Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Women Liberate Cruzton Detainees

Police, Armed Civilians Choked, Threatened to Shoot the Women

Contrary to preliminary reports, six men were detained during the April 27 police invasion of the Cruzton community. However, women from the community faced down police threats and liberated the detainees. The Cruzton community sent the following communique explaining the situation.

Cruzton Community, V. Carranza Municipality, Chiapas

To National and International Civil Society
To independent media
To human rights organizations
To the leadership of the EZLN

Being that at 5am on Sunday April 27, 2008, the inhabitants of the Cruzton community in V. Carranza Municipality were attacked by approximately 500 state preventive police with small arms who were transported in pickup trucks in a convoy of about 30-50 vehicles. They entered the community at multiple points, threatening boys, girls, and young people so that they would confess where their parents could be found. They entered houses without showing any form of legal authorization, causing damage to ten houses, knocking down doors, stealing money (exactly $11,500 pesos in cash and jewelry), destroying our harvests and vegetables that we use to sustain our families. They threatened to return to finish off the community. In this operation they detained six people: Tiburcio López hidalgo, Santos Díaz Calvo, Gildardo López, Roberto López López, Manuel Gómez López, and José Lázaro López López. These people were taken by force from their homes and given severe beatings causing injuries on various parts of their bodies. The operation stood out due to the excessive threats with weapons and the verbal mistreatment of defenseless members of the community. The aggressors were guided in the operation by the following armed civilians whose faces were masked with white t-shirts and red bandanas, but who were easily identified by their voices, eyes, and bodies: Fidel Gómez González who was identified by a limp in his right leg, Valentín González Jiménez, Pedro González Severino, Francisco Vázquez Jiménez, Marcelino Gonzáles Pilicastro, Álvaro González Mazariego and Juan Ruiz García.

The majority of the women in the community organized themselves and rescued the detained compañeros despite the police's strong threats that they would shoot them. As a result, Josefa Gómez Álvarez was grabbed by the neck by Mr. Fidel Gómez González, an armed civilian who lead the operation while the police and armed civilians threatened to come back and destroy houses and carry us off, and that they would fuck shit up even more. This is why the Cruzton community is infuriated by the bad government's treason--it's already violated the agreements of the negotiations which were in effect until now. With this action, we make it clear that we will never trust its empty promises. For this reason the Cruzton community demands that the state government respect our land rights because the land is ours. We aren't invading; this is a right we've had for many years. Our land is made up of 308 hectares and we'll continue defending it. We demand that they respect our struggle, our resistance, and that they resolve the situation of the invading people from Teopisca and Nuevo León. We also demand the cancelation of the unjust arrest warrants, and that the integrity of the boys, girls, young people, women, senior citizens, and all Cruzton community members be respected. We say "no" to the criminalization of poverty, and we demand that our resistance and defense of the land be respected. We ask that the organizations to whom we sent this communique support us and back us up by spreading the word and demanding that the government meet our demands and stop the repression against us.

Finally, we remind you of our invitation to the celebration of the first anniversary of our struggle on May 5 at 8am.



The Cruzton community.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Police Invade Cruzton, Disappear Other Campaign Adherents

Police Previously Promised They Wouldn't Raid the Chiapas Town

Police carried out an early morning operation today directed at adherents to the Zapatistas' Other Campaign, detaining three men whose whereabouts remain unknown. The Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Human Rights Center ("Frayba") is currently attempting to locate the three men, José Lázaro López López, Robeto López López, and Manuel Gómez, all adherents to the Other Campaign, but has thus far been unsuccessful. The men were last seen in police custody during the raid. It is also unknown what charges the government will bring against the men.

Approximately 500 police raided Cruzton in the Venustiana Carranza municipality in Los Altos at approximately 5am this morning. The Other Campaign in San Cristobal de las Casas reports that armed police kicked down doors and leveled residents' houses during the raid.

While the reasons for the raid and the charges against the detained men remain unknown, it appears as though the police operation was related to a land dispute within the community. Residents report that the police were directed by civilians, presumably members of the Emiliano Zapata Peasant Organization (OCEZ-CMPA in its Spanish initials) who claim to be the legitimate owners of land the Other Campaign adherents claim as their own. The OCEZ is a peasant organization that has existed in Chiapas for over forty years. Throughout its history of advocating for peasant land rights, it has maintained a contentious and at times hostile relationship with the government. However, members report divisions in the organization, with some members choosing to work with the government, while others continue to reject government aid.

Despite having arrest warrants for several residents of the autonomous territory in Cruzton, police had promised to not take any action against the community until negotiations with the government over disputed land in the community were settled. Negotiations were still ongoing at the time of the raid.

The Cruzton Community Committee Against Repression, adherents to the Other Campaign, released the following communique last year which explains the history of the land dispute that presumably led to the police raid:

To adherents to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle;
To the Sixth Commission;
To National and International Civil Society in solidarity with the Peoples in Defense of their land and territory;
To the alternative media;

The Cruzton Community Committee Against Repression, adherents to The Other Campaign, contact you to make an urgent call. We find ourselves at great risk of being repressed by the present Chiapas state government, headed by Juan Sabines Guerrero from the PRD [Party of the Democratic Revolution]. For this reason we tell you:

Many years ago when we were younger, we, habitants of the Cruzton Community, worked on the Mispia Estate, known by the name "Nazaret," whose owner was Mr. José Villafuerte Mijangos. Our parents were indentured servants on this ranch and, in fact, many of us were born on that Estate. As you all know because the story has been told before, on these estates the indentured servants were exploited. We all worked for very low salaries and the estate owner enslaved us.

