<i>"The Name of Our Country is América" - Simon Bolivar</i> The Narco News Bulletin<br><small>Reporting on the War on Drugs and Democracy from Latin America
 English | Español August 15, 2018 | Issue #45

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Fifty Uniformed Police Block Zócalo Access for Eight Men, Seven Women and Two Children

Oaxaca Government Reaction to Small Protest Demanding Release of Prisoners Arrested in 1996 Reveals Ruiz' Worry of APPO

By Nancy Davies
Commentary from Oaxaca

April 7, 2007

Good Friday, April 6, 2007: “The APPO really has scared the shit out of the governor,” remarked the man standing next to me as we watched the belly-to-belly stand-off with the small Loxicha group who carried a banner demanding freedom for the prisoners of San Agustín Loxicha.

During the 2006-2007 arrests and struggle of the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca (APPO, in its Spanish initials) the Loxicha prisoners have largely fallen from public view, their cause overshadowed by the newer repression, arrests and disappearances. However, murders in the Loxicha area in the mountains south of the capital city have been commonplace, according to the vice-president of the Organization of Indigenous Zapotec People (OPIZ, in its Spanish initials), Juan Sosa Maldonado.

D.R. 2007 Earl Fish
OPIZ has affiliated with the APPO, which espouses its cause. Sosa asserts that since 2003 twenty-five “illegal executions” have been carried out against organizers in Loxicha communities.

On Good Friday in the bright sun of the midday zócalo, surrounded by onlookers, Sosa and about thirteen adult indigenous Loxicha people were holding a large banner and confronted the police, who blocked the small contingent’s access to the public square. The face-to-face line was soon surrounded by a crowd of perhaps 250 Oaxaqueños, who stood on the sideline or sat on the cement walls of the zócalo. Tourists, most of them Mexican nationals visiting for Holy Week, occupied all the café tables. The police were extremely cautious and courteous, especially to the few foreign Germans and Americans present, directing us how to walk safely around the stand-off. Also present were the inevitable cameras and cell-phones.

After an hour Manuel de Esesarte Pesqueira, the interim PRI municipal president of Oaxaca City, showed up. Esesarte is a tall man, quite European in appearance, and hence very visible. He spoke to the protesters and to the government force, which by that time included blue-clad state police, two grey-clad Federal Preventive Police, the regular municipal police, a few PFP in bullet proof vests and helmets, two plain-clothes men in leather jackets, one man in camouflage carrying a machine gun, and one Napoleonic figure in knee high boots, khaki britches and fully formal military jacket.

Esestarte, who was appointed municipal president by Governor Ulises Ruiz when the “elected” president Jesus Ortega Arras asked for leave of absence after two years of invisible “service,” clearly arrived as the man in charge. After some conversation, the troops fell aside and the Loxicha contingent passed into the zócalo. The crowd applauded. The Loxichans carried their banner once around the perimeter of the zócalo, and then were halted a second time, in the same place. Again Esesarte intervened, and again the Loxichans paraded their banner around the zócalo. Then they left. That was it.

Esestarte sat down with a group of people who to my eyes appeared to be European or American tourists. After five minutes of chatting, he also left. Another governmental crisis averted.

D.R. 2007 Earl Fish
Six released prisoners from the town of San Agustín Loxicha walked 180 kilometers from their communities in the Sierra Sur to arrive at the city of Oaxaca on April 4. Along with ten family members of other prisoners, they demanded the release of their twenty-four companions still held.

The almost one hundred Loxicha arrests took place in September of 1996 on charges alleging the men were members of an armed guerrilla group, the EPR (People’s Revolutionary Army). Those charges were never substantiated. Ten men were sentenced to thirteen and a half years. Six men were released the first week in April. Ricardo Martínez Enríquez, Urbano Ruiz Cruz, Estanislao Martínez Santiago and Cirilo Ambrosio Antonio remain in prison without the early release granted the others.

“They were promised freedom, but up to this moment the governor has not fulfilled his promise,” the Loxicha spokesperson said. “Our companions were victims of repression, detained and tortured after a long complex judicial process sentenced them to thirteen and a half years in prison. To date they have served more than ten and a half years, so they should be released from the prison.”

Recently, other prisoners including the former municipal president Agustín Luna Valencia, Fortino Enríquez Hernández, Abraham García Ramírez and Álvaro Sebastían Ramírez, obtained a federal court order ruling against the “aberrant sentences” of more than thirty years. That offers a possibility that the Tenth Circuit Court could award them liberty since they have already served almost eleven years.

Sixty-one indigenous Zapotec prisoners, along with 250 others who were under arrest warrants for their presumed links to the EPR, received amnesty in December of 2000. The families of the Loxicha prisoners camped in the Oaxaca zócalo from 1996 until the then-governor Murat offered them a shelter near the zócalo. The Loxicha women and children, who were sleeping, toileting and bathing in their encampment, left the zócalo before renovations were undertaken by current governor Ulises Ruiz who has sanitized the square, in more than one sense of the word.

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The Narco News Bulletin: Reporting on the Drug War and Democracy from Latin America