Thursday, January 29, 2009

Nuevo video del FDPT sobre lxs presxs politicxs de Atenco

A pesar de un acuerdo entre los vendadores de flores y el gobierno estatal, el gobierno realizo' uno de los operativos mas violentos en la historia de Mexico.

Prominent APPO Member Survives Attempted Murder in Oaxaca

Unknown assailant stabbed long-time activist Ruben Valencia Nuñez in a café after shouting disparaging remarks about the APPO

On January 10, an unknown assailant attacked prominent Oaxacan activist and former Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca (APPO) advisor Ruben Valencia Nuñez in a public café in Oaxaca City. The attempt on Valencia’s life follows other recent attacks against Oaxacan activists, in particular the Oaxacan Voices Constructing Autonomy and Liberty (VOCAL) collective, of which Valencia is a member.

The attack on Valencia occurred at approximately 11pm on January 10 as he was walking from a meeting in a café to the Oaxacan Autonomous House of Solidarity and Self-Sustaining Work (CASOTA). As he left the meeting in the café, about three people in a blue car without license plates began to follow Valencia and another person who was walking with him.

Valencia told Narco News that as the car pulled up alongside him, the occupants shouted at him, “Fucking APPO! We’re going to fuck you up!” Valencia says he asked them what they had against him. Soon thereafter, the men got out of their car and approached Valencia. Valencia says he had “no other choice” but to enter the nearest café.

Upon entering the café, Valencia headed to the bathroom. At least two men from the car followed him inside. One of them stationed himself next to the bathroom door and waited for Valencia to exit.

“It all happened so fast,” Valencia says. When he came out of the bathroom, the man produced a “sharp weapon” and attacked Valencia from behind. Both men fell to the ground in the scuffle.

When Valencia picked himself up off the floor, he saw that the men had fled, leaving behind the weapon in the café. At that point Valencia realized that the attacker hadn’t merely pushed him around. Valencia’s shirt was quickly becoming soaked with blood; he had three stab wounds in his neck and head and other more minor injuries in other parts of his body.

VOCAL issued a statement describing Valencia’s injuries. Valencia suffered three stab wounds to the nape of his neck, “one being 3.5 centimeters long and approximately one centimeter deep…[A]nother wound was three centimeters long and one centimeter deep.” Valencia told Narco News that the third blow to the nape of his neck “opened up a wound two centimeters deep and seven centimeters long” just one centimeter from his jugular vein. Valencia says that if the attacker had hit his jugular, “I would have been dead in five minutes.”

Doctors tell Valencia that one of the wounds might have damaged a nerve in his brain. In the days following the attack, Valencia says, “I kept forgetting things, I’d get tongue-tied, I had a tick, and my head hurt.” Most of the symptoms have gone away, except the headaches. Valencia says he will undergo tests to determine if he has suffered neural damage. He is currently undergoing acupuncture and massage therapy to help speed his recovery.

“Selective Repression, Dirty-War Style”

Valencia doesn’t know who attacked him in the café. The man who stabbed him was approximately 28 years old, “with a solid build and short hair.” He was dressed in plainclothes and did not cover his face during the attack. The man “looked like ministerial or judicial police,” says the VOCAL statement.

While the attackers’ identity is unknown, VOCAL considers in incident to be “part of a strategy of repression and violence orchestrated by the Oaxacan state government, but though groups of parapolice or civilians working for the state. We denounce to the whole world the possibility of the beginning of selective repression in the style of the dirty war that this country’s social movements suffered over thirty years ago.”

Valencia is a prominent and experienced Oaxacan activist. He was one of the founders of Oaxaca’s Universidad de la Tierra (Unitierra in its Spanish abbreviation) in 2001. Unitierra considers itself to be “a community of learning, study, reflection, and action.” Unitierra is open to all students regardless of they have previous school experience. According to co-founder Gustavo Esteva, students plan their own curriculum and study a range of subjects including, “practical trades such as urban agriculture, video production, or social investigation, or areas of study such as philosophy or communication.” Valencia currently sits on Unitierra’s Coordination Council and in the past was a member of its board of directors. One of Valencia’s primary responsibilities has been to connect Unitierra with towns and communities, and, since the 2006 uprising, with “popular neighborhoods” (colonias populares in Spanish) and social movements within Oaxaca City.

Valencia recently authored a book about the 2006 uprising with his Unitierra colleague Esteva and fellow VOCAL collective member David Venegas. The book is called Hasta las Piedras Se Levantan (loosely translated as “Until the Stones Pick Themselves Up”).

Valencia is from the Tehuantepec Isthmus in Oaxaca, a resource-rich region that has been targeted by international “development” projects such as the Plan Puebla-Panama (now known as the Mesoamerica Project). Valencia participated in various regional movements to protect the Isthmus’ natural resources from “foreign companies who, supported by the Mexican government, try to take over our territory.” He has also participated in projects to promote organic and sustainable agriculture and animal husbandry in the Isthmus. Recognizing Valencia’s ten years of activist organizing in the region, APPO activists from the Tehuantepec Isthmus elected him to be one of the 260 advisors to the APPO during the uprising.

The attack against Valencia came just days before he was supposed to moderate a presentation of renowned Uruguayan journalist, professor, and author Raul Zibechi’s new book in the Benito Juarez Autonomous University of Oaxaca’s law school. Valencia and other members of the Oaxacan “Barefoot Investigators” collective organized the event.

The attempt on Valencia’s life differs from the strategies of repression the government utilized during the 2006 uprising, when protestors had to erect barricades in the streets of the state capital in order to protect themselves from death squads run by state police and parapolice. Journalist John Gibler, who was present during most of the uprising, says, “The shootings [in those days] seem to have targeted the support base—people who were just coming out to help, rather than the people who were grabbing headlines by giving interviews to the press or people who had already had a rather well-known trajectory in local or state politics or activism.”

Valencia knows that the attack on him may signal a change or escalation in the government’s strategy. “Other compañeros have suffered physical aggressions, kidnappings, and threats, but after 2007 they hadn’t dared to send hit men to try to kill APPO members. That’s what’s worrisome…this may be a strategy [to send] paramilitaries or plainclothes police to make a political assassination look like a regular fight.” Valencia adds, “Oaxaca is a pressure-cooker that can blow at any moment, and the government knows it.”

“The Government is Afraid We’re Making a Comeback”

The attack on Valencia is the second violent attack APPO participants have suffered within the past two months. In the middle of the night on December 8, 2008, Oaxaca state police raided the political-cultural space known as CASOTA. VOCAL, which actively participates in the APPO, and other local collectives run the space. During the raid, police opened fire on the house with live ammunition, destroyed the house’s front door and windows, shot tear gas into the house, and beat those inside with bricks, billy clubs, and stones. The activists say a two-year-old child was in the house at the time of the raid.

Despite the recent surge in violence, Oaxacan activists are not deterred. “[The government] knows that the people’s fear isn’t as big as their courage and rage, because they want to change society and take down the government,” says Valencia. “The people aren’t the same after [the conflict in] 2006.”

Gibler concurs. He says that in 2006, “with every assassination more people took to the streets. Instead of being terrified and running away, the response was a surge in popular support for the teachers and the peoples' movement.”

Valencia says the increase in violence could be because “the government knows that VOCAL and other spaces, peoples, collectives, and organizations aren’t giving up the struggle and won’t stop reorganizing the movement and the APPO.” He says 2009 holds a lot of promise for the APPO because it will hold a state-wide congress in February, the local teachers union has new leadership, and local elections will occur in July (the APPO organized heavily around the 2006 elections and delivered a severe blow to the ruling Institutional Revolution Party and its attempts to rig the vote). The government is aware of this convergence of factors, and, according to Valencia, “It’s afraid we’re making a comeback."

From Narco News:

Vigilante Groups Appear in Five Mexican States

State and federal authorities have detected at least a dozen "expressions" of this sort

by Diego Enrique Osorno, Milenio
translated by Kristin Bricker

The rise of the Citizens' Command for Juarez that, with financing from businessmen, promises to "end a criminal's life every 24 hours" is the latest in a series of recent appearances of other alleged armed groups, mainly in Guerrero, Morelos, the State of Mexico, and Sonora.

From the "Popular Anti-Drug Army," which has been hanging banners in various cities in Guerrero and Morelos since November, to the Citizens' Command for Juarez that considers itself to be the "first citizens' pos-revolutionary [sic] movement," federal and state authorities have detected at least a dozen "expressions" of this sort, according to judicial authorities from various federal and state entities that were consulted.

In the case of Chihuahua, at the end of last year, the imminent creation of a parapolice group that would combat organized crime in Ciudad Juarez was made known through guild events and publications. Juarez authorities, faced with assassinations and desertions, have decided to travel to indigenous communities in Oaxaca to beef up their paltry police forces with new recruits.

