A Mixteca Woman Preserving the Lives of First Peoples

in the Autonomous Territory of San Juan Copala, Oaxaca, Mexico

by Vrinda Jamuna Shakti (Estela Pujals)

[Essay first submitted as course requirement in “Indigenous, Chicana, Latina Perspectives and Contributions” with Prof. Sandra Pacheco, Ph.D., Women’s Spirituality Program, CIIS]  March 30, 2012

 Copal is a kind of amber used as incense found in Mesoamerica. This earth-based and resilient resin provides us with an appropriate metaphor to describe the gentle nature of the Copaltecos, as the Triqui first nation people of San Juan Copala, who live besieged by the fires of corporate greed encroaching upon their Autonomous Territory, are known.  But as gentle as the Triqui people have been, there are serious oppressive forces threatening the very life of this people. Activist Bety Cariño gave her life in  the struggle for the autonomy and land sovereignty of San Juan Copala, the government is funding paramilitary forces to massacre and perpetrate ethnic cleansing for the profit of at least one Northern corporation. It is imperative for feminists in the US to recognize the efforts and self-determination of the indigenous Mixteca women. Feminists in the US need to address the ways in which belonging to a consumer society represents colluding with the empire against the Third World.

Even when I write from the standpoint of a panentheist mujerista, I hope to reduce whatever subjective awareness of oppression to ashes at the inexhaustible altar of the grief and suffering of my indigenous sisters and brothers from south of the Border. What importance can any personal grief have when observed from the standpoint or awareness of their sacrifices in daily life? I would also like to apologize in advance for the probably offensive and accusatory statements that I will be directing to the privileged theologists, spiritualists and Christian good people in the U.S.—offensive  to those who assume a defensive position, not to the compassionate ones.

RECONSIDER: This essay is an attempt to make the transformative, inspiring leadership and spiritual drive of Beatriz Alberta Cariño Trujillo, significant as it is in the persistent struggle of the Triqui first people in the Autonomous Territory of San Juan Copala more broadly known among my peers in hopes to invite further analysis about indigenous Mixteca mujeristas. It is not possible to explore the multiple aspects of indivisible systems of community solidarity at more length in this brief essay.  I hope that more human rights activist mujeristas, feminists and indigenous nations defenders make it their mission to lend more support to the struggles for survival of the peace loving Triqui people.

Not covered in this essay are issues of the colonization of other indigenous communities close or far away from the Triqui and Mixteca people of Oaxaca and from other lands within America, the America from Arctic to Antarctic. There is also little time and space for me to mention the many elements of linguistic appropriation by the imperial culture of the US in, for example, the essentialist, expansionist and genocidal misuse of the word “American” in English language—as if the other America, about 35 sovereign states, do not exist. This is only one of the many issues that point out to the height of US government’s imperial arrogance—the US media does not cover the US perpetrated terrorism against the others: the faceless Americans. I would like to encourage more discussions and studies confronting these issues in other essays. However, I hope for the written word to raise its loud and deafening cry at the injustices that corporate and colonial interests keep perpetuating in our own “back yard” or México (not to mention the rest of Central, South America and Puerto Rico).

Early in 2010 I learned about the plight of the people of the autonomous Municipality of San Juan Copala and the valor of Beatriz Alberta (Bety) Cariño Trujillo, who at that time was preparing the Second Humanitarian Caravan. Cariño was the founder and director of CACTUS (Centro de Apoyo Comunitario Trabajando Unidos/Centre for Community Support Working Together), a non-profit organization defending the Triqui farmers displaced by government armed and funded paramilitary groups (UBISORT-PRI, MULT, MULT-I). Cariño also organized women’s collectives in northern Oaxaca and was an advocate for the indigenous people´s right to autonomy and their sovereign access to land, food and water. She dedicated her life in defense of the human rights of the Triqui and Mixteca people, and to improve the quality of life and the civic participation of the women in San Juan Copala and other regions. One thing that impressed me the most about the Triqui people was their efforts in adhering to nonviolent ways of conflict resolution. Despite being unarmed, they persisted with dignity to preserve the land of their ancestors, their solidarity and their traditions, even if this meant confronting armed paramilitaries who assassinated their most vocal leaders.

In the year 2005 the Triquis reached a population of 786 inhabitants, and by 2010 their population was reduced to 630 inhabitants, some of whom had been assassinated, while many “disappeared” and others were displaced outside the autonomous territory.

