“Judicial police, after beating people up and telling lies and covering things up, how do you explain all this at home when you’re asked: what do you do?”
This question written on a poster is one of many that around twenty demonstrators hurled at the judicial police who covered their faces as they left the courtroom in the prison known as the Reclusorio Sur after appearing to give false testimony in the case of the young political prisoner Víctor Herrera Govea on Thursday, November 19: How does it feel to be a torturer? Did you enjoy putting out your cigarette on our comrade’s face? Do you have a mother? How much do they pay you for torture? How much do you earn for a kidnapping? Don’t you feel sick when you look at yourself in the mirror?
For being only 21 years old, Víctor has thrown his grains of sand into the most important struggles that have happened in Mexico in recent years. He may not be seen as a movement leader, but he’s much loved by the people who are always in the streets demanding justice and freedom. As word got around about his brutal arrest, lots of comments about what he’s done could be heard: “I know he helped out on a work brigade in Chiapas.” I saw him in Oaxaca when he was helping to build [the ecological project] La Cacita.” “He has his problems, just like we all do, but at the camp outside Molino de Flores prison, he was there.” “It’s not for nothing that he’s known as ‘Atenco’”. “I think he was with the comrades who were selling flowers and candy outside the bars all night long to raise money to get some other comrades out of jail”. “I knew him when we were in the same class together in the school of Humanities”. “Yeah, he’s an adherent to the Other Campaign”. “Sure, we know him. He’s an anarchist isn’t he?” In his own statement written on October 15, Victor also mentions his work in informational brigades to spread the word about struggles “like people defending themselves against the Parota dam and reservoir” and “the dispossession that’s going on in Tlahuac for the construction of Line 12 of the subway.” He says: “Now more than ever we’re seeking freedom for all the political prisoners in the country like Jacobo Silva and Gloria Arenas [recently released] and the comrades from the Loxicha region in Oaxaca and those at El Amate in Chiapas”.
When Víctor Herrera went to the annual march held on October 2 to commemorate the State murder of students in ’68 and to oppose the repression now going on in Mexico, he was beaten, tortured, arrested and incriminated on charges of aggravated gang robbery and property damage. By aggravating the charges and charging Victor with gang activity, the capital city PRD government of Marcelo Ebrard aims to turn this young activist into a criminal to be able to lock him up for years even though there’s not a bit of evidence against him.
In a call to several November actions, the Committee in Support of Freedom for Victor says: “Víctor Herrera Govea…is one of more than 200 political prisoners that state and federal governments are now holding in the prisons of this country: La Palma and Molino de Flores in the State of Mexico; El Amate in Chiapas; and others in Oaxaca, Guerrero, Campeche, Veracruz, and Tamaulipas. In Mexico City, we’re also experiencing repression and the imposition of neoliberal policies; you can hear all about this from the street vendors forcibly pushed out of the downtown area and public spaces in different districts of the city, the artisans of Coyocán, the communal landholders of Tlaltenco, and others. The “War on Organized Crime” has caused more than 5,000 deaths from one end of the country to the other.”
“There is no justice in this country. Those guilty of bank fraud and corrupt government functionaries go free, while the people you’ll find in jail are farmers who’ve been defending their land, forests and water; indigenous people defending their traditional forms of government, people demanding fair electricity rates, or young people fighting for a better world.
In violation of the law, only the immediate family was allowed to be present at the hearing on November 19, while Victor’s comrades were removed from the courtroom, but not before he saw they were there to support him. They say he looks strong and in good spirits. His mother Eduviges Govea thinks the pressure put on the authorities in several public actions has had the effect of putting them on notice that they’re responsible for his security while he’s in jail.
As it turns out, the judicial agents will have to come back again to testify because only three of the four subpoenaed appeared, so their testimonies were postponed. Meanwhile, supporters are organizing an overnight watch outside the prison on the night of November 29, and support the next day when Victor is scheduled to testify.