Target: Lic. Gabino Cué Monteagudo, Governor of Oaxaca
Goal: Demand protection for community members threatened by municipal authorities, and demand investigations into instances of violence
For years, the residents of Democratic Civic Union of Neighborhoods and Communities Neighborhood (UCIDEBAAC) have struggled with municipal authorities over commercial development of community lands. A recent rash of violence and intimidation has left community members and activists with few people to turn to. Sign the petition and urge the governor of Oaxaca to take action and protect the residents of UCIDEBAAC.
UCIDEBAAC exists on land the Catholic Church set aside for the poor in 1970. According to Amnesty International, the community’s residents are mostly of mestizo or Afro-Mexican heritage. Like many other marginalized communities in Mexico, UCIDEBAAC has founded its own neighborhood police force “[i]n the context of high criminal violence in several regions of the country and widespread distrust of police and other security forces,” Amnesty reports. In many places, the community forces operate with the knowledge and blessing of state authorities. However, the leaders of many community police forces were recently detained as part of “military and police operations” and charged with crimes such as kidnapping and illegal use of arms. Many feel that the detentions are “in reprisal for [the activists’] legitimate efforts to improve the security of their communities and are politically motivated.”
UCIDEBAAC residents have recently experienced violence specific to their own community as well. One activist, Eva Lucero Rivero Ortiz, was shot at but unharmed, while residents Francisco Javier Gasga Flores and Wilebaldo Tejada Flores were attacked by an unidentified shooter. Francisco Javier Gasga Flores, who was a member of the community police force, was killed in the attack. Most recently, Tobías Alonso Sánchez and Yosiveth Nava Herreira were threatened by men who told them to tell community leaders that “they are going to be done in one of these days” and that “they had better leave for their own good.” Not long after, Sánchez and Herreira reported seeing the men speaking with members of the Municipal Police, leading them to fear that the authorities may have had a hand in the threat.
No community should be terrorized by the institutions put in place to protect it. Sign the petition and urge Oaxaca’s governor to protect the citizens of UCIDEBAAC and investigate all threats and instances of violence against the community.
I am writing to express my deep concern over the current state of affairs in the Democratic Civic Union of Neighborhoods and Communities Neighborhood (UCIDEBAAC), located in Oaxaca state. I worry for the safety of both activists and community members there and urge you to offer them every protection the state has available. I also demand an investigation into instances of violence and intimidation, possibly linked to the municipal government, that community residents have suffered over the past several years.
For years, the residents of UCIDEBAAC have clashed with municipal authorities over the commercial development of community lands, and violence in UCIDEBAAC has reached a fever pitch recently: activist Eva Lucero Rivero Ortiz was shot at (though she escaped unharmed). Francisco Javier Gasga Flores was fatally shot, and his cousin, Wilebaldo Tejada Flores, was injured in the same attack. Most recently, Tobías Alonso Sánchez and Yosiveth Nava Herreira received threats from men who told them to tell community leaders that “they had better leave for their own good.” Sánchez and Herreira then witnessed the men talking with members of the Municipal Police, leading them to believe that the men were working in collusion with municipal authorities. They have not filed any criminal complaint about the incident for fear of reprisals from police.
When a government makes its citizens feel threatened rather than secure, it has ceased to do its job. I urge you to intervene. Offer the residents and activists of UCIDEBAAC every protection the state of Oaxaca can provide, and launch immediate and impartial investigations into the violence that has plagued UCIDEBAAC for far too long.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: katesheets via Flickr