Date/Time: 11/12/2006 12:00 am
Monday Night — Oaxaca: A Portrait of Rebellion — Barucha Calamity Peller & Friends of Brad Will
1. About this Monday Night
2. About Barucha Calamity Peller
3. About Friends of Brad Will
4. Recent Timeline
5. Useful Links
6. About Not an Alternative
1. About this Monday night
What: presentation + discussion
Where: 16 beaver str. 4th floor (directions below)
When: 12.11.06 @ 20:00
Many people on this list will have some familiarity with the brute force being exerted by the Mexican state upon the people of Oaxaca. Our concerns and thoughts go out to all the victims and dead of this ruthless state violence.
We would like to invite all individuals who are interested in learning more and doing more in relation to the unfolding rebellion to attend this meeting.
We begin by asking what more can we learn about the situation? And how can this knowledge inform our actions or activities here? How can individuals living in New York or other parts of the globe contribute to the struggle that is taking place in Oaxaca? What forms can solidarity take in this instance?
We are happy to organize this event with our friends from Not an Alternative collective, and to invite Barucha Calamity Peller and representatives from the Friends of Brad Will network to help us answer some of these questions. We are still in the process of inviting others who may share their thoughts or knowledge of the situation. So please pass this note along to those who might be interested or have something to offer.
2. About Barucha Calamity Peller
Barucha Calamity Peller, who has participated in anti-authoritarian collectives in Mexico for the past 4 years, has just returned from Oaxaca where there has been a widely defended popular uprising and where dozens of people have died and disappeared in this past week alone. She will give a presentation on the Popular Assembly of the People of Oaxaca (APPO), the life at the barricades, international solidarity and the brutal repression and assassinations at the hands of paramilitaries and police throughout last month and specifically on November 25th. Her presentation and first hand accounts will also include a slideshow and recent videos from Oaxaca.
Oaxaca: Un Retrato de Rebelion
Barucha Calamity Peller, quien en los ultimos 4 años ha participado en varios grupos antiautoritarios en Mexico, recien volvio de Oaxaca donde ha habido un levantamiento popular y en donde, solo en las ultimas semanas, decenas de personas han muerto o desaparecido. Ella va a dar una charla sobre la Asamblea Popular de los Pueblos de Oaxaca (APPO), la vida en las barricadas, solidaridad internacional y la brutal represion y asesinatos en las manos de los paramilitares y la policia en el ultimo mes y especialmente el pasado 25 de Noviembre. Su presentacion e historias de primera mano tambien van a incluir una muestra de imagenes y videos recien filmados en Oaxaca.
3. About Friends of Brad Will
From the website at http://www.friendsofbradwill.org
We are friends of Brad’s. We’re all stretched thin, grieving, with
breaking hearts, but a spirit of conviction, working to insure that Brad’s
death is not used to harm the people of Oaxaca whose struggle he
supported, and that the struggles for ecological and global justice that
he made his life’s work are celebrated and made stronger even as we
This network of friends has been organizing screenings, discussions,
demonstrations, coordinating media outreach, meetings, and grassroots
pressure efforts in an attempt to support the demands of the people of
Oaxaca, and to honor the life of slain journalist and activist Brad Will.
Their statement issued on October 28th:
In solidarity with the people of Oaxaca, we demand that:
1. All armed forces acting on behalf of the government against the
people of Oaxaca be removed immediately
2. The illegitimate governor Ruiz be removed immediately;
3. The federal government negotiate directly with the people on the
barricades in Oaxaca;
4. Guilty parties on all levels be identified and held accountable
for the assassinations of Brad Will and the other civilian victims
We make these demands in support of the Oaxacan people’s efforts to
establish an autonomous popular government that recognizes local
traditions and values.
Friends of Brad Will is working with teachers and activists in New York
City to help catalyze a NYC-Oaxaca Solidarity Network to broaden the base
of individuals and organizations throughout the city who are working to
support the struggles of the peoples of Oaxaca.