Yesterday, the president of the Chihuahua Congress' Security Commission, Andreu Rodriguez, responded to the communique issued by the self-proclaimed Citizens' Command. Through a written document sent to Milenio, the Institutional Revolution Party (PRI) legislator stated that "this sort of citizens' response was expected. However, this is not the way things should be resolved."

According to the legislator, "Neither the Military nor the federal government, through its police forces, have any room to defend themselves. The same goes for the state and municipal governments. If there isn't a response to the people's complaint, this is going to get bigger. Either they solve the problem or the social breakdown will multiply around the country. Be careful about that."

An official from the Federal Attorney General's office stated that the armed group's communique was part of a narco-terrorism strategy established by one of the many criminal organizations that fight for control of the border city.

Armed Ranchers

Petatlan, in the outskirts of the Guerrero mountain range and the area known as Costa Grande, is the county from which Rogaciano Alba lead the State Ranchers Union for many years before about twenty of the people closest to him were murdered and one of his daughters kidnapped. Operating clandestinely since the middle of last year, the rancher initiated the formation of a group called the "Army that Liberates the People," which has hung banners with messages threatening the region's drug traffickers, as well as praising the Mexican military "for its achievements in the struggle against drug trafficking."

As a result, Rogaciano Alba, who in SIEDO's [SIEDO is the Assistant Attorney General's Office for the Specialized Investigation of Organized Crime] Operation Clean-Up depositions was indicated as an alleged drug trafficker working for Joaquin El Chapo Guzman, has become the leader of a group plainly identified as a paramilitary organization. This group has been credited with various executions, including that of the Iguala [Guerrero] police commissioner "for working for the Beltran Leyva brothers." [1]

In its first message sent out on November 20, Rogaciano's "Army that Liberates" states: "The people of Mexico are called to participate in the war against the drug trade... In Guerrero the Popular Anti-Drug Army was born and we have important cells in other parts of the Republic."

According to official reports, this group operates in Guerrero, Morelos, and the State of Mexico.

Avengers of the People

Another two groups in the same vein have appeared in the same zone over the past couple of months. One is called "The Black Command" and another is called "The Avenger of the People." The latter has hung messages in public places, accusing the ex-leader of the ranchers of directing a drug cartel in Guerrero for years, and for having ordered the assassination of lawyer Digna Ochoa, defender of activists in the region. The appearance of armed groups have been recorded in Oaxaca and Chiapas in regions with organized crime influence.

Investigator Luis Astorga says that after the rise of Los Zetas, criminal groups around the country have changed their traditional operating schemas, disposing of their teams of hitmen in order to begin to form that which the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) specialist calls "paramilitary groups."

Dario Azzellini, an Italian expert in organized crime and particularly that which he calls "the new wars," compared Mexico's situation with Colombia's. "The paramilitary model in Mexico is different from Colombia. In Colombia irregular troops are organized to take over territory, houses, etc. In Mexico paramilitary communities are created. They infiltrate them, they prepare them, and the become paramilitary communities."

Declarations of War

In the middle of this wave of appearances of alleged armed groups, an organization called "Armed Movement of the North" issued an electronic communique in which it declares war against the Mexican government. The missive signed in Sonora manage to catch the attention of the armed forces, according to Milenio commentator Javier Ibarrola.

In contrary to other groups, this message circulated on virtual networks where writings from the Popular Revolutionary Army (EPR), the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN), and the Insurgent People's Revolutionary Army (ERPI) normally appear. In the message, the Armed Movement of the North says it is "an organization of revolutionary character made up of students, professionals, and workers with the objective of defending the sovereignty of the Mexican people against aggressions from foreign capital, imperialism, and the abuses and injustices of the current government. Our fundamental base are social principles and ideas. Born in March 2006, today organized as a Movement of Armed Resistance against the Government due to the necessity of facing our country's current political and economic system in defense of the people."

Translator's notes:

1. There is reportedly a split between El Chapo and the Beltran Leyva brothers, who used to operate a cell of the Sinaloa cartel, which is run by El Chapo, which could explain why a parapolice group associated with El Chapo would attack the Beltran Leyva organization.

From Narco News:

Mexico Grants Appeal to Juan Manuel Martinez Moreno in Brad Will Murder Case

The APPO activist accused of murdering the US Indymedia journalist remains in jail despite his "unconstitutional" imprisonment

by Pedro Matias, Noticias de Oaxaca
translated by Kristin Bricker

The Federal Judiciary granted an injunction to Juan Manuel Martinez Moreno, accused of murdering US journalist Bradley Roland Will because the 5th District Judge, Rosa Ileana Noriega Perez, weighed the multiple irregularities in the case and rejected his imprisonment pending trial as unconstitutional.

However, she failed to resolve the case and sent the case back to the 4th Criminal Judge so that s/he "corrects" its deficiencies because the imprisonment pending trial, ordered on October 22, 2008, violates guarantees of judicial security and legality.

The judicial commission of Section 22 of the SNTE [the National Union of Education Workers], the November 25 Liberation Committee, the Miguel Agustin Pro Juarez Human Rights Center, and Comuna-Oaxaca decried the decision, reiterating that "the Mexican State is holding him hostage in order to assure the US government that it is carrying out investigations to clear up the murder of journalist Brad Will that was committed on October 27, 2006."

In response to the decision, the representative of the teachers union's judicial commission in Oaxaca, Gustavo Tomas Hernandez Cruz, stated that not only would the union take Juan Manuel's case to the negotiation table it reinitiated with the Ministry of the Interior, it would also launch a series of actions to demand his freedom. According to information published in the Federal Judiciary's official web page, the 5th District Judge, Rosa Ileana Noriega Perez, issued her ruling this past Monday, January 19, in which she grants the appeal so that the 4th Criminal Judge will establish grounds and cause for the decision he issued against Juan Manuel Martinez Moreno on October 22, 2008.

This means that the federal judge "has washed her hands" of the case and has sent it back to the state court to study and issue a new decision that rectifies its ruling in which it ordered imprisonment pending trial for Martinez Moreno, and if it cannot do so, it should order that he be freed, said lawyer Gilberto Lopez Jimenez, who is defending the accused.

What is certain, he said, is that with this unexpected ruling, the only thing that is achieved is that Juan Manuel remains imprisoned in the state jail because the time period for a decision in the case has been extended.

Now, he explains, they will need to wait 10 business days for the Federal Attorney General's Office (PGR) to contest the ruling, and if it does so, one, two, or three months will pass before the Collegiate Court studies the grievances and issues a ruling.

If the PGR does not contest within 15 days, the 4th Criminal Judge must comply with the federal judge's decision; that is, s/he can confirm the ruling of imprisonment pending trial.

The lawyer considers this decision to be "a legal ruse" that the Mexican State is using and that it involves "the PGR, the Oaxaca Judiciary, and the Federal Supreme Court, to keep Juan Manuel imprisoned as a political prisoner."

He stressed that this decision should serve to motivate the Section 22 and the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca to pressure the Federal Supreme Court to issue an impartial report about the social movement in 2006 because "the Federal Judiciary no longer guarantees justice in Mexico, and above all, in Oaxaca."

At the same time, lawyer Alba Cruz Ramos of the November 25 liberation committee stressed that the 5th District Judge indicated in her decision that the order to imprison pending trial "violates the guarantee of judicial security and legality established in Article 16 of the Constitution."

This is because the order to imprison pending trial, says the judge, is based on six pieces of evidence: the testimony of Alfredo Feria Perez[1], Miriam Alicia Montaño[2], and Carol Ivan[3]; in the April 9, 2008, audio and video report and in the March 18, 2008, criminal report, both issued by the PGR; as well as Televisa videos and photographs taken by journalists who were at the scene of the crime.

Translator's notes:

1. According to journalist John Gibler, "Adolfo Feria is the cousin of the mayor of Santa Lucia del Camino [where Will was murdered], Manuel Martinez Feria, whose police and city officials led the armed attack on the APPO protesters." The Oaxacan Popular Indigenous Council (CIPO) reports that Adolfo is Manuel's nephew and that he was a cop while his uncle was mayor.

2. The CIPO alleges that Miriam Alicia Montaño is active in the Party of the Institutional Revolution (PRI), the party of Gov. Ulises Ruiz Ortiz, the man the 2006 uprising attempted to overthrow.

3. Carol Ivan is a Televisa correspondent. Televisa was notoriously biased in favor of Gov. Ulises Ruiz Ortiz and against the APPO.

From Narco News:

Friday, January 23, 2009

Mexican Armed Forces Will Manage Merida Initiative Planes

The equipment required an investment of $99 million dollars

by Notimex
Translation and notes by Kristin Bricker

Mexico - The Mexican Armed Forces will receive and manage the aircraft that the United States will hand over during the second half of 2009 under the Merida Iniciative.

This second shipment is in addition to another that includes bullet-proof vests, x-ray and Gamma-ray machines[1] to search shipments on the borders, and it will begin to arrive in Mexico in the first four months of this year.