The Triqui people have been subjected to near starvation as well as blockades of food, medicine and medical care. As of today, there have been five massive Caravans of well wishers in solidarity with their struggles, people from surrounding communities who have risked their lives by joining efforts to take foods, medical and hygienic supplies to the People of the Autonomous Municipality of San Juan Copala.  In an article from Waging Nonviolence, an online “People-powered news and analysis” journalist Michael Perillo reports that,  “Ubisort also prevents damaged electricity cables and a busted pipe that delivers the community’s water supply from being repaired, forcing residents to use a contaminated water source. Moreover, sharpshooters who surround the area have kept the community under permanent fear.”[1] Amnesty International also explains why 700 Triqui people are being killed, “San Juan Copala […] declared itself an autonomous municipality in 2007. This means it governs itself through the traditional indigenous practices and does not recognize the authority of existing public officials.”[2] Therefore, while transnational corporations force their access by bribing state authorities in order to “develop” they actually steal, plunder and destroy the people of Copala’s indigenous territory.

The Triqui People of San Juan Copala have asserted that, “Because our communal struggle, through a peaceful organization, seeks to do away with the repression, imposition and cruel treatment to which we were subjected, first by the governments and then by ‘organizations’ which, rooted in lies and corruption, have taken from us our word, our decisions and have taken our right to live as first peoples; we don’t have weapons, we don’t need them: we know that with organization and with the solidarity of the people of Mexico and of the world we will soon attain a life of peace, with justice and dignity.”[3]  This is such a rare demonstration of valor and true heroism. Where in the U.S. do we encounter people facing corruption with this persistent boldness and valor, even at the risk of ethnic cleansing? The Triqui People are an inspiration to the first nations within and outside of the United States. At the present time in the U.S., more and more corporations profit from people’s fears: security-surveillance related businesses, people with anxiety related diagnosis seeking counseling or psychological assistance, culminating in the mass hysteria of a Department of National “Security” in a country where there is no people security. In this climate, it is inspiring to listen to the testimony of Bety Cariño at the Front Line Dublin Platform state, “They are afraid of us because we are not afraid of them.”[4] Cariño was not present at the Mexican Congress in March 2002, as Comandanta Esther, a Zapatista leader from the southern state of Chiapas urged those gathered there, “I want to explain the situation of women as we live in our communities, […],” but, “I am not telling you this so you pity us. Comandanta Esther’s discourse should convince those intellectuals removed from the daily life of indigenous people that culture is not monolithic, not static […] many indigenous women want both to transform and to preserve their culture.”[5] As a mujerista indigenous leader, Cariño was driven to transform and to preserve the culture and the ancestral lands, including the ancestral air, water and fire of her ancestors.

“On 27 April 2010, at approximately 14:40, a humanitarian group made up of 30 human rights defenders as well as international observers were on their way to San Juan Copala to deliver provisions like foods and medicines to indigenous communities who have been under siege by armed groups.”[6] The caravan was ambushed. Paramilitaries linked to the government of Ulises Ruiz Ortiz blocked the road ahead with large boulders, while UBISORT paramilitaries (Union for the Well-Being of the Triqui Region) opened fire on the unarmed members of the caravan. Betty Cariño, founder of Community Support Center Working Together, CAUCUS and Jyri Jaakkola, an international solidarity activist from Finland, were killed, while others were wounded in their attempt to run away from their attackers. The stunning courage of Betty Cariño asserting the human rights of the people of San Juan Copala, challenging the criminal stance of the colonial patriarchal government resulted in her assassination during the paramilitary ambush to the caravan in support of the Triqui people of the Autonomous Territory of San Juan Copalá. Without the collaboration and solidarity of a committed feminist and mujerista activist like Bety Cariño, and he organization CAUCUS, the Triqui of San Juan Copala are now forced into extinction. More recent searches show that CAUCUS, the organization founded by Cariño, is no longer active.

At the First Indigenous Women’s Summit of the Americas decolonizing efforts on the part of indigenous mujeristas was loud and clear. Whereas most Mexicans pay homage and reverence to Catholic authorities, “The indigenous women’s response is a significant expression of a newly gained spirit of autonomy and self-determination. The women’s declaration, in both tone and content, also speaks of the erosion of the [c]hurch’s dominion over indigenous worlds. These poor unschooled women have shown themselves to be braver and less submissive than some feminist negotiators at a recent United Nations meeting with Vatican representatives.”[7]

The Sixth caravan in support of Triqui autonomy, February 4, 2012.

