Witness for Peace
Calls for Help for Indigenous People
January 1, 1970
Witness for Peace Needs Activists
>>>Mexico Team <email@example.com> 10/06/06 6:47 PM >>>
Act Now to Stop Violence against the People of Oaxaca, Mexico! Contact the U.S. Department of State to Dissuade the Mexican Government from Repressive Action
We, on the Witness for Peace Mexico Team, based in the city of Oaxaca, are writing to ask for your help in what has become a grave situation with potential for repression and violence at any time. According to the Mexico daily La Jornada, nearly 20,000 members of the Mexican armed forces have assembled on the Oaxaca coast in preparation to apply the law, at the order of Mexico President Vicente Fox, if protesters and
organizers in the city of Oaxaca do not reach an agreement with the government and back down from their control of street barricades, radio stations, and government buildings. (see background below)
In response to the imminent threat of police and/or military repression in the state of Oaxaca, please act now!
Send an e-mail to U.S. Ambassador to Mexico, Antonio Garza, at EmbajadorGarza@state.gov, imploring the U.S. government to pressure the Mexican Federal Government to find a nonviolent solution to the conflict in Oaxaca. While President Fox has claimed that his government will not use force, the military build-up around Oaxaca is extremely worrisome.
Call Roberta Jacobson, the Director of the Office of Mexican Affairs at the U.S. Department of State with the same message. Her phone number is:
(202) 647-9894. Let us know if you are interested/able to participate in a possible emergency delegation to Oaxaca! This urgent situation may require us to send a delegation to witness the impact of U.S. economic policies that have led to this situation and to stand with those seeking justice. Please contact Betsy Lamb at the at the Witness for Peace
Washington, DC office either by telephone (202-547- 6112) or by e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you would be interested in such an emergency delegation. Background:
The People s Popular Assembly of Oaxaca (APPO) and Section-22 of the state-wide teachers union, together constituting a group in the tens-of-thousands, non-violently seized control of the city in June, at which time they also made their uncompromising demand that the state governor,
Ulises Ruíz Ortiz, accused of repression and irresponsible management of public funds, resign from office. The teachers initiated the resistance after June 14, when Oaxaca state police tear-gassed and arrested members of their annual protest, which included ongoing demands for increased education funding, better salaries, and more services for poor students.
Oaxaca, Mexico s second poorest state, has high rates of migration 150,000 Oaxacans move to northern Mexico and the U.S. every year looking for work and a growing gap between the rich elite and the poor majority: currently 76% of Oaxacans live in poverty and 72% earn less than $6.40 per day. Free trade agreements such as NAFTA, promoted by the U.S. government, are said to decrease poverty and instability, yet most people are more impoverished now than ever. Social pressure has peaked, especially as the needs of an agriculturally based population, which lost many subsidies and the ability to compete under neoliberal structural adjustment and NAFTA, continue to be ignored by political leaders who are aligned with the interests of large international corporations. Implementation of this form of U.S.-backed economic violence has led to the emergence of the popular movement and the resulting situation of impending military and state- sponsored repression. As U.S. citizens, we are responsible not only to pressure the U.S. government to change these disastrous trade policies but also to realize our government s responsibility for the instability that these policies create and to do what we can to stop any resulting bloodshed.
According to La Jornada, the troop build-up along with the arrival of thousands of state police officers outside the city of Oaxaca is the largest since the violent response of the Mexican Federal Government to the 1994 Zapatista uprising in Chiapas.
Negotiations between the federal government and the APPO and the teachers have come to a virtual standstill. While the federal government has promised a peaceful resolution, the threatening presence of thousands of military troops surrounding the city and flyovers by military helicopters sends a very different, and foreboding, message to the citizens of Oaxaca. It is very worrisome that there are no signs of renewed dialogue capable of addressing the APPO s demands, especially since the Fox Administration has promised that the conflict will be resolved, before president-elect Felipe Calderón takes office on December 1. In the meantime, the APPO has declared a state of maximum alert.
Please be attentive to e-mail updates from the Mexico Team as the Oaxaca conflict enters its next stage. We will also post frequent updates on the Witness for Peace website (www.witnessforpeace.org).
Thank you very much for taking action in these troubled times!
The Witness for Peace Mexico Team
Todd Miller, Lauren Dasse, Alexis Ball, and Robert Saper
Witness for Peace | 3628 12th St NE, 1st Floor | Washington | DC |