The rural town of San Juan Copala, Oaxaca was thrust into an international spotlight a year ago when an armed group opened fired on a caravan of human rights activists, teachers, and international observers. Two people, Bety Cariño and Jyri Jaakkola, were killed by gunshots to the head.
The incident called wider attention to a cycle of violence and power struggles that had been damaging the indigenous Triqui community for decades. It also revealed a blatant lack of action on the part of authorities to protect a civilian population from attacks by irregular armed groups.
In August of 2010, women and children who fled the siege of the town of San Juan Copala set up a protest camp in the central plaza of Oaxaca City. They were joined by others after a violent – and deadly – displacement campaign forced supporters of the autonomy movement from the town. More than 8 month later, they remain camped out under the arches of the Government Palace.
There’s no solid indication of when – or if – they be able to return to their homes. As an event to mark the 1 year anniversary of the deaths of Cariño and Jaakkola wrapped up, South Notes spoke with Reyna Martinez Flores about displacement, impunity, and the role women can play in the peacemaking process.
The audio interview is in Spanish and can be downloaded here.