The estate owner, instead of granting us the labor rights we deserved in 1988, opted to donate 308 hectares to us by means of a public deed dated August 24, 1988, officiated by Sofia Rabasa Esquinca, who was the Joint Judge of the First Instance of the Judicial and Freedom district at that time, where he donated in a pure, simple manner a free deed of co-ownership in 20 equal parts to 20 of us who were his indentured servants, and now inhabitants of the Cruzton community. He even physically handed over the land himself. Together we went around visiting the boundary stones of the land he donated to us. Under his instruction we tilled said land, and since then we've possessed and worked these lands as their owners.

In 1994, a group of people from the Teopisca municipality and from the Nuevo Leon Ejido, trying to pass themselves off as Zapatista brothers, invaded our land. However, we investigated and we were informed directly by the Good Government Council of the Los Altos zone located in Oventic that the invaders have never been and are not Zapatistas. Since then, we've been peacefully talking and searching for a solution with the government authorities, first in the State House and then with the local office in Venustiano Carranza, who up until now haven't really paid attention to us.

On May 5, 2007, the community's General Assembly agreed to take back our lands, so we did so that same day, and since then we've once again kept it in our legitimate possession. Our community has agreed to not vacate our lands.

Demonstrating our good faith effort to resolve the problem and because we're sure we're right, on June 5, 2007, the governmental authorities paid a visit to our recuperated land to survey the land. We're sure of our possession, because before the deed was made, we accompanied the engineers and the estate owner during the measurement of the land's boundaries, and we know very well where it belongs to us. The result of the survey was that, according to the government engineers, that land that the estate owner handed over to us doesn't correspond with what's in the deeds and that the land that does belong to us is over on Mispia Hill. Being that it's on a hill it's impossible to farm there and it's difficult to access. But then, how is it that all these years we've been paying property tax? How is it that the government tells us now that our lands are on the Hill? We received our land directly from the hands of the estate owner.

The government authorities say that the government bought our lands in order to hand them over as an extension of the San José Cerro Grande Ejido, and that the owners are the same people who live in Nuevo León Ejido and in the Teopisca municipal capital, and that their documents have more value because they obtained them through the PROCEDE program. But we say that the lands are legitimately ours and we haven't sold them to anybody.

We feel as though the estate owner cheated us and cheated the government by selling our land twice, or maybe the government thought about it long and hard and as it has done in other occasions is doing all this so that peasant brothers fight amongst ourselves.

As we've already said, we are ready to defend that which is ours. It doesn't matter what the papers or the maps say since we directly received the land and we've worked it as its owners for 12 years. And moreover, we consider it our right for having been exploited by the estate owner when we worked for him as indentured servants.

Faced with the constant threats of eviction that we've been receiving which say that the state government and the district attorney have already ordered the eviction operation, and given that we're adherents to The Other Campaign, we've named our Committee Against Repression pending the outcomes of this problem. We've stepped up when the government has looked to dialog with us.

Recently we were informed that if we don't voluntarily leave our lands, the government will take it upon itself to evict us with police and they will send us all to jail. There are already warrants for our arrest, and the first ones to go will be those of us on the Committee Against Repression who have represented the community before the government in the negotiations that have happened to look for a solution to this problem.

We also believe that the problem lies with the authorities for not investigating if the lands which were turned into ejidos overnight by means of PROCEDE did or didn't have an owner, and for this reason what the government should do is recognize us as the owners that we are and pay for another piece of land for the affected members of the San José Cerro Grande ejido.

For all of the above reasons we are contacting you, compañeros and compañeras of The Other Campaign, to request your solidarity and accompaniment in our struggle, requesting that a commission visits us soon in our community and there we can discuss the subject further.

Cruzton Community Committee Against Repression
Cruzton, Chiapas, Mexico; June 26, 2007.
Originally published in Narco News.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Good Government Council's Declaration on the Kidnapping of Zapatista Prisoners



Compañeras and compañeros,
Sisters and brothers,

We urgently contact you to bring to your attention that yesterday, April 24, at 4:30pm, our compañeros Bases of Support of the EZLN Ángel Concepción Pérez Gutiérrez and Francisco Pérez Vázquez were taken out of the prison where they were held in Tacotalpa without giving any explanation to their families, and they were taken to the city of Tuxtla Gutiérrez, and there they kept them in a hospital in the city. Now, Friday, at 3pm, we know that they transferred them to the Yajalón prison, Cereso number 12.

We, as autonomous authorities of the Good Government, say very clearly, the Bad Government kidnapped them and keeps them kidnapped and with this has provoked great pain and suffering in their hearts and bodies which suffer from illnesses. But not only them, also their families and those who have walked together with them. And all this because of the simple fact that they belong to our dignified struggle.

As the Good Government Council we demand the IMMEDIATE and UNCONDITIONAL liberation of our compañeros Bases of Support who are innocent of all of the accusations made against them. We do not accept that they remain kidnapped in other prisons. We said it before and we'll say it again louder and with more indignation, not one more day of their unjust and painful kidnapping under the Bad Justice of the Mexican State and its Bad Governments.

We make an urgent call to national and civil society that we demand together, in whatever we you see fit, the liberation of our compañeros Bases of Support who have been kidnapped for more than eleven years and eight months.

Nothern Zone, Chiapas, Mexico, April 25, 2008

Translated by Kristin Bricker. Originally published on Narco News.