The aircraft that will be delivered "in autumn" will be equipped with non-invasive inspection equipment, which will be regularly used by the Armed Forces, according to the United States ambassador.

Said equipment will be bought with USD$99 million that come from a US Defense Department Defense Security Cooperation Agency fund.

According to the United States embassy in Mexico, the equipment "will provide additional capacity to Mexico's efforts to secure the national territory, both land and water, and detect drug, money, and weapons contraband."

The specifics of the planes that will be delivered to Mexico are confidential for national security reasons (Chapter IV, Article 27, and Articles 13, 14, and 15 of the Federal Transparency and Access to Public Information Law).

The first package signed by both governments last December in the "Letter of Agreement" includes transfers of equipment, technology, and training for USD$197,175,000 and will arrive in Mexico within the first four months of 2009.

That first package is funded by the International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement Cooperation Fund, which has USD$263,500,000 in funds.

The embassy as well as the Foreign Relations Secretary stated that the funding includes non-intrusive inspection equipment, computer equipment, and applied technology for data-processing and -sharing.

It also includes telecommunication devices, contraband-detection canines, and training programs.

Armored vehicles, bullet-proof vests, safety helmets, communications and equipment, and polygraphs for confidentiality control will also be sent.

The Integrated Ballistics Identification System[2], computer equipment to automate judicial processes, the National Police Registry (with municipal information-sharing), and passport and fingerprint scanners are also part of the shipment.

The non-invasive inspection equipment are "mobile inspection units" equipped with x-ray and gamma-ray equipment, "ion scanners capable of identifying explosives and narcotics," and equipment that "analyzes the molecular composition and measures objects' density."[3]

Instruments of this nature are used, for example, in the El Paso and Nuevo Laredo, Texas, Customs for trailers loaded with merchandise. The inspection is completed in a matter of minutes, whereas before it would have taken days to search each unit.

Translators' notes:

1. Gamma-ray machines are similar to x-ray machines. The are used to scan cargo containers, boxcars, and other large shipping containers.

2. According to Wikipedia, "IBIS [the Integrated Ballistics Identification System] has been adopted as the platform of the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN) Program, which is spearheaded by the United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). The integration of technology into over 200 sites across the US facilitates sharing of information between different law enforcement groups. The rapid dissemination of ballistics information, in turn, allows for tracking of gun-specific information and connection of a particular firearm to multiple crimes irrespective of geographic location." This is part of the ATF's Operation Gunrunner, which AFT agents will be deployed to Mexico to manage. The information-sharing bears the fingerprints of the Security and Prosperity Partnership, which calls for North American security "cooperation" and information-sharing.

3. Narco News has documented repeated abuses of ion scanners in the US and Mexico. Ion scanners produce false positives in approximately 90% of cases because they confuse hand sanitizers, over-the-counter medications, perfumes, and melanin (which is abundantly present in people with dark skin) with contraband. They are meant to provide a quick scan to detect contraband. A negative result means that further inspection is not necessary. A positive result means that further inspection by other means is necessary and DOES NOT in and of itself prove the presence of contraband. Ion scanners are abused in the US prison system, where prison visitors are rejected based solely on positive ion scanner results. Narco News reported claims that ion scanners have been used to justify warrant-less neighborhood-wide military raids in Michoacan, Mexico.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Clothing Provokes Violence, Clergy Tells Women

Ecclesiastical authorities say women are to blame for the sexual aggressions they suffer, due to the "provocative" clothing they wear

by Natalia Gomez Quintero and Noemi Gutierrez
El Universal
translated by Kristin Bricker

Translator's note: The Catholic Church held its Sixth World Meeting of the Families in Mexico City this month. The World Meeting of the Families was founded by Pope John Paul II. Mexican President Felipe Calderon gave the surprise keynote address at the beginning of the conference.

Ecclesiastical authorities blamed women for the sexual aggressions they suffer due to the "provocative" clothing they wear.

With plunging necklines and mini-skirts, "they're provoking men," said the archbishop of Santo Domingo, Nicolas de Jesus Lopez Rodrigez during the Sixth World Meeting of the Families.

Women expose themselves to rape, to being used, to being treated like an old dishrag, because they devalue themselves and their dignity, said the auxiliary bishop of Tegucigalpa, Darwin Rudy Andino.

Likewise, laypersons who attended the meeting said that women are the ones responsible for physical as well as verbal attacks. They should dress modestly and not arouse kinkiness in other people.

"It's their fault that they attack them," added Ecuadorian Alexandra Marcillo.

Renato Ascencio, the bishop of Ciudad Juarez, women should not only change the way they dress, but also their behavior. Modesty has been lost in the Mexican family, he said.*

The World Meeting of the Families' official website recommends that women don't use provocative clothing, that they watch how they look and gesture at other people, and that they don't allow "hot jokes."

Translator's notes:

*Ciudad Juarez is internationally considered to be the femicide capital of Mexico. While accurate estimates of how many women have been murdered in Juarez are unavailable, what is most striking is how the dead women are found. They are often raped and sexually mutilated beyond recognition. Bishop Renato Ascencio's statement leads one to believe that he thinks women's lack of modesty causes men to kidnap them, rape them, bite off their nipples and mutilate them in other ways, murder them, and hide their bodies for months before dumping multiple bodies killed in the same manner in a field in his city. Is women's lack of modesty also to blame for the fact that these murders almost always go unpunished, and that Mexican police rarely carry out rigorous investigations?

Monday, January 12, 2009

Academics and the Chihuahua Government Say Decriminalizing Drugs is a Subject That Can't be Avoided

Mexican lawmakers and legal experts decry El Paso Mayor John Cook's veto of a City Council resolution that proposed a debate over drug decriminalization

by Sandra Rodriguez Nieto, El Diario

Yesterday, the El Paso mayor's rejection of a debate over decriminalizing drug use was considered on the Mexican side of the border to go against the necessity to analyze all of the possibilities to end the violence that results from said illicit business.

Likewise, state officials, lawmakers, and academics said that the El Paso City Council's proposal to initiate a debate in the United States as well as Mexico over the decriminalization of some drugs as a response to the problem of violence in Ciudad Juarez demonstrates a citizen concern that cannot be avoided.

"To me it seems like a weak and insensitive decision on his part when you consider the proposal the full City Council passed. I don't think it hurts anyone to initiate this debate, because the drug war has failed all over the world," commented local lawmaker Victor Quintana, who in 2008 proposed that the Chihuahua State Congress initiate a similar debate.

At the same time, lawyer Jesus Camarillo, professor at the Ciudad Juarez Autonomous University, said that "Mayor John Cook undervalues the possibility of opening the debate from below, from the council members, from the counties."

Because the change, he added, "can be done, above all because apparently new winds are coming into the United Sates government, and the debates will begin because of the President-elect's openness, and those debates won't only be over the drug problem, but also about other issues that will begin to blow up from below until they likely come up in Congress."

Victor Valencia, Chihuahua Governor Jsoe Reyes Baeza's representative in Ciudad Juarez, commented that the state administration respects the El Paso government's decisions, but he added that the City Council's proposal demonstrates a citizen concern that cannot be avoided.

"We respect the position of the mayor as well as the City Council, but it's a subject that cannot be avoided; it's a situation where all of us have the obligation to pay attention to what's happened in the past, and not only in Mexico; therefore, I think that yes, it is important; it's a clear indicator that there is concern," said Valencia.

Lawmaker Quintana said he regrets Cook's position as much as he celebrates and stresses the importance of the El Paso City Council's position that, with its idea to open a debate, he said, showed sensitivity towards the violence caused by the problem.

"The United States doesn't feel the effects, because it has a hypocritical position. It is one of the biggest drug markets and at the same time one of the biggest sources of drug traffickers' weapons, and it doesn't pay the costs of that. It only enjoys the benefits of money laundering and drug trafficking," Quintana said. He insisted that a debate on the subject "wouldn't hurt anybody."

Lawyer Camarillo added that debating the subject and even decriminalizing the production, trafficking, and consumption of certain types of drugs that are currently illegal could allow the government to more efficiently control this business that today has the country subjected to a war.

"The impact is seen in the decreased levels of violence; it's intuitive that if certain drugs are excluded from prohibition, above all those with the most sales, and if clear rules regarding their production, distribution, and consumption were created--which has happened in the past with other drugs that are permitted today, such as alcholol--the problems would be reduced. The State would have control over the trafficking; that is the idea," said the academic.

Translated by Kristin Bricker

From Narco News:

Dirty Tactics in Operation Clean-Up

Operation Clean-Up's arrests of Mexican officials are based on hearsay and contradictory testimonies; many of the accused could be set free

by Ricardo Ravelo, Proceso

translated from the original Spanish by Kristin Bricker

The attempt to clean up the Attorney General's Office (PGR) appears to be threatened by deficiencies in the investigation which have already resulted in judicial losses in favor of some of the accused. And what's worse, it might have to face an international denunciation for employing "dirty means" in its zeal to find culprits.

