Archive for Atenco

Film Screening and Raffle Draw – Friday 3 July

Posted in Announcement, Event with tags , , , , , , , , on June 26, 2009 by floweroftheword
A Big Noise Film

A Big Noise Film

Wellington Zapatista Solidarity and the Latin American Solidarity Committee proudly present

A screening of ‘The Fourth World War’ (2004, 75 minutes) and Raffle Draw

Friday 3rd July, 6-8pm

Newtown Community Hall, Daniell St, Newtown, Wellington

All proceeds go to the Latin America Solidarity Committee

The Wellington Zapatista Solidarity Committee and Latin America Solidarity Committee are organizing a raffle draw and film screening to raise funds for the people of Atenco, to aid them in their ongoing legal battle for the release of citizens wrongly imprisoned since 3 May 2006.

The screening will take place at the Newtown Community Hall on Daniell St on Friday 3rd of July, 6-8pm. The prize for the raffle will be a $50 voucher for Flying Burrito Brothers restaurant on Cuba Street.

The Fourth World is a documentary about the struggles of men and women around the world resisting global conflict across five continents. Shot on the front lines of struggles spanning five continents, this film is the untold story of men and women who resist being annihilated in the current global conflict. While our airwaves are crowded with a talk of a new world war, narrated by generals and filmed from the noses of bombs, the human face of war is rarely seen. The Fourth World War weaves together the images and voices of the war on the ground – from the front line struggles in Mexico, Argentina, South Africa, Palestine, Korea, ‘the North’ from Seattle to Geneva and the “War on terror” in New York and Iraq.

This is not about some distant foreign people dealing with equally distant and foreign problems; it’s about struggle and oppression, which can happen anywhere that people try to protect land and resources from the powers that be.

Raffle tickets ($2 for one ticket, $5 for three) will be available for purchase on the night.

For more information please email zapatistasolidarity(at)gmail.com

Or visit http://www.floweroftheword.wordpress.com

Mexican Consulate Closes as The Other New York Demands Freedom for the Prisoners of Atenco

Posted in News, protesta with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 8, 2009 by floweroftheword

On May 4th, the third anniversary of the state repression to the people of Atenco, the Mexican Consulate in New York City was peacefully “taken” by the pro-zapatista Movement for Justice in the Barrio (Movimiento por Justicia del Barrio).

The authorities decided to close the Consulate all day. In a press conference, the Consul, very upset, denounced and placed blame on the members of The Other Campaign in New York.

PRESS RELEASE FROM THE OTHER NEW YORK DISTRICT OF MOVEMENT FOR JUSTICE

To our sisters and brothers of the People’s Front in Defense of Earth:

To our brothers and sisters the Zapatistas:

To our comrades of the Other Campaign:

To our comrades of the Zezta Internazional:

To our comrades following the International Campaign in Defense of the Barrio and our allies around the world:

A greeting of solidarity from the women, men and children, the socially marginalized from the Other Campaign New York, Movement for Justice in el Barrio in East Harlem zapatista.

Today, May 4, 2009, The Other New York peacefully took the Mexican Consulate in New York to demand the release of 12 political prisoners who have been brutally repressed for opposing the predatory neoliberal development projects that denigrate life and culture, specifically the construction of an airport in Atenco, and for the protection of flower growers in Texcoco.

On this third anniversary of the repression, arrests, rape, torture and burglary committed by military police in Atenco, today, a committee of members of the Movement for Justice in El Barrio was able to enter the offices of the Mexican Consulate in New York, which are under strict surveillance, stepping up the campaign in Mexican heart and memory, demanding the release of prisoners from Atenco. We managed to enter the offices to conduct a peaceful protest demanding the immediate release of prisoners from Atenco.

Once inside, the comrades of the Other New York, cried: “Political prisoners, freedom!, Freedom, freedom to prisoners to fight!” “We are all Atenco,” among other slogans, and with our banners, some with masks simulating prison bars, and also with bandanas, distributed to passers-by DVDs of the video Rompiendo El Cerco (Breaking The Siege), about the repression in Atenco, and informational leaflets explaining the central demands.

Then we demanded to speak to the Consul Ruben Beltran to deliver a letter of demands.

First we were told that he was not there because he was in Mexico, but we knew that this was a lie since the day before the consul was in El Barrio performing a proselytizing act in the imposed celebration of Cinco de Mayo. After a time, the consulate authorities told us that the ambassador was in New York, but was not in the consulate, and then closed the consulate to the public, asking everyone to leave the office.

