Less than a month after the deaths of two activists in the ambush of a humanitarian caravan headed to San Juan Copala, an armed group assassinated the indigenous leader Timoteo Alejandro Ramirez, a member of the Movimiento de Unificación y Lucha Triqui-Independiente (MULT-I) and a founder of the autonomous community now under siege. The armed group entered the home of Ramirez in the community of Yosoyuxi, which has been giving shelter to those who fled San Juan Copala. The shooters also murdered Ramirez’ wife.
Less than a month after the deaths of two activists in the ambush of a humanitarian caravan headed to San Juan Copala, an armed group assassinated the indigenous leader Timoteo Alejandro Ramirez, a member of the Movimiento de Unificación y Lucha Triqui-Independiente (MULT-I) and a founder of the autonomous community now under siege. The armed group entered the home of Ramirez in the community of Yosoyuxi, which has been giving shelter to those who fled San Juan Copala. The shooters also murdered Ramirez’ wife. At the same hour another armed group fired weapons in the surroundings of the autonomous municipality of San Juan Copala as a warning to the townspeople.
The spokesperson and human rights representative of San Juan Copala, Jorge Albino Ortiz said that the murderers, according to neighbors in Yosoyuxi, arrived between 2:00 and 2:30 in the afternoon in a three ton truck to supposedly offer the sale of beer, soda and maize. The pushed their way into Ramirez’ dwelling and began to shoot.
After killing Ramirez and his wife they escaped on the truck and left Yosoyuxi. The group was composed of mestizos dressed in civilian clothing and wearing white Texas-style hats; they appeared to be from the neighboring town of Putla Villa de Guerrero.
The spokesperson held responsible the Movimiento de Unificación y Lucha Triqui (MULT) because, he said, “all the assassins of Putla are linked with this organization and also with Unididad de Bienestar Social de Region Triqui (Ubisort). It was the MULT; it (the assassination) was paid for by the MULT. ”
Albino Ortiz described Ramirez as a natural leader of the Triqui people and the “political brain” of the Autonomous Municipality of San Juan Copala. A “natural leader” is someone whom the community selects as a leader, through usos y costumbres
It seems, Ortiz added, we’re talking about a concerted action to maintain panic among the defenders of the autonomous municipality. This latest aggression will not stop the next peace and aid caravan scheduled for June 8, Albino Ortiz declared.
At the same time, the Secretary General of Government Evencio Nicolas Martinez Ramirez said that the murder of the director of MULT-I and his wife was not officially confirmed but that he would give instructions to the attorney general for Justice and to the commission of Public Security, to investigate The attorney for the Triqui region seated in Huajuapan de Leon, Wilfrido Almaraz, said he had received the order to send officials and medical experts to Yosoyuxi.
News appeared in the press with denunciations of events by the United Nations human rights committees among others, causing Ulises Ruiz, who had made no statement, to initiate procedures three days after the event.
On the evening of Friday, May 21, the Oaxaca group known as VOCAL sponsored a fiesta celebrating the lives of the slain caravaners, Bety Cariño and Jyri Jaakkola. The fiesta included music from the 2006 movement with APPO songs, and the production of the traditional sand tapete, with Bety’s image on the left side and Jyri’s on the other. The altar, as these memorials are called, was surrounded by flowers and candles.
Amid the reading of letters and poems celebrating the lives of the dead, VOCAL activist David Venegas, one of the riders on the caravan, presented his memorial speech. In it, he said:
We are now living in a state of exception, a fascist war. Never before has a group of foreigners been deliberately shot at in Mexico. Some people, Venegas continued, thought the sounds of bullets were rain. But it was bullets, a rain of bullets, it keeps on raining bullets, it’s war. It is a war for the entire nation… We are prisoners of war, and now we respond with a declaration of war, with words and music but also with barbed wire in the streets. The events of April 26 represent the ultimate we can tolerate. Those who want to vote will do so [referring to the upcoming July 4 election]. They are killing us, if they made clear their goals so do we, it’s the only thing we can do. They want the moment when nothing remains…We are not discouraged. We are a brave people. The entire country of Mexico wants what we want.
Venegas called for a demonstration on May 27 at 4:00 PM; a group will march from Siete Regiones Fountain to the zócalo.
The Oaxaca government assures the public that an investigation will go forward and that crimes in the Triqui region including the murders of the MULTI leader Timoteo Alejandro Ramírez, 46 years old, and and his wife Tleriberta Castro Aguilar, aged 36, will be punished. Four spent shells of a 9 millimeter were picked up at the home of the leader as well as two pieces of the projectiles and a machete were retrieved as evidence.
No crime by paramilitaries has ever been punished, or even prosecuted, in Oaxaca, including the murders of 26 during the social movement of 2006, along with hundreds of imprisoned, tortured and disappeared.