[Ppnews] Arrest of Gerardo Bonilla - Acclaimed Muralist Among Oaxaca's Disappeared

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Thu Nov 30 12:53:14 EST 2006


November 30, 2006

The Arrest of Gerardo Bonilla

Acclaimed Muralist Among Oaxaca's Disappeared

By CounterPunch News Service

The impact of Oaxaca, Mexico's struggle is hitting home. Gerardo 
Bonilla, painter and friend of many in the Austin artistic, activist, 
and student communities, was one of 149 arrested this past Saturday 
in a federal police sweep of Oaxaca city that is increasingly 
targeting the impoverished southern state's artists and writers. At 
the invitation of UT student Emiliana Cruz, Bonilla exhibited his 
paintings at La Pena, in downtown Austin, in October of 2003. He is 
an accomplished muralist and regularly facilitates and promotes 
children art workshops in different communities throughout the state 
of Oaxaca. Prints of some of Bonilla's paintings will be on display 
at the protest. 
(<http://www.artecocodrilo.com/bonosite/framescoco.html>Click here 
for for a photo of Bonilla with his work).

"The Mexican army and police forces have arrested and tortured 
hundreds of innocent protesters. Gerardo's detention symbolizes the 
Mexican government's all-out attack on local democracy," said Cynthia 
Perez, >founder of La Pena.

The current situation has long roots. On May 22, seventy thousand 
teachers started a camp out in the main square of the city to ask for 
an increase in their tiny salaries. This camp out follows a nearly 
yearly ritual, and each year it bore some meagre fruit. But on June 
14, governor Ulises Ruiz of the Party of the Institutional Revolution 
(PRI), who was elected two years earlier under disputed 
circumstances, sent the police in helicopters to put a stop to the 
teacher's protest. Many Oaxacans condemned this action and organized 
to form a broader civil group known as APPO (Asamblea Popular de los 
Pueblos de Oaxaca) Popular Assembly of Oaxacan Communities.

Since then the situation has not been resolved and has turned into an 
all-out conflict. Last Monday the tension in Oaxaca increased when 
the Federal police (PFP) announced a "zero tolerance" policy against 
APPO members and their sympathizers.

Now police are searching and ransacking houses and buildings 
searching for activists. On Saturday November 25th Bonilla was 
standing in la Plaza de la Bastida where he often sells his 
paintings. Like many others on this day he was randomly swept up as 
the police came through the area arresting >everyone in sight. He has 
been flown to a maximum security prison outside the state of Oaxaca 
in Tamaulipas where he is being held with out due process or outside 
access. This event typifies the strategy that is currently taking 
place in Oaxaca. Since last Saturday there have been at least three 
confirmed deaths, more than 100 injured people, and 221 arrests - 
including 41 women.

This Thursday, November 30, many Austinites, including Bonilla's many 
friends here, will demand freedom for Bonilla as well as the hundreds 
of detained and disappeared. This is the fourth in a series of 
consulate protests against Mexican state violence; the first protest 
followed the May attacks on flower vendors in Atenco, near Mexico 
city. On Friday December 1 the new Mexican president, Felipe 
Calderon, will be sworn in, despite widespread political instability.

The Freedom Archives
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(415) 863-9977
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