At the end of our event, the ambassador came.

We delivered a letter, amplified in a banner, with the following demands:

1) Freedom of the 12 political prisoners from Atenco;

2) Cancellation of warrants for the 2 prosecuted;

3) Withdrawal and cancellation of the sentences;

4) Strict respect for the human rights of the detainees and persecuted; and

5) Punishment of those responsible for human rights violations.

At first Ambassador Ruben Beltran said he was willing to talk with all the Mexican residents in New York and listen to all their views, but then threw the blame on us and our cause – the release of prisoners of Atenco – of having closed the services of the consulate and leaving many people without being served.

We believe that reaction of the consul is an act of great injustice and cynicism, as if the government of Mexico does not torture, kill, rape and unjustly imprison its residents for opposing Mexico’s business with large multinationals that make water into a merchandise, these things should not need to happen.

Notwithstanding this, we are pleased to have been able to successfully make this protest against the release of the martyrs of Atenco, as we now know that many Mexicans in New York will be able to learn through alternative means, such as the DVD of Breaking The Siege, that which really happened.

Then in the afternoon of that day, the press went to the consulate because of another event, and the consul took the opportunity to complain about us, denounce us and say that because of us, they had to close the Consulate for the entire day. At that evening event, the consul showed the press pictures of us from different angles.

It should be clear that our demonstration was peaceful.

If there will be reprisals against us for exercising our right to freedom of expression in Mexican territory (as is any Embassy of Mexico abroad), this means that the consular authorities were violating our rights, like they do not respect the human rights of the people of Atenco.

It pains us greatly that the worthy social activists, the true defenders of our land and our country, remain in jail. We do not rest until they are released. Human beings are not merchandise.

They can not stop us and clear us out to build airports and hotels, not in Atenco, not in Agua Azul, and not in our Barrio in East Harlem.

From The Other New York:

WE ARE ALL ATENCO!

FREEDOM FOR POLITICAL PRISONERS!

Movement for Justice in el Barrio, New York, May 4, 2009.

3 years since Atenco and innocent people are still imprisoned – Let’s take action!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 4, 2009 by floweroftheword

Today marks the 3 year anniversary of the Mexican State’s brutal violence towards the people of Atenco. Please read below for more information and contact the Mexican Embassy to demand freedom for the political prisoners and justice for all those terrorised by state forces.

If enough of us make a short phone call or send an email, the Mexican Government will get the message that the world knows about their atrocious actions.

In solidarity,

Wellington Zapatista Support Group

Contact details for the Mexican Embassy in Wellington, NZ

Level 8, Perpetual Trust House

111-115 Customhouse Quay

PO Box 11-510, Manners Street

Wellington, New Zealand

Telephone (+64) 4 472 0555

Fax (+64) 4 496 3559

E-mail mexico@xtra.co.nz

Website http://www.mexico.org.nz

Office Hours Mon – Thurs 0900 -1600, Fri 0900 – 1500

Consular: 0900 – 1400

FREEDOM AND JUSTICE FOR ATENCO

By Heriberto Salas and Salvador Díaz

On May 3, 2006, the sun rose with a dark stain around the Belisario Dominguez market in Texcoco: the state and local police had posted a guard around the spot where flower growers had sold their flowers for as long as we can remember. The Peoples’ Front in Defense of the Land (FPDT), which had participated in a dialogue with Enrique Peña Nieto’s government had counseled and defended the flower growers. The day before, the state government had promised them and the FPDT that they would withdraw their police forces.

At 6 o’clock in the morning, when we met up with men, women, and children carrying baby’s breath, chrysanthemums, and spikenards, joined in their chants, and helped them set up their stands on the curb, we never imagined that we would go through some of the cruelest, most ferocious and heartless repression unleashed in the contemporary history of Mexico.

Yet the flower growers, the FPDT, and the people fell into a shameless trap of the so-called “golden boy,” who in fact is a true Caligula or “golden tyrant,” Enrique Peña Nieto, supported by then prosti-president Vicente Fox Quezada, and the complicity of the PRD lapdogs of Texcoco, all defenders of a barbarous State whose enemies are the most defenseless people.

As everyone knows, the outcome of the repression of May 3 and 4 was two comrades murdered, Javier Cortés and Alexis Benhumea; 207 arrested, including 47 women; and dozens of people wounded, pursued, and disappeared. But that wasn’t all. Our small community, San Salvador Atenco, like the Gaza Strip, Tikrit, or Kabul, was militarily occupied by thousands of vicious police who crudely profaned the peaceful streets of our beloved land just as they raped our comrades, sisters, daughters, and relatives on the road to the Santiaguito prison in those dreadful days.