Inconsistencies, contradictions, and statements based on hearsay produced by protected witnesses may lead to the downfall of the so-called Operation Clean-Up, which is led by Federal Attorney General Eduardo Medina Mora. The operation's aim is to "clean up" the institution responsible for combatting organized crime. The PGR has been infiltrated by drug traffickers for years.

The vices and failings in compiling the dossier PGR/SIEDO/UEIDCS/0241/2008 have begun to surface: the ex-chief of the Assistant Attorney General's Office for Specialized Investigation of Organized Crime (SIEDO), Noe Ramirez Mandujano, won an injunction in the 6th District Criminal Court which blocked the extension of his administrative detention for 40 more days. However, the PGR announced on December 25, 2008, that it had requested an appeal of the injunction, which is why the ex-federal official remains detained, but not under administrative detention, and his legal situation could be resolved in another month.

That's not all: Despite being accused by three protected witnesses of forming part of a network that protected the Beltran Leyva brothers, judicial authorities denied imprisonment pending trial for Miguel Colorado Gonzalez, ex-technical coordinator of the SIEDO who is implicated as part of Operation Clean-Up, because they say the PGR did not prove his ties to drug trafficking.

However, Colorado Gonzalez remains detained in the Puente Grande maximum security prison--the same prison Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman Loera escaped from, and the same prison where Alfredo "El Mochomo" Beltran Leyva has been imprisoned since January 2008. The reason: the United States government formally requested his extradition on December 24. A court in that country has summoned him to be prosecuted for the crime of conspiring to traffic drugs.

In a telephone interview on Wednesday December 30, Miguel Colorado Luke, son of the ex-PGR official, said that his father is prepared to face the United States court "as soon as possible," and for that reason his lawyers will demand that the Foreign Relations Ministry speeds up his transfer.

"Every other person fights in Mexican courts to not be tried in the United States. Why does your father prefer to be immediately extradited?" Luke was asked.

"In Mexico the PGR doesn't want to prosecute him because, according to what we've seen in the dossier, there isn't any evidence against him. All of the witnesses that implicate him rely on hearsay. They're false accusations.

"Faced with this reality, the family has decided to stand trial in the United States, where we are sure that we're going to win, and afterwards we'll initiate a countersuit so that the international community sees that the PGR is an institution that uses dirty means to try to push on with its Operation Clean Up."

Miguel Colorado is the person that, under Noe Ramirez Mandujano's orders (Ramirez led the SIEDO from January 2007 until July 2008), began to spy on Captain Fernando Rivera Hernandez after the then-assistant attorney general received reports from the DEA in March 2008 that accused Rivera and another group of soldiers and civilians--all of them SIEDO officials--of being in collusion with the Beltran Leyva brothers and of receiving monthly payments of up to USD$450,000 (Proceso 1674).

Colorado is the only soldier that has not taken refuge in the witness protection program, but in the dossier PGR/SIEDO/UEIDCS/0241/2008 he appears to be splattered with drug corruption, according to statements from his accusers.

Protected witnesses Saul, Moises, and David incriminate Miguel Colorado in the Beltran Leyva organization's payments to officials.

For example, an addition to his statement before the SIEDO on August 8, 2008, the witness Moises (as Captain Fernando Rivera, Colorado's boss, is identified by the PGR) states that Miguel Colorado and Jose Antonio Cueto (who is indicated in the same dossier as the main recruiter of officials to serve the Beltran Leyva brothers) have known each other for a long time.

Additionally, the witness David (code name of soldier Roberto Garcia Garcia, who was a member of the Mexican Military's High Command Special Forces Airmobile Group), when he elaborated on his September 25, 2008, testimony, said that he learned that a federal agent known as El Pinocho "received money from the [Beltran Leyva] organization" and that the same man was the one who "handed over the money to Miguel Colorado."

However, David does not specify how he learned of such facts, nor if there is any record of them, which is why Miguel Colorado's family considers him to be a "hearsay witness."

At least El Pinocho isn't David's own invention, according to what is inferred from the same SIEDO investigation. El Pinocho is Francisco Javier Jimenez Sanchez, accused by Saul (another witness whose real name is Milton Cilia Perez) as Sergio "El Grande" Villareal Barragan's protector. This man was ministerial agent and was assigned to the Stolen Vehicles department in Coahuila, but he switched sides to work with the Gulf cartel is now a Beltran Leyva employee in La Laguna and in the state of Morelos, one of their main refuges.

Fabricated Evidence

Amongst the group of soldiers and civilians who worked in the SIEDO, Miguel Colorado is known as "the old man of the heavens" for his fondness of reading the Bible. And it's by this nickname that Emiliano, another protected witness, refers to him. On September 9 of last year, Emiliano said "that he recognizes the old man of the heavens or 'the elderly man' as a member of the organization" led by the Beltran Leyva brothers.

"All of this," says Colorado Luke, "is made up. That's why the accusation didn't stick in my father's case, and now they want to extradite him, because the PGR doesn't want to look bad in Mexico. Moreover, the majority of the soldiers implicated in Operation Clean-Up have stated that they weren't under orders from Attorney General Medina Mora nor from Noe Ramirez Mandujano, but rather from the Brigadier General Luis Rodriguez Bucio," ex-head of the Anti-Narcotics Intelligence Center.

According to his record, Rodriguez Bucio was dismissed after becoming caught up in Operation Clean-Up. Previously he was involved in the dossier 55/2001 for "misuse" of the 4310 certificate, earmarked for "transfers for national and public security expenses." This incident came out of a statement against him in the PGR, along with Wilfredo Robledo Madrid and Genaro Garcia Luna (who acted as head of the Federal Investigative Agency during the past administration) for purchasing aircraft without soliciting bids. Afterwards, the Internal Affairs Department released him from responsibility.

Meanwhile, Operation Clean-Up's voluminous dossier PGR/SIEDO/UEIDCS/0241/2008 shows inconsistencies: the protected witnesses--whose statements this weekly had access to--have fallen into contradictions regarding the places where the Beltran Leyva brothers' agents handed over payments to the SIEDO "informants" accused of protecting them.

For example, Jennifer says in her statement that the money was delivered to Captain Fernando Rivera (ex-coordinator of SIEDO intelligence and also a protected witness) in the El Caballito tower, on Paseo de la Reforma Ave., although, she says, other meet-ups took place near the National Auditorium. Saul testified that Rivera was paid in the house of Roberto Garcia Garcia (who is now the witness "David"), in Satelite.

Another witness, Felipe, (as the ex-federal agent Alberto Perez Guerrero is identified), whose statements set off Operation Clean-Up, has been testifying since mid-2008 in the Mexican Embassy in the United States without a lawyer present, "because that's how he requested it." The two additions to his testimony happened in the presence of a US lawyer, but the ministerial act does not specify if the lawyer speaks Spanish or if s/he is familiar with Mexican laws.

Multiple witnesses don't remember or refer to incidents that they were made aware of through a third party, which demonstrates "the porosity" of a good part of the accusations against civilians and soldiers presumably implicated in drug trafficking.

Zambada's Infiltration

In the tangle of statements produced by the protected witnesses--one of the investigation instruments utilized by the PGR in this case and that, incidentally, was not submitted for revision during the recent legal reforms approved by Congress--stories arise that are now part of the accusatory dossier put together by the SIEDO against its ex-officials.

Likewise, old arrangements are getting back on their feet: the pacts, for example, that have been alleged between the Ernesto Zedillo administration and brothers Rey and Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada, that latter being one of the emblematic figures in the Sinaloa cartel.

In his ministerial statement on August 20, 2008, David says that a person named Oscar the Lawyer (an alias that Rey Zambada used to hide his identity) made payments to the administrative coordinator of the defunct Special Prosecutor for Attention to Crimes Against Health, Hiram Gonzalez, as well as Mariano Herran Salvatti, who took the place of General Jesus Gutierrez Rebollo in the PGR's anti-drug prosecutor's office after his dismissal and imprisonment for being in collusion with the drug baron Amado Carrillo Fuentes.

The witness tells of

an event that occurred a little over a year ago, without remembering the exact date, [where] Jose Antonio Cueto [a recruiter of civilian and military officials in SIEDO to put them to work for the cartels] called the witness by Nextel radio to tell him that they would go to eat with other people in a Chinese food restaurant that was located on Paseo de la Reforma Ave. at the intersection with Palmas...

The witness waited for him at the door. Upon arriving, Cueto entered and took the witness to a table in the back where there were six men. One of them presented himself to Jose Antonio Cueto as Oscar the Lawyer; he was surprised that the witness was present. Cueto Lopez told [Oscar the Lawyer] that the witness was his friend and that it was as if the witness were Cueto himself because he trusted the witness completely.