 [On]  (February 5th 2012) the sixth caravan in support of the Triqui autonomy will depart the historic site of San Salvador Atenco, after the 2nd encounter of displaced people at Universidad de Chapingo. However, as a result of the strike in such an important venue for students and workers struggles, the event was transferred to San Salvador Atenco where the community is also faced with threats of being displaced in favor of capitalist megaprojects, like the attempt to build an airport in their territory, and now they confront the prospect of yet another project.[8]  [Original text in Spanish, translated by Vrinda Pujals]

Other issues—A Climate of Impunity and Resistance[9]

Is the NAFTA superhighway yet in place? Is the evidence of the North American Union, an economic construct which supersedes the notion of national borders in favor of profit or the so called “Economy” (the economy that profits a few is no economy to the People, the native or oppressed people) a covert way of imposing the free-for-all of an economy without borders for corporate/banking/political powers? Can an “Economy” designed by bankers married to political power co-exist with the intended concepts of democracy in the U.S.? The same borders that are blurred into nonexistence by the North American Union agreements in place between US, Canadian, and Mexican governments, conveniently exist in monolithic “Immigration Laws” to punish and to profit from the poor people who cross them. The US Immigration and Customs  Enforcement, ICE, and the Department of Homeland Security, insecurity to most of the planet, are arms designed as a profiting machinery oppressing destitute, so called “immigrants,” who have to abide by the “laws and borders” imposed by an oppressive nepotism  posing as democracy.  Why is it so difficult to demonstrate to the People of the US that the borders meant to separate Mexico, Canada and US in order to criminalize migrant workers are the same borders blurred to non-existence by the opportunistic NAFTA , North American Free Trade Agreement? Learning and teaching in the US would be easier were the people of this country not mesmerized and brainwashed by the Media and alienating forms of entertainment.

The deplorable crimes against humanity perpetrated against the people of the Autonomous Municipality of San Juan Copala have attracted the attention and solidarity of the governments of Norway, Finland and France. Maureen Meyer,[10] Chief Coordinator of Programs for Mexico and Central America at the Washington Office on Latin America, WOLE, redacted a letter to Gabino Cué Monteagudo, Governor of Oaxaca, requesting that his administration protect the Triqui people of the Autonomous Territory of San Juan Copala, in no uncertain terms. At the end of her letter Maureen Meyer explicitly stated that she expected a response in writing from the governor of Oaxaca.[11]

One may wonder if the very name “Autonomous Municipality” carries within it a kind of contradiction preventing or limiting the possibilities of more widespread international support. It is perhaps easier to conceive of an autonomous “territory” than to conceive of an autonomous municipality. The very term “Municipality” conveys the sense of a hamlet, village, a small community… an area not likely to harness the international support that the Autonomous Territory of San Juan Copala would attract were it a territory and not a “municipality.” According to Mixteca attorney Francisco López Bárcenas[12], Oaxaca contains 16 indigenous nations, and the Triqui People are one among these 16, while the Autonomous Territory of San Juan Copala extends over 517.6 km2.[13]

It is important to understand the displacement of the People in Triqui territory of Oaxaca in the context of the expansion plans and other “needs” of the former Continuum, now Fortuna Silver Mines, Inc., for greater access and free range to develop an airport and all the other infrastructures required for the mining, exploitation and excavations in the Oaxaca region.

On January 23, 2012, in the open source online site Intercontinental Cry, Ahni reported on Zapotec protesters being shot on behalf of “Fortuna Silver Mines.”[14] While some may contend that the Canadian mining interests bring “progress” to the Oaxaca region, I consider this so called progress meaningless to people who are facing extinction, while their ancestral region is enriching the pockets of corrupt officials and foreign investors. For obvious reasons, this is the kind of news that the mainstream media covers only from the perspective of the Canadian mining company, and not from the perspective of first peoples. One Zapotec was killed, and another man is in recovery after police officers and other armed men opened fire on a crowd of protesters in the municipality of San José del Progreso, Ocotlán, Oaxaca, Mexico. Shamelessly, the struggles of the first peoples of San Juan Copala, like those of most other natives are being officially covered under the smoke screen of a “war against organized crime.”[15] But, who are the criminals or the terrorists in this case, the people or the State? If we support t he State, where is our conscience? It should be with the oppressed.

