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MEXICO: Persecution and repression in Puebla

When I read of a massacre of peasants in Oaxaca, I said to myself that it was in precisely the area where Linda Nyquist and Paola Vera did their research. Then I got this message from Linda: "You no doubt are aware of the massacre of 26 peasants in Oaxaca over the weekend. The press claims it was rivalry over land. Who knows? The government generally has a hand in such things. I wouldn't consider for a single minute trekking up the mountain and doing what I did in the 1960s and 70s. It would be absolutely too dangerous. The population is angry and belligerent, and don't often direct their frustrations toward the right recipients".

From reports I have, the government cannot be blamed. It was a dispute over land belonging to an Indian village, which a neighboring mestizo village was taking over. I was surprised that the difference between Indians and meztizos still matters in the countryside. Land disputes are common in Mexico. We posted a story about the danger Paola Vera and her family face because her father is the pro bono lawyer of Indians displaced by the development of the Puebla industrial zone. We hope the danger to Paola's family has passed, but I have not heard from her. There is a similar dispute over the land for the new Mexico City airport.

Ronald Hilton - 6/9/02