End US financing of the war in Mexico: Military murders 12 year old Hidilberto Reyes Print

This Sunday, 12-year old Hidilberto Reyes García was murdered when the Mexican military opened fire on children and civilians in the Indigenous community of Santa Maria Ostula. 6-year old Yeimi Nataly Pineda Reyes and several others were seriously injured by the military's attack.  General Felipe Gurrola Martinez, the head of security in Michoacan who was trained by the US as the School of Infantry at Ft. Benning and the Naval Postgraduate School in California, assured the press that the military shot into the air. That defies reality given that a 6 year old girl, 12 year old boy, a 60 year old man, and other community members were hit directly by the soldiers' bullets.

Click here to call on Congress to end US financing the murderous Mexican security forces.

The murder of 12-year old Hidilberto is just the latest in a long line of the murders and attacks by the US-financed and trained Mexican security forces. And it is part of a strategy of attacking and criminalizing Community Police forces, who threaten the powers that be because they actually protect their communities from organized crime and drug trafficking. The military's attack in Santa Maria Ostula occurred as the community was protesting the military's detention of the leader of their Community Police force, Semeí Verdía Zepeda, with no warrant or explanation of where they were taking him. Semei and the Community Police had taken on organized crime and drug traffickers, including the Knights Templar.  Community leaders report the military yelled out, "Long Live the Knights Templar" as they opened fire on innocent children and community members.

On our SOAW delegation to Mexico earlier this month, we heard again and again that the real war being waged with Plan Merida is not a war against drugs but a war against the Mexican people, especially those who are organized to protect their communities from drug traffickers, organized crime, and powerful businesses.

Another example of this is the imprisonment of Nestora Salgado, who, like Semei, is the leader of an Indigenous Community Police force imprisoned for taking on organized crime. Our delegation traveled to a women's prison to visit Nestora, a US citizen who returned to her hometown of Olinala, Guerrero, Mexico, and was elected head of the local Community Police force.  Indigenous community police are legally recognized in Guerrero and use traditional methods of community justice.  After seeing the government police give their uniforms to criminals so they could walk out of jail, the community police of Olinala took on organized crime. They refused to stop even when offered money. Truly protecting their communities and not being afraid to take on powerful criminals who act in collusion with the government is what has landed Nestora and 12 other members of the Community Police in Guerrero in jail.

Click here to ask the US Embassy to speak out for freedom for Nestora and other community police who are political prisoners.

The entanglement of organized crime/drug traffickers with almost every level of government is what enables these organized illicit business empires to thrive and grow.  Drugs are just one business they profit from; others include organ trafficking, mining, arms trafficking, and more. The collusion works both ways – government officials can be bribed to enable illicit networks to carry out their business, but organized crime also benefits the government, the US-imposed neoliberal agenda, and 'legal' multinational corporations in their plunder of Mexico. We heard multiple times that when communities opposed a mining company that would contaminate their water and land and refused to give up, then the area was conveniently taken over by drug traffickers. Since “drug traffickers” can murder with impunity and without anybody asking questions, this is a much more effective way to silence communities than sending in the military. People are either silenced or forced to flee the “drug” violence and then suddenly the mining project can open and operate without community resistance – as long, of course, as it pays a percentage to the cartels.

Convenient. Especially when you consider the wealth of natural resources corporations want to take advantage of in Mexico that Indigenous and other communities protect with their lives. And the money to be made from ultra-neoliberal reforms, such as educational reforms that teachers and students are protesting against.

When we traveled to the Ayotzinapa Teachers Training school in Guerrero, we learned that the disappearance of the 43 students was not the first time the government has attacked the students at the school. In December of 2011, two students – Jorge Alexis Herrera Pino and Gabriel de Jesús Echeverría – were murdered by security forces as they protested for sufficient funding for the school. The students had long engaged in a dialogue with the government asking for enough funding to cover basic operating costs to no end and so had taken to the streets to protest, when the Governor ordered the security forces “to clear the streets,” which they did by opening fire. Alexis and Gabriel are memorialized on murals throughout the school, where we heard from some of the parents of the 43 disappeared students. They told us how the Mexican government has refused to open the nearby military battalions to search for the missing students and will not investigate the military. Indeed, even the Inter-American Commision on Human Rights' Group of Independent Experts has not been allowed to interview the military about the 43 students' disappearances. The IACHR has been asking for 4 months and been answered with only excuses and delays, despite having a memorandum of understanding with the Mexican government to investigate the disappearance of the 43 students. What is the government hiding? Why won't the military be investigated?

We also learned that Guerrero is home to many natural resources, including gold, silver, and iron of interest to mining companies, ample water resources, and a port that is useful for the drug trade.  Lots of opportunities for earning money if only the organized society that protects its resources and communities would get out of the way.  As one researcher told us, the purpose of the “drug war” is to create violence, confusion, and disorder so as to destroy the social fabric and organized people that stand in the way of profits for multinational business – whether legal or illegal, whether drugs, gold mining, organs, silver, guns, or other profit-making enterprise.

Our delegation left Mexico determined to do our part to hold the US accountable for the millions about millions being funneled to the Mexican Narco-State to wage a war against its own people.  If you are interested in getting more involved, whether by traveling to Chiapas to serve as a human rights observer, mobilizing for the November Vigil, or planning an action against Plan Merida, contact Brigitte @ soaw.org. And last but not least, don't forget to click here to demand an end to US security aid to Mexico!

Interested in joining SOAW on an upcoming delegation to Chile in October 2015?   Contact Brigitte @ soaw.org.