The European Parliament and San Juan Copala

Marco Appel
Proceso, November 14, 2010
(English) from OSAG

Brussels, Belgium:

“We’re here to talk about the situation in the state of Oaxaca, Mexico where indigenous people, defenders of human rights and humanitarian volunteers are being murdered.” Euro-Deputy Heidi Hautala was speaking before a public hearing of the Sub-Committee on Human Rights of the European Parliament on November 8, 2010 regarding the murders of Jyri Jakkola and Beatriz Cariño on April 27, 2010 in San Juan Copala, Oaxaca.

The audience was interested. Euro-deputies, parliamentary advisors and representatives of international human rights organizations wanted to learn about the violence in Mexico increasingly featured in European newspapers.

Heidi Hautala, President of the sub-committee, reported, “Mexican authorities continue to work on this case only because of international pressure” adding that “organized crime especially along Mexico’s northern border is threatening that nation’s security. . . Although these dynamics affect all Mexicans it’s the indigenous population that suffers most. Unfortunately, the political will and resources necessary to reduce these problems are lacking.”

Eve Leena, the mother of Jyri Jaakkola also addressed the hearing. “Our son worked for peace. He went to Mexico to learn about the indigenous people and to build relationships. We’re concerned about the lack of progress in the investigation of his murder. We appreciated the work of the Attorney General when we were in Mexico during August but neither we nor Finland’s ambassador have heard from him since.”

Adding that more progress might be made when Governor Ulises Ruiz is replaced on December 1, 2010, she stressed that her son was murdered in a country with important commercial agreements with Europe. “We therefore expect European leaders to press Mexican officials to conclude the investigation of his death in a timely manner. If Mexico values its commercial relations with Europe, officials of that country must value European citizens as well.”

The Jaakkola family’s lawyer, the Mexican David Peña, made a distinction between crimes resulting from the war on drugs in Mexico and crimes more directly related to political struggles as in the murders of Jyri Jaakkola of Finland and Beatriz Cariño of Oaxaca. Peña condemned the fact that seven months after his death, the assassin of Jyri Jaakkola remains unidentified. “70% of the progress in this case resulted from help coming from survivors of the attack in which Jyri was killed, the families of the victims and their legal representatives. We’re disturbed that the Mexican government says it needs witnesses to step forward but does nothing to insure the safety of witnesses who may want to testify.”

The Mexican government sent Alejandro Negrin, the person responsible for human rights issues in the Department of Exterior Relations, to the hearing. Negrin assured the gathering of Mexico’s commitment to the international human rights agenda but said the conflicts in San Juan Copala resulted from intra-community conflicts and not from governmental activity or lack of interest.

Satu Hassi, Finland’s representative to the EuroCongress, visited Oaxaca last August and challenged Negrin. “It’s important to understand that what we’re talking about here is not a conflict within an indigenous group. The facts in the case argue that violence in the region has been orchestrated by external powers. UBISORT, a Triqui organization, has received military training and arms that could only come from outside that part of the state. We also note that after the murder of Jyri Jaakkola and Bety Cariño had been broadcast in all the news, it took the police operating under Governor Ulises Ruiz’ command more than a full day to reach the scene of the crime. When police were questioned about their late arrival to the area when everyone knew the murders had occurred the previous day, the police responded simply, `Nobody called us’. To Europeans the notion that police only respond to public executions when someone calls them is extremely strange.

At a later point in the meeting, the lawyer David Peña called on Negrin to commit himself and the Mexican government to three actions: 1)protect witnesses and survivors in the case, 2)investigate the relationship between the attack of April 27,2010, Ubisort and Ulises Ruiz and 3)permit Peña himself to work directly with the Attorney General’s staff on the case.

Negrin said he was not able to speak for the Attorney General but would communicate Peña’s request to the appropriate authorities.

Blog of Zapatista Support Group Wellington, Aotearoa/New Zealand


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