To all members of The Other Campaign
To all Human Rights organizations
To all Governmental organizations
To all independent media
Today is the fifth anniversary of the date when the community of Santa Maria Yaviche lost Bartolomé Chávez Salas, one of its comuneros, at the hands of paramilitaries of CROCUT (Consejo Regional Obrero Campesino y Urbano de Tuxtepec) from the adjacent community of Tanetze de Zaragoza, helped by people of Tuxtepec, Oaxaca, and leadered by Jacobo Chávez Yescas and Cesar Toimil Roberts.
In this attack carried out with machetes and firearms, 9 others were injured. It's important to note that the authorities were notified of an anonimous phone call we received at around 10:30 that morning, warning us that a group of armed people from CROCUT was marching towards our community. The authorities only responded that there was no need to worry as it was only a few people that were close to our community as we told them of this threat.
It is because of this that since the beginning we find ex-governor Jose Murat Casab to be responsible of ordering the incursion of this paramilitary force to our community and of protecting them, as even today we have received no justice and the material perpetrators - Jacobo Chávez Yescas, Hernán Chávez Martínez, Eric Chávez Martínez, Lino Filiberto Yescas, Equidel Ruiz Cruz, Héctor Chávez Martínez, Anastasio Chávez, Elías Chávez, Tomas Martínez and others- as well as the intellectual perpetrators - Eustorgio Ruiz Yescas and Leobardo Chávez- are still free and we fear they may be able to attack our community again.
In the last few years, this community has suffered countless acts of repression for stading up for our dignity and rights as a community; because the administrators, specifically Domingo Fentanes Robles, who has lived and remains in power in Tanetze de Zaragoza since they chose to rule the town by electoral vote rather than by usos y costumbres, has continually sought ways for our community of Santa Maria Yaviche to accept a sum of money in return for forgetting all the aggressions that we have received from their community.
A clear example: On June 13, 2004, an administrator from the PRI party, Domingo Fentanes Robles, who is also a member of CROCUT, came with a government delegate and attempted to enter our community during our town's festivities to make it seem like they were welcomed and there was no problems between our communities. In order to achieve this mockery, they had previously sent a police car loaded with 6 preventative police officers since very early that morning in order to intimidate the people of our community. Our comuneros gathered strenght and prevented them from accessing the town square, so at around 11 am the government delegate arrived escolted by 5 pick-up trucks, and the same police car at the front. Our comuneros did not move and blocked the highway until they left. One of the trucks was even offered to our community in exchange for us stopping denouncing their attacks.
All of the aggressions against our community have occurred when we demand respect for our rights as a community in regards to decision-making of the community's affairs. When members from Tanetze de Zaragoza saw that we were dealing directly with the Oaxacan government through our membershio with the Consejo Indigena Popular de Oaxaca “Ricardo Flores Magon” (CIPO-RFM) these attacks became more accute.
The authorities -Jose Murat Casab (Oaxaca's gorvernor in 2003) as well as Ulises Ruiz Ortiz now, the State Attourney's Office and the State Commission on Human Rights- all have used all the resources they have to protect the murderers of Bartolomé Chávez Salas. Successive governments have used money, lots of it, to pay and provide weapons to members of CROCUT and other paramilitary groups that operate in Oaxaca, such as Antorcha Campesina.
The ex-leader of CROCUT, murdered in an internal fight for power, is now presented as a hero in the movie “Desterrados” and is even compared to Emiliano Zapata even though everyone who knew his activities knows he was a murderer. Movies like these are extremely worrysome to us, as they attempt to legitimize the existence of paramilitary groups in our state and country.
This is all our state and national governments know how to do: to seek ways to exterminate those who do not answer to the demands of capitalism, and so our state continues struggling the accute economic crisis that pushes people to abandon their families and go to other places within Mexico and the U.S., where they have to endure more suffering and even death.
This is why we take the opportunity, on this unerasable date for Santa Maria Yaviche, to let you know that we continue working and living in resistence before so many injustices in our state and country. We also hope that every person of kind heart, everyone that this letter reaches, will join us in this struggle for justice.
We ask you to let your opinion be know by those who continue ignoring our demands, and that together we demand justice, a cease to the repression and harassment we are victims of, and respect to our rights and our decision to organize our indigenous community under usos y costumbres.
For the reconstitution and free association of our communities
Community Council of CIPO-RFM in Santa Maria Yaviche
Please send your letters (with copies to firstname.lastname@example.org) to: LIC. ULISES RUIZ ORTIZ