dorset chiapas solidarity

November 2, 2016

Pardon as a Reparation Measure in the Face of Human Rights Violations

Filed under: Political prisoners, Repression — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 6:18 pm



Pardon as a Reparation Measure in the Face of Human Rights Violations


indultoPlacard during the procession for those unjustly imprisoned at CERSS No.5, October 29, 2016. Photo@SIPAZ


October 30 marks three years since the pardon of the teacher Alberto Patishtan Gomez. In this case, an addition to the Federal Penal Code made his release possible.

In an article published in Desinformémonos, Leonel Rivero, the lawyer who accompanied Alberto Patishtan Gómez, stated that the case “acquired an emblematic character due to the serious violations of human rights that the ministerial and judicial authorities (the common and federal law) committed in the inquest, the process, the second instance and direct protection trial.”

On October 30, 2013, the reform enacted by the Congress of the Union adding Article 97a to the Federal Penal Code was published in the Official Gazette, determining that “Exceptionally, of itself or at the request of the plenary of one of the chambers, the Head of the Federal Executive may grant a pardon for any federal or common crime in the Federal District where there are consistent signs of serious human rights violations of the sentenced person. “

In his article, Leonel Rivero reiterates that, “this kind of pardon (exceptional or necessary) tests the reliability of the judiciary (federal and state), […], the facts constitute a recognition of the serious flaws that exist within the judicial system and stand as guarantees of repair.”

Leonel Rivero recalls that, “arbitrary detention constitutes a serious human rights violation for the sufferer.” He ends his article stating that cases like the teacher Alberto Patishtan “serve as a parameter to highlight the serious failures of the systems of procurement and administration of justice, although inopportune, in a nation that takes pride itself as being democratic, the exceptional or necessary pardon will remain the only hope of people who were denied access to justice in its forms of reparations to victims of human rights violations, effectiveness, quality and professionalism.”

Today, Leonel Rivero is lawyer for Alejandro Diaz, Tzotzil indigenous, unjustly imprisoned in CEFERESO No. 15, Villa de Comatitlán near Tapachula.

Alejandro Diaz is an adherent to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle of the EZLN. In his last letter he denounced that he is the only sympathizer of the Voice of Amate who was not released in 2013. He alleged that the State Governor Manuel Velasco Coello, promised to see to his case and seek his freedom from the Veracruz authorities more than three years ago, “of which nothing has been fulfilled to date.”



July 25, 2016

Velasco’s Disregard for the Lives of Indigenous People

Filed under: Indigenous — Tags: , , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 3:11 pm



Velasco’s Disregard for the Lives of Indigenous People



Chiapas, Mexico. July 23, 2016

With the violent death of five people after a dispute between members of the Green and PRI political parties, affiliated with the government, in the county seat of San Juan Chamula, once again the state administration of Velasco Coello has demonstrated its disregard for the lives of members of the indigenous communities in Chiapas, whether or not they are their allies. Since the government assumed power, the administration has continually stimulated and incentivised conflicts for the political benefit of itself and its “green Ecology” party.

In the municipality of Chenalhó they also have had deaths in consequence of the party political disputes between the Greens and PRIistas. Last May, a child died from injuries received as the result of a fight between sympathizers and groups opposed to the ex-mayor Rosa Pérez.

And, as a result of the climate of fear present in the region, on June 23, 2015, a member of the civil society organization Las Abejas de Acteal was assassinated. The organization said that Manuel went to the municipal head of Pantelhó. Upon returning and accompanied by his 11 year old son Juan López Guzmán, in the height of the Sibaluk´um bridge about a kilometre from the municipal head of Pantelhó, seven people dressed in military clothing with firearms ambushed the public transport vehicle in which he was travelling, killing him with three shots.

The events in San Juan Chamula also bring to mind the death of Zapatista teacher Galeano, on May 2nd, 2014, after a series of manipulations by the governments of Velasco and Peña Nieto to create tension between other indigenous communities and the Zapatistas.

Another issue is the displaced indigenous families in the region, like the cases of the community Primero de Agosto in Las Margaritas, and Banavil in the municipality of Tenejapa, and the colonia Puebla, in Chenalhó; the government does not see or hear their demands for justice and return to their communities.

Photo: Isain Mandujano.

Posted by Dorset Chiapas Solidarity


From a translation by Palabras Rebeldes



June 20, 2016

Ocosingo Ejidos Reject the Delimitation of the Lacandon Gap.

Filed under: Indigenous, Lacandon/ montes azules, Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 2:35 pm



Ocosingo Ejidos Reject the Delimitation of the Lacandon Gap.