Letter from Brutalized Chiapan Prisoners

Cereso #5 San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas
April 24, 2008

Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Human Rights Center and other organizations and Pueblo Creyente, compañeros in the EZLN, compañeros from The Other Campaign and the Mexican people and other national and international organizations

We denounce the current situation of the group of political prisoners The Voice of los Llanos and the other three compañeros who are in solidarity with us. Today marks 72 hours since the beating the following precisos gave us: Bartolo García Suarez, Damián Gutiérrez García, Elías Domínguez Trejos, and Eleuterio de la Cruz Martínez [translators' note: Precisos are mestizo prisoners who who maintain control, discrimination, and racial violence within the prison with the tacit approval of prison authorities.]. Today, at 72 hours after the attack, they called us to the judicial area, asking us what happened. At the same time lawyer Jurídica Rocío Victoria used intimidating words and harassed us, asking us if we'd already thought long and hard about bringing charges against the precisios because Bartolo is going to defend himself, and he has the full support of the prison population. These words are very telling, but we're also aware that that's not the real situation. We also responded to her asking why 72 hours passed before they called us, when they as the prison authorities could have acted in the moment instead of waiting until now. But they did take action against The Voice of Los Llanos, requesting that we be transferred to another prison while the aggressors enjoy privilege and we are suffering. We're in a very small medical area without medical attention. We can't make food, we can't send anyone to bring our clothes so we can change, and as of this time the director hasn't resolved anything. We talked to him on Tuesday morning, and at this time we don't know if we're waiting for a solution or if we're being punished. And the people who should be here in this area are the aggressors. At this time we don't know how the prison director is managing the situation.

We've received information from fellow prisoners that the precisos are waiting for us together with the workers. They've suspended their work under the condition that they greet us with a beating when we return to the general population--these are the plans of the precisos. We want justice and that they be transferred as soon as possible. If not, the authorities give the orders, meaning that they're involved in the actions against The Voice of los Llanos.

We request that you keep yourselves informed of our situation and that you continue demanding justice so that prison corruption can be done away with.

Political prisoners, The Voice of los Llanos, adherente to the EZLN's Other Campaign

Tiburcio Gómez Pérez, Agustín Rodríguez Jiménez, Antonio Díaz Pérez, Diego Rodríguez Hernández, Juan Díaz López, Miguel Díaz López, Nicolás Pérez Núñez

and other compañeros in solidarity: Mateo Gómez Santiz, Agustín Díaz Gómez, Orlando Santiso Castillo

Translation by Kristin Bricker. Originally published in Narco News.

Zapatista Prisoners Transferred from Tabasco to Chiapas

The Other Campaign is Skeptical of Gov. Sabines' Promise to Free Them

Yesterday afternoon, without prior notice, the government transferred Zapatista political prisoners Angel Concepción Pérez Gutiérrez and Francisco Pérez Vázquez from the Tacotalpa, Tabasco, prison where they've been incarcerated for almost twelve years to a hospital in Tuxtla Gutierrez, Chiapas.

The Other Campaign in Veracruz immediately condemned the transfer as a disappearance because the government did not announce where or why it was transferring the two hunger striking prisoners.

However, the Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Human Rights Center ("Frayba") reports that it is with the prisoners in the Tuxtla hospital where they're being evaluated by medical professionals. The prisoners told Frayba representatives that they were not mistreated during the transfer. Frayba has not commented on the diabetic prisoners' health condition. Today is their fifth day of hunger strike.

Frayba reports that Chiapas Gov. Juan Sabines say he requested the prisoners' transfer so that he can grant them their freedom. Pérez Gutiérrez and Pérez Vázquez are Chiapan Zapatistas of Ch'ol ethnicity. They participated in the February-April hunger strike waged by Chiapan political prisoners, but were not among the thirty political prisoners released by the Chiapas government because their cases did not fall under Chiapan jurisdiction.

The plantón outside the Tabasco prison where the prisoners were being held has been lifted as family members and supporters moved to Tuxtla pending more information on the prisoners' situation.

Frayba and the Other Campaign in San Cristobal request that adherents and sympathizers keep up their protests until Pérez Gutiérrez and Pérez Vázquez are free. The Other Campaign in San Cristobal notes that the government is notorious for not following through on its promises.

Photo courtesy of Zapateando 2.

Open Letter from Tabasco Political Prisoners to Prison Authorities

Public Municipal Prison Tacotalpa, Tabasco
April 23, 2008

Warden of the Tacotalpa, Tabasco, Public Municipal Prison: PRESENT

In the most thoughtful manner we direct this letter to the General Management of Prevention and Social Readjustment of the State of Tabasco.

First let me inform you of the subjects that concern you.

Our innocence and our unjust sentence without having committed a single crime, nor having participated in one. For this reason we declare ourselves on hunger strike for an indefinite period of time. Yes, it's possible that you'll take us out of here dead, because we've had enough of this injustice. Eleven years of asking for justice, but we're never listened to. The response of the government is that we're guilty, that we don't belong to an ethnic or indigenous group. This imprisonment-- the illegal deprivation of our freedom, for a crime you accuse us of committing--is a premeditated kidnapping with malice aforethought.

You don't recognize our rights as indigenous people of Ch'ol ethnicity from Tila, Chiapas. We are 48 hours into our hunger strike and we continue onward.

We would like to recognize national and international civil society, the Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Human Rights Center, and the public opinion for publicizing and spreading the word about the illegal deprivation of our freedom and the lack of justice for us. Eleven years, ten months of imprisonment without crime; the hunger strike and our children's and family's plantón outside the prison won't end until we receive freedom with justice.

There not being any other subject to address, this letter is ended at 9:10am.



Ángel Concepción Perez Gutierrez
Francisco Perez Vazquez

For more information about Ángel Concepción Perez Gutierrez and Francisco Perez Vazquez's case, please see Zapatista Prisoners Threaten Hunger Strike in Tabasco

Caciques, Triquis and Impunity – More of the Same

Increasing Level of Threats and Intimidation in the Autonomous Community of San Juan Copala, Oaxaca

by Nancy Davies, Narco News

Since April 7, the day on which the two young Triqui community radio broadcasters were murdered, the level of threats and intimidation has doubled, pressing on the parents of the dead women, Felícitas Martínez and Teresa Bautista, ages 22 and 20; and on the car’s driver and the couple who, with their children, had been sharing the ambushed vehicle. The mother and the three-year-old of their two children, was injured and taken to the hospital in Oaxaca city. The second child was sent to family out of state, for safety. The father reported that he was told under threat, “do not speak” regarding the identities of the shooters or supposed intellectual authors of the attack. He said, “I will speak.” Read more from Narco News

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Brutal Attack Against Chiapas Political Prisoners

April 25 Update: The Other Campaign in San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, reports that "el Lobo," the police squad specializing in prison transfers, arrived last night in the Cereso 5 "Los Llanos" prison. The brutalized prisoners are still isolated from the general prison population, and the arrival of el Lobo reinforces their fears that they will be transferred.

