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Breaking the Silence: State violence towards Triqui women of Oaxaca, Mexico


Natalia De Marinis analyzes the violence and displacement experienced by Triqui women who live in Oaxaca, Mexico, as part of the State violence in the Triqui area, especially towards indigenous communities that claim their autonomy and rights.

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  1. Caciquismo is a category that describes the political and organizational machine of ‘boss politics’ within different spaces, including trade unions, politics and the agrarian bureaucracy of the Mexican state. Caciques played an important role in the political system of Mexico in the 20th century, principally at local levels, combining repression, clientelism and charismatic authority. See Knight and Will Pansters (ed.) (2005); Recondo (2007).

  2. Triqui people are an ethnic group of about 30,000 inhabitants who live in the Mixtec region of Oaxaca State in Mexico. The Triqui region includes three diverse groups separated by linguistic and organizational differences. The ‘low Triqui’, which this article deals with, is one of these groups whose political and religious centre is San Juan Copala.

  3. This number includes the assassination of people that belonged to all political organizations in the region La Jornada (2010a). The registration of displaced people is based on a list made by Triqui women. On 7 October, the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights recommended protective measures for 135 displaced people in one of the communities and for the sit-in in Oaxaca and Mexico City (CIMAC News, 2010).

  4. The Acteal Massacre was carried out in Chiapas in December 1997 by a paramilitary group, which murdered 45 indigenous people, including children and pregnant women, all of them members of the pacifist group ‘Las abejas’. See Hernández Castillo (coord.) (1998).

  5. Grey Zone is a concept coined by Primo Levi and reworked in an Argentine experience by Javier Auyero (2007). The concept of ‘Grey Zone’ is useful to analyse power and violence and the difficulty in distinguishing what is the action of the state from non-state actions. See also Mitchell on the ‘State Effect’ (Mitchell in Steinmetz (ed.), 1999).

  6. The Institutional Revolutionary Party (Partido Revolucionario Institucional, PRI) was in power in Mexico between 1934 and 2000 when the National Action Party (Partido Acción Nacional, PAN) won the presidential elections. In the state of Oaxaca, the PRI was in power during 81 years until 2010 when a coalition between the Party of the Democratic Revolution-National Action Party-Labor Party (Partido de la Revolución Democrática-Partido de Acción Nacional-Partido del Trabajo, PRD-PAN-PT) won the elections for state governor.

  7. Parra Mora and Hernández Díaz (1994) analyse historical reports for the abuses committed by the army, as well as the confiscation and resale of guns. They also look at the support certain communities enjoyed in confrontations with others (García Alcaraz, 1997; López Bárcenas, 2009).

  8. According to journalistic information, between August 2005 and November 2009, 30 deaths were registered in the region, including nine children and young men under 20, among them a girl of 9 and five women over 18.

  9. According to Triqui women, 21 people were injured by firearms, including 10 women and children.

  10. On paramilitary organization in Chiapas, see Hernández Castillo (coord.) (1998) and Hernández Castillo in Sanford and Angel-Ajali (eds.) (2006).


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The research on which this article is based is part of my PhD project, which is supported by a doctoral grant from the Mexican Council of Science and Technology, CONACYT held at CIESAS, Mexico City. My research also forms part of a collective project supported by a collaborative agreement between CIESAS and the Chr. Michelsen Institute, Bergen, Norway. The project, Poverty Reduction and Gender Justice in the Context of Legal Pluralism 190099/S50, is funded by the Norwegian Research Council and directed by Dr Rachel Sieder and Dr John McNeish. This article was read and revised by Mariana Flores López, a spokewoman for displaced Triqui women.


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Relates how women suffered and overcame bodily and political violence of the State in Oaxaxa

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De Marinis, N. Breaking the Silence: State violence towards Triqui women of Oaxaca, Mexico. Development 54, 480–484 (2011).

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  • state
  • violence
  • displacement
  • Grey Zone
  • Triqui women