Ejido Candelaria, Municipality of Ocosingo, Chiapas, Mexico.

We are gathered here today, Tuesday 17th of May 2016 (Two Thousand and Sixteen), at 5 o’clock in the afternoon, around the Ejidal House of the ejido Candelaria. Among our number the CC ejidal and auxiliary authorities and wider public of the ejido Candelaria and the CC ejidal and auxiliary authorities of the ejido Pichucalco, including representatives from different organizations, meet to discuss agrarian matters (the delimitation of the gap).

We, the ejido Candelaria, member of the organization ARIC, Independent and Democratic A.C., the ejidal and auxiliary authorities of the ejido Pichucalco, make up four organisations, who work together to draw up plans and agreements for the defence of Mother Earth and our territory and the complete rejection of the proposal to delimit the Lacandon Gap, a fight that has gone on for 40 years, through generations,

  • We, as campesinos, are fully aware and prepared to defend Mother Earth and our territory. For this reason, we have reached an agreement to reject in its entirety the delimitation of the Lacandon Gap of the 16th vertex, as well as any developments between point 7.28 and the mirador boundary marker in the ejido Calvario. This is because we know from past experiences that the Lacandon communities and common lands are being used by the government, who tell them the hectares of land they occupy belong to them as a pretext; in fact, the delimitation of the Lacandon Gap is about transnational companies that want to take possession of the land to exploit its valuable natural resources, found in the depths of the Lacandon zone and the Montes Azules biosphere. Furthermore, we consider the delimitation of the Lacandon Gap a derogatory act.
  • The Federal Government intends not to legalise three villages, Nuevo Sangregorio, Ranchería Corozal and Salvador Allende. Although the Lacandon community has had months of dialogue with the three villages, signing agreements, minutes of proceedings and pacts, the government will never respect said agreements. The ejido San Caralampio and the ejido Calvario are evidence of this; they signed an agreement mediated by the ARIC Independent and Democratic A.C. (directive authorities). These two ejidos had common lands assessed by the teacher Gabriel Montoya, who had engineers measure out ten hectares of land to each beneficiary. But the government is cunning; it found new strategies to tear up these agreements, impeding the people from working on these demarcated plots of land. Now, the campesinos complain because they have ended up without land. For this reason we do not wish to end up suffering the same fate.
  • It is worth mentioning that the three villages and the directive authorities of the ARIC Independent and Democratic A.C. are self-governed for personal gain, and as such do not take into account the decision of the ejido Candelaria and the neighbouring communities to carry out an in-depth analysis of the difficult situation. On the contrary, they are quite convinced that the Lacandon Gap will legitimize the lands of the three villages. But they are being deceived. Although the Lacandon community shows an eagerness to support and engage in dialogue with the indigenous communities, this is nothing more than a political strategy on the part of the self-same government. We know because from the 16th of May this year helicopters began to fly over vertex 16 and the villages of Ranchería Corozal and Nuevo Sangregorio. This signals a threat to the campesinos who belong to different organisations, since those of the common lands in the Lacandon zone and the three villages are pooling funds to pay a private topographical engineer to measure out their lands, on the condition that he mark out the delimitation of the Lacandon Gap, which measures approximately 20km.
  • The Government does not intend to regularise this land; rather its main objective is to delimit the gap, in order to expropriate the Lacandon zone.
  • It is worth mentioning that all the indigenous communities within the Montes Azules biosphere and the Lacandon zone have ancestry in these lands. For this reason we do not accept other proposals or the government’s political strategies to separate us, weaken us and cause infighting between campesinos.
  • The government and the Lacandon community are not strong enough to work against us, and we know our universal rights as individuals.
  • We invite all independent social organizations, NGOs, defenders of human rights, the media, and the general public, to join us in solidarity in the defence of Mother Earth; to stay vigilant as the problematic situation we face in the Lacandon zone and the Montes Azules biosphere develop. In the municipality of Ocosingo, in the state of Chiapas, Enrique Peña Nieto’s government has created numerous programs and transnational projects for the extraction of the natural riches of our land. All three levels of government are being pressured and manipulated into accepting economic resources from transnational businesses, leaving all Mexicans in debt. Wiping out the indigenous class appears to be their main aim. Now, the government’s plans for the land are written by big business.






The ejidal and auxiliary authorities of the Ejido Pichucalco and the Ejido Candelaria, municipality of Ocosingo.


Translated by Ruby Zajac, for the UK Zapatista Translation Service.





