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Ostula and Mexican Army Hold to Clashing Versions of Recent Attack

Image shared by several media. Shows the Mexican Army in Santa María de Ostula. Independent press and local sources denounced attacks to civilians during an operation. This and other photos have come forward during the coverage that has captured Internet users’ attention in Mexico.

Image shared by several media. Shows the Mexican Army in Santa María de Ostula. Independent press and local sources denounced attacks to civilians during an operation. This and other photos have come forward during the coverage that has captured Internet users’ attention in Mexico.

In Mexico, the independent investigation agency SubVersiones has published a compilation video that chronologically shows what events that took place on July 19, 2015, in the indigenous Nahua community of Santa María de Ostula. That day ended with four wounded and a dead child, after Mexican soldiers allegedly opened fired on civilians during an operation designed to arrest a leader of a local self-defense group.

SubVersiones‘ video starts with footage of villagers armed with sticks, yelling at the soldiers to go look for the runaway drug lord Joaquín El Chapo Guzman, among other things. Soon, shots are fired from army vehicles, in a barrage that likely included the bullets that killed one and injured four.

Some villagers attacked the soldiers with rocks in an apparent attempt to halt their advance:

En varios momentos se puede observar que el ejército se parapeta en posición de tiro. En otras escenas se aprecian los gases lacrimógenos lanzados por la policía estatal. Estas imágenes contradicen la versión oficial que niega las agresiones del ejército que sostiene que los tiros fueron al aire. La magnitud del operativo es también una muestra de que esta acción estuvo dirigida no sólo a Semeí Verdía sino a desestructurar la organización comunitaria.

In various moments, one can observe that the army was standing in a shooting position. In other scenes, one can see tear gas thrown by the state police. These images contradict the official version that denies that the army committed any aggression or fired any shots, other than some into the air. The magnitude of the operation is also proof that this action was not only aimed at apprehending Semeí Verdía, but also had the objective of destroying the community's self-organization.

The description given by Subversiones supports Ostula citizens’ accusation that the military shot openly at civilians.

On the other hand, Michoacan's Coordination Group rejected the claim that soldiers fired at locals protesting that day in Aquila Municipality. General Felipe Gurrola, who is in charge of the Special Security Unit in Michoacan, said at a press conference:

El Grupo Antimotines respondió a la agresión con la activación de gases lacrimógenos y de humo, con el propósito de dispersar a los manifestantes; el caos fue aprovechado por civiles armados que se retiraron del lugar y se ocultaron entre la maleza.

The Antiriot Group responded to the attack with tear and smoke gas in an effort to scatter the demonstrators; civilian armed groups took advantage of the chaos and later retreated and hid in the bushes.

YouTube user Victor Americano uploaded a video showing, from the soldiers’ point of view, the aggression described by General Gurrola.

Civilians were the only ones to suffer on July 19, the military has pointed out. At least one soldier was allegely injured by a piece of shrapnel.

Con ello está claro que sí hubo disparos por parte de civiles armados el domingo anterior, en el puente de Ixtapilla, en contra de elementos del Ejército Mexicano

With this [evidence], it is clear that there were shots coming from armed civilians, last Sunday on the Ixtapilla bridge, against elements of the Mexican Army.

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