Marcos: don’t let World Cup obscure Atenco struggle

Zapatista Subcommander Marcos joined actress Ofelia Medina and other celebrities at a public meeting of activists and artists in the Mexico City district of Coyoacan June 12 to demand that the World Cup not obscure the struggle to demand justice for those detained in the Mexico State police assault at the village of San Salvador Atenco May 4 and 5. A joint statement noted that a government attack on the Chiapas village of Techabaquebal during the last World Cup, killing seven Zapatistas, failed to attract media attention. “The football Mundial is used as a cover for crime,” read a statement. (La Jornada, June 12)

In a creative protest that day, activists put red dye in several prominent public fountaion throughout Mexico City, causing them to run red like blood in remembrance of the deadly violence at Atenco. (La Jornada, June 12)

Days earlier, Marcos lead a march in Mexico City’s Tacuba district to commemorate the 35 anniversary of the massacre of some 20 student protesters by the “Falcons” paramilitary group. The march was organized by the Comité del 68, which is demanding justice over the much larger and better known massacre of student protesters by the army at Tlatelolco in October 1968. (EFE, June 10)

Amnesty International weighed in on the Atenco violence, dismissing government denials of protesters’ accusations. “A series of abuses took place, ranging from arbitrary detention to ill treatment and torture,” Rupert Knox, a researcher for Amnesty, told Reuters after visiting Atenco and the jail where several of the village’s residents await trial on various charges related to the riots. “There seems to be a very strong indication of sexual abuse and rape of some of the women who were detained.” (Reuters, June 9)

But Knox accused Mexico State authorities of blocking Amnety’s investigation, including by limiting access to the prisoners at Santiaguito jail for interviews. (Reuters, June 9)

In addition to the torture and sexual violence, activists are also protesting the detention of Atenco residents Arnulfo Pacheco Cervantes, 55, a parapalegic, and Jorge Armando Aguilar Ramirez, a menatally deficient man, who police accused of directing the protesters’ violence on May 4. (La Jornada, June 10)

With accusations of police rape in Mexico State in the news, the daily La Jornada highlighted that case of a 13-year-old girl named Angela, of Chimalhuacan village, who mysteriously disappeared days after reporting to the authorities that she had been raped by a state police agent. The agent, Daniel Tenorio Buendia, is being held on suspicion of the rape. (La Jornada, June 10)

Protesters note that of the 2,000 police agents who took part in the Atenco violence, only nine are facing charegs. Two more have been releived of their duties, and five more temporarily suspended. (La Jornada, June 10)

See our last posts on Mexico and the Atenco crisis.

  1. Wider crackdown
    In response to mounting pressure from human rights groups, Mexico State authorities appear to be moving towards a wider crackdown on the police involved in the Atenco violence. Arrest warrants have now been issued for 23 officers. (El Universal, June 14) Four police precinct chiefs have been officially reprimanded. (El Universal, June 14)

  2. March on prison
    More than 100 followers of the Frente de Pueblos en Defensa de la Tierra (FPDT) marched on the maximum-security prison at La Palma to demand liberty for their comrades and that police officers responsible for rapes and rights abuses be brought to jutsice. (La Jornada, June 18)