Oaxaca de Juárez, Oax. September 15, 2007
To the peoples of Oaxaca,
To the peoples of Mexico,
To the peoples of the world,
To the indigenous peoples,
To the Other Campaign:
Eleven years after the unjust imprisonment of twelve Zapotec men and women from the Loxicha region, the undersigned collectives, spaces, persons, and organizations demand:
THE IMMEDIATE FREEDOM OF ALL INDIGENOUS PRISONERS IN OAXACA AND MEXICO!
AN END TO THE REPRESSION AND DISPOSSESSION OF INDIAN PEOPLES!
The jails of Oaxaca now reveal the war unleashed by the state government and those who have served it down through the years. By means of a silent war, the corporations and all the political parties are trying to do away with the Indian peoples, plunder their natural resources, erase their history with blood, and take their territory away from them.
Extermination, exploitation, lies, dispossession, and prison have been the only state and federal government policies concerning the Indian peoples of Oaxaca.
In the state of Oaxaca, there are approximately 31 indigenous political prisoners behind bars, punished for their autonomous community organization, the defense of their territory and natural resources, the defense of their right to freely decide their own community matters, and their refusal to forget their culture and history. All of them organized to improve the living conditions in their regions and communities, yet charges have been invented to keep them locked up.
Thirteen indigenous people from the Loxicha region are now being held in different jails in the state of Oaxaca, twelve of whom have spent almost eleven years behind bars. Some received unjust criminal sentences of 29, 30, and 31 years of imprisonment. Four of them (Cirilo Ambrosio Antonio, Urbano Ruiz Cruz, Ricardo Martínez Enríquez and Estanislao Martínez Santiago) with sentences of 13 years and six months are due to be out on parole, yet they are arbitrarily kept in prison.
On September 25, 1996, the massive repression of the Zapotec men and women of the Loxicha region began when the Mexican Army brutally attacked those who were demanding better living conditions. The result was “200 illegal arrests, 150 cases of torture, 32 illegal searches, 22 extrajudicial executions, 22 forced disappearances, 137 political prisoners or prisoners of conscience, and an undetermined number of sexual abuses, harassment, death threats, and corrupt procedural irregularities” (Civilian Mission for the Observation of Human Rights, March 21-24, 2002).
“Today Loxicha is not the way it used to be. The town is militarized; there are three Mixed Operations Bases with army and police forces that do nothing but terrorize the civilian population. People are unable to move around freely and go about their daily activities for fear of being interrogated or arrested or, what’s worse, shot by the horrendous police on the government payroll.” Letter from Loxicha prisoners, August 28, 2007.
Among the people disappeared by the Mexican government and its henchmen between 1996 and the present time are:
Marcelino Santiago Pacheco, disappeared on April 27, 2003, and his brother Anselmo Santiago Pacheco, disappeared in the early morning hours of June 21, 2003.
The names of our comrades, prisoners who have brutally been deprived of their freedom in the Loxicha region, are as follows: AGUSTÍN LUNA VALENCIA, ELEUTERIO HERNÁNDEZ GARCÍA, ÁLVARO SEBASTIÁN RAMÍREZ, URBANO RUIZ CRUZ, CIRILO AMBROSIO ANTONIO, ABRAHAM GARCÍA RAMÍREZ, FORTINO ENRÍQUEZ HERNÁNDEZ, RICARDO MARTÍNEZ ENRÍQUEZ, JUSTINO HERNÁNDEZ JOSÉ, ESTANISLAO MARTÍNEZ SANTIAGO, MARIO AMBROSIO MARTÍNEZ and ZACARÍAS P. GARCÍA LÓPEZ.
All of the men listed above were arrested on September 25, 1996. Since then, dozens of Zapotec Indians from Loxicha have been subjected to arbitrary arrest, including our comrade sister, ISABEL ALMARAZ MATÍAS, who has been unjustly imprisoned since June 25, 2002.
On June 23, 2002, PEDRO CASTILLO ARAGÓN, activist, law student, advisor to indigenous communities, member of the Citizens’ Defense Committee (CODECI), and adherent to the Other Campaign was arrested arbitrarily, brutally tortured, and subjected to continuous interrogation carried out through physical and psychological torture. Now, more than five years after his arrest, he is still held prisoner unjustly.