The parallels between the Ley de Seguridad Nacional[16] [the so called “Law of National Security”] in México and the so called National Defense Authorization Act , 2012 NDAA, in the U.S. are too significant to be ignored. In the context of a borderless global economy, journalist Chris Hedges expounds further on the destructive fork tongued political dialogue where there are no borders, and apparently no limits, for the mafia of the so called “economy,” while it secures borders and laws erected to perpetuate crimes against humanity.[17] The very name and functions of the UBISORT paramilitaries (Union for the Well-Being of the Triqui Region) is significant and evocative of the euphemistic distortion of the state government, or the loyalties of the governor of Oaxaca. While the government loyalties are not with the people, the state and national administration sides with the paramilitaries who pose as defending the “well-being of the Triqui Region” while in fact the word “region” in this case means the defense of silver and gold mining interests of the Canadian miner Fortuna Silver. Defending Fortuna Silver’s interests is leading to massacres and the demise of the Mixteca and Triqui population defending their ancestral lands. The Triqui people’s defense of their ancestral lands represent an obstacle to the “well-being” of the Canadian  mining company that has secured legislation in favor of their surface soil and subterranean mining exploration and exploitation. The water used for the mining exploitation, estimated to last twelve years, diverts all underground water to Fortuna Silver, the mining company, and leaves the people in a vast territory and their water supply heavily contaminated with toxic chemicals for an indefinite length of time. For more on the Oaxaca mining project affecting over 34, 000 hectare, see the documentary Minas y Mentiras: La verdad sobre la mina Cuzcatlán en San José del Progreso (1 de 3). [18]

Bringing in the Rational Mind—Showing us spirituality, caring in action

Everyone experiences loss, but how can the personal losses experienced in my life, as a panentheist, ecofeminist woman who is relatively safe in the urban U.S. be of any significance to me while others, who are an extension of who I am, who are my own larger body (Virat),[19] inseparable from this interconnected breathing System-Universe called Earth, confront ethnic cleansing, the genocide of first peoples, bleeding communities displaced from one place to another, and women that lullaby their children to sleep thirsty and hungry night after night without water for basic hygiene nor medicine for their elders? How do I put the luxury of my peaceful life to work for those for whom peace is not a choice? I hear these people’s voices sobbing for their desire to live, even in my dreams.

The work of Bety Cariño was spirituality in action, whether her activism was fueled by a spiritual calling or not. He life was dedicated to protecting the lives and living conditions of those who were less fortunate. The so called First World and its leaders keep expanding the projections for consumerism, militarization, while corporate occupations and governments keep funding paramilitaries to carry out genocidal attacks against indigenous people (ethnic cleansing), while most of the people of the United States live in the midst of an economic collapse. In the midst of the present chaos, “First World” people, have much to learn from people who protect a small autonomous territory and farm their land, hold meetings of elders to keep the social order, support each other by celebrating and consuming the healing plants of the earth, and indigenous women can teach us much about sustainable ways of living, healing and dying in peace.

In what ways is our need for spiritual activism hampered by participating in a society which promotes the social club called churchgoers’ religion? Can one even be a mediocre Christian, Jew or Hindu and still support a status quo and ethnic cleansing so close to us, right in our back yard, in the southern tip of Mexico?

It is in this context that the ongoing repression and displacement of the people of San Juan Copala becomes an affront to the humanity of all freedom loving people. The assassination of first peoples, reasserted on April 27, 2010, with the ambush and shooting of human rights Mixteca activist Bety Cariño and Finnish human rights activist Jyri Jaakkola in La Sabana, a region controlled by the armed group Unión de Bienestar Social de la Región Triqui (UBICORT), a name which roughly and euphemistically translates as, “Social Welfare Union for the Triqui Region.” The Nordic male invaders that swept over egalitarian agricultural matrilineal societies, as detailed in the work of Marija Gimbutas, and the Spanish Conquerors who invaded the peoples of the original nations in the “New World,” are still informing the psycho-pathological attitudes of “divide and conquer” that the Eurocentric ruling patriarchal societies keep perpetuating for centuries and are again enacted in the massacres and murderous attacks, another form of “ethnic cleansing” against the Triqui indigenous people of the Autonomous Territory of San Juan Copala.

Reading Cherrie Moraga, I am made aware of the tremendous need for women activists in the Oaxaca region and elsewhere in Latin America. At a time when Moraga “began to make political the fact of being a Chicana”[20] she recalls her brother mentioning that he never felt “culturally deprived.” Moraga goes on to describe what many so called Latina women can relate to, how males in the household are served, sure with privileges like this there is no reason why males would feel culturally deprived. The one parallel that I find between Bety Cariño and Moraga’s feminism is the way in which each broke away from being the witness to atrocities, and worked for creating their own vision of what a more just world can be. Unlike Moraga, Cariño lives in a heterosexual family environment, but much like Moraga, she had a vision of how women can help each other beyond the socially acceptable normative values of kyriarchal society.

