Mexico: Oaxaca top cop shot

A group of five men armed with AK-47 and AR-15 rifles and 9mm pistols shot and killed Alejandro Barrita Ortiz, director of the Auxiliary, Industrial, Bank and Commercial Police for the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca, on Jan. 30 as he was jogging on the track at the Bosque El Tequio sports complex near Oaxaca city. Also killed in the military-style ambush were one of Barrita Ortiz’s bodyguards, Juan Eduardo Prado Perez; government employee Rafael Alonso Muñoz; and sports trainer Virginia Galan Rodriguez, who won the state sports prize in 2003. Two other people were wounded. It was not clear whether Muñoz and Galan were with Barrita Ortiz’s group.

Barrita Ortiz was accused of directing violent police actions against activists in Oaxaca, notably during a huge police operation on Nov. 2, 2006 and a smaller one on July 16, 2007. On the day of his killing there was speculation that the rebel Popular Revolutionary Army (EPR) or the leftist Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca (APPO) were involved. APPO spokesperson Florentino Lopez Martinez dismissed the rumors: “Our movement doesn’t use arms, we’ve said it repeatedly.” State government officials suggested that the culprits were more likely to be organized crime groups, which are known to carry out large, violent attacks. (La Jornada, Jan. 31)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Feb. 10

See our last posts on Mexico and the struggle in Oaxaca.