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It has been two and a half years since the ambush against the humanitarian caravan that was heading to the autonomous municipality of San Juan Copala, in Oaxaca, Mexico, when human rights defenders Betty Cariño (of Mexico) and Juri Jaakkola (of Finnish nationality) were murdered.
On October 1st, the families and legal representatives of the victims told the national and international media that the General Attorney’s Office of Oaxaca issued the first arrest warrants against the perpetrators of the assault against the humanitarian caravan on April 27, 2010.
However, neither the number nor the name of the persons identified as responsible for the deaths have been revealed, the lawyers following the case said they will ask for another six months to investigate.
The families were satisfied with the news and are confident that at the end of the investigations, everyone involved in the case will be tried.
The arrest warrants were issued on account of the crime of “first degree murder”, since it was proved that the people planned the attack against the humanitarian caravan that was bringing food and assistance to San Juan Copala, a town whose population is surrounded by police and paramilitary forces.
Beatriz A. Cariño, aka “Bety”, died in the attack. She was the head of the Mexican Network of People Affected by Mining (REMA). Her quote: “they fear us because we do not fear them” became her slogan in human rights struggle after she and Finnish citizen Juri Jaakkola died.
A few weeks after the incidents, a new caravan arrived in San Juan Copala, which became a symbol of the repression against indigenous municipalities in the state of Oaxaca, ruled by Ulises Ruiz, who was also pointed as responsible for planned repression. According to accounts of the incidents collected by Real World Radio, the police and the army covered the area while paramilitary forces were operating, so the death toll could have been much higher. In fact, communicators and other members of the caravan went missing for several days in the area, to save their lives.
But the death of the European activist had serious repercussions in that continent, such as the follow up of the case by some European Members of Parliament.
During the press conference held on October 1st, Omar Esparza, husband of Bety Cariño, said that the investigations still have a long way to go, but it encourages them to seek justice”.
Meanwhile, Eve Jaakkola, Juri’s mother, said in a teleconference from Tampere, Finland, that she remained confident in the Mexican judiciary and said that this could be “the first case of human rights activists murdered that ends with the punishment of the guilty”.
The lawyer of the family of David Peña Rodríguez, a member of the Mexican Alliance for the People’s Self-Determination, said “the international community has to follow up the development of the case at Oaxaca, so I invite the European Union embassy officials to set up an Observation Commission to watch the legal proceedings until the murderers are convicted”.
“No queremos ser mártires, no queremos que hayan más mártires en este país, pero también hay una responsabilidad histórica de hacer valer la palabra y demostrar que tenemos derecho a la construcción de un mundo mejor. Y no podemos huir a esa responsabilidad”, dijo a Radio Mundo Real la dirigente garífuna Miriam Miranda, coordinadora de la Organización Fraternal Negra Hondureña (OFRANEH).
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