2nd day of protests outside NYC Mexico consulate over Oaxaca killings (VIDEOS)
The demonstrators’ anger in midtown Manhattan over the killings at the weekend in Nochixtlan was palpable.
They held signs reading: “Oaxaca Resiste New York” and “Stop Killings.”
Another contained three messages: “Helicopters and weapons given by USA are being used to kill and repress TEACHERS! in Oaxaca. Stop Plan Merida”, “USA Tax Money #1 funder of corrupt Mexican government. Stop Plan Merida” and “The repression endless – to feed the rich. Disarm corruption. Stop Plan Merida!”
The protests were in response to Mexican federal police opening fire on a peaceful teachers’ protest over education reform that threatens to break their unions and privatize education. The reforms have already led to layoffs of teachers and education workers. The massacre on Sunday left nine people dead, many of whom were teachers between 18-25 years old. A hundred others were injured, 45 of whom were hospitalized, while 21 were arrested and 23 simply disappeared.
Standing outside the consulate was Zelene Suchilt, a Mexican national whose family was directly affected by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), signed into law by then President Bill Clinton.
Suchilt said she wasn’t surprised at all about the killings in Oaxaca
“That seems to be the modus operandi of not just the Mexico police but governments throughout Latin America and even in the US,” said Suchilt. “We are having a peaceful protest [here] and we are surrounded by police. It is a global movement against state repression. I don’t think it is unique to Mexico but Mexico is leading this movement. We’ve had enough…the people who are not part of the one percent.”
Since the massacre, two high-ranking Mexican officials have resigned in protest: the secretary of labor and, on Wednesday, the minister of indigenous affairs in Oaxaca.
Mexican investigative journalist Anabel Hernandez, who has reported extensively on the country’s drug cartels and government corruption, told RT America that Sunday was not an isolated incident.
She said in the last two years, the federal government has committed five massacres, among them the disappearance of 43 students from Ayotzinapa in Guerrero in 2014. That incident lead to worldwide protests over government corruption, cover-ups, and a repeated promise by the Mexican government to investigate the alleged crime.
Hernandez explained the cover-ups continue, even with pictorial evidence of Sunday’s massacre.
“In the first moments of that event, the Associated Press published a photograph that showed how the federal police were armed and shooting against the teachers. The first reaction of the federal police was that the ‘photographs are fake,’ [and] ‘it is not true’,” Hernandez told RT America. “Then they had to admit they were armed [at] that moment.”
Hernandez said the militarization of the police began under President Felipe Calderon during the so-called “War Against Drugs” in 2006, when she witnessed a change. Before that time, police forces were in separate battalions in their bases, and then they started to be in the streets every day.
“That’s when we as a society in Mexico realized how powerful, and how untrained, and how distanced [from] society these forces [are],” said Hernandez. “Things became worse when through Plan Merida, the US government started to give more training and give more guns to these institutions that [don’t] have any sense of human rights.”
The Merida Initiative is a security cooperation agreement between the US, the Mexican government and Central American countries with the aim of combating the threats of drug trafficking, transnational organized crime and money laundering. The assistance includes training, equipment and intelligence. From 2008 to 2015, Congress allocated $2.5 billion for Mexico under the initiative, including 22 aircraft.
Rebecca Myles, RT