Mexico: human rights commission hands in Oaxaca report

Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) turned in its final report on last year’s unrest in Oaxaca May 24, blaming both authorities and protesters for “excesses,” and urging the government to investigate its finding that federal police tortured detainees. The independent governmental commission also blamed the government for not intervening to stop the crisis before it escalated to bloodshed. CNDH president José Luis Soberanes said the administration of then-President Vicente Fox had “unjustifiably delayed, for more than a month and a half, in complying with its constitutional duty to help restore order and peace in Oaxaca.”

The CNDH 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 state, local and federal police. But the report also stated that “it is important to note that, without exception, both sides in the confrontation committed excesses. Both the demonstrators and public servants committed aggression.”

The report found that 12 people were killed in the conflict, mostly protesters shot by unidentified gunmen. It found that only one death was directly attributed to the federal police intervention that ended the blockades in November. One opponent of the protest movement was found to have been slashed to death.

The report calls on the army to end the practice of detaining civilians incommunicado at military bases, and recommends constitutional changes obliging the federal government to come to the aid of local authorities more quickly. (El Universal, May 25)

In a press conference, the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca (APPO) blasted the report as “insufficient, contradictory, incomplete and disingenuous.” (La Jornada, May 27)

Thirteen APPO supporters arrested in the November repression were released from the prison at Villa de Etla, Oaxaca, on May 28 after their bail was paid by the November 25 Liberation Committee, created by the painter Francisco Toledo. Bail was set at 2,500 pesos each (about $250). With their release, the number of APPO activsts still beind bars now stands at 12, including the brothers Flavio, Horacio and Erick Sosa Villavicencio. (La Jornada, May 29)

See our last posts on Mexico and Oaxaca.