18-year-old Ignacio Basilio of CODEDI, the Committee for the Defence of Indigenous Rights in Santiago Xanica, was killed in an ambush on the 12th of February, 2018.
Ignacio was travelling with the organisation’s leader Abraham Ramírez Velázquez and three other people. The group’s vehicle was cut off by a pickup truck carrying a comando armado (armed command squad) which opened fire, killing Ignacio and two others, Alejandro Díaz and Luis Angel M. both of whom were also members of CODEDI. According to El Imparcial newspaper, the shells found at the scene were of calibres .45 and .9, which are used almost exclusively by the country’s armed forces. Cristóbal Ramirez, CODEDI’s spokesperson, said that the men had been summoned by the state government to a meeting aimed at resolving conflict within the community. He added that survivors believe that the behaviour and weapons used by the assailants indicate that they were state actors.
The next day, the men’s bodies were not released from the morgue, even though Latin Americans are typically buried within 24 hours of death. Family members awaiting the remains were forced to return home after dark, a dangerous time to be on the road. In response, over 400 members of CODEDI marched and shut down the highway, demanding that the bodies be released. In the end, their wake and transportation home to Xanica occurred two days after the attack.
Ignacio loved basketball. He played it every afternoon with his friends, until the day before he was killed. “Ignacio isn’t dead, he’s right here with us,” said a young man who worked with him in the orange groves. He breathed deep, exhaling loudly, red-eyed as he remembered that Nacho – who the boys called “the stern old man” because, despite his youth, he was very hard working – supported his little brother financially to keep him in school.
The Mexican office of the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights (ONU-DH) was among the organisations which condemned the murders of Luis Ángel and his companions. It is worth noting that CODEDI was founded in 1998 in a context of violence against the political rights of the people of Xanica. José Murat, father of the Oaxaca’ s current governor Alejandro Murat, was responsible for much of this repression.