They were like hordes of beasts who stopped at nothing to bring their brutality down on everyone. Consider the images: A Mazahua indigenous woman covering her legs as she was viciously beaten by the killers; an elderly paraplegic dragged by two buzzards in uniform; a dog beaten by a policeman; 10, 15, 20, 30 police monstrously beating a committed Zapatista militant; warrantless house searches; an elderly woman crying because her three sons were carried away; a barefoot Atenco man forced to his knees in the middle of a new Tlatelolco Plaza de las Tres Culturas; hooligans climbing up on top of the church and searching water tanks for Zapatista militants and Atenco community people. These are the indisputable testimonies that will never be erased from the memory of Mexican people.

From there on…a journey through hell. From the persecution of militants to the torturous process of winning the freedom of our prisoners. From our initial denunciation of the outrageous violation of the supposed State of Law and the smashing of our individual guarantees to the interminable trials with all its delays. The government and its front men have twisted the laws with the same impunity that existed during the Inquisition, charging us with crimes that we never committed, issuing arrest warrants for our most visible comrades, and subjecting our peoples to close-up, unyielding police vigilance. The names of those responsible for the military occupation by the federal and state police are well known: Vicente Fox, Enrique Peña Nieto, ex Director of the State Security Agency (ASE) Wilfrido Robledo Madrid, current Attorney General Eduardo Medina Mora, then State Attorney Abel Villicaña, ex Under Secretary of National Security Miguel Angel Yunes, among others.

Along this thorny path, we’ve relied on the support and solidarity of the Zapatista comrades of the Other Campaign, who have shown their goodwill and courage from the very beginning in the camp outside the prisons where our comrades have been held. Other workers, farmers, indigenous, popular, and even international organizations have also walked along beside us in this heroic effort. But of special importance is the honorable role played by the group of lawyers who have advised us all through the trials as we’ve fought against an invisible enemy embedded in the institutions of the State itself, one that plays by the same rules and exhibits all the official aberrations and inconsistencies. This united effort has made it possible to get most of our prisoners out of jail.

Needless to say, this State violence responds to the same logic of the finance capital that rules the world. It’s the same violence used on all five continents to snatch peoples’ natural resources from them, from oil to water, corn to rice, mines to forests, rivers to seas, in other words, to seize the wealth of the whole planet.

This war declared on the peoples of the world struggling to conserve their natural resources has reached our town Atenco, because we’ve defended our territory, and the communities in Chiapas who struggle against oblivion; the peoples of Oaxaca, for autonomy; the people of Guerrero, for their rivers and mountains; the peoples of San Luis Potosí and Zacatecas, against the predatory mining companies –all of these places where levels of organization and social consciousness have gained such force that they’ve become a real danger to the government and the transnational companies.

This, and no other, was the main reason for the State offensive against the Peoples’ Front in Defense of the Land: a high level of organization. A triumphant social movement that was not absorbed by the political parties, a radical, horizontal, anti-establisment, solidarity organization that grew along with its social demands, going beyond the initial struggle in defense of the land.

So an intricate network of relationships was woven along with other movements in the country and other parts of the world. But it reached its peak with the bond formed with the Zapatista movement and the Front’s adherence to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Selfa and The Other Campaign. The April 25, 2006 visit to Atenco by the Sixth Commission headed by SubComandante Marcos was tremendous. The tie between macheteros and zapatistas put the government on alert. And the answer came a week later with the attempt to pulverize the FPDT.

Today the federal and state governments of Felipe Calderón and Enrique Peña Nieto are still holding twelve of our kidnapped comrades, nine of them in the Molino de Flores prison in Texcoco, with sentences of 31 years, 10 months, and 15 days, and three others in the maximum security Altiplano prison at Almoloya, State of Mexico, two of them sentenced to 67 years in prison (Felipe Alvarez and Héctor Galindo), and one, Ignacio del Valle sentenced to 112 years, accused of being the intellectual author of the events of May 3 and 4. The federal and state governments have relied on the complicity of all the political parties and all the institutions of justice in the country, and even though the Supreme Court found in their investigation that the authorities did indeed commit Crimes against Humanity, it didn’t identify the responsible parties and instead, absolved them.

