On Tuesday, April 27th a peace caravan of 25 human rights observers, reporters and teachers was ambushed by an armed group of paramilitaries in the state of Oaxaca, Mexico. We agree with Latin America Working Group (LAWG) that violent attacks on aboriginal rights are an essential part of modern "resource wars".
"They started to spray us with fire," said one of the survivors (see video). "When we tried to back up, they shot out the tires. We threw ourselves on the floor. The vehicle was shaking from the bullets."
29 Apr CSN reported that 40 people were in the caravan to the Triqui Indian mountain town of San Juan Copala. At least three other foreign accompaniers, and an unknown number of Mexicans, are missing, presumed dead.
28 Apr Boston.com said that San Juan Copala was surrounded and cut off by paramilitaries. The Caravan was meant to be a peaceful way to break the blockade.
30 Apr Amy Goodman interview traced the violence to paramilitaries (set up by PRI governor Ulises Ruiz). Of the two shot in the head, Finnish human rights activist Jyri Jaakkola had come to Oaxaca to do environmental workshops; Betty Cariño was the director of CACTUS, an organization for indigenous rights.
30 Apr Christian Peacemaker Teams said the caravan was carrying food, water, and other basic necessities. San Juan Copala declared itself an autonomous community in January 2007 in a nonviolent effort to create a space for political participation.
Similar peace-town declarations have been made in Colombia. There too, paramilitaries have attacked with impunity. In both countries, the US War on Drugs/Terror has been a pipeline for military aid to paramilitaries.
4 May CDHAL reports that death squad threats continue in Chiapas.
Socialist Project tells the story of the "Oaxaca Commune" aka APPO, and violent attacks by PRI on it since 2006. The source of the conflict is not explained but is likely encroachment by mines, paper co's, ranchers and agribusiness connected to the corrupt government, on traditional native lands. Among US resource companies in Oaxaca are Arco Resources, Rio Tinto/Kennecott, Boise Cascade and others (for a full list see below).
The conflict stems from the NAFTA "road to resources" Plan Puebla-Panama, whose corridors go through Oaxaca -- part of the Security and Prosperity Partnership plans that include tarsands pipelines, rail, bridge and truck corridors from Canada and Latin America to serve US imperial interests and corporate profits.
PPP map from Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM): note the corridors running though Chiapas and Oaxaca. Click on image to see details.
1 Apr Mamaradio/Z magazine says a US military-funded mapping project is direct aid to corporate interests and Mexican opponents of indigenes. "Mapping and property rights are necessary tools to advance U.S. security strategies, such as Plan Colombia."
1 Feb interview with one of the murdered human rights accompaniers
video of repression in Oaxaca 2006
Global Exchange analysis of Plan Puebla Panama
Nadir.org and Project Censored documents on environmental impacts and earlier murders
Oaxaca Mining Wiki lists the US, Canadian and multinational companies that are profiting from death and repression
LAWGEF`s Just the Facts
CDHAL en français
LAWG is affiliated with FCNL