Philosophical ethnocentricity has served to silence the voices and positions of indigenous women. Feminist Sylvia Marcos gives greater emphasis to decolonizing efforts which, according to her, “should be grounded at the epistemological level.” This is precisely the context in which Bety Cariño challenged an establishment that perpetuates the colonization of indigenous people. Through her efforts at CACTUS she and others in the second caravan, challenged the colonizing stance of the government supported guerrillas, and this cost her her life. Like Cariño, many indigenous feminist women impose their efforts in ways that effectively correct what Gayatri Chakravorti Spivak calls “the international feminist tendency to matronize the Southern woman as belonging to gender oppressive second-class cultures.”[21] What is seen as by others as imposing, may be precisely what Marcos and other authors suggest by “decolonizing efforts […] grounded at the epistemological level.”[22] How else can one present a silenced, distorted and rejected indigenous epistemology to those who have imposed their culture and epistemology in your own land other than by being even more imposing, more persistent? The persistence of the Triqui and the Mixteca people is endless.

I hope that my voice contributes with a different flavor to a similar shout exposing the oppression against the Triqui nation. I believe that being a panentheist includes being a mujerista, feminist, womanist, ecofeminist, deep ecologist, and a radical and revolutionary spiritualist in solidarity with Bety Cariño and the indigenous women of San Juan Copala and the Mixteca first people of Oaxaca, Mexico. Even when I write from a different standpoint, I appreciate the academic contributions, the intimate narrative and transparency of standpoint of the self-described “movement writer”[23] and Chicana mujerista Cherrie Moraga.

In her important contribution Mujerista Theology, Ada María Isasi-Díaz describes her need for a systemic analysis, which also lays out the relationships possible between mujeristas and the oppressed, “To join the liberative praxis of the oppressed, and to have personal relationships with them, has enabled me to understand systemic oppression and to go beyond thinking, as my mother does, that persons are oppressed because they do not try hard enough to overcome the limitations of their situations.”[24] The understanding of this systemic oppression requires the in depth analysis of why are people oppressed. How do good people collude with the oppressor? How do good people stop being inactive witnesses supporting the status quo of oppression?

What makes spirituality meaningful? Spirituality for me is inseparable from an urge to experience my phenomenological, individual self rendered small by the limitations imposed by social and mental constructs (born of a conditioned mind), while experiencing I am one with the larger mass of humanity, the Hindu Virat, that inseparable “other” of greater significance than any particular “I or me,” in need of pampering, personal caring and egoic attention. Do I want to go to San Juan Copala and become another victim? No. In A Reader in Latina Feminist Theology, the editors make reference to S. Saldívar-Hull who urges women of color under capitalism to write.[25] It is in the spirit of activism for change, activism for transforming a culture of oppression into an egalitarian culture of coexistence that I write about indigenous women and the indigenous cultures. I write as an act of defiance to the oppressor, I write as an activist and spiritual revolutionary dedicated to stir others to stop crimes against Earth and humanity.

I would like for this essay to grow from a warming to a burning voice of conscience to all good people to join in solidarity with the plight of the first peoples of San Juan Copala confronting an empire of destruction which profits from genocidal wars.


Ahni, Zapotec Protesters Shot on Behalf of Canadian Mining Company.  Intercontinental Cry, http://intercontinentalcry.org/zapotec-protesters-shot-on-behalf-of-canadian-mining-company/

Arrellano Chávez, Daniel (et.al.). Translated by Scott Campbell. The “Low-Intensity War” Against Autonomy.  http://elenemigocomun.net/2010/12/low-intensity-war-against-autonomy-part-one/

Caravan in Support of Triqui Autonomy. https://municipioautonomodesanjuancopala.wordpress.com/2012/02/04/sexta-caravana-de-apoyo-a-la-autonomia-triqui/

Cariño, Bety. Testimony at the Front Line Dublin Platform. http://www.frontlinedefenders.org/files/en/Testimony%20by%20Bety%20Carino.pdf

Cariño, Bety. Centro de Apoyo Comunitario Trabajando Unidos, CAUCTUS, interview.


Climate of Impunity and Resistance.  http://elenemigocomun.net/2011/05/year-after-copala-caravan-ambush/

El Enemigo Común. San Juan Copala: On the second caravan and the autonomous project. http://elenemigocomun.net/2010/05/second-caravan-autonomous-project/

Estados Unidos Mexicanos [Mexican United States]Ley de Seguridad Nacional, http://www.diputados.gob.mx/LeyesBiblio/pdf/LSegNac.pdf

Front Line Defenders. http://www.frontlinedefenders.org/node/2478

Hedges, Chris. Corporations Have No Use for Borders.


