Zapatista Assassinated


[translated by irlandesa]


The Network of Community Human Rights Defenders confirmed today that on the night of the 7th José López Santiz, a zapatista support base from the community of 6 de Agosto, “was assassinated by eight gunshots” in front of his two small children, who identified Baltasar Alfonso Utrilla – a trucking businessman – as the murderer.  One of the children, who is barely 11 years old, was the one who let his mother know.

The Network noted that the statements by the child and other witnesses “absolutely disprove the version of accidental death in a hunting trip,” which was being circulated last night by the state Attorney General’s office.

While the official version spoke of “one shot,” the corpse revealed several holes made by a high caliber rifle at close range.  Nor is it true that “the now deceased” was “hunting” with his killers, as legal sources had stated.

In the face of “the clear violation of human rights by officials during the initial criminal investigations,” the Network observed the following irregularities that had been detected, beginning with the narrative of the incidents and the evidence, which “easily” allowed the identification of the killers.

According to his wife, Julia Gómez Encino, José López Santiz left at 7 at night, accompanied by his two sons, 11 and 8, “in order to tend to his milpa, because an animal was eating it.”  Around 10 PM, the señora heard screams from her older son, who “was asking for help, to come and see how they had killed his father.”  In order to prevent the assassins from fleeing, his wife “let the air out of one of the tires of the Toyota van with license plate number CX03420, and, the vehicle then identified by residents of the community, they noted that Baltasar Alonso Utrilla was the owner.”

The child’s statements are “conclusive,” the Network says:  “When he came, I saw a shot being fired at my father.  I saw who it was.  I didn’t know the other one, just the one who shot my papa.”  When asked the name of the attacker, he responded that it was “Don Balta.”  “They had fired at my father twice when I came to let my mama know, because they wanted to shoot us also.”

The child also pointed out that when they found his father’s body, it was not where the incidents had taken place, but hidden in the vegetation.  According to residents of the community, “it was an ambush.”

With the Grave Ready

In its report, the community defenders recorded irregularities committed by Public Security forces, “who took away the corpse without the presence of the Public Ministry or of a forensic physician, taking the corpse to a municipal cemetery without the authorization of the relatives, who were waiting for the relevant investigations.”  According to reports from the Altamirano populace, the police “already had the grave ready for burying the corpse.”

Yesterday morning, residents of the community of 6 de Agosto (one kilometer from the Altamirano-Ocosingo asphalt highway, not far from the municipal seat of Altamirano) “were gathered together at the entrance to the predio, taking out the alleged killer’s van, when a vehicle passed by, which, according to those who were there, attempted to crash into them.”  The indigenous recognized two employees from the Altamirano municipal president’s office inside the vehicle.

Yesterday afternoon, the Network noted, “the same vehicle passed by again, trying to hit them once more.”  When their attempt failed, the attackers escaped, but this time they were pursued by their would-be victims.  “When they had just about caught up with them, Esmir Mora Alarcón and Rodolfo Melchor López entered the Altamirano president’s office, while municipal police blocked the way of the residents who were following them,” the Network noted.  “Suspecting that these persons could be accomplices or covering up for the killer, they were detained by the autonomistas in the Altamirano president’s office, along with the alleged killer’s son-in-law.”  They were then taken to an area near 6 de Agosto.

Tension reigned in Altamirano this morning.  The municipal president’s office was closed, and there was a marked police presence.  Truckers were looking quite nervous.  Various state media today once again attacked “the zapatista violence,” covering José López Santiz’ assassination, and the deluge of irregularities and attacks by the PRI council, with vague and imprecise reports.

The headlines of the Cuarto Poder newspaper today read:  “Zapatista Rage in Altamirano,” and they pointed out that Humberto Castellanos Gómez and Benjamín Montoya Oceguera – the killer’s two companions – “belonged to the PRD municipal board.”  PRD indigenous organizations in the area had distanced themselves from the crime since last night, and said that they respect their “zapatista brothers.”  The official radio today insisted on the fact that “municipal employees” were being held by the autonomistas, while the zapatistas stated that these persons were being held for attempted homicide and probable complicity in the execution of José López Santiz.

The indigenous of the 17 de Noviembre Autonomous Municipality, the Network said, have still not received justice, despite the fact that those responsible for the homicide are “absolutely identifiable.”  They demanded today that the Department of Justice should “immediately detain the culprits, in order to prevent the conflict from setting off more violent incidents owing to a failure of justice.”

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