Next, David describes "Oscar the Lawyer" as

55 years old, medium build, one meter and 68 cm tall, brown-skinned, short wavy hair combed back, normal face, small eyes, nose with a slight downward curve, normal eyebrows, small mouth... Dressed in a fine suit and an expensive watch. The other five subjects who were with Oscar the Lawyer were his bodyguards.

He adds:

Oscar the Lawyer asked him who he was and what his job was. The witness responded that he was a federal investigation agent and that he was assigned to the SIEDO.... He stated that Jose Antonio Cueto and Oscar the Lawyer talked about a sum of money without stating the amount because they had previously discussed the subject. Oscar wanted to unblock the money he referred to, which was frozen in Banamex and Banorte bank accounts. They alluded to Oscar's family member who worked in Banamex. Upon leaving, he went to the valet parking. Oscar's car arrived first: a blue armored BMW.

There was a second meeting between Cueto Lopez and Rey Zambada in his role as "Oscar the Lawyer." David states in his ministerial statement that he does not remember the date,

but that it was more or less a month after the first one, this time in the Champu Helices restaurant on Paseo de la Reforma Ave. in front of the American [sic] embassy. On this occasion Oscar was accompanied by another subject who presented him/herself with his last name, but the witness doesn't remember it. The subject said he wanted to discuss issues with Los Zetas in the SIEDO and that he represented that cartel's interests.

On another occasion Oscar the Lawyer asked if there was an extradition order against "el Chapito," that is, Joaquin Guzman Loera's son Archivaldo Guzman--I don't remember the his second last name. Cueto Lopez said that we should let him know immediately. He called Alberto Perez Guerrero [the witness Felipe who gave his testimony in the United States and whose statements set off Operation Clean Up], who worked in the American embassy. He didn't want him to go into the restaurant; he sent the witness in... Perez Guerrero only had to cross Reforma Ave. The witness met him on the street.... The witness told [Guerrero] that he was interested and responded that he didn't know if el Chapito had an extradition order or not, but he said he'd verify it in the embassy and [in] Interpol. The witness returned to the table and informed those gathered of what happened.

That time Oscar the Lawyer seemed very worried over the alleged extradition order. Both Cueto and the witness told Oscar the Lawyer that the SIEDO had information about houses where they were going to try to locate Joaquin Archivaldo Guzman Loera, aka El Chapo Guzman, and Alfredo "el Mochomo" Beltran Leyva.... Oscar the Lawyer said that he was interested in that information, but that they should give it to him another time.... When we left we went to the office of the lawyer who said he represented Los Zetas, because Cueto Lopez had gotten into legal problems with his cousin Rodolfo de la Guardia [ex-director of Interpol, currently held under administrative detention] and he was thinking about seeking a lawyer. Said lawyer took them to a white three-story building which was located behind the American embassy, [and] he said that he was the owner of the whole building.

After about a month, a third meeting occurred in the Camino Real de Polanco Hotel. The witness came with his resume. Jose Antonio Cueto Lopez had stayed with Oscar the Lawyer, who was going to give the witness the address of the Culiacan, Sinaloa, Public Security Ministry office, so that from there he could protect the both their interests and those of their bosses, El Chapo Guzman and the Beltran Leyva brothers. On this occasion, information was given to Oscar the Lawyer about places where the SIEDO could carry out operations to detain El Mochomo and El Chapo Guzman. For that, Oscar the Lawyer paid USD$10,000.

Finally, the witness David implicates ex-officials from the defunct Special Prosecutor's Office for Attention to Crimes Against Health (FEADS in its Spanish initials). After recounting the fear that Cueto had of Rey Zambada--when the FEADS was still in existence, Zambada had ordered the kidnapping and execution of a Federal Judicial Police commander--he stated: "Cueto says that Oscar (the Lawyer) was sending money, without saying how much, to Hiram Morales, who was the FEADS administrative coordinator, who gave part to the then-Special Prosecutor Mariano Herran Salvatti."*

Translator's Notes:

*In a twist of irony, Mariano Herran Salvatti is currently in legal trouble for fabricating evidence to imprison innocent people in Chiapas. Under pressure from a months-long hunger strike carried out by political prisoners in prisons across Chiapas, the Chiapas government reviewed their cases and many others. As a result of their review they released 137 prisoners (only 30 of them political prisoners, but more political prisoners have since been released) whom they say were most likely innocent of the crimes they were imprisoned for--but the prisoners remain on parole and must report weekly. The Chiapas Congress accuses Herran of inventing many of the charges that imprisoned the innocent men and women.

From Narco News:

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Juarez Femicides Lawyer Murdered

All lawyers involved in the defense of two Juarez bus drivers falsely accused of femicide have been executed; state police shot one in the head

Two unidentified gunmen executed Mario Escobedo Salazar and his son Edgar Escobedo Anaya, also a lawyer, in their Juarez office on Tuesday, January 6.

The double homicide comes nearly seven years after Chihuahua State Judicial Police killed Escobedo Salazar's other son, Mario Escobedo Anaya, during a chase. The police originally stated that Mario Escobedo Anaya died when his vehicle crashed during the chase. It was later revealed that he died of a gunshot wound to the head fired by state police.

Prior to Mario Escobedo Anaya's 2002 execution, he, his father, and a third lawyer, the late Sergio Dante Almaraz Mora, represented the two Juarez public transportation bus drivers accused of murdering eight women whose bodies were found dumped in an area of Juarez known as "the Cotton Field." Escobedo Salazar's recent execution means that the entire defense team is now dead; all were executed. One of the bus drivers also died under suspicious circumstances while in police custody.

Bus Drivers Railroaded

On Monday, November 5, 2001, the bodies of eight women were discovered in the Cotton Field. El Paso Times reporter Diana Washington cites a police source who says the Chihuahua governor's office issued the following order after the discovery of bodies: "Resolve the case before Monday. No excuses."

On Friday, November 9, three days after the first cadaver was discovered, police reportedly wearing Halloween masks arrested bus drivers Víctor Javier "El Cerillo" García Uribe and Gustavo "La Foca" González Meza. The Chihuahua State Attorney General's Office charged the men with the murders of Guadalupe Luna de la Rosa, Verónica Martínez Hernández, Bárbara Araceli Martínez Ramos, María de los Ángeles Acosta Ramírez, Mayra Juliana Reyes Solís, Laura Berenice Ramos Monárrez, Claudia Iveth González, and Esmeralda Herrera Monreal.

Following their arrest, the accused said the police who detained them did not present identification. Gonzalez testified to the Chihuahua State Human Rights Commission, "They blindfolded me and tied up my hands and my feet...they kicked me hard in the testicles and I lied down and they began to beat me. They told me that me and 'El Cerillo' had killed eight gals and if we didn't take the blame, it was going to get worse for us, they were going to kill us... They made us sign a statement that we never read."

The men's claims of torture are backed up by photographs released by their lawyers following their arrests. The accused appear in the photos with bruises and cigarette and electrical burns all over their bodies, including their genitals. During the men's trial, the judge stated that it was possible that the men's wounds were self-inflicted. The judge sentenced them to 50 years in prison.

Lawyer Executed by Police

On February 5 or 6, 2002, Mario Escobedo Anaya, Gonzalez's defense attorney, noticed two unmarked vehicles following him as he drove away from his family's law office. Because Escobedo had repeatedly received anonymous threats due to his defense of Gonzalez, he attempted to evade the cars. He called his father, also an attorney working on Gonzalez's defense, and begged for help. Mario Escobedo Salazar jumped in his car an attempted to reach his son. He was too late.

When Escobedo Salazar arrived on the scene, his son's car had already crashed. The police present told him that his son had died from the crash. It was later revealed that he died from a gunshot wound to the head.

It turns out that the two cars following Escobedo Anaya were full of police. One, a Jeep Grand Cherokee, was not an official police vehicle; it was State Police Commander Roberto Alejandro Castro Valles' personal vehicle. The police say they mistook Escobedo Anaya for one of his clients, an escaped prisoner.

A judge later ruled that the police acted in self defense because Escobedo Anaya had fired upon them. However, Frontera NorteSur correspondent Greg Bloom points out that accident scene photos taken by a photographer from the local paper El Norte show an unmarked Jeep Grand Cherokee without bullet holes. A few hours later, a photographer from the same paper photographed the same Jeep Cherokee outside the Attorney General's Office. The hood was full of bullet holes. Bloom writes, "El Norte contends that state police agents shot the Jeep themselves to strengthen their case against Escobedo Anaya. "

Escobedo Salazar began work on his son's case, compiling witnesses, experts, and evidence that would prove the police's guilt in Escobedo Anaya's death. One witness says s/he saw State Police Commander Roberto Alejandro Castro Valles get out of his car after the crash and shoot at the lawyer.

Escobedo Salazar also found an expert that was ready to testify that some of the shots that hit his son's truck could only have been fired after the vehicle crashed.