May 9, 2016

The Ejido Bachajón denounces aggression against one of its members

Filed under: Bachajon, Human rights, Indigenous, La Sexta — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 3:53 pm



The Ejido Bachajón denounces aggressions against one of its members




Chiapas, Mexico, 8th May. The ejido San Sebastián Bachajón denounces an attack on Esteban Jiménez Gómez, by Mr. Carlos Jimenez Gomez and his sons, who are members of the state preventive police.

The incident occurred on Sunday afternoon in the community of Xanil, municipality of Chilón, after the ejidatarios, adherents to the Sixth from Bachajón, held a demonstration.

Until now, the indigenous Tseltales who were attacked report the detention of three policemen as a demand that the person responsible be punished.

Source: La Sexta Ejido Bachajón Facebook.



October 11, 2014

Patishtán reminds Velasco Coello that he offered to help an indigenous prisoner

Filed under: Political prisoners — Tags: , , , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 4:41 pm


Patishtán reminds Velasco Coello that he offered to help an indigenous prisoner 

** The governor promised to intervene in the case of Díaz Sántiz more than a year ago


** The professor demands the immediate freedom of the two Yaqui who oppose the aqueduct in Sonora

By: Hermann Bellinghausen

10712764_549799135151572_402633846007617874_n“Our compañero Alejandro Díaz Sántiz, a prisoner in San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, should be set free as soon as possible,” Professor Alberto Patishtán Gómez maintained in reference to the indigenous man, in solidarity with the Voice of El Amate, who has been incarcerated for more than 15 years.

“The governor of Chiapas, Manuel Velasco Coello, has the moral obligation to intervene, as he personally promised Alejandro, more than a year ago, to attain a resolution with the government and justice [system] of Veracruz,” he indicated.

Similarly, Patishtán demanded the immediate liberation of the leader Mario Luna and of Fernando Jiménez Gutiérrez, both Yaqui from Sonora, prisoners as a reprisal by the PAN Governor Guillermo Padrés Elías, the lord of the dams (and now also of prisoners), for opposing the Independence Aqueduct.


1601068_771825009528122_7827828715512516373_n“We must all demand the freedom and presentation with life of the students of the Ayotzinapa Rural Normal School,” kidnapped by the police on September 26, and who it is feared could have already been massacred.

“The Iguala crimes must be investigated and punished,” Patishtán insisted in a conversation with La Jornada, a little before participating in the march for the freedom of the Yaqui representatives in Mexico City.

As for Díaz Sántiz, he remembered that he spent the first years of imprisonment in Veracruz, where the acts occurred in 1999 for which he was accused and sentenced (the death of a minor). The Tzotzil prisoner has always insisted on his innocence. Practically monolingual then, he was interrogated and judged without a translator, and thus, at a total disadvantage and without an effective defence, he was added to a long list of indigenous incarcerated unjustly.

The same professor Patishtán, who attained notoriety, is an example of this irregular and irresponsible administration of justice that, when it’s dealing with indigenous, easily accuses and condemns without reason, and those affected remain abandoned to their fate.

“We will continue accompanying the prisoner compañeros. The ex prisoners from the Voice of El Amate (La Voz del Amate) and those in solidarity don’t stop visiting Alejandro and the other compañeros that remain in prison unjustly, we give them courage and solidarity.”

He added: “Alejandro not only has good conduct in the San Cristóbal prison centre, but he also does good work in support of other indigenous in a situation similar to his. He is a human rights defender,” pointed out Patishtán, who did that kind of solidarity work in the prisons where he was.

Finally, he expressed support for the drivers and residents of Simojovel and San Juan de El Bosque (his birthplace), who carry out a roadblock to protest the pitiful state of the roads in the Tzotzil zone in northern Chiapas.

“The highway has again become a dirt road and continuous accidents occur. At any time the road that goes to Simojovel and Huitiupán can be impassable. It’s up to the Chiapas government to pay attention to that demand. Its abandonment of the indigenous population is excessive,” concluded the former prisoner of conscience, who after 12 years in prison obtained his freedom almost one year ago (last October 31), after a long time struggling for his freedom and that of many other indigenous prisoners in the state.


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Saturday, October 11, 2014

En español:


English translation by the Chiapas Support Committee for the International Zapatista Translation Service



December 28, 2013

Antonio Estrada Estrada, former prisoner from San Sebastián Bachajón, is free!!

Filed under: Bachajon, Human rights, Indigenous, Political prisoners — Tags: , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 12:18 pm

Antonio Estrada Estrada, former prisoner from San Sebastián Bachajón, is free!!



Antonio Estrada Estrada (on the right) is here seen with Alberto Patishtán Gómez.

