May 26, 2007
The report of the National Commission for Human Rights (CNDH) appeared in Las Noticias on Friday, May 25. Several other newspapers, including the national La Jornada, also gave it coverage. The report included recommendations from CNDH to the government of Oaxaca. In his response, the governor Ulises Ruiz (URO) said (my translation, approximate) : “Oh, yeah, sure, I’m definitely gonna look into it.”
The recommendations are (my condensed translations) directed to the governor of Oaxaca:
1. To initiate administrative procedures to determine who is responsible in the state administration in which the Secretary of Public Security and the state Attorney General of Justice served.
2. Begin inquiry for determining criminal responsibility ascribed to the Secretary for Public Security and Attorney General, and assist and facilitate information and facts necessary for the investigation.
3. Begin administrative procedures against Lino Celaya Luria, who at the time of the human rights violations served as Secretary of Citizen Protection, to determine administrative responsibility in the violations against 141 people carried off to the federal prison number 4 in Nayarit, and if such transport is a crime, to begin prosecution.
4. Begin administrative procedures against Lizbeth Caña Cadeza, the then Attorney General for Oaxaca, to determine responsibility for violations of human rights.
5. Establish mechanisms for those injured during violations of their human rights to receive medical, psychological and physical attention, to restore their health.
6. Repair the damage caused to persons through violations of human rights by public servants belonging to the state government.
7. Order adequate investigations into the murders of Marcos García Tapia, Andrés Santiago Cruz, Pedro Martínez Martínez, Pablo Martínez Martínez, José Jiménez Colmenares, Lorenzo San Pablo Cervantes, Daniel Nieto Ovando, Jaime René Calvo Aragón, Alejandro García Hernández, Pánfil Hernández Vázquez, Bradley Roland Will, Esteban Zurita López, Emilio Alonso Fabián, and Lucio David Cruz Parada.
8. In coordination with the Secretary for Public Education of the federal government, design and establish mechanisms to attend to the legitimate demands of the Oaxaca teachers so that their fulfillment of such demands can avoid interruption to the academic year.
9. Establish in all areas programs to nurture, inspire and strengthen an administrative culture of prevention in respect to human rights, giving special attention to the areas entrusted to public security, the prosecution of crimes and the procurement of justice.
10. Train state public servants in the respect for human rights of civilian broadcasters and defenders of human rights.
The scorecard published by Las Noticias giving a report by the Ombudsman, lists 12 deaths related “indirectly” to the conflict and 9 directly related ( I don’t know what that distinction means. Twenty-one total is a number not far off what is generally accepted. It includes assassinations on the street of APPO activist by persons unknown. See below for the AP report); 139 people whose civil rights were violated; 50 civilian people detained in military installations (this is a crime);157 persons illegally detained; 152 people detained without justification by the Public Minister of Common Law; 13 tortured by the Ministerial Police of Oaxaca and the Federal Preventive Police; 162 people arrested arbitrarily.
At the same time the CNDH recommended an investigation of the ex-coordinator general of Social Communication of the Government of former governor José Murat, a man called Carlos Velasco Molina. This man, according to the CNDH, used resources from the public treasury to defend not the government of the state, but his person, and also to attack journalists who criticized the faked attempt to assassinate José Murat on March 18, 2004, when Murat and his entourage were apparently drunk driving in his vehicle. My memory – I was here, but it was a few years ago – of that event was that to cover up an accident, they all got out of the official car and shot holes through the windshield, thereafter claiming an attack on Murat. If my recollection serves, a taxi driver said to me at the time, “What bullshit!” and that seemed to be the popular perception as well.
According to the CNDH report, Carlos Velasco Molina was responsible for “administrative and institutional” failures. A recommendation to investigate him was made to the government of the state (Murat) on March 18, 2005 and shelved. That was when Jorge Fernandez of Milenio and Leopoldo Medivil of La Cronica de Hoy suffered violations of their rights to legal protection and freedom of expression, as well as violating the collective social right to information.
The Human Rights Commission does a service to Oaxaca by explicitly linking the right to receive information and the right to provide information, with human and civil rights violations.
