The children of Nochixtlán

A funeral in Nochixtlán

A funeral in Nochixtlán

By: Luis Hernández Navarro

When the helicopter flew over Casa Xitla, in southern Mexico City, the children from Nochixtlán that are temporarily housed there run to hide, terrified. The sound of the iron bird over their heads revives the fear and desperation that they experienced in their town on June 19, when the police massacred their friends and relatives.

Almost two months have passed since the attack, and the little ones haven’t forgotten what happened. The police violence appears in their drawings and in their dreams, in their conversations and in their future. When he’s big, says one of the boys, he wants to be the police to kill the other police that gassed him and crushed his relatives to death.

That June 19, 26 saw their fathers go out to defend their town from the aggression of the gendarmes and then run and hide. For days, in the esplanade of the Nochixtlán temple, two cardboard signs had the names of the minors that lost their fathers in the Federal Police attack.

That day, in the humble district of November 20, which doesn’t have water or electricity, some 30 police launched gas against houses constructed of metal sheets, cardboard, aluminum cans and scanty materials. 32 children were there, none older than 11. The little ones, seated on a mat told Arturo Cano how felt suffocated and vomited from the smoke of the tear gas.

One of them talked to him about how they heard the police barking: “Come here, you’re going to get fucked up here.” Another told him that they were shouting vulgarities and were provoking the teachers. Another one described how “they used their pistols and started to kill people.” And another boy said that they tossed a round thing behind a house, which “exploded, drew fire.”

In total, about 70 minors were direct victims of the police attack. The psychological damage that they suffered is skin deep. One must add to the count of the child victims the children of those murdered and disabled by the police attack. Starting now, without anyone to bring sustenance to the house, they and their mothers will have to work to earn a living.

The Nochixtlán Massacre left a tragic result of eight civilians murdered (11 in Oaxaca), 94 wounded by bullets, 150 direct victims and between 300 and 400 indirect. Those who suffered major injuries, who still have bullets in the stomach, from what will they live now? It certainly won’t be from cultivating the fields.

The vast majority of the Nochixtlán victims are humble people, who live without savings and with very few resources. Facing the government’s refusal to offer them medical attention and the fear of being persecuted, they had to spend their small incomes to heal poorly with private doctors.

Pain upon pain, tragedy upon tragedy, the families of the eight murdered today suffer not only the loss of a loved one, but also a heavy economic debt. They buried their dead as tradition commands, feeding those who for days accompanied them in their grief. A funeral like that costs at least between 100 and 150 thousand pesos, an expense that can only be paid with loans on which they must pay usurious interest rates.

Dozens of those victims gathered last July 31 in the emblematic Plaza de las Tres Culturas, in Tlaltelolco, with crutches and bandages. With rage and courage they narrated to the press their pain and showed their wounds. We are here –they said– we have a name, we have a face, we are afraid. We are here, we have come to demand justice, not money.”

Indignant because of the signals from PRI deputies like Mariana Benítez (assistant prosecutor when the 43 Ayotzinapa rural teachers’ college students were disappeared and co-author of the “historic truth”), they denounced that: “there were bullets that entered through the mouth and came out through the ear; shots that impacted in the legs, ankles, groin, as well as the stomach, chest, back, feet and toes.”

The anger of the Nochixtlecos with Deputy Benítez and with other members of the special legislative commission for investigating the facts in Nochixtlán comes from the enormous scorn with which they (commission members) have treated them. Their word has no value. Although that commission has been formed since last July 6, its members have been incapable of meeting with representatives of the Victims Assembly. They have talked to the PGR, the president of the CNDH [National Human Rights Commission] and the Oaxaca ombudsman, but not to those directly affected.

Moreover, various legislators have called the victims’ version of the facts into question. That’s what happened, for example, last July 26. That day, the head of Oaxaca’s Human Rights Ombudsperson, Arturo Peimbert, questioned before the commission that it’s not clear what the Federal Police (Policia Federal, PF) operation was pursuing in Nochixtlán, because “if they wanted to achieve the eviction from the superhighway in 15 minutes, they achieved it,” and he asked: “Why did they enter and raid the urban zone, the districts like November 20?” Several members of the commission responded angrily, placing the ombudsman’s version in doubt.

Almost two months have passed since the Nochixtlán Massacre, and the federal government has been incapable of offering a coherent and credible report about what happened. Nevertheless, versions have been leaked to the press that excuse the Federal Police and the Gendarmes of the repression, at the same time that it blames five popular organizations in the region. A new historic truth is underway.

It’s urgent to know the truth about what happened in Nochixtlán, to punish those responsible and to repair the damage. It’s urgent that the children and those affected are healthy. As the victim say: “if the government invested so much to murder them, they should now invest in healing us.”

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Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

En español: http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2016/08/16/opinion/017a1pol

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

 

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