno del Estado de Oaxaca,

Lic. Rosa Lizbeth Caña Cadeza, Procuradora General de Justicia del Estado de Oaxaca,

Lic. Jaime Mario Pérez Jiménez, Presidente de la Comisión de Derechos Humanos del Estado de Oaxaca,,

M.A. Manuel Moreno Rivas, Director de la Policía Ministerial del Estado de Oaxaca,

C. Comandante Regional de la Mixteca de la Policía Ministerial del Estado de Oaxaca,

Lic. Roberto Eliud García Salinas, Visitador adjunto de la Oficina Regional de la Mixteca de la Comisión Estatal de Derechos Humanos del Estado de Oaxaca.

viernes, 29 de diciembre de 2006

La Posada in San Juan Diego FNIC

The lingering month’s anxiety slowly dissipated in San Juan Diego FNIC at dusk on Christmas Eve. As reunited families together returned to their homes for the first time since November 25, one could feel the tension that had burdened this humble community dissolve in the brisk air of the desert night. It was as if everyone—fathers, mothers, children, neighbors, friends and supporters—exhaled together, sighing in thankful relief to finish this painful chapter of an uncertain story clearly not yet over in Southern Mexico.

I unfortunately missed the precious moment when San Juan Diego’s political prisoners stepped off the bus and into the open air of their Huajuapan neighborhood. Instead myself and other CACTUS organizers had been rushing to finish preparing a fruit salad to feed 200 people for the evening’s Christmas celebration. However, when I finally did arrive, Betty Cariño of CACTUS whispered in my ear that the moment was both historical and emotional. The now liberated Huajuapeños, who just hours earlier were cursed with the horrors of confinement, were passionately greeted with joyful shouts and tears of yearning. Their heads were laden with welcoming confetti. And a never-ending round of hugs metaphorically reunited the San Juan Diego residents with their home, linking neighbors to place.

Following the reception, numerous social movement leaders offered words of hospitality, support and solidarity to the gathered community of San Juan Diego. Knowing that the former political prisoners surely wanted to be finally resting in comforts of their homes, the leaders comments were brief but nevertheless inspiring. Another round of informal greeting and embracing followed before the families eventually retreated to their houses. In the face of political repression, institutionalized fear and economic poverty, this gathering profoundly demonstrated the depth and strength of neighborly bonds and mutual aid that is present in San Juan Diego. And as the crowd began to disperse, the all-around mood was unmistakably one of appreciation for freedom, family and home.

Our friends from CACTUS then took me to the Doña Emma’s home across the way from Bernadita’s to help prepare the pozole for the evening’s Posada. San Juan Diego is a squatter community; a neighborhood that physically reflects captialism’s marginalized and forgotten populations. Houses are made from tin sheet metal. Sheets separate rooms, and floors are the earth of pachamama. Water must be carried from a nearby well, and food is cooked on open fires in the yards.

At Doña Emma’s, four women from the neighborhood gathered to cook the pozole: a chicken and corn like soup that is dressed with molle sauce, radishes, lettuce and lime. Together they collectively worked: cutting vegetables, boiling water, stirring corn, and keeping the fire alive. The activity was not that much unlike pre-planning that my comp’has from the north do before community events. The major difference, however, was the intruding and persistent affects of Ulises Ruíz’s political regime on what should flat-out have been a PARTY. While cutting radishes, I asked a fellow cook how this year was different from years past. She thoughtfully responded that they had this problem, where so many of their neighbors were imprisoned.

Shortly later, two of Bernadita’s daughters came over to see what I was doing. I asked them where was their mother. “She’s at home crying,” they answered. My heart stopped momentarily…..mostly from the understanding that despite their freedom, coping with the trauma and affects of the Oaxacan political crisis was far from over for the residents of San Juan Diego FNIC.

The Christmas Eve Posada had been planned for many days. In the face of repression and separation, CACTUS, Tennessee and I wanted San Juan Diego’s children to have the opportunity to celebrate the coming holidays. However, the freedom of their parents and siblings brought sweetness to the evening incomparable to the fruit of any tree.

The community gathered at around ten o’clock at Doña Emma’s. Prayers began shortly after, and a procession fell behind the youth that bore statues of the young Jesus to be returned to his manger. We moved in unison through the neighborhood, candlelight leading us to the small church where the service ended. I only wish that I knew more about the biblical significance of Jesus Christ’s birth (though I imagine that it is quite significant), because the evening was clearly charged with a spirit of metaphor and personification that my ignorance does not understand.

At this point, the cooks served a delicious pozole and fruit salad. The entire community was together, warmed by the presence of their missed neighbors.

I want to thank everyone who have supported this trip and helped make this evening happen. I also want to thank the many people from around the world sent letters of solidarity to the families of San Juan Diego. Your words are DEEPLY appreciated.

Tennessee and I will soon post the stories of these political prisoners. STAY TUNED.