In June of 2002 young GONZALO LÓPEZ CORTES was arrested. He had participated in the Casa del Estudiante Indígena, a home for low-income indigenous students. He has now been in prison for five years.
In January, 2005, three indigenous comrades––ABRAHAM RAMÍREZ VÁZQUEZ, NOEL GARCÍA CRUZ, and JUVENTINO GARCÍA CRUZ––members of the Popular Anti-neoliberal Oaxacan Magonista Coordinating Body (COMPA) and the Committee for the Defense of Indigenous Rights (CODEDI) of Santiago Xanica, were unjustly arrested by the Oaxaca state police. They are now imprisoned in Pochutla under false charges; in reality they are being held for their participation in community organizing and for demanding better living conditions in the communities. These three comrades, all social activists, were the first political prisoners of the fascist government of Ulises Ruiz Ortiz.
Five comrades of the Popular Autonomous Government of the Villa de San Blas Atempa still remain in jail after several people were arrested between August, 2005 and March 1, 2006. They are: ALFREDO JIMENEZ HENESTROSA, JORGE REYES RAMIREZ, FELICIANO JIMENEZ LOPEZ, JOSE LUIS SANCHEZ GOMEZ and NICANOR SALUD RASGADO, all Zapotec residents of San Blas Atempa. The bail set for each person is around 900,000 pesos, a sum that is impossible to pay.
On March 1, 2006, the police went into the San Blas Atempa town hall and arrested 10 people and issued 94 arrest warrants; 44 of these warrants are still in effect and the rest have been canceled. Months after the evacuation, Mr. Faustino Acevedo Bailón, the Treasurer of the Autonomous Town Government of San Blas Atempa, was killed while he was on the way to the National Indigenous Congress in the state of Mexico as a delegate from San Blas Atempa. The struggle in the town is against the local PRI party power boss Agustina Acevedo Gutiérrez, for the disappearance of powers. The people are demanding the removal of the protection normally accorded to elected officials to keep them from being brought to trial; the purpose is to leave the way open for an investigation of the crime and corruption committed in the town.
The seven political prisoners of the Popular Indigenous Council of Oaxaca—Ricardo Flores Magón (CIPO-RFM), JUANA MORALES PÉREZ, JUVENTINO CRUZ PÉREZ, EUTIMIO MÉNDEZ LÓPEZ, ANASTASIO LÓPEZ PÉREZ, ARTEMIO PÉREZ CRUZ and SANTOS PÉREZ CRUZ, from the town of San Isidro Aloapam, and the indigenous man NOÉ RAMOS HERRERA were arrested and held without cause.
San Isidro Aloápam is a Zapotec indigenous community in the Sierra Norte, in the municipality of San Miguel Aloápam in the state of Oaxaca, México. Day by day townspeople resist, caring for the forest and surrounding territory. On June 18, 2007, the residents were attacked by PRI party members of the Ulises Ruiz Ortiz government and federal agents. Since then, the community has been presented as a place full of guerillas and violent people when, in reality, it has peacefully defended its forests, resisting and protecting its territory, conserving and nourishing community life in the face of attacks by the government and big businesses––both national and international––that are looting and exterminating Indian peoples in an effort to take possession of their land and resources.
It’s clear to us that all of the accusations against these indigenous comrades are inventions of the state and federal government and the military and police agents aimed at wiping out indigenous resistance and the indigenous people themselves. Their resistance has set an example and their wisdom permeates our lands, which are not for sale, expressing the hope that freedom and autonomy can really be put into practice for the peoples in the countryside and the city.
We know that right now, the war against Indian peoples is escalating throughout Mexico. From the South to the North there are injustices, killings, militarization, plunder, abuses, repression, and death against peoples struggling for autonomy, their own history, territory, and natural resources.
We are filled with anger over the information sent out by the Good Government Council, Towards Hope regarding the cowardly attacks by Felipe Calderón Hinojosa and the Governor of Chiapas Juan Sabines Guerrero against our indigenous sisters and brothers in Chiapas, who gave orders to dispossess and arrest the residents of the villages of San Manuel and Buen Samaritano. They are accused of destroying the mountains of the Montes Azules ecological reserve, which is totally untrue. Police cowards in helicopters landed in these towns, looting and destroying homes and dragging the people away.
