Oaxaca, March 6, 2008.
It is with much joy and vitality that we bring you the news that yesterday, Wednesday, March 6, 2008, our comrade DAVID VENEGAS REYES “ALEBRIJE” PROVED HIS INNOCENCE AND BY SO DOING RECOVERED HIS PHYSICAL FREEDOM. After 11 long months of imprisonment, the doors of the central penitentiary in the state of Oaxaca opened for the first time to let “el Alebrije” walk out.
Outside the prison, dozens of people awaited his release. Meanwhile, the state police brandished their arms to try to intimidate the people who have struggled all these months to win David’s freedom and that of the other comrades still locked up.
At approximately 5:30 p.m., “el Alebrije” came out of the prison with his arm raised and his head held high.
He had this to say to the people awaiting his release:
(Chants) Hey hey, you don’t say! Here we are again!
He’s down, he’s down, Ulises is down!
Silence the people? No they can’t. Not with machine guns, not with tanks!
“Compañeros and compañeras, I’m very happy and excited to be here with you again today after 11 months in prison, after 11 months with the other comrades that are still inside. On one hand, I’m so happy to be with you in the street, ready to keep struggling for a better world, for a Oaxaca where there’s justice and freedom, to bring down the murdering repressive tyrant Ulises Ruiz. But on the other hand, I feel sad to leave so many good comrades inside. One thing this new phase of the struggle has taught me is that in Oaxaca, prison is unavoidable, or so it seems. It seems like in Oaxaca prison is a step we have to take—all of us who are struggling for a better world. It’s helped me to learn about other people’s suffering from long ago and now and to meet or to learn about other comrades who are in there for the same reason I was. So now I’m coming out to struggle, to demand a fair, honorable Oaxaca with freedom, justice, and peace.
There are many comrades still inside, but I want to tell you that they have dignity and courage. It’s been hard for me to leave them, hard to say “until we meet again,”—not “good-bye.” But it makes me happy, and them, too, to know that I and others are coming out to keep on struggling. I thank all of you so much, and those who couldn’t be here today, too, because thanks to you, comrades, I’m out, looking you in the eye. I’m coming out with a lot of dignity, almost as much as you have, because the murderous, repressive government of Ulises Ruiz, with all its violence, crime, and threats hasn’t been able to make us bow down or give in, or betray each other. We––all of you and those who aren’t here, the people and those who are the base of the Section 22 teachers’ union, all of us who are the APPO, who are the social movement, who are the ones that have done great and marvelous things that have made much of the world see that in Oaxaca there is hope and freedom––we’re the ones on the bottom, the ones who have made this movement. We’re the ones who set up the barricades, who marched to Mexico City, who defended our city, and we’ll have to be the ones who revive our movement once more and win victory. It won’t be the ones who call themselves leaders, those who have given in and betrayed this movement with their negotiations behind the backs of the people. They’re not the APPO. They’re not the ones who did great things, and they won’t be the ones who happen to do them in the future. It will be us, all of us, who from the ground up will make Oaxaca an example, a material dream, a breath of freedom for all of Mexico and for the world.
I humbly ask you this, comrades, because I have nothing to brag about to you. The dignity and courage you’ve shown here outside the walls in defending and demanding my freedom and the freedom of the other comrades and the most righteous causes of this movement simply prompts me to ask you this, with humility and sincerity: Let’s move on ahead. It’s not anything you’re not already doing or that you haven’t done or that you’ve stopped doing since that wonderful year—2006.
If my freedom means anything, I hope it will bring you a sense of victory, because this freedom that was won for me is your triumph, comrades. It’s a small triumph because I’m just one out of all of us who’ve been deprived of our freedom and subjected to all kinds of injustice.
But when the prisoners, those who have fallen, the repressed communities, the teachers who’ve been killed, and the people who are brutalized all become motives for struggle, come what may, it becomes untenable for the government to keep us in prison or keep on oppressing us—it has to set us free. This is no concession from the criminal, despotic, murderous government of Ulises Ruiz. This is not the product of a shady, under-the-table negotiation behind your backs. The freedom that is mine today and the freedom to come for the other comrades is won with dignity, valor, and combativity, comrades. We are a free people. We’ve won our freedom of spirit, and they no longer deceive us because we’ve opened our eyes. They will never make us believe their lies again. We’ll struggle so that everyone in Oaxaca, in Mexico, and the world will enjoy that same freedom of spirit, comrades. Long live the struggle of the peoples of Oaxaca! Long live the comrades fallen in battle! Long live our comrades held prisoner!”
(Chant) David, our friend, we’re with you to the end!
David then recited the long list of political prisoners and prisoners of conscience in Oaxaca: Gonzalo López, Isabel Almaráz, Pedro Castillo, Adán Mejía, Miguel Ángel, Víctor Martínez, the 12 comrades from Loxicha, and those from San Blas Atempa, Guevea de Humboldt, and Santiago Xanica. At the same time, he demanded the freedom of all political prisoners in Oaxaca, Mexico, and the world.
Looking back at the guards and prison walls that stole 11 months of freedom from him, he said:
“Comrades, I assure you that this freedom that we breathe today is the same freedom shared by our comrades in prison. Those walls that stand there and all those guns, all that indignity and squalor can’t prevent freedom from climbing over and going beyond the walls. The men and women inside are free like we are because they’ve opened their eyes, because they keep on struggling, and because they’ll keep on struggling when they get out. That’s something nobody can stop, comrades. Ever onward towards victory, comrades.”…
Comrades, we thank you for all your struggle, support, and solidarity that you’ve contributed, with no thought for yourselves, to the case of our comrade David “Alebrije,” and as he said, “My freedom is also your triumph.”
We also wish to inform you, however, that although David won his unconditional freedom on the 5 charges related to the repression in Oaxaca of November 25, 2006, he had to pay $4000 bail on the absurd charge that served as a pretext for his arrest: “crimes against health,” or in other words, possession of drugs. Throughout the entire process, he has proven his innocence on this charge.
We also thank all of you who have kept up with the situation during these months. Local resistance and the solidarity that has come from many parts of Mexico and the world has broken the news media siege aimed at hiding and silencing David’s imprisonment.
ALL OF US AREN’T HERE. THE PRISONERS ARE MISSING!
DOWN WITH PRISON WALLS!
Voces Oaxaqueñas Construyendo Autonomía y Libertad
(Oaxacan Voices Constructing Autonomy and Freedom)
This post is also available in: Spanish