September 7, 2009
To the national and international civil society
To the 218 civil society organizations of the Campaign for Freedom and Justice for Atenco
We who make up the Committee for Freedom and Justice for Atenco, the initiators of the campaign of the same name, together with the Peoples’ Front in Defense of the Land in its just struggle for the freedom of 12 political prisoners, wish to convey this call to the people, families, collectives, organizations, movements, fronts, and the national and international civil society, and we ask all of you to pass it on to other hands, other peoples, barrios, work and study centers, communities and all those who struggle for freedom and justice. This committee is made up of 30 musicians, people of faith, communicators, actors and actresses, a dozen civil organizations in solidarity with this struggle, and human rights defenders, who, along with the Peoples’ Front in Defense of the Land itself, wish to express the following:
1. Stemming from the repressive actions on May 3 and 4, 2006, in San Salvador Atenco, 12 people are still in prison. The operation carried out with an enormous amount of violence, police brutality, human rights violations, and countless irregularities was a State decision, whose consequences were the killings of two young boys, the arrests of more than 200 people, the humiliation, rape and sexual torture of around thirty women arrested. What happened in Atenco was a preview of new repressive mechanisms and militarized police units. From the very first, countless individuals, organizations and collectives launched the national and international mobilization against repression to win freedom for those arrested. Thanks to the solidarity and persistence of thousands of people in Mexico and the world, most of the prisoners arrested in the operation are now free. As a result of the mobilizations, the denunciations of this repression have spread around the world.
2. Almost three years later, however, 12 people are still being held prisoner unjustly. They aren’t common prisoners. They aren’t criminals. They are political prisoners of the Mexican State, and only a national and international mobilization will open the road to their freedom. For this reason, we began the Campaign for Freedom and Justice for Atenco last February, as a means of strengthening, reorganizing, and reinitiating the mobilization of the civil society with the primary demand of freedom for the 12 political prisoners. On February 17, we launched a peaceful, civil, independent initiative, and as of last June 18, have been able to hold around 80 actions, forums, mobilizations, sit-ins, and protests in 16 cities outside the country (Bilbao, Zaragoza, Montevideo, Durham, New York, Weymouth, Paris, Marseilles, Barcelona, Oakland, Melbourne, Chicago, Athens, Buenos Aires, Edinburgh and the Hague, as well as in Mexico City, the metropolitan area, and eight states throughout the country. As of now, 218 student, indigenous, citizen, social, popular, workers, alternative media, human rights and solidarity collectives and organizations have enrolled in this campaign, strengthening and ratifying the civil and independent nature of this initiative. We calculate that around 10,000 people have directly participated in the actions and around 200,000 have had access to information about the campaign and the situation of the 12 political prisoners. The first stage of the campaign has renewed the visibility of the repression in the San Salvador Atenco case, has updated and publicized the situation of the 12 prisoners both nationally and internationally, has put heightened pressure on Mexican authorities, and in particular, has reactivated the participation of the civil society, renewing ties with many people who want to continue to wage this freedom struggle. In brief, the first stage of the campaign has been a success.
3. Nevertheless, we must say that there have been changes for the worse in the situation of the political prisoners. Nine of the twelve, those unjustly held at the Molino de las Flores Prison, have filed for a definitive federal ruling on lower court procedures. This is their last recourse for achieving the freedom. In the next few months, the Judiciary will decide whether to release them or to ratify their sentences, which come to more than 31 years in prison apiece. Meanwhile, the situation of the 3 prisoners in the Altiplano penitentiary (Ignacio Del Valle, Felipe Alvarez, and Héctor Galindo) has become intolerable due to the terrible conditions in this maximum security prison. We have also found, in the course of an investigation, that the decision to move them to that prison has no legal or administrative justification whatsoever. That is to say, the Mexican State violated its own norms when it transferred these prisoners accused of violations of state law, as opposed to federal law, to a maximum security prison. All of the prisoners, and especially their families, are experiencing health problems as well as economic and communications difficulties, which makes it more urgent to escalate the pressure for their freedom. Lastly, it is indispensable to remember that existing arrest warrants on certain charges have not yet been served, both for some of the prisoners and for FPDT members Adán Espinoza and América del Valle, still being pursued. Furthermore, more than 50 people still have open cases although they are out on bail. All of these cases ––those of the prisoners, those of the fugitives, those who have presented their last possible appeals, and those who will do so–– are yet to be resolved by the Judiciary.
4. For these reasons, our evaluation is that making denunciations and publicizing the case is not enough. It is imperative to mount a peaceful, civil mobilization, both nationally and internationally. Although it will always be necessary to spread information about the case, it is now urgent for the civil society to mobilize in order to open the road to freedom. But, to do this, a higher level of participation and organization is required. The Judiciary will decide whether or not to release the 9 political prisoners held at Molino de las Flores, and the federal government will decide whether or not to transfer the 3 political prisoners from Altiplano to a prison nearer to their homes. But it is only the force of the civil society that will make it possible for the 12 political prisoners of Atenco to win their freedom. We must reactivate the mobilization for their freedom.
5. Atenco is a national, emblematic case. It represents the application and creation of new offenses, such as aggravated kidnapping, which are affronts to all of us and arbitrary measures that could be applied to all social struggles as mechanisms of control and repression. The repressive operation in Atenco stands for impunity, and moreover, for subjection through violence and a breach of legality by the State. Atenco is an open wound for the whole country, for the entire civil society, for all people who struggle for freedom and justice. Atenco is not only a concern for its direct victims, but for the country as a whole. In Atenco the stakes are high: the winner could be brute force and impunity on one hand, or truth and justice on the other. Atenco represents all the struggles that have been or might be repressed. The struggle for the freedom of the 12 political prisoners three years after their unjust imprisonment calls out to all of us. The freedom of the Atenco political prisoners is both a national and international struggle that is a call to one and all.
