Lic. Emilio Chuayffet Chemor
Secretario de Gobernacion
Secretaria de Gobernacion
Bucarelli 99, 1er piso
Col Juarez, 06699 Mexico DF

Dear Minister:

I wish to express my concern regarding the recent murders of four members of a family from the village of Emiliano Zapata de Rio Grande in the municipality of Tututepec, state of Oaxaca.

In the early morning hours of 4 June 1997, two people -- one armed with a machine gun and the other with a shotgun -- entered the home of Oliva Vargas Carro (age 32) and her husband, Silvano Martinez Salinas (age 42). Along with their son, Mario Martinez Vargas (age 14) and his grandmother, Maria Carro Jimenez (age 62), they were shot dead at point-blank range. Three other family members -- children aged 4, 6 and 8 -- witnessed the brutal killings.

It is my understanding that the two people who committed the slayings may be linked to local authorities. All four victims were either members or supporters of the legal opposition party, the Partido de la Revolucion Democratica (PRD), and were known in their community for their political activism. They had been threatened and harassed on previous occasions by members of the judicial police.

I am deeply concerned about the apparent extrajudicial executions of Oliva Vargas Carro, Silvano Martinez Salinas, Mario Martinez Vargas and Maria Carro Jimenez, and urge you to call for a prompt and full investigation into their deaths. The results of such an investigation should be made public and the perpetrators brought to justice. I also ask that you use your influence to ensure that immediate steps are taken to guarantee the safety of the three young children who witnessed the brutal murders of their parents, brother and grandmother.

I am very alarmed at the apparent lack of effective action taken by Mexican authorities to stop human rights violations in Oaxaca. According to reports, these four deaths bring to 19 the total number of PRD activists murdered in that state for political reasons since January 1997. I believe it is imperative that your government clearly indicate it will not tolerate human rights violations under any conditions and will prosecute those who commit them to the full extent of the law. Such atrocities should never be tolerated or sanctioned by any government.

Respectfully yours,