List of Assassinated Victims http://municipioautonomodesanjuancopala.wordpress.com/asesinados/

López Bárcenas, Francisco. La Persistente Utopía Triqui: El Municipio Autónomo de San Juan Copala. http://clavero.derechosindigenas.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/municipio-autonomo-de-san-juan-copala.pdf

López Bárcenas, Francisco. San Juan Copala: dominación política y resistencia popular de las rebeliones de Hilarión a la formación del municipio autónomo. http://www.lopezbarcenas.org/doc/san-juan-copala-dominacion-politica-resistencia-popular-rebeliones-hilarion-formacion-municipio-

López Bárcenas, Francisco. Documenta rebeliones indígenas en la Mixteca. http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2007/05/31/index.php?section=cultura&article=a06n1cul  

López Bárcenas, Francisco. http://www.lopezbarcenas.org/

Meyer, Maureen. Senior Associate for Mexico and Central America, Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA)  http://www.wola.org/people/maureen_meyer

Meyer, Maureen. Transcript attached [online scanned letter is legible in Spanish language, but prints blurred]. http://todosconlacaravana.blogspot.com/

Meyer, Maureen. WOLA.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NPejg1eeIQo

Minas y Mentiras—La verdad sobre la mina Cuzcatlán en San José del Progreso, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qk4ZouXcvt0

Municipio Autónomo San Juan Copala, WordPress.com, Sexta Caravana de Apoyo a la Autonomía Triqui [Sixth Caravan in Support of Triqui Autonomy.] https://municipioautonomodesanjuancopala.wordpress.com/2012/02/04/sexta-caravana-de-apoyo-a-la-autonomia-triqui/

Perillo, Michael. Nonviolence takes hold in “Mexico’s Gaza,” http://wagingnonviolence.org/2010/06/nonviolence-takes-hold-in-mexicos-gaza/


The time for the people, quantum leaps! http://tiempodelospueblos.saltoscuanticos.org/

[Addendum I]



Testimony by Bety Cariño to the Front Line Dublin Platform, February 2010






With my voice, I speak for my brothers and sisters of my mixteco people, from rebellious

Oaxaca in this great country called Mexico. And in these lines I cannot speak of myself

without speaking of the others, because I can only exist if they exist. Therefore, we exist

as us.

Brothers and sisters, these women I am; a daughter, a sister, a mother, a comrade, a

teacher, an indigenous woman, a Mixteca, an Oaxaqueña, a Mexican, they represent us

women who go forward leading our peoples against the looting of our mother Earth, for the

benefit of large transnational corporations and financial capital. Today, with our voices, with

our struggles, with our hands, the legitimate wishes for social justice of the Mexican

Revolution are being kept alive; our struggle is the same one the Morelos, the Magón, the

great Zapata and, in today’s Mexico, the EZLN led, a struggle that has cost the lives of

thousands of Mexicans, all of them poor people from the bottom of society who have

fought these fights. The place they have been given in history continues to be one of

exclusion and they have been forgotten. Today we, the young, the indigenous peoples and

the women are at the head of this catastrophe.

Our fields now are the scenes of ruin and disaster, victims of indiscriminate commercial

opening, genetically modified crops, the ambitions of the multinationals; this has

consequently caused the forced migration of millions of our brothers and sisters who, in

the words of my grandfather, “have to leave in order to remain”.

In Mexico the right to autonomy, the right to exist for the indigenous peoples is still being

denied, and today we want to live another history: we are rebelling and we are saying

enough is enough, today and here we want to say that they are afraid of us because we

are not afraid of them, because despite their threats, despite their slander, despite their

harassment we continue to walk towards a sun which we think shines strongly; we think

the time of the peoples is coming closer, the time of unrepressed women, the time of the

people at the bottom.

These days, discontent is present throughout the length and breadth of our national

territory. Because of this the presence and participation of us, the women we defend,

cannot be put off any more in the daily business of human rights; we want to construct a

world with Justice and dignity; without any kind of discrimination; today we are pushing

forward a profound and extensive process of organisation, mobilisation, analysis,

discussion and consensus which is helping us to build up a world in which many worlds

can fit. We are the result of many fights, we carry in our blood the inheritance of our

grandmothers, our roots make demands of us and our daughters are rebelling.”

