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"Patishtán Must Be Declared Innocent" - Bishop Raúl Vera, Saltillo, Coahuila

A pardon would be a recognition of guilt

Left to right: Pedro López, Raúl Vera López, Bishop of Saltillo, Coahuila; Rosario Díaz and Father Miguel Concha, following a Mass celebrated in support of Alberto Patishtán in front of the Federal Judiciary Council (Photo: Francisco Olvera)
Emir Olivares Alonso, Carolina Gómez Mena
La Jornada, Friday 12th July, 2013

The Tzotzil teacher Alberto Patishtán--charged with the murder of several policemen in Chiapas--does not deserve a pardon, but instead must be declared innocent because he is imprisoned on false charges, declared the bishop of Saltillo, Coahuila, Raúl Verá López.
After a conference on the persecution of activists in Guerrero, he said that keeping Patishtán in jail reflects "the obstinacy" of the Mexican state toward the indigenous peoples, whom it does not make subjects of the law.

The bishop celebrated a Mass with the Dominican priest Miguel Concha, director of the Fray Francisco de Vitoria Human Rights Centre. Also present was Father Julián Cruzalta of Catholics for the Right to Decide (CFRD).
The ceremony, organized by Churches for Peace and Serapaz to demand Patishtán's release, was held outside the Federal Judiciary Council and was attended by over three hundred people. 
Vera López regretted that they continue violating the rights of indigenous people and social fighters like Patishtán, and he issued a call for justice for the original peoples. At the conclusion of the religious service, the Tzotzil-teacher, who has served thirteen years of a sixty-year sentence, said by telephone that despite being behind walls he feels free, because he continues to be a social fighter and thinker.
The bishop felt that the pardon "would amount to (recognizing) that he is guilty; it would mean forgiveness. It is up to Alberto (to accept a pardon, or not). I think that the release he deserves is through his innocence."
He noted that the federal Executive is analyzing authorization of a pardon for Patishtán, even when there is evidence to presume his innocence.

In Mexico, he said, mistreatment of the original peoples continues, and it even extends to their sacred places, as in Wirikuta. In mistreating the Tzotzil activist, the State wants to show that "it has the power."

Translation by Jane Brundage

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