[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.
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.
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