Wednesday, July 9, 2008

New at Rebel Imports: Oaxacan Political Prisoners purses

Rebel Imports is thrilled to announce that we've begun working with a new Mexican indigenous collective: the Zapotec political prisoners from Loxicha, Oaxaca.

The 12 Loxicha prisoners have been unjustly imprisoned since 1996 by the PRI (Institutional Revolution Party) government, the party that has ruled Oaxaca with an iron fist for over 70 years. They were tortured into signing blank pieces of paper which later turned into confessions. The Loxichas make these purses to raise money for their families (many were primary breadwinners) and for their campaign for their freedom.

We carry four purse styles from the Loxichas: two macramé purses and two embroidered purses. They're available in our Oaxacan Purses category on rebelimports.com.

You'll notice that we have another new category on our website, Political Prisoners. The Loxichas are the first group of political prisoners we're working with, but they won't be the only ones. In the coming months we'll begin to carry hand-made hammocks made by Chiapan political prisoners from The Voice of Los Llanos and Grupo Zapatista. Many of them are Zapatista political prisoners, and they are all adherents to the Zapatistas' Other Campaign.

We're passing on a letter from the Loxichas about their unjust imprisonment:

Central Penitentiary, Oaxaca; September 25, 2007.

TO THE PEOPLE OF OAXACA
TO THE PEOPLE OF MEXICO
TO THE PEOPLE OF THE WORLD
TO ALL HONEST PEOPLE
TO THE SOCIAL AND DEMOCRATIC ORGANIZATIONS
TO THE NEWS MEDIA

11 YEARS OF THE WAR OF EXTERMINATION, GENOCIDE, AND ETHNOCIDE AGAINST THE ZAPOTEC INDIGENOUS PEOPLE OF THE LOXICHA REGION

On September 25, 1996, Deòdoro Carrasco Altamirano and Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de León, Governor of Oaxaca and President of Mexico at the time, initiated a direct campaign of extermination, genocide, and ethnocide against the Zapotec indigenous communities of our region. The repression was initially focused on the municipal seat San Agustín Loxicha, a marginalized town submerged in the most extreme poverty and hunger. Supposedly, the operation that Ernesto Zedillo called “all the State’s force,” was to arrest guerrillas. In this first flashy military-police operation, the members of the Municipal Government were arrested, as well as other citizens who have now been unjustly imprisoned for eleven years. A total of twelve indigenous people were framed for the federal offenses trumped up by the judicial authorities at the time, the state Attorney General Roberto Pedro Marguez Ballesteros, and others. Groups of white guards, sell-outs and local power bosses who have only attacked the people and looted our natural resources took their revenge, implementing a policy of terror and fear. To justify our supposed guilt for the false charges of belonging to an armed group, which we categorically deny, we were cruelly tortured both physically and psychologically at the time of our arrest and forced to sign blank pages.

In the years that followed, eight of us were sentenced to 26, 29, 30, and 31 years in prison, and four more sentenced to 13 and ½ years. These sentences are totally unjust. We have repeatedly said that we never committed a single crime. Four of the indigenous people mentioned should be out on parole, but due to the exclusive, predatory policies that we’ve been subjected to, are still held in prison. It should be noted that as a consequence of dozens and dozens of military-police operations carried out in the Loxicha region in ’96, ’97, ’98, and ’99, there were 200 illegal arrests, 155 Zapotecs jailed for political reasons and just for thinking differently in different prisons in this state and the country as a whole. There are still 250 arrest warrants and there have been 32 illegal house searches, 22 extrajudicial executions, 22 forced disappearances and an undetermined number of sexual abuses. Many indigenous people received death threats and others were harassed. The trials were plagued with irregularities and government misconduct.

At the present time, the Loxicha region is militarized. There are three Mixed Operation Bases in Magdalena, La Sirena, and San Agustín Loxicha. The presence of the vile police forces is of no help whatsoever in the region. On the contrary, for more than ten years, our teen-agers and children have been taught to use drugs, leading to the loss of their culture and their entry into the world of drug addiction.

Our message to the reigning governments is that in spite of our circumstances, we will never tire of exposing the abuses that the evil governments have subjected us to. We will continue to raise our voices until we are free.

In view of the facts mentioned above, the situation in Loxicha is of great concern. We ask the democratic organizations and honest, progressive people to take a stand and demand that the corresponding authorities grant us our freedom and order the exit of the army from our dear beloved town that witnessed our births.

Respectfully yours,

The Indigenous Political Prisoners and Prisoners of Conscience
of the Loxicha Region

C. Agustín Luna Valencia
C. Urbano Ruiz Cruz
C. Álvaro Sebastián Ramírez
C. Justino Hernández José
C. Cirilo Ambrosio Antonio
C. Mario Ambrosio Martínez
C. Fortino Enríquez Hernández
C. Ricardo Martínez Enríquez
C. Eleuterio Hernández García
C. Estanislao Martínez Santiago
C. Abraham García Ramírez
C. Zacarías P. García López
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