MEXICO CITY — A group of young people delivering relief supplies to earthquake victims in the southern state of Oaxaca have been attacked and robbed.
The Archdiocese of Mexico’s information service, Siame, says unidentified gunmen waylaid a pickup truck driven by the group Tuesday. Carlos Arvizú, administrator of the Papa Francisco Pro Felicitas foundation, said Wednesday that one person was shot, another was beaten and a woman was raped.
“We are filled with grief, we have cried helplessly, both for the injured youth and for the young woman raped; we hope both will survive; we are waiting for the medical report of these brave young people,” he told Siame.
A photograph shows a pickup with numerous bullet impacts. The attackers stole the group’s cellphones and about $2,000.
Arvizú refused to speculate on whether the attack was perpetrated by a gang associated with organized crime or rogue security forces.
“Because of what happened yesterday morning to these young people, we have already filed the complaint with the Oaxaca Attorney General’s Office; but we have also had to make some decisions,” he said. “A trailer arrived from Morelia, Michoacán, full of tons of food to help people; we told them not to go on the highway because they were in danger. We also asked to put a hold on a lot of aid that was already coming from San Diego, California. The people affected by the earthquake are hungry, but now the volunteers are at risk of being killed.”
Arvizú claims there have been other attacks, including when members of the army tried to take supplies from young volunteers from Guanajuato, as well as other cases of assault.
He also said other youth have heard about these attacks, and it is deterring them from helping earthquake victims.
Oaxaca was rocked by a magnitude 8.1 quake on Sept. 7 and a 6.1 temblor on Sept. 23. The two earthquakes have killed over 400 people, and caused billions of dollars in damage. Since the first earthquake, youths delivering aid from churches have been a common sight in Juchitan and other hard-hit communities.
Arvizú said the government is doing nothing to protect them.
“If the government guaranteed the safety of the volunteers, this would not have happened,” he said, adding the government is not doing enough to help, but is depending on civil society to carry out most of the relief work.
“They are not helping, working or carrying food, neither the president nor the governors of the states,” he said. “…but the work they have to do, that of providing security to those who do help, is practically nothing.”
Crux staff contributed to this report.