Mexico violence claims another member of peace movement


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REPORTING FROM MEXICO CITY — Another member of a Mexican peace movement has been slain, the second such incident in less than two weeks (link in Spanish).

Trinidad de la Cruz, a peasant activist, was kidnapped Tuesday by armed attackers in the state of Michoacan, his associates said (link in Spanish). His body, with four bullet wounds and an ear sliced off, was discovered about 24 hours later, the Milenio newspaper reported (link in Spanish).


De la Cruz, 73, was abducted as he rode with about 18 other activists in a caravan sponsored by the Movement for Peace With Justice and Dignity, an anti-violence organization led by poet Javier Sicilia. Members of the group said the attackers, whom they described as paramilitary forces, stole their cellular telephones, gaining access to data on scores of activists.

‘We are not only worried about this, we are alarmed and indignant,’ Sicilia told reporters. ‘People who raise their voices for justice are in terrible security conditions.’

Although Mexico has seen a number of peace movements spring up in the last five years of escalating drug-war violence, Sicilia’s group, which he founded following the murder of his son, seems to have gained the most traction.

On Nov. 28, another member, Nepomuceno Moreno, was shot and killed by gunmen who intercepted his car in broad daylight in his home city of Hermosillo. Moreno had come to Sicilia’s movement as a distraught father searching for a son who went missing last year. Moreno had accused local police of abducting his son.

Two other members of the organization who are also activists in an ecology movement were kidnapped Tuesday and remained missing Thursday. Eva Alarcon and Marcial Bautista were reportedly forced off a bus by gunmen in the state of Guerrero, where groups trying to save forests have had repeated run-ins with logging companies, drug traffickers and the military.

And another human rights activist, Norma Andrade, who works on behalf of women murdered or missing in Ciudad Juarez, was shot and wounded on Dec. 2.


Other news being reported in Mexico Thursday: Gunmen attacked an ambulance in the chaotic border city of Ciudad Juarez, killing two paramedics and two patients; the Mexican Navy seized more than 200 tons of chemicals used to make methamphetamine and shipped here from China; three alleged hitmen affiliated with the notorious Zeta drug cartel have been arrested in the slaying of 26 people whose bodies were dumped late last month in the middle of Guadalajara, Mexico’s second-largest city (first two links in Spanish).

Mexican President Felipe Calderon, meanwhile, used a televised interview to defend himself against a lawsuit brought by a group of activists in the International Criminal Court. The suit accuses Calderon, other leaders of his government and armed forces, as well as top cartel capos, of egregious human rights abuses amid the bloody drug war.

Calderon told Televisa news that the allegation that his government engaged in a policy of systematic abuse of civilians is ‘totally false and deplorable.’ He seemed to back away, however, from an earlier statement in which he threatened to prosecute his accusers for defamation.

Calderon added that it was ‘very unfair’ to compare his government and the Mexican state with Germany under Adolf Hitler or the former Yugoslavia under Slobodan Milosevic — the kinds of regimes that are more common targets of international tribunals.


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Mexico Under Siege

— Tracy Wilkinson