The first city-wide meeting of the NYC-Oaxaca Solidarity Network:
Thursday, December 14, 7:30pm
Room 436 North Building – 4th floor
enter 69th street between Lexington & Park Avenues
All interested parties are welcome.
4. Recent Timeline on Oaxaca
Recent Timeline and Current Human Rights Situation in Oaxaca
The current conflict began on June 14th when Oaxaca’s governor Ulises Ruiz Ortiz sent in state police to break a teachers’ strike that was camped out in the center of Oaxaca City. Gov. Ruiz had already alarmed international human rights organizations, including Amnesty International, for atrocities committed before the June 14 police violence. The actions on June 14th further ignited people’s anger throughout the State who responded, by forming the People’s Popular Assembly of Oaxaca (APPO) who reinforced the teachers’ encampment in Oaxaca City. The single demand of the APPO has been the resignation of Gov. Ruiz. Up to the end of October, 12 people had been killed by police and paramilitary forces connected to Gov. Ruiz.
On October 27th, independent journalist, Bradley Will, was murdered at the hands of plainclothes police officers and local government officials in Santa Lucia del Camino, Oaxaca. According to local residents and the Mexican newspaper El Universal, the attackers have been positively identified as municipal police officers and government officials of Santa Lucia del Camino. Two men were arrested for the murder, Abel Santiago Zárate, who works for Public Security in Santa Lucía del Camino and a member of the Municipal Police, Orlando Manuel Aguilar Coello. On December 1st they were acquitted of all charges and released.
On October 29th, the Mexican Federal government dispatched several thousand Federal Preventative Police (PFP) troops to remove civilian protesters supporting the APPO from their encampments throughout the city. There were the recorded deaths of at least three civilians as a direct result of the excessive force that the PFP used to dislodge the protesters, despite official comments from the State and Federal governments to the contrary. In a move reminiscent of Mexico’s “dirty war” of the 1970’s and 80’s, civilians were detained without charges and brought by helicopter to nearby military bases.
The following Thursday, November 2nd, the PFP tried to enter the Benito Juarez Autonomous University in an attempt to shut down the university radio station critical of Governor Ruiz. Mexican law prohibits the incursion of law enforcement onto autonomous universities, unless requested by the university rector. The rector of the Benito Juarez categorically rejects the presence of the PFP in Oaxaca and didn’t give his approval. The PFP used considerably more force, launching tear gas into private homes, injuring at least fifty people, and by spraying protesters with a red dye, presumably to mark them for subsequent arrest.
On November 25th the APPO held a march and planned to cordon off the zocalo in the center of Oaxaca City that the PFP had been occupying since October 29th. When the march reached the zocalo violent clashes broke out between the PFP and some of the marchers. The APPO leadership has said there were infiltrators present in the march that provoked the violent confrontation. The Oaxacan Human Rights Network has stated that the confrontation was started by the PFP in a recent report. The PFP left the zocalo and at one point the confrontation covered 14 city blocks. PFP along with masked paramilitaries fired into crowds of APPO supporters. By that evening hundreds had been wounded, several state buildings set on fire and the PFP began an occupation outside the church of Santa Domingo where the APPO had moved after being chased from their encampment in the zocalo on October 29th.
Since November 25th Oaxaca has been living under a state of siege, which the Mexican Federal government is calling “Operation Juarez”. The security forces now operating in Oaxaca are the PFP (Federal Preventative Police), PFP Special Forces, State and Municipal Police, Ministerial Police connected to the State and Federal Attorney Generals’ Offices, the AFI (Federal Investigation Agency), and out of uniform local police and paramilitaries.
Since June 14th:
-At least 20 people have been killed by either the PFP or paramilitaries aligned with Gov. Ruiz. On the evening of November 25th there were several accounts of people being killed (at least three) and then taken away by either the PFP or paramilitaries. Their bodies have yet to be recovered.
