Oventic Junta Demands Freedom for Patishtán and Francisco Sántiz López
** The Tzeltal, a virtual political hostage in Chiapas
By: Hermann Bellinghausen, Envoy
San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, May 14, 2012
The federal and state governments continue violating the human rights of the indigenous support base of the Zapatista National Liberation Army (Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional, EZLN, its initials in Spanish), Francisco Sántiz López, “unjustly detained six months ago and still a prisoner as of this date,” the Good Government Junta of Oventic declared today upon announcing its support for the Worldwide Week of Struggle for the Freedom of Alberto Patishtán and Francisco Sántiz López.
“The bad government has become deaf and stubborn” as to demands for Francisco’s freedom, adds the Junta in a tape divulged during the press conference with which began said days of international solidarity, called by the Movement for Justice in the Barrio of the Other Campaign in New York and Frayba.
“We know that he is an honest person and fulfills community and organizational responsibilities,” the Junta testifies, greets the callers “as part of the worldwide struggle for justice” and asks them “to continue demanding our compañero’s immediate freedom.”
Francisco, a Tzeltal businessman and campesino from Tenejapa, was accused of murder without foundation in December; weeks later he was absolved, and at the point of leaving the prison, they accused him again of baseless charges, now at the federal level for alleged possession of illegal weapons. Thus, Chiapas authorities keep him as a virtual political hostage, possible tender for exchange faced with the imminent change of both the federal and state governments.
The relatives of Sántiz López, prisoner in San Cristóbal, point out: “The government doesn’t want to free him because he is an EZLN support base. We know that he has not committed a crime. We already presented witnesses (of his innocence),” but the government pursues him “because of struggling for justice, democracy and freedom.” They specified that their family member was detained on December 4, accused of participating in a crime in Banavil community, “but it wasn’t true (…) they just accused him because he is EZLN; the bad government doesn’t pay attention to us, to the contrary, it is fabricating his crime.”
At the press conference, Ignacio del Valle, leader of San Salvador Atenco and ex political prisoner, read the Forum’s final pronouncement against prison policy and for the freedom of Alberto Patishtán, celebrated this weekend: “We see that repression is a constant, a path that those from above are sketching, that does not stop and is an intrinsic part of this system in which violence, an exclusive monopoly of the State, becomes extremely polarized. Prison is a means of dissuasion through fear to exercise social and political control.” Participants from several states vindicated collective work and mutual support. They emphasized the importance “of not forgetting the prisoner compañeros; they constitute a very important part of our struggle and out path.”
Gabriela Patishtán, daughter of the professor incarcerated for 12 years, in the name of her father and her brother Héctor said: “Almost eight months after his move [to the federal prison in
Guasave, Sinaloa], we ask for justice and the return of our father, but free.”