Faced with this ignominious exoneration on February 12, 2009, by the devious Ministers of Calderon’s Supreme Court, which allows presidential candidate Enrique Peña Nieto and his accomplices to maintain their impunity, the FPDT along with human rights and independent organizations, have drawn many outstanding personalities like Eduardo Galeano, Bishop Samuel Ruíz, Manu Chao, and Adolfo Gilly into a current aimed at building the Committee for Freedom and Justice for Atenco, whose aims are the same as those upheld in 2002, when we defeated the expropriation decree––the incorporation of the civil society into the struggle, now oriented towards winning the freedom of our brothers held prisoner and the strict application of the law against those who massacred our people.

In support of these demands on the third anniversary of this attempt against the people of Atenco, we call on all national and international social and political organizations to join in the demand for the freedom of the political prisoners of Mexico and the world on May 3 and 4.

———-

Once again, please contact the Mexican Embassy to demand freedom for the political prisoners and justice for all those terrorised by state forces.

If enough of us make a short phone call or send an email, the Mexican Government will get the message that the world knows about their atrocious actions.

Contact details for the Mexican Embassy in Wellington, NZ

Level 8, Perpetual Trust House

111-115 Customhouse Quay

PO Box 11-510, Manners Street

Wellington, New Zealand

Telephone (+64) 4 472 0555

Fax (+64) 4 496 3559

E-mail mexico@xtra.co.nz

Website http://www.mexico.org.nz

Office Hours Mon – Thurs 0900 -1600, Fri 0900 – 1500

Consular: 0900 – 1400

For the freedom of the people of Atenco – letter from political prisoner America del Valle

Posted in comunicado with tags , , , , , , , , on April 23, 2009 by floweroftheword

To the comrades of the Committee for Freedom and Justice for Atenco; to the supportive comrades of Mexico and the world:

An intense hug to all of you.

Insofar as possible, I’m following all the efforts undertaken to gain freedom and justice for Atenco and can’t find the words to thank you for embracing us with your strong solidarity. This fills us with dignity, strength, and hope.

The third anniversary of Red May is almost here. They overpowered us, but they’ve never defeated us; they’ve given us life sentences, oblivious to the fact that our spirit is still free and eager to keep struggling, yet we have too many reasons not to surrender in the face of prison bars and persecution.

The exoneration of the repressors by the system of injustice doesn’t mean that they are absolved by history or by the people. Luis Echeverría Álvarez, Enrique Peña Nieto, Ulises Ruiz, Mario Marín, and a long list of tyrants have been condemned by the people!

We know that the national situation is getting worse all the time, not only because of the international economic crisis –a product of the insatiable voracity of the owners of money–, but also because of the deep entrenchment of organized crime in the State itself. And it’s precisely because we’re facing such difficult times that the organization and unity of people on the ground are all the more urgent and necessary.

Out there in the streets, the schools and universities, the factories and the barrios, you are organizing and arguing about what to do. Here, from our trenches in exile or in prison cells, we are standing strong in resistance, too. It’s in the struggle that we come together. In spite of distances, in spite of prison bars, we are together, with our faces towards the Sun.

Thanks to all of you in the far corners of the world for your voices and hands of solidarity. Thanks to all of you in the Committee for Freedom and Justice for Atenco.

América del Valle

(politically pursued by the Mexican State), Peoples’ Front in Defense of the Land

PS: Compañero Manu Chao. We are furious about the repressive State’s attempt to expel you from Mexico even though their agents finally had to desist in an effort to conceal their own incompetence. Your courage and steadfastness are a lesson to all of us who believe that solidarity carved out at the side of the people is a right and a duty that knows no borders and needs no permit. Atenco and México are your home, and the laws of the tyrants seek to silence you for simply defending your home with the truth. You are in our hearts and minds. Wherever you are, may the struggle continue because that’s what we’ve decided and because there are thousands of us and more…

Denuncia: Supporters of Atenco Political Prisoners harrassed by Mexican State Authorities

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on April 9, 2009 by floweroftheword

To the Other Campaign
To the Zezta International
To individuals, collectives, organizations, and people in solidarity

Comrades,

We are writing to make a public denunciation of the fact that on Friday, April 3, 2009, around noon, three people dressed in street clothes appeared at the Plantón, our camp outside Molino de Flores prison, taking notes and saying that they wanted to come inside because they were curious about the Plantón and wanted to get to know it. The comrades who were there stopped them from coming in and asked them to leave.
The individuals in question pulled back, but stayed there taking notes and harassing the comrades. A little later, we realized that there weren’t only three of them, but five, then seven, then as many as ten individuals hanging around and harassing the comrades. These individuals left around 6:00 o’clock in the evening on vehicles belonging to the State of Mexico and the Attorney General’s Office of the State of Mexico.
We are making this denunciation so that what happened won’t be seen as an isolated incident. We know the Mexican State is hostile to the efforts of all of us in the struggle, and in this case it’s the government of the State of Mexico harassing those of us who are struggling for the freedom of the political prisoners taken on May 3 and 4, 2006.