Ten Chiapas prisoners were brutally beaten on April 21 in what the prisoners claim was a politically motivated attack orchestrated by prison authorities.

Seven of the prisoners, Antonio Díaz Pérez, Tiburcio Gómez Pérez, Juan Díaz López, Miguel Díaz López, Diego Rodríguez Hernández, Nicolás Pérez Núñez, and Agustín Rodríguez Jiménez are members of "La Voz de los Llanos," the political prisoners' organization within the Cereso 5 "Los Llanos" prison in Chiapas. These prisoners participated in the hunger strike, fast, and plantón that resulted in the liberation of thirty Chiapan political prisoners in April. The three other prisoners, Mateo Gómez Santis, Agustín Díaz Gómez, and Orlando Santizo Castillo, are not political prisoners but support La Voz de los Llanos.

Twenty-four prisoners beat the political prisoners and their supporters in a prison bathroom at about noon on April 21. Four mestizo (mixed Spanish-Indigenous descent) prisoners led the attack. The mestizos are known within the prison as "los precisos," prisoners who maintain control, discrimination, and racial violence within the prison with the tacit approval of prison authorities. The Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Human Rights Center ("Frayba") maintains that the preciso phenomenon is common practice throughout Mexico.

In a phone call to Frayba, the prisoners stated, "At 11:20am on April 21, 2008, political prisoners from La Voz de los Llanos, along with three other prisoners who sympathize with our struggle, were beaten under orders from the "preciso general" Bartolo García Suárez and three other precisos: Elias Domínguez Trejo, Damián Gutiérrez García, and Eleuterio de la Cruz Martínez, all of them of mestizo origin, accompanied by twenty more prisoners, amongst them: Héctor de Jesús Bautista Hernández, José Luis Urbina Gamboa, Próspero Gonzalo Flores, Darinel Alfaro Gallego, Juan Cristóbal Magdaleno, Iván Estrada, José Capuino, Rigoberto López Alza, Juan Diaz Meléndez, Carlos Rodrigo, Tomas de la Cruz Martínez, Manuel López Pérez, Juan Trejo, el "Loco", el "Disco," and el "Zorro", who were paid $100 to commit the aggression against us." Several prison guards witnessed the beating but did nothing to intervene.

These same prisoners also threatened the political prisoners in their workspace where they make hammocks to sell to supporters in order to sustain themselves.

During the beating, the aggressors kicked, punched, and beat the political prisoners and their supports with broomsticks. They also tried to drown Mateo Gómez Santiz in a container of water. Many of the victims complain of pain all over their bodies and difficulty breathing. Prison medical staff has still not evaluated the prisoners or treated their injuries.

After the beating, the four precisos and prison warden Sergio Lázaro Vicente circulated petitions amongst the prison population requesting the political prisoners' transfer to another prison. The political prisoners say that this was a "direct intervention by the highest authority of Cereso 5" to silence them because of their public denouncements of corruption and irregularities that rule prison life, and also because the political prisoners have won the respect of the general prison population.

Following the beating, prison authorities isolated the victims from the general population. The prisoners say their isolation makes them vulnerable to further aggressions, and that they're worried they'll be transferred to another prison.

In a statement released the day of the beating, prisoners from La Voz del Amate, a political prisoners' organization in another Chiapan prison, demand the immediate firing of the head of the Cereso 5 prison, Alejandro Galicias Morales, for being the "intellectual author" of the attack.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Zapatista Prisoners on Hunger Strike in Tabasco

As previously announced, on April 21 two Zapatista political prisoners, Ángel Concepción Pérez Gutiérrez and his father Francisco Pérez Vázquez, went on hunger strike in the Tacotalpa, Tabasco, prison where they're incarcerated. Originally announced as a fast that would last "for three days or as long as necessary," the prisoners sent a letter to Other Campaign adherents on April 22 confirming that they are on hunger strike for an "indefinite period of time."

The two prisoners are on hunger strike despite their poor health condition--74-year-old Francisco is diabetic, and Ángel suffers from an untreated infection. Some reports say Ángel is also diabetic.

Ángel and Francisco were imprisoned in July 9, 1996, for a murder they say they did not commit. They demand immediate, unconditional release, not a pardon, because a pardon implies that they committed the murder.

Family members and supporters have erected a plantón, or protest encampment, outside of the municipal prison in Tacotalpa, Tabasco. Plantonistas are sending YouTube video messages to the Other Campaign declaring their resolve to continue the struggle until Don Ángel and Don Francisco are free.

Julio Garduño, an adherent to the Other Campaign in Tabasco, reports that porros are hanging out near the plantón, giving the plantonistas "murderous looks." Porros are government-sponsored thugs.

On April 21, the prison arbitrarily refused to allow supporters to visit the prisoners despite serious concerns about their health. However, in an April 22 letter the prisoners say they're in good health and good spirits, and that prison medical staff examined them.

