Response to killing of compa Jose' Lo'pez Santiz

To the National and International Press
To National and International Civil Society

Brothers and sisters of human rights who are fighting for justice.

We wish to denounce the assassination of our companero Jose' Lo'pez Santiz, which took place on August 7, 2002 in the community called "6 de Agosto" in the 17 de Noviembre Autonomous Municipality.

The "6 de Agosto" new town center was founded by our companeros on recovered lands that had been formerly occupied by Jorge Constantino Kanter's ranch. The companeros live there and work the land as milpas.

At 7 at night on Wednesday, August 7, 2002, companero Jose' Lo'pez Santiz told his wife, Julia Go'mez Encino, "to go and prepare something to eat and make some rice atol. I'm going to take a look at the milpa and see if the Jabali' [wild boar] are getting into it. I won't be late, I'm going to go quickly, and I'll return at 8 or 9 at the very latest." He took his machete, and, along with his two children, they went to the milpa.

Companera Julia made what her spouse had asked of her, but, since she was sick and tired, she lay down to rest and she fell asleep. The cries from one of her children woke her up. As her children approached, she could make out more clearly the shouts of help from her two children, who were saying that they were chasing them in order to kill them, and that they had already killed their papa.

When her two children reached the house, they told their mother that their father's assassin was Baltazar Alfonso Utrilla, and that they had seen two other persons along with Baltazar, but they did not recognize them. Companera Julia shouted for her compadre, and she told him that Jose' had died. At that moment they saw a Toyota van parked 10 meters from the house, which was later confirmed to belong to Baltazar Alfonso Utrilla. She had not heard that van arrive, since she had been resting, and it had been raining very hard. The first thing that occurred to them was to puncture the van's tires, and, while they were doing that, they saw two lights from hand lanterns, 100 meters away, approaching them. She thought that it would be better to go to Altamirano, since a brother of Jose''s lived there, and together they would be able to see what they could do. Jose's brother advised the municipal police and Public Security, since he belongs to the PRI.

The police, along with the relatives, went to the site of the incidents in order to pick up the body and to verify what had taken place. They acted in accordance with what the Public Ministry told them by radio. Without keeping vigil over the body, the police took companero Jose' Lo'pez Santiz' body to the cemetery. The relatives, overcome by sorrow and desperation, merely did what the police told them to do. When the relatives told the police that the assassin was Baltazar, the police did not do anything, and they allowed him to escape.

The police, the Judicial police and the municipal president were in a great hurry to bury the body. They quickly took it to the cemetery. It had already been planned that the municipal president was going to provide the cement, and two municipal police vans brought the coffin. All of this was going on in the cemetery, when men and women from all the villages in our 17 de Noviembre Autonomous Municipality arrived in order to investigate the incidents and to stand vigil over the body of our assassinated companero and to give him a Christian burial. Great is our sorrow, great is our thirst for justice.

According to the statement of the children who went with their father to the milpa that night, at about 9:30 at night they saw two lights from hand lanterns approaching them. They identified one of the men as Baltazar Alfonso Utrilla, who was an acquaintance of their papa. At the time of the gunshots, their father had separated from his children by about 20 meters. When the children heard the shots, and they heard their father shouting, they ran to where their father was, and they found him lying on the ground with two bullet wounds in his body. The deceased still said goodbye to his children. The children began shouting, and Baltazar shouted at them, threatening them that, if they were to say what they had seen, he was going to kill them as well. The body of the deceased was left with its shoulder on the ground, on its side, with only two gunshots.

At three in the morning, the relatives, along with the Municipal Police, went to the site of the incidents to see the body. It was no longer in the same place, but had been dragged 6 meters from where it had been left. It was now face down and with 8 gunshots instead of two, in the chest, face and abdomen.

The Honor and Justice Committee of our 17 de Noviembre Municipality went to Baltazar's house, and asked his wife to turn over her husband. The senora did not put up any resistance, she said that her spouse was not there. She opened the door to the house in order to let us see that he was not there. She admitted that the Toyota van belonged to her spouse, and she gave us the keys. She said that what had happened was incredible, because her spouse got along well with the deceased. She recounted that on the 7th of August her spouse had left at three in the afternoon with Benjami'n Montoya in order to go hunting, but that Baltazar was not carrying a weapon, because he did not have one. Hilda, Benjami'n's sister, said that her brother left his house with a weapon, a 16 caliber rifle.

We blame Baltazar Alfonso Utrilla, Benjami'n Montoya Oceguera and Humberto Castellano Go'mez for the death of our companero Jose' Lo'pez Santiz, since the three of them fled following the crime.

Benjami'n Montoya Oceguera belongs to the PRD party, and he is an official of the Yach'il At'el organization. He and Humberto Castellanos, who also belongs to the PRD party, are known to be good friends of Jorge Constantino Kanter.

In response to this situation, we are calling on human rights and civil society, along with the people and with our Honor and Justice Committee, to fight and to demand justice. That is where our trust lies.

The Federal and State governments, the municipal presidency and the armed forces, and also the paramilitaries and ranchers, are the ones responsible for the incidents. We demand that they deliver the assassins and everyone who had anything to do with this crime. What the official media is saying is not true, where they are trying to make us believe that it was an accident, and that he only received one gunshot. Jose' Lo'pez Santiz' body was found with 8 gunshots in his body.

We have suffered threats, harassment, and now the assassinations have begun.


Companero Jose' Lo'pez Santiz was subjected to threats, and then death

The incident of the assassination in February of 1994 of the three companeros from Morelia, and the death of this companero, are unresolved issues which the government has with our people. The situation concerns us, and we are willing to continue to fight for Justice. We do not want money or luxurious coffins. We want Justice.


17 de Noviembre Autonomous Municipality

Originally published in Spanish by Enlace Civil, A.C. *********************************** Translated by irlandesa   From: Enlace Civil, A.C. Date: Sunday, August 11 2002 18:04:51 -0500

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