[phrase turned bold by vrinda ]

[Addendum II]


San Juan Copala: On the second caravan and the autonomous project,

May 20, 2010



Twenty days after the brutal murder of our comrades ALBERTA CARIÑO TRUJILLO AND JYRI JAAKKOLA, along with others wounded by high-caliber weapons in the hands of groups completely identified with the state, there has been no justice. This impunity has favored this paramilitary group which calls itself a “SOCIAL ORGANIZATION” (UBISORT), so that it again commits another attack against the inhabitants of the AUTONOMOUS MUNICIPALITY, obeying the orders issued from the halls of government, kidnapping on May 14 comrade MARGARITA LOPEZ MARTINEZ and SUSANA MARTINEZ, holding them for approximately two hours during which they received all kinds of threats, and on May 15, this same group, commanded by RUFINO and ANASTACIO JUÁREZ HERNANDEZ, kidnapped twelve inhabitants of the AUTONOMOUS MUNICIPALITY of San Juan Copala for an entire night; during which time they were beaten, threatened and stripped of all their belongings, including the food which they had previously bought in Juxtlahuaca, as well as money, most of it which was to pay for the Opportunities program. They are: FELIPA DE JESÚS SUÁREZ, JOAQUINA VELASCO AGUILERA, MARTIMIANA AGUILERA, ISABEL BAUTISTA RAMÍREZ, MARCELINA RAMÍREZ, LORENA MERINO MARTÍNEZ, LETICIA VELASCO AGUILERA (CHILD), ROSARIO VELASCO ALLENDE (CHILD), JOSEFA RAMIREZ BAUTISTA (CHILD), TWO CHILDREN OF FOUR YEARS OF AGE AND A ONE-YEAR-OLD BABY.

AS A RESULT OF ALL THIS WE ANNOUNCE: [Four points of understanding]

[Addendum III]

[transcripción de la carta que Maureen Meyer, Coordinadora Principal de Programas para México y Centroamérica, WOLA, dirigió al Gobernador de Oaxaca, Lic. Gabino Cué Monteagudo, el  10 de junio de 2011.]


[membrete papel de oficio: Washington Office on Latin America]

Lic. Gabino Cué Monteagudo

Gobernador de Oaxaca

Estimado Sr. Gobernador,

Por medio de la presente, la Oficina en Washington para Asuntos Latinoamericanos (WOLA por sus siglas en inglés) le expresa nuestra profunda preocupación por la situación que miembros del Pueblo Indígena Triqui de San Juan Copala están padeciendo en consecuencia del desplazamiento del que fueron objeto en septiembre del año pasado por grupos paramilitares. Como consecuencia de lo ocurrido, 20 personas fueron asesinadas y varios otros s imatizantes del Municipio Autónomo de San Juan Copala fueron heridos.

WOLA ha estado siguiendo los conflictos en San Juan Copala desde los hechos violentos del 27 de abril de 2010 cuando un grupo de aproximadamente 30 observadores de derechos humanos fue emboscado por un grupo armado cuando éste se dirigía a la comunidad, resultando en el asesinato de dos observadores y varios heridos. Hemos tenido la oportunidad de poder discutir con ustedes esta situación en las reuniones que hemos realizado durante sus visitas a Washington, D.C. También hemos mantenido comunicación con miembros del Pueblo Triqui quienes nos brindaron testimonio sobre la riesgosa situación que aún padece la Comunidad Triqui.

Tenemos conocimiento sobre la movilización que tuvo lugar en las semanas pasadas donde Triquis de diferentes comunidades viajaron a la Ciudad de México a pedir apoyo para asegurar su retorno, debido a la poca acción del Estado para garantizar el acceso a su territorio y continuar con su vida en paz en su comunidad como es su legítimo derecho.

En seguimiento a las conversaciones que hemos mantenido con usted sobre esta situación y por la importancia que su gobierno está dando a los conflictos en el estado de Oaxaca, le solicitamos respetuosamente informarnos sobre las acciones de su gobierno respecto a las garantías de protección de este grupo vulnerable y para crear las condiciones de seguridad que permitiría a los desplazados del municipio autónomo poder regresar a San Juan Copala. De la misma manera, solicitamos que su gobernó lleve a cabo una investigación de los hechos de violación a los derechos humanos ocurridos en San Juan Copala y en el territorio del pueblo Triqui para poder llevar a los responsables a la justicia.

Agradezco su atención y respuesta por escrito a la presente petición.


/S/ Maureen Meyer, Coordinadora Principal de Programas para México y Centroamérica


Erendira Cruzvillegas Fuentes, Comisionada para la Atención de los Derechos Humanos del Poder Ejecutivo

 [Addendum IV]

On 18 January, members from the community of San José del Progreso gathered to speak out against a pipeline that the mining company Cuzcatlán wants so it can exploit the community’s water resources. http://intercontinentalcry.org/zapotec-protesters-shot-on-behalf-of-canadian-mining-company/

CONTINUUM RESOURCES has been exploring/excavating underground  in the lands of the Zapoteca population of San José del Progreso in Valle de Ocotlán taking advantage of the concessions/grants/ trade-off awarded to them by the Federal Government.

