From Socialist Voice, May 2010

The murder of Bety Cariño


Beatríz Alberta (Bety) Cariño Trujillo, an indigenous Mexican human rights defender, was shot dead, together with a Finnish peace activist, Jyri Jaakkola, on 27 April in Oaxaca state, Mexico, by local paramilitaries. A campaigner for the rights of peasants, especially women, she was a guest speaker at Latin America Week in Dublin in 2009 and at a Front Line human rights conference in Dublin in February this year.
     The killers were blockading a small town since December, with the support of the Mexican army; water, electricity and medical services had been cut off and schools shut.
     Before setting off that morning she sent messages to the Latin America Solidarity Centre in Dublin and spoke by phone to her Front Line friends, asking them to stand by and watch for news, as they were concerned by a local radio announcement that the head of the paramilitaries had stated that his forces would not be responsible for anything that might happen to them.
     These forces have been linked by many to local caciques (powerful landowners and wealthy business people) entrenched in the Institutional Revolutionary Party, which ruled Mexico for seventy years and still holds power in almost twenty provinces.
     When the caravan of vehicles got to about half a mile from the town a barricade of stones blocked their route, and paramilitaries opened fire with automatic weapons. Two people were killed and one other person was wounded. The paramilitaries then prevented medical services reaching them, so that it was a day before the deaths could be confirmed.
     Three other colleagues fled up the hillsides and have not been seen since. They may have been shot, or have been taken prisoner.
     Survivors taken from cars had their identity papers examined and were threatened with death before being turned loose on the highway.
     Front Line and LASC held a commemoration outside the Mexican Embassy in Dublin, and LASC later held a larger demonstration of protest and solidarity there.
[JM]

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