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They demand Patishtán’s release with a march around the prison

 ** The Tzotzil activist completes 13 years of a 60-year sentence 
 ** Hundreds also pray for other prisoners, adherents to the Sixth 

By: Hermann Bellinghausen 
San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, June 19, 2013 

With a Catholic mass at the side of the road to Ocosingo, and an impressive march around prison number 5 where Alberto Patishtán Gómez is imprisoned, hundreds of people, the majority indigenous from El Bosque, took advantage of another infamous anniversary (the thirteenth since the Tzotzil professor was incarcerated) to demand his immediate freedom and to send a message of companionship and solidarity to Alberto and his prisoner compañeros, also adherents to the Sixth. 

“It is not the struggle of one man alone, but of an entire people,” said the El Bosque parish priest, Magdaleno Sánchez Ruiz. His counterpart Marcelo Pérez, from Simojovel, demanded “Patishtán’s freedom in the name of God.” 

“We hope that the government does what it must do, which is to free him. It is not a favour. It is a demand for justice,” the organization Pueblo Creyente (Believing People) stated. “If there is no justice, the people have to rise up and cry out, even the rocks have to shout.” 

Cries of “Freedom” and “Justice” continued. The man known as “Father Marcelo” indicated, from the rudimentary altar set up a few metres from the prison’s wire fence: “He who cries out is not complicit.” 
Inside the prison, the prisoners of The Voice of El Amate and those in Solidarity with the Voice of El Amate also demonstrated and prayed for their freedom. From there, Alberto Patishtán sent a handwritten message to the people who filled the car park and the entrance: “The reason for my arrest was because I was on the side of the poor, the oppressed, the hungry and those who have nothing,” said the teacher, a native of El Bosque, currently the most important prisoner of conscience in the country, who has unleashed a significant international movement for his liberation. 

“I do not regret having helped my poor brothers, on the contrary, I feel happy about having fulfilled my duties a little”, Patishtán added. 

Once the religious ceremony and the solidarity messages were finished, such as the one from the Peoples United for the Defense of Electric Energy in the Northern Zone, those in attendance walked around the Los Llanos Prison, making the guards, today reinforced by many others, very nervous. This unprecedented action, with a banner of the Virgin of Guadalupe at the front, surely enabled the prisoners to hear the voices from outside demanding their freedom: “Patishtán, your friends are here.” 

Professor Patishtán continues to gain important friends. His defense said that soon he will have a visit from the recognized US Latino leader Baldemar Velázquez, who is considered an heir of the thinking of César Chávez. He is now the Vice President of the important AFL-CIO union, and for years he presided over the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC, its initials in Spanish). 

Today, time runs against Patishtán’s enemies: those politicians from the local power system who have systematically prevented his liberation for unclear reasons, without caring how much the demand for his freedom has now been legitimized, based on the the conviction that he has spent 13 years behind bars for no reason. 
Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada
Thursday, June 20, 2013

English translation by the Chiapas Support Committee for the: International Zapatista Translation Service, a collaboration of the: Chiapas Support Committee, California, Wellington Zapatista Support Group, UK Zapatista Solidarity Network

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