Free the political prisoners
Stop the harassment of the Autonomous Zapatista Communities

Plantón Molino de Flores

For the Freedom of Atenco Prisoners

Posted in News with tags , on January 3, 2009 by floweroftheword

On May 3 and 4, 2006, a police operation ordered by the federal government and the government of the State of Mexico, with more than 4,500 troops sent against members of the Peoples’ Front in Defense of the Land (FPDT) supporting the defense of local flower vendor’s right to work in Texcoco, provoked one of the most violent repressive episodes in the history of Mexico.

Ever since those days, when the record shows 207 people arrested, two young boys killed, around fifty women raped and sexually abused, torture, and house searches that have been widely denounced by a number of national and international Human Rights organizations, outrageous legal irregularities have been gradually accumulated to justify the unjust sentences imposed on Ignacio del Valle of 112 years in prison, Felipe Álvarez and Héctor Galindo of 67 ½ years in prison, and 10 other people (Oscar Hdz. Pacheco, Alejandro Pilón, Julio Espinosa, Pedro Reyes, Juan Carlos Estrada, Jorge Ordóñez, Adán Ordóñez, Narciso Arellano, Inés Rodolfo Cuellar, and Eduardo Morales) sentenced to 31 years, 11 months, and 15 days in prison. It is important to note that América del Valle, Bernardino Cruz Cardona, and Adán Espinosa Rojas are now pursued by the law.

In all these cases, the legal defense of those arrested and pursued have shown that the criminal justice proceedings are plagued with errors that have occurred at the time basic legal issues were resolved, such as: the violation of the principle of the presumption of innocence; violation of the principle of due process; lack of evidence of corpus delicti (body of the crime) and of probable responsibility, as well as of the degree of instigation by Ignacio del Valle Medina; violation of the rules of the weighing of evidence; violation of the guarantees of legality and legal security; and illegal sentences requiring payment for moral damage. All of these rights were ignored by the judges, proving that we are faced with a political situation involving the repression of a people that has honorably defended its land, natural resources, and traditions against the unjustified plans to build the new international airport proposed by Vicente Fox on its territory in 2001. It is also of great concern that the repression against the FPDT is happening in the framework of generalized repression against organizations and movements exercising their right to criticism, demonstrations, and resistance against government policies.

For all of the above reasons, figures in the artistic, academic, intellectual, trade union, human rights, activist, political and legislative sphere, among others, have decided to participate in the “Campaign for Freedom and Justice for Atenco” to demand a review of the sentences, respect for human rights, an end to the criminalization of the social movements and FREEDOM FOR ALL THE SAN SALVADOR ATENCO PRISONERS.

It has come to our attention that within a short time the investigation carried out by the Supreme Court of Justice will center on determining whether or not there were violations of individual guarantees of the persons arrested on May 3 and 4, 2006, in the municipalities of San Salvador Atenco and Texcoco in the State of Mexico. In view of this, we ask ourselves and we ask the Magistrates:
a) Why did these human rights violations occur?
b) Who ordered them?
c) Was it due to a state strategy or to a situation that got out of hand and a lack of police training?

For the above reasons, we consider it necessary for all people to join forces who have supported the cause of freedom for the Atenco prisoners as well as those who wish to do so now.

We invite all of you to support the different activities of the campaign and to formulate your proposals, and also to form local committees in your centers of study, workplaces, and communities to stop the prolongation of the unjust imprisonment to which our comrades are being subjected.

Justice and freedom for Atenco!
Free all political prisoners!

