Mexican leftist leader shot dead

Heriberto Pazos pictured in 2008

The leader of a leftist Indian group left disabled by a previous assassination attempt was shot to death by gunmen riding on a motorcycle in the southern Mexico state of Oaxaca.

The killing of Heriberto Pazos drew immediate protests from Triqui Indians, whose causes he had sought to promote for 25 years through the group he founded, the Triqui Indian Unification Movement.

Triqui Indians blockaded three main crossroads in Oaxaca city, the state capital, to demand the killers be brought to justice.

State prosecutor Maria de la Luz Candelaria said Mr Pazos died after being shot three times in his truck in Oaxaca city, the state capital.

Three bodyguards travelling with him were unable to prevent the shooting, and the killers sped off on the motorcycle.

An attempt to kill Mr Pazos in 2001 caused injuries that required him to use a wheelchair.

Mr Pazos’ movement is one of three groups that have been locked in a violent years-long struggle for control of the Oaxaca town of San Juan Copala.

Dozens have died in the violence, including a Finnish human rights observer and a Mexican political activist who were shot to death last April when unidentified gunmen ambushed a convoy of activists near the town.

The groups competing for control of the town are all armed. Leaders of all three groups have been slain, and each blames the others for the violence.

Police rarely venture into San Juan Copala, a poor Indian village in the Oaxaca mountains.

The village’s violence can be traced back at least 40 years to a struggle for patronage money from state political bosses in the remote Triqui Baja area of the Sierra Mixteca, where an estimated 10,000 ethnic Triquis live.

Most Read in World