Compare the report of the same events given by the AP, as follows:
Mexican rights commission criticizes gov’t, protesters for abuses during Oaxaca unrest
By Mark Stevenson
2:22 p.m. May 24, 2007
MEXICO CITY – Mexico’s governmental National Human Rights Commission said on Thursday that federal police tortured detainees and that both sides – including protesters – committed excesses in 2006, when demonstrators seized the colonial city of Oaxaca for almost five months before being dislodged.
In its final report on the Oaxaca unrest – which it said cost 12 lives, with victims on all sides – the commission slammed the federal government for not intervening sooner after state authorities were overwhelmed by the unrest. It recommended constitutional changes to oblige the federal government to come to the aid of local authorities more quickly.
The commission, which has powers to recommend but not oblige authorities to remedy rights violations, also called on the Mexican army to end the practice of detaining civilians at military bases, where rights officials were sometimes barred from entering.
Commission President Jose Luis Soberanes said that local and federal police – who arrested some demonstrators without enough evidence and held them incommunicado, sometimes on army bases – and protesters who blockaded the city and hijacked and burned vehicles both had mistreated the people of Oaxaca.
“It is important to note that, without exception, both sides in the confrontation committed excesses,” the report stated. “Both the demonstrators and public servants committed aggression against the people of Oaxaca.”
But Soberanes noted that the commission is only empowered to examine the conduct of public servants in the case.
He said he hoped the administration of President Felipe Calderón would adopt the recommendations and investigate rights violations. Calderón took office after his predecessor, Vicente Fox, sent federal police in to retake the city in October, months after Oaxaca state police were forced out by protesters.
“The administration of Felipe Calderón … has no reason to bear the burden of the dead of (Vicente) Fox,” Soberanes said, while condemning the Fox administration for having “unjustifiably delayed, for more than a month and a half, in complying with its constitutional duty to help restore order and peace in Oaxaca.”
While only one death was directly attributable to the police raid that ended the long-running protest by striking teachers and leftists, 11 more were closely related to the conflict: many were protest supporters shot down by unidentified gunmen, as well as one protest opponent slashed to death.
Others died who may not have taken sides in the conflict, like one motorcyclist who broke his neck when he ran into an unseen cable at a protesters’ barricade, or a person who died in an ambulance blocked by the demonstrators.
Nine people died in other circumstances only indirectly related to the conflict, such as an auto accident of protest supporters.
The commission criticized the investigation of Bradley Roland Will, a 36-year-old journalist-activist from New York shot by unidentified gunmen during the unrest, saying that Oaxaca prosecutors had failed to probe the facts or bring a good case against the possible culprits.
Soberanes expressed hope that federal prosecutors could get to the bottom of the Will case.
The commission also found evidence that 13 detainees being transported to prison were physically tortured en route by federal police, but did not provide more specific details.
In all, the commission received 1,352 complaints of rights violations, and found hundreds of them justified, mainly for excessive use of force or improper treatment of suspects by local and federal police. (end)
La Jornada further reported as follows:
Ulises Ruiz encubre a responsables de represión en Oaxaca: APPO
Ulises Ruiz covers up for those responsible for the repression in Oaxaca: APPO
Octavio Vélez, corresponsal translation by Nancy Davies
Oaxaca, Oax. The APPO pointed out that the governor of the state Ulises Ruiz Ortiz, is not going to punish those responsible for the repression against the teachers popular movement because it is defending them to the last. Proof of that, said one of the spokespersons for the APPO, Cástulo López Pacheco, is that the former Attorney General for Justice, Lizbeth Caña Cabeza, who is named by the CNDH as responsible for the actions against justice, was designated candidate for local deputy by the PRI to protect her from punishment for several assassinations , illegal imprisonments and torture.
Given this, he said that the APPO will have recourse to international organizations especially the Inter-American Court for Human Rights so that those responsible may be brought to justice because they shouldn’t remain with impunity for any crime, nor for the repression of the people. (end)
All this reflects, in my view, the effort to bury the governor’s role in events, before the August elections. I doubt it can be done. Nevertheless, one need only to recall the origin of the splinter Section 59 of the teachers union, to understand that this governor plays a hard game.