Mexico City march for 14 prisoners still not free

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Around 200 people marched from the Monument to the Revolution to the Mexico City Legislature on Wednesday December 12 to demand the release of the prisoners still held as a result of the brutal repression unleashed in militant protests against the presidential inauguration of Enrique Peña Nieto last December 1. Family and friends who have been camped out at the city’s northernmost prison known as ‘Reno’ (Reclusorio Norte) carried photos of some of the prisoners. They also demanded the repeal of Bill 362, “Attacks on Public Peace” which is being used to criminalize protest.

“The camp will be there ‘til the last prisoner gets out,” say the families.

“We want all 14 prisoners freed immediately,” said one of the organizers. “We still have 13 comrades in Reno and one in the women’s prison Santa Marta.” Her name is Rita Emilia Neri Moctezuma, and she is an intern at the National School of Nursing and Obstetrics of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). She was arrested when she was walking around near the spot where mass arrests were being made last December 1. The male comrades are Daniel García Vázquez, Oswaldo Rigel Barrueta Herrera, Carlo Miguel Ángel García Rojas, Stylianos García Vackines, Obed Palagot Echavarría, Bryan Reyes Rodríguez, Enrique Rosales Rojas, Alejandro Sandino Jaramillo Rojas, Alejandro Lugo Morán, Llaguno Romero César, Jorge Dionisio Barrera Jiménez, Roberto Fabian Duarte García and Eduardo Daniel Columna Muñiz.

The march was one of a number of activities that have demanded the freedom of the prisoners in recent days. Since thousands of people marched on Monday, December 3, the protests have been much smaller, but constant. Thanks to the public pressure, to irregularities in making arrests, and to the lack of evidence against the detainees, 37 of the prisoners were released almost immediately, followed by 55 of the 69 remaining prisoners on Sunday, December 9.

After being beaten, humiliated, locked up in filthy conditions and, in some cases tortured, the prisoners were released. But did they get so much as an apology? Did any politician tell them he was going to look for the guilty parties? Not a chance. Impunity reigns.

As a matter of fact, their freedom is subject to the whim of government authorities. They were released under the threat that investigations are still going on and that they could be arrested again, along with other people. Without a shred of evidence, Marcelo Ebrard had already publicly named three specific anarchist groups as being guilty of “attempts against Mexico City” and “acts of violence”. And the new Mexico City Mayor, Miguel Mancera, continues in the same vein, with threats of more arrests.

One comrade said: “Marcelo Ebrard said he’s going to look for the really truly guilty parties. They themselves are the really truly guilty parties, comrades. No doubt about it. The really truly guilty parties are the ones who carried out the repression on us.

“Acts of violence?” asked a young girl. “Breaking glass in a few banks and businesses is violence? What about all the beatings and really brutal arrests? What about the sexual torture? What do they say about shooting out someone’s eye with a rubber bullet like they did to Uriel Sandovall? What do they say about shooting Kuy Kendall in the head and blowing off half of his face? There’s the real violence. Perpetrated by the police and ordered by Enrique Peña Nieto, Marcelo Ebrard and his top cop Manuel Mondragón”.

A policeman’s testimony came out two days ago in La Jornada saying that Marcelo gave the order to grab people off the street whether they’d done anything or not. In keeping with the new pact signed by all the sold-out political parties, he wanted more arrests to protect the image of Peña Nieto being inaugurated with no problems, no people running wild in the street. This is the great ‘democracy’ we have in Mexico. Calderón passes the flag to Peña Nieto at midnight, in secret, in the National Palace in a Zócalo that is dark and almost empty. Where do you see people celebrating Peña Nieto’s rise to power? Where are the celebrations in the streets? In which other country are the streets not filled with people celebrating the kickoff of a new government? In México our streets were filled with teargas, rubber bullets and blood when federal and local police repressed people who came out strong against tyranny.

“This is fascism,” said one demonstrator. And as more testimonies come out, we are learning that on December 1 the police arrested a number of people who weren’t even participating in the protests. Some of them were just walking down the street or maybe calling down a cop who was hurting somebody else or sealing off the Zócalo, as in this case:

One of the posters for Wednesday’s march had a photo of Jorge Dionisio Barrera Jiménez, 35 years old, who studied Politial Science at the UNAM. According to information circulated in the social networks, “he went downtown with his wife and daughter to buy shoes and was arrested when he demanded that the police stop beating someone else who had been arrested for no reason at all.”