Escobedo Salazar was never able to bring the police responsible for his son's death to justice. He and his surviving son were executed by unidentified gunmen in their family's law office on January 6, 2009--the same law office where state police waited for Escobedo Anaya before they shot him in the head.

Suspicious Death in Prison

On February 8, 2003, Gonzalez was found dead in his cell while serving his 50-year sentence. Police reported that he died of complications from a hernia surgery that Gonzalez underwent while he and his co-defendent were illegally transferred to different Chihuahua prison. Gonzalez's widow says she did not consent to the surgery. Dante Almaraz, a member of the accused men's defense team, said the authorization for the surgery had a forged signature.

On July 14, 2005, Mexico's Supreme Court exonerated and released Gonzalez's co-defendant Víctor Javier "El Cerillo" García Uribe. Had he survived, Gonzalez would have also been freed.

Another Defense Lawyer Executed

In December 2005, Dante Almaraz wrote a letter to the editor of El Norte, accusing former Chihuahua governor Patricio Martinez's appointments to the state attorney general's office of trying to destroy his professional reputation, and, more alarmingly, of forming groups "so scary that they even assassinate their own commanders." Almaraz told El Norte and other local media that he had received threats due to his defense of the two bus drivers.

The threats against Almaraz where so severe and credible that in 2003 the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights recommended that the local government provide him with protection and guards. The government provided the recommended protection, but did not find it necessary to assign bodyguards to Almaraz permanently.

Even though Almaraz's surviving client was exonerated in July 2005, the lawyer refused to allow the injustice to go quietly into the dark. In October 2005, Almaraz appeared in a French documentary about the Juarez femicides, where he stated: "I am convinced that these young ladies were murdered by people involved in drug trafficking, with connections to the mafias, but tolerated by the state government. I place the terrible responsibility on the shoulders of the President of the Republic [at that time Vicente Fox] and the ex-governor [of Chihuahua] Patricio Martinez. They know perfectly well who the people are who committed the murders."

On January 25, 2006, multiple unidentified armed gunmen executed Almaraz while he waited in his truck at a traffic light in downtown Juarez.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Mexican Defense Department is Silent About the Case of a Pregnant Woman Murdered at a Military Checkpoint

The Federal Attorney General's Office didn't take on the case even though it involves the death of a civilian, which is a violation of Plan Mexico's "human rights conditions"

published in La Jornada, January 8, 2009
translated by Kristin Bricker

Translator's note: The case of the pregnant woman murdered by soldiers is being investigated by the military's attorney general, not a civilian one. 15% of US military and police aid to Mexico under the Merida Iniciative is conditioned on Mexico sending cases regarding military abuse of civilians to civilian courts. The 15% has yet to be released due to Mexico's continued failure to comply with even these minimal conditions.

The Military Attorney General's Office is investigating soldiers in the 11th Military Region, the 5th Military Zone, and the 23rd infantry batalion regarding the death of civilian Sayra Guadalupe Arzate Contreras, who this past December 12 was shot in a military checkpoint located in Aldama, Chihuahua, while she was four months pregnant.

According to official information, in mid-December the [government-funded but theoretically independent human rights ombudsman] National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) received information from the National Defense Department's Human Rights General Management office* about the complaint registered with the national ombudsman regarding the incident, in which a soldier is accused of having murdered a woman when, accompanied by her mother and an aunt, she headed towards the checkpoint in search of help because they were being chased by criminals.

Following the incident, the military attorney general began the criminal investigation 5ZM/47/2008, but it is still unknown how many soldiers have been interrogated, or if any soldiers have already been indicted in the case.

The National Defense Department (Sedena in its Spanish abbreviation) has limited itself to stating that because the investigation is in progress, information regarding the case is "confidential," and it cannot provide more details.

Beyond the complaint filed with the CNDH and the Commission's request to Sedena for information, neither the Chihuahua State Attorney General's Office nor the Federal Attorney General's Office have made public any intention to look into the case.

This is the case despite the fact that, because it involves the murder of a civilian at the hands of soldiers, it should investigated by civilian officials. It's worth mentioning that since 2003, the UN's Torture Committee has been very clear in continuously recommending restricting the military's jurisdiction to crimes that are related to military discipline and that those that involve civilians be sent to civilian courts.

It's also worth point out that, according to Sedena, the incident was the result of an attack on soldiers by men who were traveling in multiple vehicles, and that after firing towards the checkpoint they fled when faced with the soldiers' response.

Translator's Notes:

* The National Defense Department's Human Rights General Management office is slated to receive zero funding in the 2009 budget. The military's Human Rights General Management office reviews human rights complaints against the military and the CNDH's recommendations regarding these complaints. Even with funding, the military's human rights department rarely acts upon CNDH recommendations.

First published in Narco News:

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Of sowing and harvests: Subcomandante Marcos' speech on Gaza

Two days ago, the same day we discussed violence, the ineffable Condoleezza Rice, a US official, declared that what was happening in Gaza was the Palestinians' fault, due to their violent nature.

The underground rivers that crisscross the world can change their geography, but they sing the same song.

And the one we hear now is one of war and pain.

Not far from here, in a place called Gaza, in Palestine, in the Middle East, right here next to us, the Israeli government's heavily trained and armed military continues its march of death and destruction.

The steps it has taken are those of a classic military war of conquest: first an intense mass bombing in order to destroy "strategic" military points (that's how the military manuals put it) and to "soften" the resistance's reinforcements; next a fierce control over information: everything that is heard and seen "in the outside world," that is, outside the theater of operations, must be selected with military criteria; now intense artillery fire against the enemy infantry to protect the advance of troop to new positions; then there will be a siege to weaken the enemy garrison; then the assault that conquers the position and annihilates the enemy, then the "cleaning out" of the probable "nests of resistance."

The military manual of modern war, with a few variations and additions, is being followed step-by-step by the invading military forces.

We don't know a lot about this, and there are surely specialists in the so-called "conflict in the Middle East," but from this corner we have something to say:

According to the news photos, the "strategic" points destroyed by the Israeli government's air force are houses, shacks, civilian buildings. We haven't seen a single bunker, nor a barracks, nor a military airport, nor cannons, amongst the rubble. So--and please excuse our ignorance--we think that either the planes' guns have bad aim, or in Gaza such "strategic" military points don't exist.

We have never had the honor of visiting Palestine, but we suppose that people, men, women, children, and the elderly--not soldiers--lived in those houses, shacks, and buildings.

We also haven't seen the resistance's reinforcements, just rubble.

We have seen, however, the futile efforts of the information siege, and the world governments trying to decide between ignoring or applauding the invasion, and the UN, which has been useless for quite some time, sending out tepid press releases.

But wait. It just occurred to us that perhaps to the Israeli government those men, women, children, and elderly people are enemy soldiers, and as such, the shacks, houses, and buildings that they inhabited are barracks that need to be destroyed.

So surely the hail of bullets that fell on Gaza this morning were in order to protect the Israeli infantry's advance from those men, women, children, and elderly people.

And the enemy garrison that they want to weaken with the siege that is spread out all over Gaza is the Palestinian population that lives there. And the assault will seek to annihilate that population. And whichever man, woman, child, or elderly person that manages to escape or hide from the predictably bloody assault will later be "hunted" so that the cleansing is complete and the commanders in charge of the operation can report to their superiors: "We've completed the mission."

Again, pardon our ignorance, maybe what we're saying is beside the point. And instead of condemning the ongoing crime, being the indigenous and warriors that we are, we should be discussing and taking a position in the discussion about if it's "zionism" or "antisemitism," or if Hamas' bombs started it.

Maybe our thinking is very simple, and we're lacking the nuances and annotations that are always so necessary in analyses, but to the Zapatistas it looks like there's a professional army murdering a defenseless population.

Who from below and to the left can remain silent?

Is it useful to say something? Do our cries stop even one bomb? Does our word save the life of even one Palestinian?

We think that yes, it is useful. Maybe we don't stop a bomb and our word won't turn into an armored shield so that that 5.56 mm or 9 mm caliber bullet with the letters "IMI" or "Israeli Military Industry" etched into the base of the cartridge won't hit the chest of a girl or boy, but perhaps our word can manage to join forces with others in Mexico and the world and perhaps first it's heard as a murmur, then out loud, and then a scream that they hear in Gaza.

We don't know about you, but we Zapatistas from the EZLN, we know how important it is, in the middle of destruction and death, to hear some words of encouragement.

I don't know how to explain it, but it turns out that yes, words from afar might not stop a bomb, but it's as if a crack were opened in the black room of death and a tiny ray of light slips in.

As for everything else, what will happen will happen. The Israeli government will declare that it dealt a severe blow to terrorism, it will hide the magnitude of the massacre from its people, the large weapons manufacturers will have obtained economic support to face the crisis, and "the global public opinion," that malleable entity that is always in fashion, will turn away.

But that's not all. The Palestinian people will also resist and survive and continue struggling and will continue to have sympathy from below for their cause.

