GUADALAJARA: Local Portlander Detained, Beaten, etc ...
Sent: Friday, June 11, 2004 8:46 PM
hey, I was recently in Guadalajara Mexico for the protests of the Summit between European and Latin American heads of state as they negotiated new trade deals. (You might have seen coverage on Indymedia or if you read Mexican dailys (La Jornada) there has been a lot of coverage).
In a nutshell, I was randomly picked up hours after the protests by one of the groups of police combing the city, beaten by roughly 15 Guadalajara riot police, gun-to-the-head threats of death, thrown through a hotel window, detained in the basement of the police station (along with dozens of others, many who are still illegally jalied in Guadalajara with invented charges), sent to migration holding center and eventually deported. (If you've followed this story, you know there were 8 foreigners deported... I am one of them).
At no point did I break any law in Mexico, and the list of human rights violations, illegalities, mistreatings, beatings, etc. I have experienced or seen is long... a big reason why they wanted me out of Mexico, and quick.
I have attached a (somewhat long, sorry) testimony, if you are interested in reading more (or go on-line, as I have spoken with tons of press about this, mostly in Mexico... La Jornada has had the most extensive coverage).
I would love your thoughts if you think there is a venue that may be interested in covering this, as I am still seeking continued press coverage, on behalf of the dozens still jailed on invented charges in Guadalajara.
Let me know...
Testimony given by Patrick Leet of the events starting Friday May 28, 2004
(all times are estimated within an hour, more or less)
Friday, May 28
7:30pm B. and I returned to Hotel Hamilton (on Madero Street, near 16 de Septiembre in Guadalajara) after seeing that the march/protest was going from ugly to uglier, and that we were tired and had no reason to be there.
7:30 - 9:30pm Waited in the lobby of the Hotel Hamilton (right near major protest area) for the streets to settle down a bit before venturing back outside to look for food.
9:30pm Left Hotel Hamilton in search of a restaurant.
9:31pm Within a minute (literally) of leaving the hotel a group of people (5?) ran by me from right to left, chased by a much larger group (10-15?) of police, some dressed in riot gear, soon headed my way. I tried to make it back to the hotel but before I knew what was happening the entire group of police had surrounded me and began punching and kicking me, primarily aiming their steel toed boots at my face and head, but also kicking me in the stomach, ribs, and legs as I lay on the ground. This lasted for perhaps a minute or two before I managed to get up, push my way out from under them, and try to escape back to the hotel, as they grasped at my shirt, ripping it from my body. As I broke from the group, one of the cops pulled out a gun, put it to my head and said "If you move I will kill you". I ran back to the door of the hotel where several cops grabbed me and threw me through the glass window at the entrance of the hotel, shattering it and cutting up my back and arms. I nearly made it back inside the hotel when they pulled me back to the street, at which point B. jumped in, putting her arms around me to stop the blows. She and the other hotel staff (and me) were all yelling that I was a guest at the hotel. The police soon realized that they were making a mistake and all took off running. Other than the first few minutes, B. and the hotel workers witnessed everything that happened.
9:45pm Evaluating the situation and my wounds, the owner of the hotel calls the Red Cross.
10:20pm Red Cross arrives, evaluates me and the situation, and recommends that I join them in going to the local Red Cross station, to be checked-over as well as to file a report if I so desired. B. and I joined the two Red Cross workers in an ambulance to the facility. (Taken to the Red Cross Parque Morelos clinic.)
10:45pm After a quick look-over by the first doctor, the Red Cross medical staff let me know that they would soon be seeing me. I began to notice that there were numerous plainclothes police officers walking around, apparently keeping tabs on what was happening.
11:00pm I received medical attention and was attended to by a doctor, who looked me over, evaluated that none of my injuries were life threatening, and let me know that they were going to need to stitch up my back in two different places where the shattered glass from the broken window had cut me.
