Many followers of recent Mexican news have followed closely the high levels of tension developed in the southwestern state of Oaxaca, where a protest movement APPO has demanded the removal of the Governor due to government repression of what began as a fairly common teachers' strike and barricade.

Below I have translated in its entirety an account from the liberal-left daily newspaper La Jornada which follows the account of the murder of a local barricade supporter by two apparently off-duty (and possibly drunken) soldiers, apparently because they didn't want their way blocked by a manned barricade, so they shot him twice in the head from both sides.

And then the victim, bleeding from the head, was taken to a nearby hospital where he was apparently left completely unattended for nine-hours, without even anesthetic.

The article is based on extensive interviews and eye-witness accounts, and the narrative tells you a lot about how tense this situation is.

Soldiers in Civilian Clothing Shoot APPO Members, One Dead
Victim of 2 Shots in the Head, Without Medical Attention for 9 Hours
Associates of the Victim Identify Presumed Assassins after Finding One of Their Wallets

by Enrique Mendez & Octavio Velez

OAXACA CITY, OAXACA, MEXICO, 14 October -- In the early hours before the Senate decides if they will dissolve the government, soldiers in civilian clothing this morning fired on members of a barricade;  they wounded with two shots to the head Alejandro García Hernández, who died at 2:29pm in the specialty hospital of the nearby municipality of San Bartolo Coyotepec, where he was attended nine hours after his admission to the emergency room.

The assassination of García Hernández embodies the tension that this state capital is living.  At 10:40pm his body was returned to friends and members of the social movement (APPO), who took the coffins with his remains to the zocalo [central plaza], on Flores Magon Street, where at 11pm they began a eulogy in an improvised chapel under the archways of the old governor's palace, where some 2,000 people shouted, "Alejandro didn't die, [Governor] Ulises killed him."

That night, the doctors who performed the autopsy reported that he received two gunshots, one in the front and one in the back of the neck.  However, they added, they were only able to find fragments of one projectile [bullet], and they informed the friends and relatives that the Public Ministry would investigate what happened to the other bullet.

As if that weren't enough, the bereaved denounced that the medical law council will be charging them 1,500 pesos [about $138.00] to prepare the body.


The movement led by the Popular Assemble of the Peoples of Oaxaca (APPO) demanded the Secretary of National Defense (SEDENA) to explain the participation of soldiers dressed in civilian clothing in the attack, over all because after the shooting the neighbors found a wallet with documents, among others, of the Army Bank, in the name of Johnathan Ríos Vázquez, a 22 year old soldier belonging to the 8th Military Region, based in Ixcotel, and whom the barricade members identified as one of the aggressors.

In the wallet was a voters' card which identified him as a resident of the Rufino Tamayo neighborhood, of the municipality colocated with Xoxocotlán, and a credit stub from the National Army, Air Force, and Navy Bank, from October 12 -- this past Thursday -- for a loan of 2,300 pesos [$211] which was authorized as "Normal PQ Troop Credit," which would be due in May of 2007.

Similarly, in one of the [wallet's] compartments were two photos, with his name, along with that of another man of approximately 50 years age, with a military uniform and cap with a lieutenant's rank... The second military man also opened fire against the encampers.

At night, in a brief communique, the State Prosecutor's Office reported that the ministerial police presented the soldier before the Public Ministry to make a statement, but they did not clarify the site of his detention, the time, nor the ministerial agency in which this happened, although there are reports that he was detained in the Etla prison.

The Office added in their communique that the statement occured "due to the fact that at the location was found documentation of his name."

The aggression took place at 2:45am this past Saturday, after which -- according to different persons -- the soldiers had left the cantina El Encanto, a mere 50 meters from the barricade, and arrived in a red dual-cab pickup and plate #'s 47072 at the corner of Mazatlán and Símbolos Patrios, in the neighborhood border between Aleman, Reforma Agraria, and the municipal agency of Cinco Señores.

At this point they got out of the vehicle to remove the old tires used as part of the barricade, but, in the face of the denunciation of the neighbors, and after threatening with a pistol in the head of an adolescent, they got back in the truck.  Another youth, upon seeing the gun, jumped behind a sofa used as a piece of the street barricade.

A few seconds later, Alejandro García Hernández, signmaker and soccer play for the club Coleman of the Veterans League, had removed partially objects on the asphalt to permit the passage of an ambulance which, in the barricade of Camino Nacional y Periferico, had attended a minor hit by a red Volkswagen that jumped the barrier behind a Honda.