Another sign had the name and photo of 24-year-old Daniel García Vázquez, student at the National Polytechnic Institute (IPN), who was “on his way to the downtown Computer Plaza with a couple of friends. When he got there and saw that he was in the middle of a battle between the police and demonstrators, he ran and fell. That’s when he was arrested. He was forced to touch a hand grenade, which he is now being accused of being just about to throw.”

There were also placards supporting comrades who turned out to oppose the imposition of a murderer, torturer and rapist as president of Mexico, who had already proved that he wouldn’t hesitate to unleash repression against the people. One such comrade is 19-year-old Oswaldo Rigel Barrueta Herrera, a high school student, guitar player and nature lover. “Oswaldo was arrested when he was exercising his right to free speech and showing his lack of conformity with the situation the country is facing.” And 50-year-old schoolteacher Enrique Rosales of the Section 9 Democratic Teachers group was peacefully demonstrating on December 1 when he was arrested on Madero St.

At the march, there was not one, but four placards demanding freedom for 34-year old Alejandro Lugo Morán, who lives on Abraham González St, two blocks away from the site of some of the heaviest disturbances. He had gone out to eat with his wife when he was chased by police into a parking lot where he was captured. Alejandro was “identified” by a riot police who swore that he had been able to identify 55 people who had been in skirmishes with the police. Police reports say Alejandro was arrested in Alameda Park, but in fact he was arrested at Ignacio Ramonet 10, and this video is proof of his arbitrary arrest:

“We have a legitimate right to protest,” said one comrade from Bread and Roses. But we’re pictured in the press as vandals and criminals…We can’t put our trust in the law or in their institutions. We´re not going to allow them to militarize our streets. And we’re going to win the release of all the prisoners who are still locked up. They’re all our prisoners.”

When Pedro of San Salvador Atenco was asked to speak, he said the following: “We would like to tell all the family members here today not to feel bad because someone in their family is a prisoner. Be proud to have someone in your family who is fighting for the rights of the people of Mexico. In San Salvador Atenco they wanted to keep one of our comrades locked up for 112 years, but now all of us are out. All the comrades are free. And about the stuff the news media is doing— the job of at least some of the reporters is to intimidate us. They’re required to say bad things about our movements if they want to keep their jobs…They run down people who are mobilizing and protect the government authorities and all the corrupt things they do…. Peña Nieto is in the Presidency as a prize for ordering the rape of women in San Salvador Atenco, for murdering two students, for unjustly imprisoning people, for torturing. The only thing that interests them is keeping the people down…And the only thing our public officials do is protect power and money… We mustn’t be afraid of them. We mustn’t fear them. It’s up to us to keep on with the struggle. The December 1 prisoners are going to get out. When the government arrests people, people become more conscious. Those conscious people are going to get out and keep on struggling. And nobody is going to keep them down. We’ve seen it in Atenco when they wanted to punish us with 112 years in prison. All we have to do is put our love for our children above all else, to put our love for our grandchildren above all else, although it may cost us our freedom, although it may cost our life.”

When the march got to the Legislature, the organizers announced that the Representatives have said they were willing to accept a dialogue with a small group of people. Several family members and a representative of the League of Lawyers went in to speak with them.

“If prisoners are getting out now or if they are about to get out, it’s not because of anything any politician did,” said one comrade. “It’s because people are mobilizing and demanding justice for the unjust arrests.”

In the meeting with family members, the legislators promised to do an investigation, but while family members favor a revision of all the cases at once, the legislators are taking them one by one, a sure-fire recipe for separating out “the good prisoners” from “the troublemakers”.

After the meeting a reduced group of people proceeded on to the Zócalo, where Section 9 of the teachers’ union has set up camp outside the offices of the Mexico City government to demand freedom for the schoolteacher Enrique Rosales and all the other political prisoners.

Until the last one gets out.

Activities in the next few days include:

  • A march on Thursday, December 13 at 11 am from Bellas Artes to the Legislature for the freedom of the December 1st prisoners and the repeal of Article 362.
  • A meeting on Friday, December 15 at 4 pm at the offices of the teachers’ organization CNTE for the purpose of getting better organized.
  • A march on Sunday December 16 at 11 am from the worthless monument known as the Estela de Luz to the offices of the Mexico City government, demanding freedom for the December 1st prisoners and the repeal of Article 362.

To find out more about the people who are still in prison after being arrested on December 1, see the following Spanish language videos:

¿Quién es Rita Emilia Neri Moctezuma?
¿Quién es Obed Palagot?
¿Quién es Oswaldo Barrueta?
Entrevista a la hermana de Roberto Fabian Duarte García
Entrevista a Victor, hermano de Eduardo Dionisio