In 2008, the Canadian company FORTUNA SILVER MINES, INC. bought CONTINUUM´s concessions/grants/ trade-off and commenced dynamite explosions of an access ramp as part of their plans and preparation for the large scale exploitation gold and silver in the Oaxaca territory. Commercial production began Se pt, 1, 2011. The preparation period began in 2010, while the exploitation phase began in 2011, and is projected to last at least another 12 years—to process an estimated 1,5000 daily tons mineral. To achieve their goals, the company will require an enormous amount of water, which, in turn, will expel highly toxic substances into the water supplies of the whole region.

Mexican National Security Law’s is an ominous mirror-image of the US “Homeland Security,” while in the Northern empire inaction and complacency mark the paradox of a powerful nation’s people as if rendered impotent like robots, in contrast to the inspiring activism and righteous outrage, commitment and valor of the Triqui people and the people of Oaxaca.

[1] Michael Perillo, Nonviolence takes hold in “Mexico’s Gaza,” http://wagingnonviolence.org/2010/06/nonviolence-takes-hold-in-mexicos-gaza/

[2] Ibid.

[3] El Enemigo Común, San Juan Copala: On the second caravan and the autonomous project. http://elenemigocomun.net/2010/05/second-caravan-autonomous-project/

[4] Bety Cariño testimony to the Front Line Dublin Platform, http://www.frontlinedefenders.org/files/en/Testimony%20by%20Bety%20Carino.pdf

[5] Sylvia Marcos, Mesoamerican Women’s Indigenous Spirituality, in the Journal of feminist studies in Religion 25.2 (2009), 30.

[6] Front Line Defenders is a legally registered Irish charity, http://www.frontlinedefenders.org/node/2478

[7] Marcos, Mesoamerican Women’s,  34.

[8] Municipio Autónomo San Juan Copala, WordPress.com, Sexta Caravana de Apoyo a la Autonomía Triqui [Sixth Caravan in Support of Triqui Autonomy.] https://municipioautonomodesanjuancopala.wordpress.com/2012/02/04/sexta-caravana-de-apoyo-a-la-autonomia-triqui/

[9] More on the Climate of Impunity and Resistance  http://elenemigocomun.net/2011/05/year-after-copala-caravan-ambush/

[10] Maureen Meyer, Senior Associate for Mexico and Central America, Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA)  http://www.wola.org/people/maureen_meyer

[11] Maureen Meyer, Transcript attached [online scanned letter is legible in Spanish language, but prints blurred]. http://todosconlacaravana.blogspot.com/

[12] Francisco López Bárcenas, La Persistente Utopía Triqui: El Municipio Autónomo de San Juan Copala

[13] Ibid.

[14] Ahni, Zapotec Protesters Shot on Behalf of Canadian Mining Company.  Intercontinental Cry, http://intercontinentalcry.org/zapotec-protesters-shot-on-behalf-of-canadian-mining-company/

[15] Daniel Arrellano Chávez, (et.al.) Translated by Scott Campbell. The “Low-Intensity War” Against Autonomy (Part One) http://elenemigocomun.net/2010/12/low-intensity-war-against-autonomy-part-one/

[16] Estados Unidos Mexicanos [Mexican United States]Ley de Seguridad Nacional, http://www.diputados.gob.mx/LeyesBiblio/pdf/LSegNac.pdf

[18] Minas y Mentiras—La verdad sobre la mina Cuzcatlán en San José del Progreso, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qk4ZouXcvt0

[19] Virat: macrocosm, the physical world. Glossary of Sanskrit terms, http://www.selfdiscoveryportal.com/cmSanskrit.htm

[20] Cherríe Moraga, Loving in the War Years: lo que nunca pasó por sus labios (Boston: South End Press, 1983), 92.

[21] Marcos, Mesoamerican Women’s,  35.

[22] Marcos, Mesoamerican Women’s,  34.

[23] Cherríe Moraga, Loving in the War Years (Boston: South End Press, 1983), p. v.

[24] Letty M. Russell, Inheriting Our Mothers Gardens: Feminist Theology in Third World Perspective, (Louisville: The Westmister Press, 1988) 102.

[25] María Pilar Aquino, et. al., A Reader in Latina Feminist Theology (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2002), 146.