And perhaps a boy or girl from Gaza will survive, too. Perhaps they'll grow, and with them, their nerve, indignation, and rage. Perhaps they'll become soldiers or militiamen for one of the groups that struggle in Palestine. Perhaps they'll find themselves in combat with Israel. Perhaps they'll do it firing a gun. Perhaps sacrificing themselves with a belt of dynamite around their waists.

And then, from up there above, they will write about the Palestinians' violent nature and they'll make declarations condemning that violence and they'll get back to discussing if it's zionism or anti-semitism.

And no one will ask who planted that which is being harvested.

For the men, women, children, and elderly of the Zapatista National Liberation Army,

Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos
Mexico, January 4, 2009.

Mexican Rebels Stand in Solidarity with Gaza

While the APPO marches on the US Consulate in Oaxaca, Subcomandante Marcos declares from Chiapas, “to the Zapatistas it looks like there's a professional army murdering a defenseless population” in Palestine

Your silence hurts me. –Mahumud Darwish, Palestinian poet

When the Zapatistas rose up in arms on January 1, 1994, most of them thought they were going to die. Many did. Their rag-tag Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN) set out to reverse 500 years of conquest, and it had a formidable enemy: the US-equipped Mexican military. Indigenous communities were under a constant state of siege and occupation for the next two years. However, the EZLN’s rifles and sticks weren’t its only defense: Mexicans and the international community mobilized to demand peace in Chiapas.

Now, on the fifteenth anniversary of their uprising, the EZLN is calling for the same solidarity for Palestinians in Gaza. In a speech during the Festival of Dignified Rage in Chiapas, Subcomandante Marcos told the crowd gathered there, “We don't know about you, but we Zapatistas from the EZLN, we know how important it is, in the middle of destruction and death, to hear some words of encouragement…. [W]ords from afar might not stop a bomb, but it's as if a crack were opened in the black room of death and a tiny ray of light slips in.” So, said Marcos, even though global protests “won't turn into an armored shield so that a 5.56 mm or 9 mm caliber bullet with the letters ‘IMI’ or ‘Israeli Military Industry’ etched into the base of the cartridge won't hit the chest of a girl or boy, but perhaps our word can manage to join forces with others in Mexico and the world, and perhaps first it's heard as a murmur, then out loud, and then a scream that they hear in Gaza.”

Marcos condemned the Israeli attack on Gaza as a “classic military war of conquest,” with one exception: Israel’s target is not an opposing military force; its targets are civilians. Speaking on behalf of the EZLN, he said, “According to the news photos, the ‘strategic’ points destroyed by the Israeli government's air force are houses, shacks, civilian buildings. We haven't seen a single bunker, nor a barracks, nor a military airport, nor cannons, amongst the rubble. So—and please excuse our ignorance—we think that either the planes' guns have bad aim, or in Gaza such ‘strategic’ military points don't exist.”

Marcos lamented the deaths of “men, women, children, and the elderly” in the attacks and commented sarcastically, “surely the hail of bullets that fell on Gaza this morning were in order to protect the Israeli infantry's advance from those men, women, children, and elderly people.”

Without specifically mentioning the word “genocide,” Marco accused the Israeli government of that crime: “The assault will seek to annihilate that population. And whichever man, woman, child, or elderly person that manages to escape or hide from the predictably bloody assault will later be ‘hunted’ so that the cleansing is complete and the commanders in charge of the operation can report to their superiors: ‘We've completed the mission.’”

Rather than getting caught up in arguments “about if it's "zionism" or "antisemitism," or if Hamas' bombs started it,” the EZLN says, “Maybe our thinking is very simple, and we're lacking the nuances and annotations that are always so necessary in analyses, but to the Zapatistas it looks like there's a professional army murdering a defenseless population.”

Faced with “the Israeli government’s heavily trained and armed” military’s “march of death and destruction,” Marcos asked those gathered at the Festival of Dignified Rage, “Who from below and to the left can remain silent?”

As fellow insurgents and communities in resistance, the EZLN criticized the demonization of Palestinians and their struggle:

The Palestinian people will also resist and survive and continue struggling and will continue to have sympathy from below for their cause.

And perhaps a boy or girl from Gaza will survive, too. Perhaps they'll grow, and with them, their nerve, indignation, and rage. Perhaps they'll become soldiers or militiamen for one of the groups that struggle in Palestine. Perhaps they'll find themselves in combat with Israel. Perhaps they'll do it firing a gun. Perhaps sacrificing themselves with a belt of dynamite around their waists.

And then, from up there above, they will write about the Palestinians' violent nature and they'll make declarations condemning that violence and they'll get back to discussing if it's zionism or anti-semitism.

And no one will ask who planted that which is being harvested.

The Other Campaign Manifests its “Dignified Rage Against This Genocidal Attack”

The EZLN’s call for solidarity with Palestine was precluded by a statement issued by the Zapatista-initiated Other Campaign condemning “biggest Israeli air attack in the past 40 years.” Writing from the Festival of Dignified Rage in Mexico City (the Festival took place in two locations in Mexico), participants there wrote, “This crime represents a dangerous increase in the permanent holocaust that is committed against the Palestinian people with United States financing and the world's enabling, hypocritical, and disgraceful silence.”

The statement continues:

As always, Israel presents itself as the victim that demands the right of self-defense against terrorism, and the corporate media promotes the lie that the slaughter was in response to the Hamas party's launching of Qassam missiles. In reality these missiles are symbolic and almost never cause Israeli victims. In fact, during the recent truce from June 19 to December 19, the Palestinians in Gaza didn't kill a single Israeli civilian, while Israel killed 49 Palestinians. The argument of self-defense against terrorism is also used to justify the merciless blockade which began in January 2006 immediately after Hamas won the legislative elections.

Their goal? Punish the Palestinians in Gaza for having elected a government that is unacceptable for Israel. Thanks to this effort to starve to death Gaza inhabitants, the hospitals don't have the necessary medicine, medical supplies, electricity, potable water, or food to care for the wounded.

The Other Campaign adherents criticize the global community’s response—or lack thereof: “While the world leaders criticize Hamas' provocations, they limit themselves to criticizing Israel's ‘disproportional use of force.’”

The Festival participants “call upon the international community to resist the military offensive and exercise continual pressure on the Israeli government in order to stop the crimes against the Palestinian people.”

Solidarity in Oaxaca

When federal police invaded Oaxaca City on November 25, 2006, Mexicans compared Oaxacans’ plight to that of Palestinians: their land was under siege and later occupied by invading government forces; the invaders wanted to force an undemocratic system of governance on them (that is, the status quo); human rights had been thrown out the window long ago; and the people’s resistance wouldn’t “be drowned, not even in a pool of blood.”

Two years later, those same Oaxacans are standing with their Palestinian compañeros. Nancy Davies wrote in Narco News that various collectives and organizations that are members of the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca (APPO)—the coalition that drove out the corrupt state government and held Oaxaca City and many other cities and villages around the state for six months in 2006—organized a protest at the US Consulate in Oaxaca City on January 3. Police doused the protestors with tear gas. The protest, which demanded an “end to the genocide against the Palestinian people,” resulted in 19 arrests, including David Venegas, who is an APPO advisor and one of its more famous political prisoners. His legal case related to the 2006 uprising is still pending; he is out on bail for those charges.

Section 22, the democratic teachers union whose strike sparked the uprising, negotiated the prisoners’ release. Upon release, those arrested complained that they were beaten while in custody and that police had stolen their belongings.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

EZLN Criticizes the Drug War

During the Festival of Dignified Rage in Chiapas, Subcomandante Marcos breaks the EZLN's silence on the drug war

On the first day of the Zapatista National Liberation Army's participation in the Festival of Dignified Rage, its spokesperson Subcomandante Marcos discussed the drug violence that has increasingly plagued Mexico. Marcos' speech marks the first time the EZLN has addressed the drug war in any sort of depth.

Marcos couldn't avoid addressing drug violence in his discussion of violence against social movements. He says Mexican President Felipe Calderon and the corporate media "use and abuse the word 'violence'" for their own means. "They say they condemn violence, but in reality they condemn action." Marcos accuses Calderon of using the drug war to pacify discontent with his government. "Mr. Calderon decided that, instead of bread and circuses, he would give the people blood."

Referencing the lack of confidence in Calderon's government, which is ridden with corruption scandals and has failed to meet its own economic benchmarks, Marcos continued, "The professional politicians are the circus and bread is very expensive.... Perhaps...[Calderon's] goal is to distract people. The public is so busy with the drug war's bloody failure, it could be that it doesn't even notice Calderon's failure in political economy."

In his speech to Festival participants, Marcos verbalized what many Mexicans have long suspected: "Everyone who isn't in his Cabinet knows that he's losing this war, and that the death of his significant other was an assassination, which is also well-known but not ever published." The "significant other" Marcos refers to is Juan Camilo Mouriño, Calderon's long-time friend and Minister of the Interior until he was killed in a plane crash along with other officials. The Mexican government, which received assistance from US experts during the investigation, has ruled the crash an accident due to pilot error, but many Mexicans believe a drug cartel took down the plane. José Vasconcelos, Mexico's former top drug prosecutor, was also killed in the crash.