11:30pm I was approached by one of the plain-clothes police officers and said that I would be accompanying them. I asked questions of who they were, why I would be accompanying them, where they would take me, etc. etc. etc. Feeling a sense of safety with the presence of hospital staff, I informed them that I wouldn't be going anywhere without legal counsel, without being charged with anything, without knowing who they were, etc. The plain-clothes person in charge handcuffed me to the bed, got within inches of my face and insinuated that I would not be as lucky to have hospital personnel around later to protect me when in custody of the police, and that I had better shut up if I knew what was good for me. I began to realize the gravity of the situation (with cops and protestors in alternating beds, both seriously injured, all around the clinic), and stopped asking questions. The handcuffs were removed, but the threats continued, and as the stitches began, I pretended to be in great pain in order to talk with B., who had not been allowed inside. I quickly asked her to call the hotel owner and that the two of them should follow me wherever it was they were taking me after the Red Cross. Looking around at the injured police officers, the word "revenge" came to mind, and I didn't want to be taken away without anyone knowing where I was going. I told the doctors I needed to "rest" until the owner showed up.
12:00pm I was taken by plainclothes police to the Ministerio Publico building, next door to the Red Cross. Once there I inquired again where I was, why I was being taken there, what I was charged with, who these people were, etc etc etc. Still, no answers to any of these questions. My belt and shoelaces were taken away from me and I was put by myself into a jail cell for about an hour.
Saturday, May 29th
1:00am I was removed, put into the back of a police pick-up truck and taken to a police station (Secretaria de Seguridad Pública del Estado de Jalisco). B. followed with the owner of the hotel, but there was a significant police presence outside, at the entrance, and even more once inside, so obviously they were unable to pass. Here I was assumed a criminal and the environment got much more serious, as dozens and dozens of riot-dressed police, fresh from the streets, "greeted" us once inside. We went down a ramp and as I turned the corner it got darker, more humid, and smelled of human sweat, as there were close to 70 people sitting on the ground being held at this station. I was probably asked my name 15 different times (it was written down every time) as we were checked in. We were passed to a back room to see a doctor for a medical check, and then made to sit back in the main holding room.
1:30am - 11:00am I was held at the police station, along with many others and was exposed to and witnessed what some would call "torture" and others "mistreatment". This ranged from random punches to the face or head to being forced to do strange exercises ("hold this above your head for X amount of time") to beatings of those who first had to go to the bathroom. One person was forced to urinate on himself, and, before joining the larger group, some of the women had been forced to strip naked and do exercises. Basic needs such as water, bathroom access, etc were given to us when the police felt like it, not always when we wanted/needed such things. We were also forced to sit up on the hard tile floor throughout the night, as at times those laying down or resting the "wrong" way, or those standing to stretch were yelled at to sit correctly. There were also psychological intimidation, threats, etc. as the police would bring in plainclothes "witnesses" or masked "witnesses" to point out people in the group who would be added to a "list" or taken away, sometimes being brought back, sometimes not. Large numbers of heavily-armed police dressed in riot gear would also periodically circle around us (the detained). They would make death threats or other verbal threats or simply threaten us with their body language. It often depended on the individual police officer, as some were more open to our needs/rights, while others were more aggressive or violent. On a number of occasions we were made to believe we would be moved elsewhere or set free as we were stood up, moved around, separated into different groups, left standing for awhile, only to sit back down and wait for another hour or two.
At some point, perhaps around 8am, B. somehow managed to make contact and I was called to come and meet with her. What a strange/hopeful sight it was to see her face after all those hours. She was able to get me my passport and some phone numbers which would later be very useful.
11:30am Around this time, the foreigners were separated and taken upstairs. We were taken to a room where we were put in front of what appeared to be a one-way glass room. I was fully expecting the wood doors to open, lights to blind our eyes, and an imaginary panel of witnesses on the other side of the one-way glass to point out who the "guilty" ones were. Realizing at this point that truth was fiction and fiction truth, this was a very difficult moment psychologically, as I imagined years in a Mexican prison, charged with assaulting a police officer or some such crime, "proven" by an anonymous witness. We were made to stand there for what seemed like an eternity, and eventually rejoined by the rest of the people being held.
12:15pm The 8 foreigners separated again and taken upstairs in the same building, where we were allowed to sit on chairs for the first time (oh what a feeling), smoke, go to the bathroom, drink water, etc. While we still had no idea of our status, the situation seemed to be changing and we found out that we would now be in the hands of Mexican Immigration.
12:45pm The 8 foreigners were taken outside and whisked away in two unmarked suburbans to the offices of migration in Guadalajara.