The Other Campaign requests that adherents contact the following authorities to demand the immediate unconditional release of Zapatista prisoners in Tacotalpa, Tabasco, and political prisoners who are part of La Voz de Los Llanos and La Voz del Amate in Chiapas:

  • Mexican Mission to the United Nations in Geneva
    16 Avenue du Budé
    1202 Geneva
    Fax :1 41 22 748 07 08
    Tel: 1 41 22 748 07 07
  • Señora Embajadora Sandra Fuentes-Berain, Mexican Diplomatic Mission in Brussels
    94 avenue F.D. Rossevelt
    1050 Ixelles
    Tel: 1 32 2 629 07 11
    Fax: 1 32 2 644 08 19
  • Señor Presidente Felipe Calderón Hinojosa, President of Mexico
    Residencia Oficial de "Los Pinos"
    Co. San Miguel Chapultepec
    México D.F.
    C.P. 11850
    Fax :1 52 5 55 522 94 13, +52 5 55 277 23 76
    E-mail :;
  • Sr. Eduardo Medina-Mora Icaza, Procuraduría General de la República
    Reforma Norte esquina Violeta 75
    Colonia Guerrero
    CP. 06300
    México D.F.
    E-mail :
    Fax: +52 5 55 346 0906
    TEL: +52 5 55 346 20 03

Please also write the following Chiapas authorities:

  • Lic. Juan José Sabines Guerrero, Governor of Chiapas
    Palacio de Gobierno del Estado de Chiapas
    Av. Central y Primera Oriente
    Colonia Centro
    C.P. 29009
    Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Chiapas
    E-mail :
    Fax: 1 52 961 618 8088; 1 52 961 618 8056
  • Lic. Sonia Siman Morales, President of the Chiapas Supreme Court
    Palacio de Justicia
    Libramiento Norte Oriente no. 2100
    Fracc. El Bosque
    C.P. 29047
    Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Chiapas
    Switchboard: 1 52 961 617 8700
    Or the following numbers: 1 52 961 616 5350 or 1 52 961 616 5354
  • Lic. Amador Rodríguez Lozano, Chiapas Minister of Justice
    Libramiento norte oriente y Rosa de Oriente #2010
    Col. El Bosque
    C.P. 29049
    Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Chiapas
    Fax : 1 52 961 617 2300
    E-mail :

Please send a copy of your letters to:

Photo by Chloe Heather.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Frente Popular Francisco Villa Independiente

This video introduces you to the work and uncompromising politics of some of my favorite Other Campaign adherents, the Francisco Villa Popular Independent Front, aka "the Panchos."

We, like our parents and grandparents, work for our children. Sometimes more than 14 hours a day.

Nobody gifts us anything. Not the governments, not the political parties, not the masked Messiahs, we owe them NOTHING.

We've constructed everything with the sweat of our brow.

We build our houses, our streets, we lay our water pipes, our drainpipes, we provide electricity to our communities. Nobody has done it for us.

And the government only shows itself when it wants to raise the price of the tortilla, gas, milk, bread, egg...

And we, like our great-great-grandparents, our grandparents, and parents, have to meet and organize.

In order to do that which only the people can do...

...make them repent for their wickedness, for our exploitation, humiliation; for all of the injustices that they committed and covered up.

1810, 1910, 2010... [the years of Mexico's revolutions]

It's time to unite and organize ourselves already.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Zapatista Prisoners Threaten Hunger Strike in Tabasco

Two Zapatista political prisoners will begin a hunger strike on April 21 if they are not released before then, reports Enlace Zapatista. They demand immediate, unconditional release--not a pardon. In their own words: "For what crime do we have to request a pardon? For what crime would they have to pardon us?" In their eyes, to request a pardon would imply that they assume responsibility for a crime they didn't commit.

Both men threaten to hunger strike despite serious health problems. Ángel Concepción Pérez Gutiérrez (below, right), age 44, suffers from a reportedly untreated infection that has wracked his body for the past three years. Francisco Pérez Vázquez (below, left), age 74, has diabetes.

More from SIPAZ

Ángel Concepción Pérez Gutiérrez (age 44) and Francisco Pérez Vázquez (age 74) from the community of Guapacal in the municipality of Tila, Chiapas, were detained and charged with the murder of Florentino Hernández López on July 9, 1996, and each sentenced to 25 year prison terms. The murder took place on November 16, 1995, as the result of a territorial dispute between two ejidos on either side of the Chiapas-Tabasco border, Tutzil (Chiapas) and Agua Blanca (Tabasco).

The case brought against the two indigenous Ch’ol men was fraught with irregularities, including some which constitute human rights violations. Among these is the right to valid reasoning and legal grounds with regards to one’s judgment, as stated in articles 14 and 16 of the Mexican Constitution. In this case, the sole witness originally claimed he could not identify the perpetrators and later changed his testimony claiming psychiatric distress at the time of his original statement, although there was no hard evidence to sustain his claim.

Both men have been held in substandard conditions, and have stated that they are forced to sleep on the floor and are subject to flooding during rainy periods. Pérez Gutiérrez has been in ill health for the past three years, suffering from a serious infection for which he reportedly has not received medical attention. Meanwhile, Pérez Vázquez’s advanced age and diabetes has created health complications for him as well. The two men have been in solidarity with the huger strikers held in prisons in Chiapas, commencing a fast March 24. However, due to their ill health they have decided to cancel the fast as of April 3. While they are no longer able to continue with the strike, Pérez Gutiérrez and Pérez Vázquez offer an example of the circumstances faced by detainees throughout Mexico, a situation which has inspired the hunger strike that continues in Chiapas.

Pérez Gutiérrez and Pérez Vázquez were not among the 30 detainees participating the hunger strike who were released Monday, March 31 as that release only pertained to those detained in the state of Chiapas. However, the zapatista Good Government Council known as Roberto Barrios issued a communiqué March 25, demanding the immediate release of the detainees in Tabasco and reparations for suffering endured on the part of Pérez Gutiérrez, Pérez Vázquez and their families.

