Torture in Oaxaca; Amnesty demands info on detained

Amnesty International has officially called upon the Mexican government to release the names of those detained by federal police in Oaxaca, and the charges they face. The arrested now number above 80. Many are being held incommunicado and there are growing reports of human rights abuses. (El Universal, Nov. 7)

The Zapateando blog reports the particularly horrific case of Blanca Canseco Mendez, a teacher with the local Section 22 union, and Jaime Rojas Guzman, a science student at the National University (UNAM) who traveled to Oaxaca to participate in the Section 22 State Assembly. The pair were detained the morning of Nov. 4 at an army roadblock on the outskirts of the city and brought to a military camp where they were interrogated and severely beaten by Military Intelligence agents. The torture lasted all day and into the night. Then they were stripped naked, bound, photographed and videotaped, and placed in a military helicopter. They were flown around for two hours, accused of being “subversives” and “senderistas,” and repeatedly threatened with being thrown overboard into the sea. They were finally turned over to the state prison (CERESO) at Etla, where they continue to be held, apparently without charge. After the intervention of National Human Rights Commission, alerted by their families of the disappearances, relatives were allowed access to them at the prison, and they related their ordeal. (Zapateando, Nov. 7)

Meanwhile, the Secretariat of Defense has “energetically” protested the “kidnapping” of two soldiers who were detained by protesters Nov. 4 during the street fighting near the Oaxaca state univeristy. The soldiers were turned over to the military after two hours, following the mediation of the Red Cross, which affirmed that they had not been maltreated. Protest leaders said they were detained for being informants. (La Jornada, Nov. 6)

In Mexico City Nov. 5, some 40 supporters of the Oaxaca protesters forced their way into the national cathedral where mass was being celebrated by Mexican Archbishop Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera, who had recently expressed his support for the federal intervention in Oaxaca. With their hands painted red to simulate blood, they chanted slogans like “Norberto is blessing those that rape and kill in Oaxaca.” They were finally removed by security officials. (La Jornada, Nov. 6)

After 509 hours without food, 17 Oaxacan protesters ended their public hunger strike in Mexico City Nov. 6, bowing to pressure from freinds who had expressed concerns about their health. Four other hunger strikers had broken their fast days earlier, citing health concerns. (El Universal, Nov. 7) Immeditately, six federal deputies (conrgessmen) began hunger strikes to take up the Oaxacans’ demand for the state governor to step down. The deputies are Rey Morales, national coordinador of the Democratic Revolution Party (PRD); Marcela Merino, Lenin Lopez Nelio, Temistocles Munoz, Adriana Luci a Cruz (all PRD), and Mariano Santana of the Workers Party (PT). (La Jornada, Nov. 7)

All sources archived at Chiapas95

See our last post on Mexico and the Oaxaca crisis.