<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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Opening Statement, April 18, 2000
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Another Member of APPO Arrested in the Continuing Struggle for Justice

“The Government Fabricates a Crime and Then Sells the Prisoner his Freedom,” Says the Bishop of Oaxaca About Actions of Government

By Nancy Davies
Commentary from Oaxaca

April 16, 2007

Another APPO member was grabbed on Saturday, April 14. He was with three friends, one of whom was also captured. The two others escaped by jumping into a car.

D.R. 2007 Nancy Davies
On Sunday April 15 I scouted around for info about David Venegas Reyes’ arrest, and was told that he was grabbed while crossing Llano Park by the private police agents who are normally used to guard money transport, banks, and such. The Policia Auxiliar, Bancaria, Industrial and Comercial (Pabic) are not government employees, but private operatives, I would guess without any official standing when it comes to making judicial arrests. In Oaxaca so many different police corps exist that keeping track is not easy, but the heavy duty ones are federal, less heavy the state, below that the city, and below that lurk the private police. And then the private thugs follow along. The official government police appear in plain clothes for dirty work, or in heavy riot gear, or official uniforms with the Mexican insignia on the shoulder. Amazing variety, and as far as I can ascertain, all vicious until one gets down to the tourist cops, who are mostly cute young women giving directions to the museums.

The Pabic claimed that Venegas and his friends were shouting insults, obscenities and taunts at the occupants of a patrol car at the corner of Juarez and Hidalgo, a corner which in fact does not exist. The insults are highly unlikely because Venegas is not a kid. He’s an APPO council member and a member of the group VOCAL, whose political orientation is more or less anarchist-pacifist. He is a council member because of being chosen by his neighborhood barricade where he functioned as coordinator for the west sector. In other words, Venegas is not a lightweight and not likely to be out clowning around. Most APPO people are very cautious in public, for good reasons. Repression is no joke.

The lawyer for the Mexican League for Human Rights (Limeddh) reported that Venegas was beaten and abused for several hours but it is not clear in whose hands he was at that time. He had probably already been turned over to the ministerial police, who charged him with carrying 30 grams of cocaine and two bags of heroin, a federal offense. Then I was told by his friends, and I’ve yet to verify, that the charge was reduced to some smaller quantity, a “possession” crime on the state level. His friends doubt he would be carrying any drugs at all, especially since he knew a warrant for his arrest as an APPO activist had been issued. So they just got him.

D.R. 2007 Nancy Davies
On Sunday Venegas was located in Ixcotel prison, which is “good” news in that he was out of the hands of the police who were beating him in order to elicit info about the APPO, once again unverified info from his companions and comrades on the street. But since he was located, reports of his abuse were verified by the Limeddh human rights lawyer who attends to hundreds of these cases.

The APPO, along with VOCAL, hastily put together an event for Sunday afternoon at 4:00 in Llano Park to demand the release of prisoners, including Venegas. A few hundred people attended it. The basic purpose was a fundraiser for Venegas’ bail, and once again the APPO was asking for a kilometer of pesos, which means that people line up their peso bills on the sidewalk. As a person put down his/her money, the crowd applauds. The organizers also sold food and sodas, cakes, t-shirts, videos, photographs, etcetera. The good news here is that bail had been set, indicating that criminal charges were diminishing, one supposes for lack of evidence. The bad news is that the real intent is to force the APPO to spend time, money and energy on rescuing people – to take all the APPO’s energy and resources. As the bishop of Oaxaca was quoted on the Monday morning show Contacto Directo of Radio Hit 1200 AM, “the government fabricates a crime and then sells the prisoner his freedom.”

After a couple of hours of rally (music, slogans, food) the protest march set out with a hundred or so people carrying a LIBERTAD banner to Santa Maria Ixcotel prison, where they shouted slogans so the prisoners, who climbed the interior cell walls to look out, could hear. Reported in Las Noticias, a spokesperson for the APPO, Cástulo Lopez Pacheco, said that the arrest of the university student Venegas shows clearly that the government intends to strike at the popular movement before it again begins mobilizations and before state elections for deputies to the House. “But,” Lopez said, “they won’t achieve that because in spite of the imprisonment of many companions, the people have decided to continue in the struggle.”

While I was chatting with David Venegas’ friends I took advantage of the moment to ask about the split we’ve heard of within the APPO. I had been concerned that the internal argument might be over tactics – violence or no violence. Armed revolution. That stuff. But no, the APPO holds true to its original non-violent guidelines. The issues focus around the upcoming elections, to go political or not. The “punishment” vote is at the top of the agenda, to destroy the PRI and PAN. “We’re going to give another lesson to the party of the tyrant (the governor Ulises Ruiz) and his supporters,” Lopez was quoted as saying.

D.R. 2007 Nancy Davies
The APPO voted in its last general assembly that to run for office, a person first must leave the Council. For supporting external candidates, there seems to be some trepidation regarding infiltration of PRI disguised as PRD. However, the PRIistas are discovered pretty quickly and the internal APPO split comes down to who’s selling out for “power,” that is, connections to power, and those who are remaining true to the APPO’s original intentions.

One informant from CIPO-RFM told me he feared that the APPO would disappear under all the pressure, fade away after, or even before, the election. In my opinion that does not reckon sufficiently with civil society, which is churning along every day with new complaints, forums, meetings and calls for struggle. The newspaper Las Noticias (which hates the governor) every single day says something negative about his government, pointing out complaints relentlessly, ranging from massive financial and political fraud to the installation of parking meters without consultation. Since Noticias is out to get Ulises Ruiz, at a certain point I read the endless list of faults and failures with a giggle. Nevertheless, those privately owned parking meters are indeed a disgrace, along with the gigantic flag cemented into Fortin Hill, broken streets, contaminated water, schools in sheds, etcetera.

Go, Noticias! Some outrage to appeal to everybody is how I see their strategy. Complaints against the governor to cut across all financial and social classes. An easy enough task.

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