Respectfully yours,

México
Centro de Derechos Humanos Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez (ProDh)
Centro Nacional de Comunicación Social (CENCOS)
Comité Cerezo México ; Proyecto Viento de Libertad
Frente de Pueblos en Defensa de la Tierra (FPDT)
Jóvenes en Resistencia Alternativa
Servicios Legales y Estudios Jurídicos: (Lawyers and law office charged with the legal defense of Ignacio Del Valle and Felipe Alvarez, held in La Palma, and responsible for the appeals in defense of those pursued.)
Servicios y Asesoría para la paz (SERAPAZ)

To add your signature in support of the Atenco Prisoners:

<!– @page { size: 21cm 29.7cm; margin: 2cm } P { margin-bottom: 0.21cm } A:link { color: #0000ff } –>

Please Specify:

  • Name (person or organization)

  • Profession, activity or organization profile

  • Country

Send your signatures before January 4, 2009: comitecerezo@nodo50.org


Dear friends, groups and individuals in solidarity, we call upon you once more to send us your signature, this time in the Atenco case. We know you’ve done so several times, and this time we ask you to support the freedom of all the prisoners in the Atenco case, but especially
JESÚS ADÁN ESPINOZA ROJAS and BERNARDINO CRUZ CARDONA. For almost three years these comrades have been separated from their families, their wives, their children, and their land, which they’ve defended so strongly and at such a high cost.

In January, it is possible that the magistrates in charge of the case will rule on the Remedy of Review. If the comrades lose this appeal, they will lose their last chance to return to their lives, their struggle, their land, and will have to live forever pursued by Mexican injustice.

Let’s don’t allow this to happen. Many actions are being taken. Your signature is also important. We ask that you sign this letter in support of the two comrades, and at the same time the newspaper add for all the prisoners in the Atenco case.

Thank you so much. We wish you a good start, filled with solidarity, for the year to come.

Did you know that Bernardino Cruz Cardona is a prestigious scholar at the Autonomous University of Chapingo? Did you know that in 1997, when Jesús Adán Espinoza Rojas was President of the Cooperative Land Commissioner of San Salvador Atenco, he certified 723 plots as ejidal lands and that this made it possible to defend these lands against the expropriation for building the airport?

Did you know that the majority of the prisoners now held in the Molino de Flores prison and sentenced to more than 31 years, were arrested on May 3, 2006, and absurdly enough, charged with actions that occurred on May 4 of that year?

Get to know them and help them.

More prisoners, pursued comrades, and ex prisoners in the Atenco Case

COORDINATION FOR THE FREEDOM OF THE ATENCO PRISONERS

Centro de Derechos Humanos Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez (ProDh)

Centro Nacional de Comunicación Social (CENCOS)

Comité Cerezo México ; Proyecto Viento de Libertad

Frente de Pueblos en Defensa de la Tierra (FPDT)

Jóvenes en Resistencia Alternativa

Servicios Legales y Estudios Jurídicos / Legal Services and Studies
Lawyers and law office charged with the legal defense of Ignacio Del Valle and Felipe Alvarez, held in La Palma, and responsible for the appeals in defense of those pursued.

Servicios y Asesoría para la paz (SERAPAZ)

END OF FORWARDED DOCUMENT

FREEDOM FOR POLITICAL PRISONERS AND PRISONERS OF CONSCIENCE!
Cerezo case web page
www.espora.org/comitecerezo
Web page documenting political prisoners and prisoners of conscience in Mexico
www.espora.org/vientodelibertad
E-mail address for sending data on political prisoners and prisoners of conscience
cerezo.vientodelibertad@gmail.com
Skype

Tel.  (55) 56 55 94 65 / Cel. 045 55 10 47 20 31

WHO WE ARE
Mexico City:
comitecerezo@nodo50.org
Oaxaca:
comitecerezoaxaca@gmail.com

“Because being a human rights defender is not synonymous with being a terrorist”
COMITÉ CEREZO MÉXICO

Atenco’s Political Prisoners: The Persistence of Resistance

Posted in Commentary, News with tags , on October 1, 2008 by floweroftheword

Tues 23 Sept 2008
radiozapatista(at)gmail.com

An article on the sentences passed this past August 21 against the political prisoners of San Salvador Atenco, based on interviews with relatives of the prisoners

by Alejandro Reyes – Radio Zapatista

When the parents of Oscar Hernández Pacheco were told that their son would be free in late August or Early September, they were overwhelmed with happiness. At the prison of Molino de Flores, don Paco and other relatives of political prisoners – who since the violent repression in San Salvador Atenco on May 3 and 4, 2006, had faced uncertainty, fear, and indignation – celebrated the news. “You see, don Paco,” said the father of another young prisoner from the town of Texcoco, “the kids will soon be free, we just need to stick it out a little longer.” “We’ll celebrate back in our town,” answered don Paco.