Furthermore, the state and federal governments intend to drive more people off their land in the villages of Salvador Allende and Nuevo Corozal, all because they live on the land that they work and don’t regard it as merchandize; this disturbs the companies that want to take their land away from them. As a result of the cowardly evacuation, many women and children were treated cruelly and are now displaced in Ocosingo in unfit living conditions. Meanwhile, MARIO LÓPEZ GÓMEZ, FELICIANO LÓPEZ HERNÁNDEZ, TOMAS GÓMEZ LÓPEZ, and JUAN GÓMEZ LÓPEZ are imprisoned in El Amate.
The attacks against the Zapatista comrades are one example of the repression and dispossession by the federal government against indigenous people throughout Mexico who seek justice, autonomy, and freedom.
The prison terms aimed at punishing the indigenous peoples for resisting is even harsher for indigenous women who are social activists. This is the case with ISABEL ALMARAZ MATÍAS from Loxicha, who has been in prison for five years, JUANA MORALES PÉREZ from San Isidro Aloapam, arrested for defending the forest, and MAGDALENA GARCÍA DURÁN, the Mazahua woman from the community of San Antonio Pueblo Nuevo in the state of México, a member of the National Indigenous Congress and the Other Campaign, who was beaten and arrested in San Salvador Atenco in May of 2006. She is now in prison, robbed of her freedom along with dozens of people who went to Atenco in solidarity with the townspeople and tried to prevent the entry of the Federal Preventive Police and the police of the state of Mexico.
Indigenous social activists and comrades are now imprisoned in several different places, including Oaxaca, Veracruz, the state of Mexico, and Mexico City. In Tabasco, ÁNGEL CONCEPCIÓN PÉREZ and FRANCISCO PÉREZ VÁSQUEZ have been unjustly imprisoned for nine years and six months, while DAVID VALTIERRA of the Xochistlahuaca community is being held in Guerrero. In Chiapas the prisoners known as LA VOZ DEL AMATE show their dignity by maintaining their encampment inside the prison and those known as LA VOZ DE LOS LLANOS continue to struggle for their freedom.
The cases mentioned here are not the only ones. These prisoners are just a small part of today’s reality in which dozens of indigenous men and women are consigned to oblivion and silence in jails throughout Mexico for defending their lands and culture––for just being Indians.
In view of all this, we demand the immediate freedom of all indigenous prisoners, workers, defenders and guardians of our Mother Earth and caretakers of Mother Nature in Oaxaca, Mexico, and the world.
ON SEPTEMBER 25, 2007, WHICH MARKS ELEVEN YEARS OF UNJUST IMPRISONMENT OF THE TWELVE ZAPOTECO BROTHERS IN LOXICHA, WE URGE ALL COMPAÑER@S IN OAXACA, MEXICO, AND THE WORLD TO DEMAND FREEDOM FOR ALL THE INDIGENOUS PRISONERS IN OAXACA AND MEXICO AND AN END TO THE DISPOSSESSION, MILITARIZATION, AND REPRESSION AGAINST THE INDIAN PEOPLES OF THE WORLD.
FREE ALL INDIGENOUS PRISONERS!
STOP THE REPRESSION AGAINST INDIGENOUS PEOPLES!
LAND, CULTURE, HISTORY, LANGUAGE, INDIGENOUS PEOPLE ARE NOT MERCHANDIZE!
Voces Oaxaqueñas Construyendo Autonomía y Libertad (VOCAL), Comité de Defensa Ciudadana (CODECI), Ayuntamiento Popular Autónomo de la Villa de San Blas Atempa, Kolectivo Tod@s Somos Pres@s, Consejo Indígena Popular de Oaxaca-Ricardo Flores Magón (CIPO-RFM), comisión de presos de la Otra Tabasco, Colectivo Sacco y Vanzetti (Guadalajara), colectivo espiral 7, (Puebla), Pensares y Sentires (DF).