Timoteo Alejandro Ramírez, 44, leader of the Triqui indigenous “autonomous municipality” of San Juan Copala in Mexico’s southern state of Oaxaca, was killed May 20 along with his wife Cleriberta Castro, 35. The attack took place in Yosoyuxi, a hamlet within municipality, where the couple lived. Witnesses said an unmarked truck stopped outside the couple’s store, and an “armed commando” emerged and carried out the murders. A statement from the autonomous municipality said the commando was made up of four “non-Triqui individuals,” but asserted that the Movement for Triqui Unification and Struggle (MULT) is responsible for the crime. Ramírez was leader of the rival Independent Movement for Triqui Unification and Struggle (MULTI, which established the autonomous municipality in 2007). (San Juan Copala Autonomous Municipality statement, May 22)
At least 25 people have been killed in the past five months in Oaxaca’s Triqui region, in what indigenous leaders consider an effort by the state government to crush the autonomous municipality. In a press conference, Jorge Albino Ortiz, a member of San Juan Copala’s human rights commission, pointed to Oaxaca’s Gov. Ulises Ruiz Ortiz as responsible for the violence.
The office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights issued a statement condemning the killings of Alejandro and Castro, and calling for action against the proliferation of armed groups in the Triqui region. (La Jornada, May 22)