Planton de Santo Domingo, Ciudad de Oaxaca: November 9th, 2006 – Amanda Aquino writes:
Can you tell me about your detention?
On November 2nd, the PFP (Federal Police) carried out an operative to do away with the barricade Cinco Señores, protecting the University. That day, I was running an errand for my father. The disturbances were visible from afar. When I finished the errand, I came closer to the barricade to see what was happening. Suddenly, then, the PFP came and, without a word, without an arrest warrant, and without witnesses, they detained me very violently.
Immediately, they started to beat me – to hit my face, my ribs, my legs, they twisted my arms. The detention was very very violent. Then they took me in the vehicle where they kept me the whole time face down and hands back. All the time they were threatening us. With me were four other people. They put us all in the same position, face down, hands back, beating us, humiliating us, insulting us. That was during the detention. As they transferred us, we received the same treatment, but it was very long.
Where did they take you?
They kept me in the wagon for two hours, face down, with no communication, without being able to speak, without being able to explain that I was just walking by. Then they transferred me to a cargo truck. There, they had fifteen people. They put me on top of them. It was very violent. ‘Get on or you ?e going to be worse of.’ They threatened to kill us, to take us someplace where they would shoot us in the head one by one.
Again it was two hours of beatings. After that, they put us on a helicopter. The people who were on the helicopter were very large and muscular men. They threw us around. They treated us like we were trash. On the helicopter they took us to the prison of Tlacolula. There the situation was different. In the prison, they didn’t beat us. But they didn’t allow us to communicate with anyone initially. The next day they did let us call our families. Because you know they are the ones who suffer the most, without knowing what happened to us. I was imprisoned for one week, without being able to explain or defend myself, to prove my innocence. Most of the people detained are innocent. One shares with them and sees that they’re people who don’t steal, don’t smoke, don’t take drugs, that don’t commit any crime.
Where many of those in the prison detained as a result of the political conflict?
We were sixteen. There were two minors, who were 14 years old. By law, they are not supposed to be in that prison. That’s a crime that the government commits. But since they use the law as they please, they didn’t care that these were children.
When you were in the helicopter, what happened?
It was very violent, as the rest of the time. They made a human pile out of us.
Were there threats?
Yes, the ‘camouflaged’, as we call them, those who were ‘watching’ us, would say, “Look, son of a bitch, behave or I’ll throw you off the helicopter.” At that moment, one imagines anything, the worst, that they’ll throw you into the mountain. We hear that that’s what they do to many of the disappeared. And we feared that would happen to us, especially because the door of the helicopter was open the whole time. Even though they had us face down, we knew the door was open. So there’s the fear that at any moment they could throw you off.
A teacher told me about one compañera who was detained at the beginning of the conflict. She was witness to how another compañero resisted the ‘camouflaged’ and since they couldn’t control him, they threw him off the helicopter. That person is one of the ‘disappeared’ because his body has not been found. But there is her testimony. These are the things we hear, and we believe them because this entire operation is so violent and there are so many threats.
Can you tell me about your release?
My release was sudden. Supposedly I had to go through a judicial process. I was released yesterday, after a week of being detained. They didn’t say to pay a fine, nothing, they just told me I was released. I don’t know exactly why they let me go, but I think it was because of the negotiations of the APPO (Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca). The stay in the prison was normal. They didn’t torture us.
What would you like to say to those who listen to you from other parts of the world?
Pay attention to this conflict. This unrest is due to the people being fed up with a government that has repressed us, that has stolen from us, that doesn’t offer any opportunities for development, human nor economic, that doesn’t help us live. Everything here is difficult for us. It is difficult to get food, to get a job, to get housing, to get health care. And that’s what the people are demanding. When the Governor heard the demands, instead of creating a dialogue, or to address these problems, he responded by sending the police in to repress. When the teachers asked for better salaries and scholarships for the students, what he did was send the police. He has always responded with violence, and people have just defended themselves.
That’s why I want the world to pay attention to this and realize that our struggle is a just one, that the struggle of the people is not violent. No one has arms, at most, they have a stone or a stick. But we try to defend ourselves because they have sent us assassins to shoot at us, without caring who they kill, a child, and elderly, a woman. They don’t respect us.
Everybody here is hardworking. We are people who are struggling for justice. And I want the world to know that, and to see that this is a repressive government, an assassin government, and a violent government. As of today, there are at least seventy disappeared. We don’t know if they’re dead. And those who are alive, where are they? Many people have died, including the brave journalist Brad Will, who was killed while filming how we were repressed, how the government sends assassins to kill us. They are dressed as civilians in order to cover up. But there is evidence of the repression. Many may not speak up out of fear, but those of us who are here will remain until justice is done and the government ends up where it should be, in jail.