portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article

human & civil rights | prisons & prisoners

Zapatista Prisoners Physically Threatened

Six Zapatista political prisoners from La Voz de Cerro
Hueco initiated a hunger strike at 11am today in spite
of property damage, threats and physical assault by
prison authorities.
Zapatista Prisoners Physically Threatened - July 24, 2001

From  e-libre@tao.ca
Date Thu, 26 Jul 2001 13:54:22 -0400 (EDT)
A - I N F O S N E W S S E R V I C E

>From "Estacion Libre"  e-libre@tao.ca
This message contains a brief report by Estación Libre
and two communiqués by La Voz de Cerro Hueco.


Tuesday, July 24th, 2001
Tuxtla Gutierrez, Chiapas

Six Zapatista political prisoners from La Voz de Cerro
Hueco initiated a hunger strike at 11am today in spite
of property damage, threats and physical assault by
prison authorities. This nonviolent resistance is
being undertaken by prisoners in Tuxtla Gutierrez,
Chiapas and Tabasco in demand of the unconditional
liberation of the remaining 9 Zapatista prisoners as
well as the fulfillment of the San Andres Accords and
complete military withdrawal from Chiapas. For the
first time ever, La Voz de Cerro Hueco is declaring
themselves against the new federal and Chiapas state
governments, claiming that both are merely continuing
the implementation of policies initiated by the PRI.

Four civilian organizations, including Estación Libre,
visited the three Zapatista prisoners of Cerro Hueco
on Tuesday, only to discover that prison authorities
had reached the hunger strikers first. Claiming to be
acting on orders from his superiors, prison director
Erasmo Ramirez Figueroa, entered the "autonomous cell"
of La Voz de Cerro Hueco members and personally tore
down tissue paper banners that proclaimed "liberty,
justice and dignity" and "Viva el EZLN." Upon his
return one hour later, with backup of 13 inmate cell
commanders, the director twisted the arm of Alejandro
Mendez and declared that prisoners could not carry out
a hunger strike, threatening to beat and transfer them
if they did.

According to reports from Tabasco, similar threats
were made against the three Zapatista prisoners
carrying out hunger strikes in their respective
prisons: Francisco Perez Vazquez, Angel Concepción
Perez Vazquez, and Carrillo Vazquez Lopez. Rafael
Lopez Santiz, Zapatista political prisoner in San
Cristobal de Las Casas, was unable to participate in
the hunger strike due to the fragility of his health;
prison authorities are denying him the daily medicine
and medical attention that he needs.

In Tuxtla Gutierrez, Salvador Lopez Gonzalez,
Alejandro Mendez Díaz and Gustavo Estrada Gomez
specifically asked visiting organizations to spread
word of their situation outside the prison, and "not
to leave us alone." They fear that if outsiders do
not pressure authorities for their release, threats of
violence will be carried out against them. They also
note that they have chosen a hunger strike as an
expression of their preference for nonviolent
resistance; however, it seems that prison officials
won't even allow this. Nonetheless, the three
prisoners are exhibiting considerable courage and
determination to continue the fast in spite of the
impending threat of violence. We hope you will help
support them.

The following are two communiqués by La Voz de Cerro


Communiqué #1

Cereso One
Cerro Hueco, Tuxtla Gutierrez

July 24, 2001

To the people of Mexico and the world
To all human rights activists
To the Red de Defensores Comunitarios Por Los Derechos
To the Zapatista Front of National Liberation (FZLN)
To all social activists
To the local, national and international press

Brothers and Sisters,

We, the Zapatista political prisoners belonging to La
Voz de Cerro Hueco in Tuxtla and San Cristobal de Las
Casas, have the following to say:

Today, July 24, 2001, at 11am, we started a hunger
strike in protest of the government's lies. It
continues favoring moneyed men to the detriment of
indigenous autonomy, for which reason the Zapatista
political prisoners express their word:

The marginalizing policies that have governed our
country and increased poverty since the era of the
PRI, have been maintained with the taking of power by
Vicente Fox Quesada. Yet another time, Mexicans
trusted that change would lead us to real democracy.
But this is not possible as long as the enrichment of
a few is based on the impoverishment of the many. Fox
has lied to the Mexican people and has lied to us, who
have struggled for a country with justice and liberty
and have been persecuted and incarcerated. [On March
23, 2001] Fox mentioned our names, promising a liberty
that we are still waiting for in resistance, in the
jails of Chiapas and the nation.

We declare ourselves against the Bartlett - Cevallos
indigenous law, approved by those who supposedly
represented us in their farce of a democracy. [The
passage of this law occurred] in spite of our round
rejection, once again excluding the indigenous from
participating in their own future which, as far as we
can see, continues consisting of duplicity, poverty,
prison and extermination.

In order to trick people, the government uses the
media to spread its claim that development will come.
In reality this means the militarization of our
villages and programs that only maintain damaging
dependence and not real self-determination. With this
it is clear that the government does not want lasting
peace. It has not fulfilled the three signs that the
real army of the Mexican people demanded as a
precondition to continue with dialogue. Trustworthy
proof of this is that we are still here, we are still
resisting and struggling for liberty with justice and
dignity, seeing that this has not come. On the
contrary, the prisons continue being filled with poor
indigenous and non indigenous. Unseen among them are
the real criminals - rich landowners and corrupt
government officials that continue the false policies
of "Don Dinero."

For this reason we call on all prisoners of the 13
prisons of Chiapas, and all social activists that have
been imprisoned in response to their demands to join
our resistance and organize, according to their means,
to denounce the corruption which exists in the legal
processes of our country.

We know that in this struggle the government will want
to intimidate us because it doesn't serve their
interests for it to be known that many prisoners are
still unjustly incarcerated. Many deserve
"pre-liberation" while others are in jail because they
had been tried or sentenced unjustly. Others are
imprisoned due to their inability to pay for justice.

That is all, thank you.

For liberty with justice and dignity for Zapatista
political prisoners in Chiapas, Tabasco and Querétaro!

Salvador Lopez Gonzalez [ signature ]
Alejandro Mendez Díaz [ signature ]
Gustavo Estrada Gomez [ signature ]

* [Translator's note: Pre-liberation refers to a legal
clause that allows prisoners to be freed if 1) they
have served half their sentence and 2) they belong to
a marginalized group. Three of the four Zapatista
prisoners in Chiapas qualify for pre-liberation.]


Communiqué #2

July 24, 2001

Tuxtla Gutierrez, Chiapas

To Public Opinion
To the Red de Defensores Comunitarios Por los Derechos
To all national and international human rights

We denounce that today, at 8:45am, the director of
Cereso 1, Erasmo Ramirez Figueroa, entered the cell of
the Zapatista political prisoners and destroyed the
protest signs that only said, "democracy, liberty,
justice and Viva el EZLN." Stating that he had orders
from superiors, he entered with hostility and made
obscene verbal threats.

He later returned at around 10am, with all the inmate
cell commanders, saying that [the prisoners] could not
carry out any resistance and that if they did, they
would be transferred. The cell commanders were
accompanied by the director who twisted the arms of
the Zapatista prisoners, threw out everything [i.e.
signs banners] from their autonomous space and could
quite possibly beat the prisoners.


External Representative of La Voz de Cerro Hueco

Ablelardo Mendez Arcos

[ signature ]


Communiqués originally published by Enlace Civil

Translated by Estación Libre:  e-libre@tao.ca