But some days later, on August 21 this year, they heard the terrible news: their son, like all other political prisoners held at Molino de Flores, were sentenced to 31 years and 10 months in prison, accused of kidnapping, while Ignacio del Valle was given an additional 45 years, on top of the 67 which he had already been sentenced to.

When doña Francisca learned of the decision, she fell ill. At 63 years of age, both she and her husband suffer from diabetes, an illness which has worsened in these two hears of anguish. “My children didn’t want me to go to the prison because they were afraid for my health, but I went anyway. I was a bit calmer, but when I got there I felt like I was no longer myself. I felt very ill. The next day I went to the hospital and the doctor told me I had to calm down, or I would have to be hospitalized. But how? He’s 30 years old. In another 30, he will be 60. How can they do that to him? And with such young children… the girl is eight years old, the boy is about three.”
As most of the prisoners sentenced, their son did not participate in the confrontations on May 3 and was not even a member of the Peoples’ Front in the Defense of the Land (FPDT), the organization that in 2006 was defending the flower vendors of Texcoco from being evicted from their place of work.

In the municipal auditorium of San Salvador Atenco, on one side of the central plaza, a small group of relatives of political prisoners recount what they have lived through these past two years and their indignation with the sentences of August 21, while the preparations continue for the Independence day celebration, on September 15, 2008, organized by the FPDF. Doña Francisca continues:

“The day they captured him he was going to see a relative that was very sick. They stopped him on the highway. They beat him, they injured his head, his face. We have a picture where the police are beating him, and one officer has a piece of concrete block with which he’s hitting him on the head. I didn’t know anything because that day he’d been at home. We were having breakfast, eating pozole, which is his favorite dish, and he told me that he would pick up the girl and he would come back to eat some. When the troops started coming into the town, we locked ourselves up. At around 3 pm my sons knew they had arrested him, but they didn’t tell me because they were afraid for my health. But then I saw him in the news, and that’s how I found out.”

Something similar happened with Julio César Espinoza Ramos, son of Maribel Ramos Rojas. At the time Julio was 18 and he hadn’t even heard about the FDPT. He liked to play soccer, worked in sales at the town of San Pablito Chiconcuac, and helped his grandmother take care of the cattle. On May 3, 2006, Julio César was riding his scooter on the highway that goes by San Salvador Atenco. Near the gas station of Tocuila he was detained at a police blockade. There he was brutally beaten, and then taken to the police station, before being transferred to the high-security prison of Santiaguito, in Almoloya, in the state of Toluca.

Julio César doesn’t understand why all of this is happening to him. Why was he sentenced to so many years in prison, if he didn’t do anything? And why such a heavy sentence, while the true kidnappers, those who maim people, those who murder and rape, are free? “He had so many dreams,” says his mother, “and now those dreams are truncated, locked up behind those prison walls.”

Juan de Dios Hernández, the FDPT lawyer who defends Atenco’s political prisoners, argues that the sentence was made without convincing proof, through legal proceedings full of irregularities and contradictions. One of the relatives even claims that, when he questioned the judge about the harshness of the sentences, he answered that he didn’t have full control over it and that the decision had come from above.

The political motives behind the sentences are evident in the fact that they were announced the same day that a highly publicized meeting of the National Council on Public Security was being held at the National Palace. In this meeting one of the topics that most concerns Mexican society was discussed: the insecurity that is currently lived in the country. There, a National Security Agreement was drafted, through which police and judicial institutions will be strengthened, with a focus on fighting kidnapping, money laundering, and organized crime. Among other legal reforms is a proposal for a general law on kidnapping. The sentences against Atenco’s political prisoners, precisely for kidnapping, should be read by Mexican society as a sign of alarm, since they criminalize dissidence and the defense of basic rights, equating political activism to organized crime. “We’re indignant,” says Trinidad Ramírez Velázquez, wife of Ignacio del Valle. “How dare they compare someone who defends the land and his rights to someone who kidnaps, murders, mutilates, rapes, and so on.” One of President Felipe Calderon’s proposals is to apply life in prison to convicted kidnappers. The sentence of 112 years to Ignacio del Valle is nothing less than life in prison.

It’s important to note that, regarding insecurity, the wave of kidnappings that are increasingly the topic of front-page headlines, and the drug-related violence that plagues the country, state corruption and impunity are two of the main contributors. Practically all known kidnapper gangs have members who are agents or former agents of precisely the same police forces which are in theory in charge of combating them.

