San Blas: A Model for Undoing the Authoritarian Political Model in Oaxaca, Mexico, and the World
A Communiqué of Autonomy in Action
By Popular Autonomous Town Council
And the Civil Resistance of San Blas Atempa, Oaxaca
February 6, 2006
To the general public
To the “Delegation Zero”
To Subcomandante Marcos
To the different social groups
To the Isthmus Region
To the people of San Blas Atempa, Oaxaca
Today is an historic day in the political life of the town of San Blas Atempa. Our town began with its founding in the year 1530. In the beginning it was simply a neighborhood of Tehuantepec, but it received town status in 1869. San Blas Atempa means “on the river’s edge.”
In 1847 the neighborhood of San Blas Atempa rose up in arms supporting the “religion and rights” plan, and obtained its municipal title by decree on October 19, 1868.
It is located in the southeast of the state, in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec region. The total area of the municipality is 148 km2. The population is 17,000, and the dominant ethnicity is Zapotec. The municipality has five regions: Santa Rosa de Lima, Tierra Blanca, Monte Grande, Rancho Llano and Puente Madera.
San Blas is considered an indigenous community, and lags behind in education with a high level of illiteracy, though it conserves its customs and native traditions. There are no sources of stable work. The people farm and raise cattle, selling their products to neighboring towns. They also fish and hunt for their own consumption. Economic shortfalls are a major factor.
In terms of political life, the town was initially governed through local customs, where the main “shuanas” (local leaders) and the majority of the citizens would elect their representatives peacefully and respectfully. For approximately 30 years the town has been ruled by political parties, and during that time there have been violent and bloody acts on several occasions, as well as repression, threats, disappearances and assassinations. For many years Augustina Acevedo Gutiérrez, alias “La Guada Tina,” imposed her rule with an authoritarian, selfish, and gangster-like attitude, with the state government’s support. Her political power disturbed the social peace in San Blas Atempa when she imposed her own candidate, C. Eliseo Reyes Vásquez, as mayor on January 1, 2005. After having committed electoral fraud and disrespected the will of the people, her mocking and triumphant display provoked a confrontation between her gunmen, armed to the teeth, and the majority of the citizens, who were unarmed and peacefully demonstrating their displeasure in on the esplanade of the municipal palace.
This violent act caused bullet wounds to the following comrades: Alfredo Jiménez Henestroza, Roberto Ortiz Acevedo, Jorge Reyes Ramírez and Feliciano Jiménez López. Another man, José Luis Sánchez Gómez, was arrested and taken directly to the Tehuantepec prison. The other gravely wounded comrades were taken to the Salina Cruz hospital and later taken to the hospital in the state capital for medical treatment. As soon as they were checked into the hospital they were deprived of their liberty and taken to the Tehuantepec prison, charged with kidnapping, arson, robbery, violence and injury to Agustina Acevedo Gutiérrez and others, damage to the constitutional municipality of San Blas Atempa, and other charges. Arrest warrants were issued for several other people.
We know that these charges were fabricated by Augustina Acevedo Gutiérrez, who along and the PRI group that helped her – the real criminals – enjoys her liberty and impunity, a privilege the government gives to those who toe its political line and to its friends while the injured innocents serve an unjust punishment in the Tehuantepec prison. The only one responsible for the violent act is Augustina Acevedo Gutiérrez, now a local representative for the Sixth District, and State Governor Ulises Ruíz Ortiz, for protecting the political boss known as “Guada Tina.” Now that she has generated votes for her party, she takes advantage of state and federal funds to enrich herself and her party, and to remain in power.
After the mega-fraud in the state of Oaxaca overseen by former governor José Murat Casab in the elections of 2004, with the complicity of state and federal election authorities, the current state and municipal politicians came into power. In the case of San Blas Atempa, two municipal governments now exist. The first represents the will of the people of San Blas, and consists of a popular, autonomous town council. The second is the repressive and authoritarian regime of Governor Ulises Ruíz Ortiz and his legislator Autustina Acevedo Gutiérrez, who imposed and maintain C. Eliseo Reyes Vásquez as Guada Tina’s puppet.
We have asked for intervention from the state government many times to reach a solution to this conflict. We have attended many meetings. We have knocked an many doors, but no one pays attention to us. We have had no answer. That is why we demand an immediate solution to this conflict, one that is reasonable and sensible, peaceful and respectful, following the principals of Don Benito Juárez García, hero of the Américas, for the positive development of our community, for the greatness of our state and of our country, for the good of all and of our children. In the words of Zapata, we demand land and freedom for the communards of the town of San Blas Atempa, as there is also a local agrarian conflict at this time. This was also caused by Augustina “Guada Tina” Acevedo Gutiérrez with the complicity of agrarian solicitor Octavio Rojas Vásquez. These people, none of them communards, worked to win rural elections and impose their own representatives for communal lands in San Blas Atempa, in order to get rid of the people and sell the land of our ancestors and our children’s inheritance.
We know that any post-electoral conflict has an economic undercurrent that favors the local town caciques (political bosses) and the state government, who do not care who they trample on as they struggle for power.
Our proposals are well known by the government of Ulises Ruíz Ortíz. In case he does not remember, we repeat them here agai:
I. Liberation of political prisoners.
- Alfredo Jiménez Henestroza.
- Roberto Ortiz Acevedo.
- Jorge Reyes Martínez.
- Feliciano Jiménez López.
- José Luis Sánchez Gómez.
II. Cancellation of all arrest warrants.
III. Respect for the will of the people of San Blas Atempa, and the disappearance of state powers.
IV. Legal processes (desafuero) against Augustina Acevedo Gutiérrez, who has damaged so the social fabric of San Blas Atempa.
V. Annul the rural communal lands elections and elect representatives democratically, according to agrarian laws.
For the defense of the interests of the people of San Blas, Atempa, Oaxaca.
Viva San Blas Atempa!
– The Popular Autonomous Town Council and the civil resistance of San Blas Atempa, Oaxaca
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