1:00pm - 11:15pm The conditions at the migration offices were that of a standard office, and the atmosphere much more relaxed and comfortable. We were given a medical check first off, and eventually given food (3 or 4pm?) for the first time in 24 hours for most. We could use water, the bathroom, etc. as we wished. However, we were still not informed of our legal status, why we were being held, what we could expect, when we could talk with lawyers, and not allowed to make the phone calls we needed (although I did make contact with Thomas Brown at the US consular offices in Guadalajara). We were also lied to about the process we were involved in ("If all of your migration papers are in order, you will be set free" etc.). They also took our testimonies about what had happened, and asked us to sign a document that included both our versions and the police versions, which were filled with completely fabricated events, saying we had participated in vandalism, violence against police, etc. We were led to believe that the quicker we signed these documents, containing our testimonies, the quicker we would be released, assuming that our migratory papers were in order. (Some wrote harshly worded testimonies denying the police fabrications and lies, and then signed. I said that I would not sign any document that contained the fabricated version of the police, as I had not done what their statements said I had done). We were also made aware that we were not being "detained". We asked if we could leave. They said no. (Apparently the correct word is "retained").
11:15pm We are all 8 locked in a room within the offices. A couple of us (Matteo the Italian and Juan, one of the Spanish) are called out to visit with friends who had brought their belongings to them.
11:45pm Before we knew what was happening, we are all rushed into an elevator, down some stairs, and rushed up onto a bus, to be taken to Mexico City. With all the people waiting down below, the TV cameras shining at us during the run to the bus, the police escort out of town, and the high-security atmosphere on board (absolutely NO opening of window curtains and a couple dozen security folks on board the bus), we realized that this was a bigger deal than we had initially thought.
Sunday, May 30th
6:30 - 8:30am Arrival and check-in at the migration detention station in Iztapalapa in Mexico City. Our things were taken from us and put into storage, to be taken out when we left. I had nothing with me, but was forced to check my belt, which would be held safely I was informed. My shoelaces had disappeared somewhere at this point. We also had a medical check and revision here. We were also made explicitly aware of our rights and responsibilities in the facility (meal times, phone times, lock-down times at night, duties, etc), which we all found quite curious, given we had no rights in the progress of the process we were involved in, still had not been officially charged with anything, could not consult legal council, etc. After this process the men and women were separated and I joined the other men and we walked into the men's side of the center itself, baptized into a world we all knew existed, but had never visited, with roughly 1200 people (in a facility for maybe 300), 98% traveling north to the US to find work, the vast majority of them from Central America. 400-600 people in and the same number out every single day, all with the same response: "I'll keep trying until I make it" (One had been in that exact facility 51 times!)
3pm - 6pm
We were allowed to make phone calls during call hours (10am-1pm, 3pm-6pm), and for the first time I managed to make contact with the outside, finding out that B. was on her way back to the DF, making contact with "Patricia" from the US Embassy, and leaving a message with the folks at Hotel Hamilton (who were very helpful) to call B. in DF and pass along the phone number of the place I was being held. I also had long conversations with A. from Centro ProDH who B. had been working with, about our legal status, where things were with us, etc. She was very helpful and let us know that she was fighting for us on the outside. She was promovering an amparo, to stop the illegal deportation proceedings (which she claimed would almost certainly result in the permanent expulsion from Mexico). I thanked her for all her work and, while talking with her, a friend walking by overheard "amparo" and mentioned that we did not want an amparo under any circumstances, as it would hold us up inside for months, and that it was the last thing in the world that we would want, given all the immigration stories he knew of that had been prolonged because of the amparo process. A. had a different understanding, seemed very trustworthy working on our behalf, and I was left with my head spinning, not sure.
(sometime this evening (11pm-sh?) A. had come all the way down to the migration center, unable to get in)
Monday, May 31st
1:30am The amparo arrives. We are all drunk with sleep, unable to think clearly, and spend the next couple hours discussing and debating, not sure what to do. After much back and forth, the 8 of us decided that while we did not have more formal legal council, we did not want to sign any legal documents, as we had been lied to, misled, tricked, etc so many times that we didn't trust anyone at this point. I tried calling A. to get advice, but she was not available. The phone conversations with A. had been good/helpful, etc, and we were greatly appreciative, but without speaking in person, we were not doing anything. We decided to reserve the 3-day window that we are allowed by law to neither sign nor decline the amparo.
3:30am Discussion ends, we return to our blankets on the tile floors, respectively.
