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23.01.2012

PBI Mexico: Member of COPUVO killed in San José del Progreso, Oaxaca

Oaxaca, Oax:- Peace Brigades International expresses its concern following the reported murder of a member of the Coordinadora de Pueblos Unidos del Valle de Ocotlán (COPUVO - Coordination of United Communities of the Valley of Ocotlán), following an attack in San José del Progreso, Oaxaca on January 18, 2012. It is reported that Bernardo Méndez Vázquez died in the speciality hospital of Oaxaca on the night of Thursday, January 19th as a result of wounds sustained by a projectile from a fire-arm the previous day during a confrontation with supporters of the town's mayor.

The attack supposedly took place when Mr. Méndez Vázquez, along with other members of COPUVO, manifested their opposition to the mayor and the mining company Cuzcatlán when the public water supply was cut in relation to mining work being done. The group of protesters reportedly confronted those who were carrying out the work and requested to see their permits, however, the workers responded aggressively, claiming to have permission from the municipal president, which provoked an exchange of insults between the two groups. According to the COPUVO, during the confrontation, the mayor of San José del Progreso ordered the municipal police to fire on the group of protestor, resulting in the shootings in which Mr Méndez Vazquez and Abigail Vázquez, also a member of COPUVO, were injured.

Mr Méndez Vázquez's death represents the third killing resulting from the conflict between supporters and opponents of the gold and silver mine in San José del Progreso, operated by the Cuzcatlán mining company, a subsidiary of the Canadian company, Fortuna Silver. In June 2010, the then municipal president and councilman for health were killed during a confrontation with opponents of the mine in the community. The same day, a group of supporters of the mine kidnapped and brutally beat human rights defender Father Martín Octavio García as he travelled to the community to celebrate mass, accusing him of being responsible for the deaths. After being rescued by the police, Father Martín, who is a member of the consultive council of the Centro Regional de Derechos Humanos “Bartolomé Carrasco Briseño” (Barca-DH - “Bartolomé Carrasco Briseño” Regional Human Rights Centre) was placed under preventive detention in hospital, accused of the killings. On 30 June, he was released due to the lack of evidence against him. Father Martín has been accompanied by Peace Brigades International since December 2010.

 

Further Information

Muere Víctima de Balacera en San José del Progreso – Noticias Voz e Imagen de Oaxaca (in Spanish)

Señalan a edil de San José "El Progreso" (sic) de ser responsable de altercado - E-consulta (in Spanish)

PBI Accompaniment to the "Bartolomé Carrasco Briseño" Regional Human Rights Centre

PBI Bulletin: Undermining the Land. The Defense of Community Rights and the Environment in Mexico

 

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"...I, too would like to pay tribute to the work of Peace Brigades International and to the bravery of the volunteers. Through their work, they are able to provide the sort of protection in Choco, Urabá and elsewhere that the armed forces cannot provide."
Tony Lloyd (Ex-Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, British Government

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