The children of Nochixtlán
A funeral in Nochixtlán
By: Luis Hernández Navarro
When the helicopter flies over Casa Xitla, in southern Mexico City, the children from Nochixtlán who 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 a policeman so he can kill the men in uniform who gassed him and crushed his relatives to death.
On June 19, 26 little ones saw their fathers go out to defend their town from the aggression of the police officers and then run and hide. For days, in the esplanade of the Nochixtlán temple, two cardboard signs bore the names of the children who 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 at houses constructed of metal sheets, cardboard, aluminium cans and scanty materials. 32 children were there, none older than 11. The little ones, seated on a mat told Arturo Cano how they felt suffocated and vomited from the smoke of the tear gas.
One of them talked to him about how they heard the police shouting: “Come here, you’re going to get fucked over 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, caught fire.”
In total, about 70 minors were direct victims of the police attack. The psychological damage that they suffered is raw and always present. One must add to the count of the child victims the children of those murdered and disabled by the police attack. From now on, without anyone to bring sustenance to the house, they and their mothers will have to work to earn a living.
The Nochixtlán Massacre left the tragic result of eight civilians murdered (11 in Oaxaca), 94 wounded by bullets, 150 direct victims and between 300 and 400 indirect ones. Those who suffered major injuries, who still have bullets in the stomach, how 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. Faced with the government’s refusal to offer them medical attention, and the fear of being persecuted, they have had to spend their small incomes on poor quality treatment from 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 the weight of heavy economic debt. They buried their dead as tradition directs, feeding those who for days accompanied them in their grief. A funeral like that costs, at the least, between 100 and 150 thousand pesos, an expense that can only be paid with loans on which they must pay enormous interest rates.
Dozens of those victims gathered last July 31 in the emblematic Plaza de las Tres Culturas, in Tlaltelolco, with their 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.”
Enraged by 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, the ankles, the groin, as well as the stomach, the chest, the back, the feet and the toes.”
The anger of the Nochixtlecos towards Deputy Benítez and the other members of the special legislative commission, for their investigation of the facts of Nochixtlán, comes from the huge contempt with which they (the commission members) have treated them. Their word is worthless. Although this commission has been formed since last July 6, its members have still been unable to meet 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 questioned the account of the facts given by the victims. This is what happened, for example, last July 26. That day, the titleholder of the position of Head of Human Rights of the People of Oaxaca, Arturo Peimbert, challenged before the commission the clarity of what the Federal Police (Policia Federal, PF) operation was pursuing in Nochixtlán, because “if they wanted to achieve the eviction of the superhighway in 15 minutes, they succeeded,” 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 his version in doubt.
Almost two months have passed since the Nochixtlán Massacre, and the federal government has been unable to offer a coherent and credible report of what happened. Nevertheless, versions have been leaked to the press that exonerate the Federal Police and the Gendarmes for the repression, at the same time as blaming 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 for the children and those affected to be healed. As the victim say: “if the government invested so much in murdering us, they should now invest it in healing us.”
Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada
Tuesday, August 16, 2016
Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee
Posted with minor edits by Dorset Chiapas Solidarity on 18/08/2016