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The Struggle will Continue for the Unjustly Held Prisoners – Vow the Recently Released Chiapas Prisoners

Hermann Bellinghausen
La Jornada, 6th July, 2013
San Cristobal de Las Casas, Chiapas

Today teacher Martín Ramírez López, spokesman for the Movement of the Pueblo of El Bosque for the Release of Alberto Patishtán, addressed the nine indigenous adherents of the Sexta who were released on Thursday, “You do not owe anything to the government. If you are out of jail, it is because you fought from inside. It is the product of your work. And thanks to the shouts in the streets.

“Fellow former prisoners, welcome to the field of battle. Your freedom does not mean that the government might have had a heart transplant, that it might have a new one and as if they made a change. No,” indicated the Tzotzil representative, during a press conference in a crowded cafe in the the historic centre this afternoon.

The place is packed. On a table at the platform, Rosa and eight men released from prison, with the astonishment of their freedom drawn on their faces, look at the audience that listens and looks. The words of the teacher Martín (“Thirteen years of struggle and here we continue,” was his message) sounded harsh.

“How are they going to pay for years of punishment you received? How is the government going to repair the lost years, if you are innocent? That is the great injustice for the poor. Is it possible to punish the innocent with so many years of sentence? For them, to free you is like releasing an animal, a horse, that can go it alone to find food. How many innocent prisoners have gone out and nobody repairs the damage? Seven, eight years inside. They have lost daughters, brothers, family, home,” the teacher continues firmly.

“This is going to continue,” he says. “And the prosecutors from the Public Ministry, the police, the judges, who tortured, falsely accused and convicted. Why is there no punishment for them? They sentenced innocent people, and no one pays for it. We have not heard of a judge in prison for convicting an innocent. And these, these here are only nine. The judges ascend, they occupy better positions.”

Rosario Díaz Méndez, Pedro López Jiménez, Juan Collazo Jiménez, Juan Díaz López, Rosa López Díaz, Alfredo López Jiménez, Juan López González, Benjamin López Díaz and Enrique Gómez Hernández listen carefully. On Thursday afternoon, they left State Prison No. 5 after an arduous struggle that included fasting, hunger strikes and the collective defence of the human rights of the prison population.

“Why are there prisoners who are innocent in the rest of the prisons? Because they are not organised. They will continue without anyone turning to see them. If you had not protested, if you had not made a movement, so you would be, too. We have to continue. There are many prisoners still suffering. The bad government and all the big shots that sit on the agencies continue with their same hearts in order to continue repressing,” persists Ramírez López in his remarkable speech.

“We must unite our voices and forces. There is a great violation of human rights. A few days ago, the state government sent a bunch of grenadiers to beat teachers and put their hands where they should not.”

And he moves on to another kind of testimony:
“We were electing a general secretary. Many teachers were assaulted, injured, gassed. Some were dumped in different parts of the capital. Like animals, bathed in blood. But there are no prisoners among them, only hospitalized teachers.”

Pedro López Jiménez, who in prison was spokesman for the Solidarity of the Voice of Amate, and an obvious “student” of the teacher Patishtán Gómez, said that thanks to this struggle “he managed to get our stories out of jail”, and they became “a globalized struggle”.

The Network against Repression emphasizes that there are still four prisoners of the Sexta: Alberto Patishtán, Alejandro Díaz Sántiz, Miguel Demeza Jiménez and Antonio Estrada Estrada, and he outright disqualifies the administration of justice in Chiapas.

The released do not hide their emotions. Rosa says:

“I was sentenced to 27 years for a crime I did not commit. For that injustice, I came to know this struggle. Thanks to comrade Alberto Patishtán and to you (she addresses the audience), the struggle bore fruit. Because we are free does not mean the end of the struggle, there are other comrades suffering injustice. Also the loss of my son Nathaniel, who was born badly and died because of the blows that they gave me when I was pregnant.”

In a final comment, the independent lawyer Ricardo Lagunes states:
“Given the ministerial declarations concocted regarding Rosa, the MP [Public Ministry, investigative police, prosecutors] who made the falsifications should be prosecuted.”
He cites the recent unpunished murder of Juan Vásquez Guzmán, of San Sebastian Bachajón as another inescapable case of the present circumstance.

Translation by Jane Brundage

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