-Between 200 and 500 people have been imprisoned- the numbers have been difficult to verify because human rights workers have only been able to speak to 21 of the imprisoned who are in a medium security Federal prison in Nayarit. Prisoners have been denied any kind of due process. Defense lawyers have been unable to visit prisoners because of the requirements to gain entrance that include: professional certificate, and three letters of recommendation. Other detainees have been taken to prisons in Puebla, Veracruz and Tamulipas.
-Torturing of detainees. Testimony given by people who were previously detained and released before Nov. 25th said they had been tortured by the security forces.
-It has been estimated that between 30 to 100 people have been disappeared – again it has been hard to verify due to the illegal and arbitrary detentions by the security forces.
– Teachers are being taken from their classrooms by the police. In Noticias de Oaxaca on Friday they reported the case of the “5 de Mayo” school in Tocuela, Ocotlán, where around 8:30 am the State and Federal Police arrived and took away the Director, Miguel Muñoz Hernández and four other teachers including, Encarnación Pérez Cruz. Noticias also reported teachers being taken from their schools in: Santa Cruz Amilpas, Santa Cruz Xoxocotlán, Esquipulas, San Javier, in Etla, in Miahuatlán, in Huatla de Jiménez, Huatulco and in San Antonino Castillo Velasco.
-Random detentions without arrest warrants. People have reported that the security forces are carrying blank arrest warrants and are filling them in as they detain people.
-House to house searches without warrants and ransacking of homes.
-Rapes of both men and women who have been detained.
-Human Rights workers threatened, detained, tortured and imprisoned. Alberto Tlacael Cilia Ocampo, from the Human Rights Center Yax’ kin A.C., located in Mexico City was illegally detained on November 27th and accused of sedition, rebellion among other charges. At 4 p.m. Monday, hooded state police officers grabbed Cilia off the street together with Sarah Weldon, a 22-year-old French university student and Omar Rodríguez Camarena, a 28-year-old graduate student in history, and whisked them off in the back of a state police pickup truck. For the next 46 hours, Cilia and his two friends would live what they had come only to bear witness to: torture, interrogations, constant relocations between various state holding facilities, forced confessions, and ultimately trumped up charges. They testified that they had been hooded, slapped, stepped on, had a burning liquid poured on their backs and were threatened with electrocution. Weldon, however, is still incommunicado. Her lawyers said officials from the National Immigration Institute would not let them speak with or see Weldon, nor would they confirm her whereabouts. The lawyers are preparing an injunction to prevent Weldon´s deportation.
-Illegal checkpoints set up throughout the state by the police and military.
-An illegal radio station, Radio Ciudadana, affiliated with Gov. Ruiz is broadcasting the names of APPO members, Human Rights workers and others, giving their addresses and offering a reward for their assassination. Organizations who have been threatened include: Educación Alternativa, A.C. (EDUCA, Services for an Alternative Education), Red Oaxaqueña de Derechos Humanos (RODH, Oaxacan Human Rights Network), la Liga Mexicana en Defensa de los Derechos Humanos (LIMEDDH, Mexican League for Human Rights Advocacy) and the Pastoral Social (a Social Concerns Ministry).
5. Useful Links
Friends of Brad Will:
For more on Brad Will death:
Barucha’s articles from Oaxaca published on counterpunch.org can be found
Los articulos escritos por Barucha sobre Oaxaca estan publicados en
counterpunch.org y pueden ser encontrados aqui (en ingles):
Related 16Beaver articles on Oaxaca
6. About Not An Alternative
Not An Alternative is a not-for-profit cultural production company whose mission aims to facilitate and engage in the work of creating social change. Their practice is based on transforming popular understandings of key symbols associated with particular campaigns. Not An Alternative also operates a multipurpose space The Change You Want To See Gallery and Convergence Stage based in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
Members of the collective recently built the Friends of Brad Will website (http://www.friendsofbradwill.org) to support efforts to shift the messaging regarding Brad’s death away from being a decontextualized human interest story, or used as a pretext for the Mexican government to send in more forces into Oaxaca, and toward the kind of messaging that Brad was fighting to promote.