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Mexican indigenous leader slain

May 21, 2010 |  6:24 pm
An indigenous leader and his wife have been slain in southern Mexico, in the same area where a humanitarian aid convoy was attacked last month and two activists — a Mexican and a Finn — killed.

The shooting deaths of Timoteo Alejandro Ramirez and his wife, Cleriberta Castro, seem to be the latest violence in a long-running dispute over land, money and political power in a remote region where indigenous communities resist mainstream state and federal government and have declared themselves "autonomous."

Ramirez was a pro-left leader of the Tiqui indigenous community based in San Juan Copala, in Oaxaca state, a town besieged by fighting among rival factions. A caravan of Mexican and international activists that attempted to reach the town last month with supplies was ambushed, leaving a Mexican and a Finn dead and several more, including a journalist, wounded.

An American freelance journalist with time in southern Mexico has blogged here on the late-Thursday killing. Mexican media quotes Oaxaca state prosecutors (who said they needed armed protection to venture into San Juan Copala) as saying the victims may have known their killers and witnesses reported hearing arguments before Ramirez and his wife were killed. Another community leader directly accuses the state government of the murders (last two links in Spanish).

— Tracy Wilkinson in Mexico City