The minor was struck at 2 in the morning by the sedan's driver (with plates TJL 1703 from Oaxaca) and was identified as Jesús Felipe Acevedo Cuéllar, and who was found in an apparently drunken state.

The members of the barricade threw rocks at the vehicle and broke the windows, until Acevedo stopped.

Minutes later an ambulance arrived and delivered firest aid to Alfredo García who was taken to the specialty hospital.

The driver Acevedo Cuéllar was delivered to the Commission of Order and Security of APPO, whose members carried him to the zocalo, where he was beaten before being delivered to the Specialized Investigator for Magisterial Affairs.

The signmaker Alejandro García had arrived at Símbolos Patrios together with his wife, Carmen Marín García, and his son Johnatan Halil, to offer, like every night, coffee for the barricade encampers, and before returning to his house he was detained so that the barrier could be partially removed.

Then, in front of the address 741 Símbolos Patrios, the soldiers detained the truck, began to shoot, and -- according to Johnatan Halil -- shouted "¡Arriba Ulises!" [For Governor Ulises!].

The minor was found near his father at the moment of the gunshots.  He said, "My father was walking towards the rear to avoid the bullets.  Only the last one was shot into his head."

The shots reached the front gate, some 15 meters distant:  in the wall of a house located at 509 Símbolos Patrios, corner of Puerto la Paz, was found 5 bullet marks.  In the location people found various shell casings of 22 caliber.

"My father was bleeding from his head.  I hugged him and they kept shooting, now against me.  A compañero covered me to protect me.  For this they shot him in the arm," that wounded him, added the minor.

Due to this, Joaquín Benítez also received a gunshot wound.  And, paradoxically, the ambulance that carried Alfredo Garcia, the car-struck minor, and for which García Hernández gave passage, now would transport him and another gunshot injured person to the specialty hospital.

García Hernández's wife and their two children arrived at the recovery ward at 10:30 in the morning, where since the early morning not one specialist had attended him.

The nurses admitted that they had not transferred him to the general hospital in the capital city, because the neurosurgeon was "on vacation."

Neither had they anaesthetized him, and the family begged an associate to intervene.  At 11 in the morning they began to prep for surgery, which was led by Dr. Julia Payán;  that is, nine hours without specialized attention.

The slowness with which was taken the case of García Hernández infuriated actress Ana Colchero [also a noted liberal-left activist], who had arrived at 8 in the morning in the airport to participate in the National Forum of Observation and Solidarity with the People of Oaxaca.

In the entrance to the emergency room she said:  "The soldiers shot him, but you are letting him die."

At 11 in the morning, Carmen Marín (his wife) left the emergency room after receiving a preliminary medical report.  She crossed and uncrossed her fingers.  "They told me that if he lives he will remain in a vegetative state.  His brain doesn't function."

With this pronouncement, despite the surgery, Alejandro García Hernández was declared death at 2:29pm, and the the announcement provoked that cries of his wife and his two children, who had remained in the hallway of the emergency room.

The APPO requested that the body of García Hernández be observed in the city's zocalo, which was agreed to by his wife.

In a press conference, the movement's spokesperson Florentino López Martínez, demanded that the Secretary of National Defense and the Federal government explain the participation of the soldiers in the murder, and blamed the hospital personnel for the deficient attention to García Hernández.

At noon, neighbors from the Reforma neighborhood carried out a march from La Experimental, where is located the State Prosecutor's Office, to the zocalo, where the aggression was denounced and later they informed of the events in the observational forum, where they presented blown-up color reproductions of the photos found in Ríos Vázquez's wallet and the paystub from the Army Bank.

"Our compañero," said one of the locals, "was vilely massacred by the assassin's bullets sent by this 'ex' Governor Ulises Ruiz Ortiz."

At the same forum, on the other hand, Humberto Brizuela, from the Party of Democratic Independent Workers considered it unlikely that the Senate would adhere to the demands of the Oaxacans or that the "PRI-PAN alliance would hear the cries to dissolve the government and for Ulises Ruiz to leave."

And he asserted that the Oaxacan social movement "unites us in a national way to block the arrival of [incoming conservative President] Felipe Calderón" to the Presidencey and that they plant their protest this coming December 1st.

Originally posted to el cid on Sun Oct 15, 2006 at 09:23 AM PDT.

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