The Other Campaign in Tabasco requests that adherents and supporters of the Other Campaign maintain a constant vigil outside the Tacotalpa prison where the men are being held. The Tabasco Other Campaign will hold a press conference in Juárez Park on April 21 to coincide with the beginning of the hunger strike. Human rights observers and international adherents are asked to closely monitor the situation as it develops, and to be prepared to act as the moment arises.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Chiapas Prisoner Hunger Strike Over; Struggle Continues

In an April 14 meeting, ex-political prisoners from Chiapas who participated in the month-and-a-half long hunger strike for their freedom announced that all prisoners who were still incarcerated agreed to call off the hunger strike. In addition, SIPAZ reports that ex-prisoners and family members decided to end their plantón outside of the Chiapas state house in the capital of Tuxtla. They made the decision after Bishop Samuel Ruiz wrote them a letter to pressure them to call of the hunger strike. In the letter, he told them that he feared they would die or cause irreparable damage to their health they continued the hunger strike (something the prisoners have always been prepared for), and that there was no hope for their release because the government had closed negotiations over their freedom.

The entire text of Samuel Ruiz's letter is available in English.

Bishop Ruiz essentially convinced the prisoners to play into Gov. Juan Sabines' hands. Sabines released thirty political prisoners (and most likely many more paramilitaries, although that has not been corroborated because the government is keeping the list of released prisoners secret), leaving many Zapatista strikers still in jail. By releasing some but not all prisoners, the government hoped to break the hunger strike. It didn't work, because prisoners declared that they would keep up the hunger strike until all of them were free. That is, until Bishop Ruiz stepped in and convinced them to go along with Juan Sabines.

Ex-prisoners will hold another meeting next week to determine next steps in the struggle to free the remaining prisoners. They declared that the hunger strike might be over, but they're not giving up until all political prisoners are free.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Two Triqui Community Radio Reporters Assassinated

Lawlessness, Assassination and Impunity in Oaxaca
By Nancy Davies, from Narco News

The Triqui indigenous community of San Juan Copala, which declared autonomy on January 21, 2007, has suffered the bitter loss of two young women. Felicitas Martinez, age 20, and Teresa Bautista, age 24, were traveling in a rural part of Oaxaca state on route to the statewide meeting “For the Defense of the Rights of the Peoples of Oaxaca,” when gunmen opened fire on their vehicle late Monday. The gunfire killed the two women, and wounded three others in the vehicle, a man and wife and their three-year-old child, the Oaxaca attorney general’s office said in a statement. Read more

CCH Vallejo Students Occupy Director's Office

On April 10, 2008, about thirty students and members of the Regeneracion Radio collective occupied the director's office of the Colegio de Ciencias y Humanidades Vallejo (Vallejo Sciences and Humanities High School, CCH Vallejo in its Spanish abbreviation), part of the UNAM system in northern Mexico City. Students and radio activists continue their round-the-clock occupation and closure of the avenue outside the director's office, which was sparked by the expulsion of six students. The students want a meeting with the school director to discuss their demands. School authorities' response has been to rally other students to physically attack the occupation.

The director of CCH Vallejo, Lucia Laura Muñoz Corona, seeks the students' expulsion for their participation on April 8 in an on-campus kermesse, a political-cultural fair where students sold food and held a ceremony in which they mocked the institution of marriage and passed out condoms. In retaliation for the kermesse, school authorities and campus security disrupted the student's weekly chess games on April 10. José Refugio Tellez, chief of campus security, threw the chess boards to the ground and threatened to expel the students who were setting them up.

Students organized the kermesse in part to raise funds for Regeneracion Radio. The radio station has had financial difficulties ever since May 2007 when CCH Vallejo banned the on-campus sale of candy in an attempt to bankrupt the Regeneracion Radio collective.

The CCH Vallejo authorities have every reason to want to kick Regeneracion Radio and its student members off campus. The radio was founded as Radio Pacheco in 1999, just before the infamous National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM in its Spanish initials) student strike against tuition increases mandated by the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. Students started the radio (then just a microphone and a set of loudspeakers) to facilitate student communication during anti-tuition hike organizing and the subsequent strike, which was successful despite brutal repression. Regeneracion Radio has maintained a permanent presence on the CCH Vallejo campus ever since, constructing a permanent radio station where they stream their programs over the internet and broadcast over loudspeakers.

Students continue to use the radio as an organizing tool, fighting for students' rights and democracy on campus. The Regeneracion Radio collective has been instrumental in the constant struggle against porro organizations, which persist in CCH Vallejo and all over the UNAM system despite the fact that they're banned. Porros are a phenomenon that came out of student organizing in the 1960's as a way to circumvent laws that prohibit police presence on campus without the rector's permission. Porro leaders are paid by the government through the time-honored Mexican tradition of budgeting much more money than necessary for public works projects and then using the excess money for politically illicit purposes. These paid leaders then organize students to spy on and attack student organizations. While the lower-level student porros aren't paid, the government offers them legal protection in the form of a virtual get-out-of-jail-free card, allowing them to rob with impunity. Porros roam the streets outside CCH Vallejo, mugging students as they enter and leave campus, often beating them in the process. Porros have also attacked Regeneracion Radio, destroying their radio equipment on several occasions.

Regeneracion Radio and student allies are refusing to vacate the director's office until the following demands are met:
1. No reprisals against students, workers, and professors who participate in or join the movement.

2. The firing of Director Lucia Laura Muñoz Corona for her inability to resolve the community's problems and necessities, and a democratic process to elect a new director.

3. The firing of José Refugio Tellez, chief of campus security, for his inefficiency, arrogance, authoritarianism, and the attacks that diverse sectors of the community have suffered on his behalf.

4. Porros out of CCH Vallejo. The authorities have not done enough to definitively eradicate this group.

5. An internal council with a democratic process for electing councilmembers, where student councilmembers enjoy full representation.