At the same time, while political prisoners are given these absurd sentences, those responsible for the blatant human rights violations committed in San Salvador Atenco enjoy complete impunity. The events of May 3 and 4, 2006, represent one of the darkest moments of state repression and violence in the history of modern Mexico: murders, mass sexual aggressions against women and men, breaking and entering without a warrant, destruction of property, beatings, torture, humiliations. The savagery committed in Atenco were not just the uncontrolled actions of unprepared police forces, but rather a premeditated act of state violence designed to provoke terror in the population and to set a precedent that serves as an example to other social movements. The sentences of August 21 are just one more ingredient of these politics of terror.

It is hard to describe the pain of the families. “I’m a single mother,” says Maribel Rojas. “My son is all I have, and I’m all he has. This has affected me a lot at work because I’ve had to miss many times and I’m afraid to lose my job, but I can’t leave him alone. It’s also affected my health because I have diabetes and I’ve been hospitalized many times. And of course, it’s been very hard economically. I have to take him food, there are many expenses, and if I don’t work, how am I going to get the money, especially being alone? It hurts me a lot seeing him there. The day he called after the sentence, he seemed strong because he didn’t want to hurt me. But when I went to see him, he seemed an entirely different person, he was entirely broken.”

Doña Francisca can’t hold back her tears when she speaks of her son. “I feel very bad when I can’t go see him, but it hurts me a lot when I go to the prison. Since he was in Toluca, I used to go see him. But I feel terrible when I see my son like that. That’s why he tells me, ‘Don’t come, mother, because I get very sad when I see you cry.’ And we both cry together. But God willing I’ll be able to go see him and I’ll be calm and I won’t cry.”

For don Paco, his son’s imprisonment has also been devastating. He is a farmer, he plants corn in Atenco. “These two years have been very difficult. There are times I can’t go see him, because I have to work. There’s no money. We have to take money and food to him, and we make every effort to do it. And we spend 500 or 600 pesos in just one day. Imagine that, and we have no money. So we go crazy trying to find a solution, because I can’t work like I should.” Doña Francisca explains: don Paco is also diabetic and he often falls ill for one or two weeks at a time.

For Trinidad Ramírez, these two years have been a veritable ordeal. Her son César was in jail for almost two years. Her daughter América is in hiding. And her husband Ignacio faces a sentence of 112 years in prison. Nonetheless, she seems strong, firm, decided. “I think about them,” she explains. “I think of Ignacio in jail, always so optimistic. I’m afraid of falling into a depression and not being able to get up to continue fighting. But love can do so many things.” She says that, despite the sentence, Ignacio holds his head up. “He is very secure in his beliefs, in his ideals, in his cause. That’s why when I say that Ignacio is doing well, it’s not because he is well being there, because the conditions in prison are very tough, but because he believes in his ideals.”

But the repression and especially the sentences, which were intended to provoke fear and to silence people, had another effect. Maribel Ramos knew nothing about the FPDT, she had never participated in any struggle, she had never expressed indignation against the injustices she sees.

“My vision has changed a lot,” she says, “because we used to be very shy about expressing what’s happening in our country, the repression we suffer. Because what the government is doing is repression. They want to use us as an example and tell people: if you rebel, this is what can happen to you, you can have the same fate as these people. But instead of intimidating me, that has made me stronger, and I think it’s really important for me to express my indignation as a mother, to defend my son, because he’s completely innocent, and to denounce all this injustice we’re living. It’s time to raise our voices. If they said, ‘You better be quiet,’ well, I don’t think so. We have to face them and denounce everything that’s happening.”

Doña Francisca and don Paco, like other relatives of political prisoners who had never participated in any struggle, have also approached the FPDT, joining forces to struggle together for their son’s freedom.

For Trinidad Ramírez, “all bad things have a good side.” The sentences reawakened indignation and gave a new impulse to the struggle, in Mexico and around the world. This September 15, the FPDT organized an Independence Day event in the main plaza of San Salvador Atenco, and on September 23 a march is planned from the Angel to Los Pinos in Mexico City. At the same time, the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) announced that the encampment in front of the Molino de Flores prison would be reinforced and that it would be transformed into a space of encounter for the Other Campaign. The EZLN also called for a renewal of the national and international campaign for the freedom of political prisoners.

For many people, demanding the release of Atenco’s political prisoners is an urgent necessity, because what is at stake, besides the lives of innocent people, is the right to resistance and the defense of basic rights. It is, in sum, a struggle for justice, democracy, and freedom in Mexico.

http://www.radiozapatista.org