Magical Realism, Writing, Fiction, Politics, Haiku, Books

martes, marzo 20, 2007

Remembering Brad Will and Oaxaca

Brad Will

cross posted from
Brad Will, an Indymedia journalist from New York, was shot to death in Oaxaca, Mexico, on October 27, 2006. He was in Oaxaca to video protests against Governor Ulises Ruiz that paralyzed Oaxaca throughout the summer and the fall. No arrests have been made in the case. And, apparently, there is no investigation either. In fact, as Oaxaca has faded from the media, questions about this and other homicides and disappearances seem further than ever from being answered.

This from El Universal:
Almost four months after U.S. video-journalist Brad Will was killed while filming protests in Oaxaca, members of the Will family have arrived in Mexico City to push federal and state authorities to get serious about bringing their son and brother´s murderers to justice.

"Our goal is for there to be a legitimate investigation," said Kathy Will, mother of the 36-year-old New York-based journalist who was shot to death on October 27, 2006. "There hasn´t been one."

How can this kind of thing happen?

Wills' family arrived on Tuesday in Oaxaca.
In the city of Oaxaca, the family plans to meet with Lizbeth Caña, the controversial state prosecutor who has refused to pursue photographic evidence implicating municipal employees of Santa Lucía del Camino, the pueblo where Brad Will was shot.

Instead, Caña has suggested that members of the Oaxaca People´s Assembly (APPO) killed Will at close range.

The Will family isn´t buying that theory.

"It´s pretty obvious that they (Oaxaca state officials) are covering up for their own paramilitaries, who were instructed by somebody at some level to disrupt the protests," Hardy Will says. "Men were going around without uniforms shooting and killing protesters."

Alas, the Wills family isn't alone in wanting answers an investigation might provide. There were numerous people killed during the Oaxaca protests, and numerous others who were disappeared.
Hardy and Kathy [Wills] are both aware that at least 20 other families are going through the same thing as a result of the Oaxaca unrest of 2006.

"Brad was one of three killed that day," Kathy Will. "And how many were killed before and after that without any investigations? Whatever the number is, it´s disgraceful."

There are many accounts of Brad Will's death. This Wikipedia account has its sources in its footnotes.
On October 27, he was videotaping near a barricade erected by pro-strike protesters when gunmen approached and opened fire. Will was shot twice and died while he was being carried away from the area. Along with Will, two protesters – Esteban Zurita López and teacher Emilio Alonso Fabián – were also killed. Several others were injured. Mexican daily newspaper El Universal published photos of the suspected gunmen, who are believed to be local officials. [7][8]

A Oaxaca news organization has claimed that Pedro Carmona, a local politician and member of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, shot Brad Will.[9] [10] During a news conference on October 29, Oaxaca mayor Manuel Martínez said that four men, all local public officials, were being detained in connection with the shooting.[11]

Those four men were ultimately released. No investigation was completed. And there have been no arrests in connection with any of the demonstrators who were killed or disappeared.

Has the US Government had any contact with the Mexican Government about this homicide of a US citizen? President Calderon, according to a March 14 Washington Post story preceding Bush's visit to Merida was to discuss difficult issues with Bush.
Mexican President Felipe Calderón chided President Bush on Tuesday for trying to build a wall between their two countries and lamented that the American leader never made Mexico the priority he once promised it would become during his presidency.

As he welcomed Bush for their first meeting since taking office in December, Calderón set a polite but firm tone, raising some of the toughest issues in U.S.-Mexican relations. The comments at a ceremony for Bush's arrival underscored the difficulties that lie ahead in two days of talks between the leaders.

If Brad Will's death was a topic between the two-- it might deserve to be one of the "toughest issues in US-Mexican relations"--it has never been reported.

This story of official laissez faire and inaction has a creepy parallel. It reminds of Charles Horman, a US journalist who disappeared in Chile in the aftermath of the coup that overthrew Salvador Allende in 1973. Horman's story was told in the Costa Gavras film Missing. And the issue who killed Horman and the role of the CIA in his death has never been resolved.

There need to be answers to Brad Will's death. And there need to be answers about the other Oaxaca deaths and disappearances. And beyond that, there needs to be justice. I'm not betting that we'll ever see that. Sadly, it's likely that the entire matter will eventually just fade away.