In view of the above, it is with great urgency that we send out this call to the national and international civil society, to the 217 organizations that make up this campaign, to all the individuals, families, collectives, organizations, movements, and networks throughout the Americas and Europe to participate in the SECOND STAGE of the NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL CAMPAIGN FOR FREEDOM AND JUSTICE FOR ATENCO. We demand:
- A fair, unbiased, thoroughgoing review of the cases of the 9 prisoners at Molino de Flores, and their immediate release due to the fact that they are political prisoners of the Mexican State.
- The immediate transfer of Ignacio del Valle, Felipe Alvarez, and Héctor Galindo to a prison near their home.
- The cancellation of arrest warrants against Adán Espinoza.
Furthermore, we continue to struggle for:
- FREEDOM of all 12 political prisoners
- Revocation of their vindictive sentences
- Absolute respect for the humans rights of those imprisoned and pursued
- Punishment for the masterminds and perpetrators responsible for the repression and human rights violations
- An end to the political persecution of América del Valle and Adán Espinoza
- Condemnation of the criminalization of the social movements in Mexico and an end to this policy
To this end, we call on:
- The organizations in Mexico to support and organize a Freedom Tour: 12 States/12 Political Prisoners, in which a commission of FPDT members will travel directly to each state to bring public attention to the current situation of the prisoners; participate in freedom mobilizations, festivals and forums of denunciation; and hold meetings with member organizations of the Freedom and Justice for Atenco Campaign. The FPDT will meet with local alternative and commercial news media to air the campaign and will also meet with members of the civil society to make proposals for the freedom of the prisoners. The tour includes the following states and dates:
- September 11, 12, 13 and 14. Chiapas
- September 26 and 27, Veracruz
- October 3 and 4, Jalisco
- October 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12, Baja California
- October 17 and 18, San Luis Potosí
- October 22, 23, 24 and 25, Guerrero
- October 31 and November 1, Morelos
- November 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8. Coahuila and Nuevo León
- November 14 and 15. Puebla
- November 21 and 22. Michoacán
- November 25, 26, 27, 28 and 29. Oaxaca
The Freedom Tour will close on December 5 and 6 with a Freedom Festival in San Salvador Atenco.
- The European collectives and organizations to form a coordination space for the freedom of the political prisoners of Atenco in order to facilitate cooperation and coordinated action, as well as to undertake joint initiatives with the Committee for Freedom and Justice for Atenco. We know this is a difficult task, but we ask that you begin a consultation process among yourselves to form this space and, where appropriate, to communicate with the Committee to prepare new actions for the freedom of the 12 prisoners.
- The organizations in Mexico City and the metropolitan zone to mobilize and demand that the authorities transfer the 3 prisoners from Altiplano and release the 9 at Molino de las Flores. At key moments we will be asking you to participate in a series of actions to achieve these objectives.
- All people and families in Mexico City, the country, and other parts of the world to register as part of the national and international campaign, participate in activities of the Freedom Tour, and participate in the mobilizations in the metropolitan zone to demand freedom for the prisoners.
We know that together we will achieve freedom and justice for Atenco.
PEOPLES FRONT IN DEFENSE OF THE LAND
COMMITTEE FOR FREEDOM AND JUSTICE FOR ATENCO:
Samuel Ruiz García Bishop emeritus of the San Cristóbal de las Casas Diocese, Ofelia Medina actress, Manu Chao musician, Julieta Egurrola actress, Raúl Vera Bishop of the Saltillo, Coahuila, Diocese Adolfo Gilly scholar, Vanessa Bauche, actress, Ricardo Rocha journalist, Rosario Ibarra de Piedra, member of Comité Eureka, Carlos Montemayor writer, Adriana Roel actress, Francisco Toledo painter, Diego Luna actor, Roco Pachukote vocalist of the rock band Maldita Vecindad y los hijos del Quinto Patio, Daniel Giménez Cacho actor, Luis Villoro filósofo, Marta Verduzco actress, Rubén Albarrán vocalist of the rock band Café Tacaba, Luis Javier Garrido, scholar, Bruno Bichir actor, Paco Ignacio Taibo II writer, journalist, Luisa Huertas actress, Miguel Angel Granados Chapa journalist, Demián Bichir actor, Fray Miguel Concha Malo Dominican friar, Director of the Fray Francisco de Vitoria Human Rights Center, Gilberto López y Rivas anthropologist, Verónica Langer actress, Luis Hernández Navarro journalist, Jorge Zarate actor, Carlos Fazio, scholar, Emma Dib actress, Antonio Ramírez Chávez painter, Gloria Domingo Manuel “Domi” painter, Guillermo Almeyra scholar, Los de Abajo ska and rock band, Las Reinas Chulas actresses.
Family members of political prisoners and pursued people, “All Rights for All” Human Rights Network; Legal Services, Studies and Assistance; Peace Services and Consulting (SERAPAZ), Cerezo Committee, Monseñor Romero Committee, Consortium for Parliamentary Dialogue and Equity; Women without Fear, Fray Francisco de Vitoria Human Rights Center; Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez Human Rights Center, National Center of Social Communication (CENCOS), La Voladora Radio.