6. That the PAE (Programa de Apoyo al Egreso or Expense Support Program) be applied beginning in the second semester, and that the necessary groups are created so that students in whichever semester (second up to the sixth) can pass their classes and quickly graduate from the CCH.

7. Direct enrollment in UNAM without any restrictions. The 1997 reforms that, among other things, set a timeframe for the completion of studies at the bachelor level should not apply because they are not valid due to the results of the 1999-2000 student strike. The agreement was that the timeframe would not apply until a University Congress was created, which has still not happened.

8. The creation of a Popular Eatery as an alternative to the cafeteria's high prices. The school should provide the space and infrastructure.

9. That a mechanism be created to be able to pay for final exams without needing to go to the CU.

10. That professors don't condition grades on the obligatory sale of books and theater tickets.

11. That the cafeteria in the "R" building not be close to the bathrooms for hygiene reasons.

12. Respect for student spaces and free organization.

13. That the campus installations be continually maintained, including the lawns, bathrooms, and classrooms.
The situation on campus is very tense. School authorities are currently attempting to retake the director's office. They've called a student assembly, accusing the occupying students of being porros and encouraging the 2000 attendees to help the school authorities attack the occupying students and retake the office.

Letters in support of the student occupation can be sent to, and donations can be made at their website,

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Bishop Samuel Ruiz Intervenes in Chiapas Hunger Strike

from the Chiapas Support Committee

As of April 5, the hunger strikers and those fasting in El Amate prison ended their protest at the request of Bishop Emeritus Samuel Ruiz Garcia. Bishop Ruiz is also the president of the board of directors of the Fray Bartolome de las Casas Human Rights Center and he instructed its staff to represent the prisoners in their legal proceedings with the state. Bishop Ruiz asked them to end their protest for “humanitarian” reasons so that there would not be irreversible damage to their bodies. The status of the hunger strikers in the Los Llanos prison in San Cristobal is unclear as of this writing (04/06/08).

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Conditional "Freedom" for Chiapan Political Prisoners

After all of Chiapan Gov. Juan Sabines' rhetoric that the freed political prisoners did not commit the crimes they were convicted of and that justice was done the day they were freed, it turns out he freed the prisoners with conditions. Strict conditions. The prisoners are out on parole, and they have to report to Tuxtla monthly to sign a ledger until their original sentences are completed. This means that a prisoner that served almost six years of his eight-year sentence must report to Tuxtla monthly for over two years.

This is an extraordinary burden on people who Juan Sabines proclaimed are innocent. These men and women were poor before they went to prison, and after being in prison for so long without work they're even poorer. One prisoner's family reported that they lost their home after their breadwinner's imprisonment. The trip to Tuxtla costs time and money that these people don't have--some of them will have to travel fifteen hours every month to comply with their parole.

There are still seventeen prisoners inside, thirteen of whom are on hunger strike, six of them for over forty days.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Global sign-on letter for immediate unconditional freedom for Mexican political prisoners on hunger strike


For ethical, humanitarian, and just reasons, the people, organizations, and networks who sign this letter express our profound rejection of the deprivation of people's liberty through the "fabrication" of crimes.

We are concerned because the criminalization of social movements is a strategy of the Mexican government to eliminate other ways of doing politics.

In this context, we demand the immediate and unconditional freedom of the political prisoners in Chiapas and Tabasco who have participated in a fast and hunger strike since February 25, and whose health condition is very grave. We declare our support for the freedom of all of the political prisoners of Chiapas and Mexico.

Life and respect for the dignity of all people are inalienable rights.


[Please send your signature and country to with the message "Yo o mi organizacion quisiera firmar la carta por la libertad de los presos politicos"]

The original Spanish:


Por razones éticas, humanitarias y de justicia, las personas, organizaciones y redes abajo firmantes expresamos nuestro profundo rechazo a la privación de la libertad de personas mediante la "fabricación" de delitos .

Estamos preocupados porque la criminalización de los movimientos sociales es una estrategia del gobierno mexicano para eliminar otras formas de hacer política.

En este contexto, exigimos la liberación inmediata e incondicional de los presos políticos de Chiapas y Tabasco que se encuentran en ayuno y huelga de hambre desde el 25 de febrero cuyo estado de salud es sumamente grave. Nos pronunciamos por la liberación de todas las personas presas políticas de Chiapas y de México.

La vida y el respeto a la dignidad de todas las personas son derechos inalienables.


Envien sus firmas con sus paises a

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Facing Escalating Protests, Chiapas Frees 30 Political Prisoners

With 17 prisoners still inside, the Other Campaign declares April 3 an International Day of Action

In what has been declared a stunning but partial victory for the Other Campaign, the Chiapas government freed thirty political prisoners last night in response to years of protests for their freedom, but not before giving some of them one last thorough beating. Seventeen prisoners remain incarcerated in Chiapas and Tabasco, thirteen of whom are on a hunger strike that has lasted 37 days so far. Prisoners, ex-prisoners, and their families and supporters are gearing up for an increasingly tense battle for the freedom of the remaining political prisoners. Outside medical experts say that the symptoms the hunger strikers report and the amount of time they've gone without food has put their lives in danger, and that they may begin to die as early as Sunday. The state government, however, declared that it refuses to negotiate over the remaining prisoners.

The liberated prisoners have declared that they will remain in the plantón (permanent protest encampment) outside the state government headquarters in Tuxtla until all of their compañeros are free. They maintain their fearless resolve despite the government's best efforts to keep them away, including threats and physical violence. Police refused to allow prisoners from the Cereso #17 prison in Catazaja to see the route they were taking to arrive at the government's press conference where it released the prisoners as part of a media stunt. According to the recently released prisoners, the police beat them on the way to the press conference until their heads and arms were purple and they were bleeding. Their wrists were bound tightly with tape, cutting off circulation to their hands. After the press conference, the police loaded them back into a government vehicle, beat some of them again, and told them they were going to be returned to jail, but then released them.

