An attack by armed men on local comuneros in the pueblo of San Mateo del Mar, in Mexico’s southern Oaxaca state, left at least 15 dead June 22, with several more wounded or reported as “disappeared.” The confrontation began when residents of the outlying community of Huazantlán del Río attempted to gather for a public meeting and were blocked by gunmen. Some of the slain were bludgeoned to death with stones and cement blocks, and several appear to have been burned, mutilated or tortured. Two women were among the dead. Huazantlán residents claim municipal police were backing up the gunmen in the attack, ostensibly because the gathering violated COVID-19 restrictions. Municipal authorities in turn accuse the Huazantlán residents of being involved in criminal gangs, and are calling on state authorities to investigate.
The Huazantlán comuneros, of the Ikoots indigenous group, have long been at odds with municipal authorities over access to land and right-of-ways. Also at issue is a 396-megawatt offshore wind farm planned for San Mateo del Mar, which is just east of Salina Cruz, the main Pacific port on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. Ikoots opponents of the scheme managed to block the project in 2013, arguing it would affect their fishing, farming and sacred spaces. (Milenio, Animal Politico, The Guardian, NewsDio)