Marcos also verbalized the common suspicion that Calderon is using the military he's deployed around the country to support his preferred cartel while squashing the competition. Without mentioning specific cartels (Marcos always kept his drug violence criticism aimed squarely at the government), Marcos said, "Calderon decided, supported by one group of drug traffickers, to wage war on the opposing group of drug traffickers. Violating the Constitution, he deployed the military to carry out the duties of the police, the district attorney, the judge, the jailer, and executer."

Having accused the government of being on the side of at least one of the drug trafficking cartels, Marcos went one step further: "It becomes more and more clear that it's organized crime that directs the state's forces."

Marcos then went on to criticize the savage violence that Mexico is experiencing, which has taken the lives of pregnant women and children. Marcos compared this violence to other wars around the globe: "With Calderon at the front, the Mexican government goes a step beyond the US and Israeli governments: the Mexican government kills [civilians] beginning from when they're in their mothers' wombs."

Civilians Caught Up in Drug War

Tlaxcala is the only state without victims of organized crime

by Esther Sanchez, El Universal

In 2008, the war between the drug trafficking cartels left a record-breaking 5,630 people executed in the country. According to El Universal's count, in the past four years 12,061 people have died from organized crime; 46.5% of these murders occurred within the past year.

The daily average of victims in 2008 was 15, and the most violent day was November 3, when 58 homicides with the narcos' mark were reported. Of the fifteen, 19 were in Sinaloa and 12 in Durango.

In 2005 1,537 murders were recorded, 2,221 the following year, and 2,673 in 2007.

The federal government's operations have not inhibited the criminals, who shot up public security buildings and ambushed police with high-powered firearms and fragmentation grenades. Moreover, on multiple occasions they hung banners with with stories of intimidation and denunciations against government agents with links to drug trafficking.

That said, of 2008's victims, at least 429 were government officials or agents.

In this context, on May 27 in Culiacan, Sinaloa, hitmen from the Sinaloa cartel had a confrontation with federal agents where the hitmen threw grenades that killed seven agents. In September, another seven were ambushed and assasinated in Tancitaro, Michoacan.

Soldiers were also targeted; 20 were kidnapped and decapitated: 11 in Nuevo Leon, 8 in Guerrero, and one in Salina Cruz, Oaxaca.

2,006 cases in Chihuahua

This year, only Tlaxcala avoided the bloodshed, and Chihuahua heads the number of drug murders with 2,006, 1,633 of which occurred in Ciuada Juarez.

In Chihuahua, the drug traffickers are in dispute over the cocaine routes to the United States. According to experts, the battle is between the Juarez and Gulf cartels.

Chihuahua is followed by Sinaloa with 950 executions, Baja California with 689, Durango with 273, and Guerrero with 241.

Mass Executions

2008 was also characterized by mass executions. One of the most significant cases occurred on September 12, when the bodies of 24 executed men were found in the vicinity of La Marquesa, State of Mexico. All of them had been shot in the head with .38 caliber, 9 mm, and .45 caliber weapons.

On August 28, a dozen decapitated bodies with signs of torture were recovered from two Yucatan municipalities.

Moreover, the war between narcos has infringed upon civilians' daily lives.

The most striking episode occurred on September 15 in Morelia, Michoacan, when two fragmentation grenades were detonated amidst a crowd that was celebrating Independence Day in the town square. The attack left eight dead and over 100 wounded.

Translated from Spanish by Kristin Bricker.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Festival of Dignified Rage Condemns Israeli Attack on Gaza

Español sigue abajo.

From the Festival of Dignified Rage, the organizations, collectives, and individual participants strongly condemn the horrendous massacre perpetrated by the Israeli military against the civilian population of the Gaza Strip on December 27th of this year, resulting in hundreds of injured and dead people, the majority civilians. This crime represents a dangerous increase in the permanent holocaust that is committed against the Palestinian people with United States financing and the world's enabling, hypocritical, and disgraceful silence.

The biggest Israeli air attack in the past 40 years, carried out with F-16 planes and Apache helicopters supplied by the United States, was announced beforehand by the Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs Tzipi Livni, who stated on December 9 that the Israeli army should carry out a large-scale military offensive in Gaza in retaliation for that which she described as "the violation of the truce."

The operation against Hamas "is just beginning," said Avi Benayahu, one of the Israeli military's spokespersons, while Israel's Minister of Defense, Ehud Barak, declared that the attacks would continue for "as long as necessary," and alluded to an imminent land invasion carried out by the military.

As always, Israel presents itself as the victim that demands the right of self-defense against terrorism, and the corporate media promotes the lie that the slaughter was in response to the Hamas party's launching of Qassam missiles. In reality these missiles are symbolic and almost never cause Israeli victims. In fact, during the recent truce from June 19 to December 19, the Palestinians in Gaza didn't kill a single Israeli civilian, while Israel killed 49 Palestinians. The argument of self-defense against terrorism is also used to justify the merciless blockade which began in January 2006 immediately after Hamas won the legislative elections.

Their goal? Punish the Palestinians in Gaza for having elected a government that is unacceptable for Israel. Thanks to this effort to starve to death Gaza inhabitants, the hospitals don't have the necessary medicine, medical supplies, electricity, potable water, or food to care for the wounded. While the world leaders criticize Hamas' provocations, they limit themselves to criticizing Israel's "disproportional use of force." However, the ferocity of this latest slaughter has provoked the rage of hundreds of thousands of people who are holding marches and rallies in many parts of the world.

Due to all of the above, we manifest our dignified rage against this genocidal attack against Gaza and we call upon the international community to resist the military offensive and exercise continual pressure on the Israeli government in order to stop the crimes against the Palestinian people.


Translation from Spanish by Kristin Bricker.

Festival de la Digna Rabia Condena el Ataque Israeli Contra Gaza

Desde el Festival de la Digna Rabia, las organizaciones, colectivos e individuos participantes condenamos enérgicamente la horrenda masacre perpetrada por el ejército israelí contra la población civil de la Franja de Gaza el 27 de diciembre de este año, resultando en cientos de personas muertas y heridas, la mayoría civiles. Este crimen representa un aumento peligroso del holocausto permanente que se comete contra el pueblo palestino con el financiamiento de Estados Unidos y el silencio cómplice, hipócrita e indigno del mundo

El mayor ataque aéreo israelí de los últimos 40 años, llevado a cabo con aviones F-16 y helicópteros Apache suministrados por Estados Unidos, fue anunciado de antemano por la ministra israelí de Asuntos Exteriores Tzipi Livni, quien afirmó el 9 de diciembre que el ejército israelí debería llevar a cabo una ofensiva militar a gran escala en Gaza como represalia por lo que ella describió como ?la violación de la tregua?.

La operación contra Hamas ?está tan sólo empezando?, dijo Avi Benayahu, uno de los portavoces del ejército israelí, mientras el ministro de Defensa de Israel, Ehud Barak, declaró que los ataques proseguirán mientras ?sea necesario? y aludió a una invasión terrestre inminente por parte del ejército.

Como siempre, Israel se presenta como la víctima que reclama el derecho a la auto-defensa contra el terrorismo, y los medios de comunicación principales promueven la mentira de que la matanza era en respuesta al lanzamiento por parte del partido Hamas de proyectiles caseros tipo Qassam. En realidad estos proyectiles son más bien simbólicos y casi nunca causan víctimas entre los israelíes. De hecho, durante el periodo de la reciente tregua desde el 19 de junio al 19 de diciembre, los palestinos de Gaza no mataron a un solo civil israelí mientras Israel mató a 49 palestinos.El argumento de la auto-defensa contra el terrorismo también se usa para justificar el despiadado bloqueo iniciado en enero de 2006
inmediatamente después de que Hamas ganara las elecciones legislativas.

¿Su propósito? Castigar a los palestinos de Gaza por haber elegido un gobierno inaceptable para Israel. Gracias a este esfuerzo para matar de hambre a los habitantes de Gaza, no hay medicamentos, ni insumos en los hospitales, ni energía eléctrica, agua potable o alimentos necesarios para atender a los heridos. Mientras los líderes mundiales critican a las provocaciones de Hamas, se limitan a criticar el ?uso desproporcionado de la fuerza? de Israel. Sin embargo, la ferocidad de esta última matanza ha provocadola ira de cientos de miles de personas que están celebrando marchas y mítines en muchas partes del mundo.

Por todo lo anterior, nosotras y nosotros manifestamos nuestra digna rabia contra este ataque genocida contra Gaza y llamamos a la comunidad internacional a resistir la ofensiva militar y ejercer presión sostenida contra el gobierno israelí para detener los crímenes contra el pueblo palestino.