Their Crime: Being Indigenous and Poor

The prisoners belong to a variety of organizations, including EZLN bases of support, adherents to the Zapatistas' Other Campaign, an evangelical Christian organization, and the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD in its Spanish initials). The amount of time they've spent in jail varies: the two Zapatista prisoners in Tabasco have been imprisoned for twelve years, other prisoners for one year.

The prisoners were incarcerated under a wide array of circumstances. Paramilitary organizations accused some Zapatista support bases of crimes the paramilitaries themselves committed. Antonio Garcia Flores, for example, is a member of the EZLN and participated in the Zapatista's 1994 uprising. He was arrested then in Ocosingo after members of the paramilitary organization Chinchulines turned him in, then later released under an amnesty law that freed all Zapatista prisoners. The Chinchulines later dissolved and integrated themselves into the Organization for the Defense of Indigenous and Campesino Rights (Opddic in its Spanish initials), an anti-Zapatista paramilitary organization with a civilian face of legitimacy. In 1999, Opddic members accused him of “robbery with violence,” and in March 2006 the government imprisoned him under those charges. After serving two years in prison for a crime he did not commit, he was released last night.

Other prisoners, such as Julio Cesar Perez Ruiz, who became an adherent to the Other Campaign in prison, were imprisoned because a crime was committed and the government needed to jail someone for it, and any poor indian would do. While Perez was working in his cornfield with his father, a homicide occurred 40 km away. Despite his alibi and witness accounts of other suspects entering the area of the homicide, the government, having no desire to do the necessary work to solve the murder of a poor campesino, decided to jail another poor campesino and wash its hands of the whole matter. Perez was not released last night and remains on hunger strike.

Most of the ex-prisoners report that they had inadequate legal defense and did not understand court proceedings because the government did not provide a translator into their native languages of Tsotsil, Tzeltal, and Ch'ol. In this sense, the common thread that links all of the political prisoners is that they are poor indians.

Years of Struggle Inside and Outside the Prison Walls

According to Jose Perez Hernandez, father of Julio Cesar Perez Ruiz, the movement within the prison began when prisoners from various organizations began to talk to each other about how they were unjustly imprisoned. In this way they became aware of the epidemic of unjust imprisonment and their common willingness to do whatever it takes to win their freedom, so they decided to organize.

Two years ago, members of the prisoners organization “La Voz del Amate” in el Amate prison began a plantón within the prison. They camped out day and night on the prison grounds in a vocal protest of their unjust imprisonment, petitioned the state government for their release, and organized outside support through their families and activists who visited them in prison. Through their various organizational affiliations and outside support, they organized across four different prisons, including the Carcel Publica Municipal in Tacotalpa, Tabasco, where two Zapatistas are imprisoned. On February 12, 2008, Zacario Hernandez Hernandez, a member of La Voz del Amate, stepped up the protest and declared a hunger strike to demand their freedom. This sparked an escalation in the prisoners' tactics, and in the following weeks dozens more prisoners in the four jails joined the huger strike and plantónes. At its peak, 37 prisoners participated in the hunger strike with twelve more joining the plantón who couldn't hunger strike for health reasons. Many other prisoners supported the plantónistas and protected them from the prison guards.

On the March 24, the 29th day of the hunger strike, families and friends of the prisoners declared a planton outside the Palacio de Gobierno, the Chiapas state house in Tuxtla. They hung signs on the walls and windows of the Palacio and left coffins on the front steps under a banner that says, “This is how the government wants us to end up.” A week later, on March 29, Other Campaign adherents from Chiapas, Oaxaca, and Mexico City marched on the Palacio de Gobierno and encircled it in protest. The following day dozens of supporters and family members attempted to visit the prisoners, but after taking their IDs and recording all of their personal information, the prison authorities suddenly declared Sunday a families-only visit day and turned away all but one non-family visitor.

On March 31 the government announced that it planned to release 137 prisoners at a press conference that evening, including some of the hunger strikers and plantónistas. In a staged media spectacle called “Freedom to Do Justice,” the government released the prisoners and unilaterally ended negotiations over the remaining prisoners due to its claim that all unjustly imprisoned Chiapans were now free. This contradicts Gov. Juan Sabines' position up until said press conference, wherein he denied that there were any political prisoners in Chiapas. In the press conference the government laid out fruit and yogurt for the prisoners, hoping that the media would snap pictures of hunger strikers accepting food and reconciliation from the government. Refusing to be pawns in the government's public relations strategy, the released hunger strikers refused all government food and only ate once they were released and joined the plantón. Family members of the prisoners protested the press conference, repeatedly interrupting government officials with chants of, “We're not all here! Other prisoners are missing!” and “Sabines! Listen up! The prisoners don't sell out!”

Journalists and activists want the list of all 137 pardoned prisoners because they suspect that the government used this opportunity to free many paramilitary members.

The Struggle Continues

When the family members declared their plantón outside the Palacio de Gobierno, they agreed that none of them would leave until all of the protesting prisoners were free, even if some individual family members were released. Upon learning that some but not all of them would be released, the prisoners met and agreed that prisoners inside the jails would continue the plantónes and hunger strike, and those on the outside would immediately join the plantón outside the Palacio de Gobierno.

The Other Campaign in San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, has also vowed to continue their protests until all prisoners are freed. Given the striking prisoners' grave health situation and the notice that this might be the last week to act before prisoners begin to die of starvation, the Other Campaign will hold a march and procession of coffins to the central plaza in San Cristobal on Thursday, April 3. The Other Campaign declared Thursday, April 3, an international day of action for the freedom of the striking prisoners and calls on activists outside Mexico to stage protests and actions at Mexican embassies and consulates.