10am - 1pm &
3pm - 6pm
Again, spending much of the day on the phone, trying to make contact with people. A. was very difficult to get a hold of, and ended up speaking with a variety of different people, still trying to figure things out. While taken to the licenciado Ayala's office to clear up (ha!) our legal and migratory status, I saw B., once again a wonderful surprise amidst the chaos, confusion, and desconfianza total of the inside of the migratory station. We somehow managed to talk for a couple hours about what was going on. While it was good, what we all really needed was a face-to-face meeting with A. which we had been trying to find time for, to build confianza, strategy, figure out what to do, etc. At around 4pm or so (?) the guards started telling us to get our stuff because we were going right then and there... to the airport for deportation. I quickly called A. and, desperately, asked what to do. Neither of us was sure (but apparently she went running out to the Palacio de Justicia again to get us another amparo ASAP to sign, to stop the process).
Tuesday, June 1st
12:30am - 1:30am Once again, another unknown to us amparo person comes in the middle of the night, trying to get us to sign. Once again I called A. but she was asleep. We discussed it for some time as a group but once again decided to reserve our right to neither sign nor decline it, without knowing a little bit more, especially given the stories we had been hearing on the inside about how much it can lengthen our stay, complicate things, etc. A. called right after the person had left, and was clearly disappointed yet very understanding that we had not signed.
7:30am Waking up on a tile floor, a sleeping mat and a blanket to keep me company all night, along with fond amparo memories of course.
10:30am B. able to come, briefly, during visiting hours. We chatted once again about the situation, etc.
11:45am Around this time 3 people from the legal collective of organizations showed up (yay!), apparently they got in only because they threatened to do a big press conference with the gathering media right outside. Finally we were able to meet as a group (the 8 foreigners) with them... M., T., and another compañero from another org (can't find his name right now). We had an amazing talk for the next 2 or 3 hours, talking about testimonies, where things were at, how this was gaining traction and lots of press attention, inside and outside strategies, building political pressure, a good explanation of the amparo and a much better understanding of where things were headed. This meeting was long overdue, and we finally had ourselves all on the same page, ready to move forward. The entire meeting was listened in on by officials of the migration center.
4pm An hour or so after eating lunch (held aside for us because we were meeting), we heard rumors that we were going... soon. Yep, sure enough, the officials began to tell us to pack our stuff because we were going. We said that we would not be going just yet as the amparo was underway, thank you very much anyway. They had other plans and started to move in to take us by force. There were a bunch of uniformed thugs lined up to "help" us along the way, and while we were partially cooperative at first, we were less and less cooperative and they ended up taking us by force onto the bus to the airport.
The ride to the airport was intense as we all were screaming out the window "nos están secuestrando", chased by the newsmedia in their vehicles. At every red light along the way the cameras would come out of the cars and they would try to grab a quick interview. Green light... back on the road again. One news channel was on a motorcycle, and we wrote notes on the bus and passed them to the motorcycle out the window along the way, flying down the streets of Mexico City.
Once we got to the airport we were taken around the back service entrance, passing by taxi-ing planes as we were taken to one of the runway-sides of the gates. While there were no metal detectors or x-ray machines, we were met by tons of security personnel, who escorted us into the airport, and into the migration detention centers. Here we were held for a couple hours where I talked again to the US Embassy and to M.. M. had suggested that, if put on a plane, that we go along, as fighting the expulsion at that point would potentially result in criminal charges, and that would be an entirely different fight.
Before escorting me to my flight, I was required to sign something. Again, as was suggested by the lawyers we were working with, I signed it "firmo bajo protesta porque no he tenido acceso a debido proceso", and demanded a copy.
8:20pm Leave on flight to Houston.
10:30pm (or so) Landed in Houston, Texas and passed through customs, without any problems.
Patrick is especially concerned about the people that are still being held in prison in Mexico.
Patrick states, "While my case is fucked up, again, all efforts on behalf of those still imprisoned are appreciated.
"A good phone number for folks to call to put pressure on behalf of those still detained:
(202) 452 - 9651 (Mexican Embassy in DC)"
Donate to help the political prisoners in guadalajara.
you can send money c/o
Martha Cecilia García Juaréz
Account number: 1299949054
(please email: email@example.com)
Donate to help the political prisoners in guadalajara.
you can send money c/o
Martha Cecilia García Juaréz
Account number: 1299949054
(please email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
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