All the prisoners from San Sebastián Bachajón are now free!!!

Antonio is talking on the telephone to the last remaining prisoner who is an adherent to the Sexta, Alejandro Díaz Santiz.


Photo: Marta Molina 


December 23, 2013

The justice system is “rotten”: Las Abejas

Filed under: Acteal, Political prisoners — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 5:39 pm

The justice system is “rotten”: Las Abejas

**16 years after the Acteal massacre, we still cannot expect the guilty to be punished, says the organization


The Tzotzil professor Alberto Patishtán, recently released after being imprisoned for 13 years, speaks during a ceremony for the 16th anniversary of the massacre of 45 indigenous people from Acteal, in the Highlands of Chiapas, committed by the paramilitary group Máscara Roja (Red Mask) in 1997.  Photo: Moysés Zúñiga Santiago


Elio Henríquez

La Jornada
Monday, December 23, 2013

Acteal, Chiapas, December 22

At the commemoration of the 16th anniversary of the murder of 45 indigenous, (December 22, 1997) in this community in the municipality of Chenalhó, the civil organization Las Abejas, to which the victims belonged, said: “It is clear that Mexico’s justice system is rotten and no longer serves [its purpose].”

They said that for this reason, and because, out of 102 people detained after the massacre, only six remain in prison, “we do not expect the judges or ministers to bring the perpetrators of the massacre of Acteal to justice, because they are part of the corrupt system.”

In a communiqué read during the Mass that day, when the 45 Tzotziles killed by PRI paramilitaries were remembered, they said “justice will not come from above, and if the people want it, they must build like we do in the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal (TPP).”

“Mafias govern Mexico”

Las Abejas underline: “Mexico is ruled by a mafia of politicians who do what they please. They use laws to plunder the country, they authorize their own re-election to power, and the repression and killing of social activists.”

The group noted that “there is no name for what these bad governments are doing to our Mexico, with constitutional reforms that are destroying blow by blow all the gains that have been won through the blood of the campesinos who made the Mexican Revolution.”

First, they say, “Carlos Salinas (de Gortari) removed land rights from the Constitution, then Felipe Calderón attacked labour rights, and now Enrique Peña Nieto wants to privatize the right to education and has managed to erase the right of Mexicans to their natural resources,” because “that is what he has done with the so-called energy reform, which is nothing more than handing over to foreigners the riches of our land: mining, oil and natural resources.”

They claim: “The counterinsurgency plan Chiapas 94 was aimed at repressing the Zapatistas and all those who are against the government,” just as the manoeuvre of executions in Acteal came from the TLC (NAFTA), signed by the governments of Mexico and the United States in 1993.

Las Abejas believe that “the policy of the PRI and PAN governments has been the same from when Carlos Salinas signed NAFTA to when Peña Nieto gave away the oil to foreigners.”

They state: “Our sisters and brothers who were massacred in Acteal were victims of that policy, so we affirm that they died defending not only peace, but also the right of Mexicans  not to be deprived of the resources that Mother Earth gives us.”

The activities commemorating the massacre began at 8 am with a pilgrimage led by the Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of San Cristobal, Enrique Díaz Díaz, and several priests, from the cross in the village of Majomut to Acteal. With traditional music from the band, and the shouting of “long lives” to “the martyrs of Acteal,” over 400 people walked two kilometres to the site of the collective burial place of the 45 indigenous.

There, the bishop Díaz Díaz said “the barbarity of the massacre has been lost in time and forgetting,” because “other developments have taken place, and Acteal seems reduced to silence, returning to smallness and insignificance.”

Patisthán demands justice

The indigenous Alberto Patishtán Gómez, released on October 31 through a presidential pardon, demanded that the Mexican government do justice in the case of the 45 Tzotziles massacred in Acteal, and “convict the masterminds” of the killing.

“We keep waiting for justice, everything that happened is reprehensible, and even more so because the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation released those who had actually caused the damage in Acteal and to Las Abejas, and it condemns innocents,” he said.

Patishtán Gómez, who was released after 13 years in prison, accused of involvement in the killing of seven policemen in the municipality of El Bosque, where he comes from, in June 2000, came today for the first time to an event commemorating the massacre of Acteal.

Furthermore, the Tzotzil teacher reported that at 3:30 pm on Saturday, Miguel Demeza Jiménez, from ejido San Sebastián Bachajón, municipality of Chilón, adherent to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandón Jungle, was released. He said that the Tzeltal was arrested on October 7, 2010, accused of robbery with violence and kidnapping, and was detained in the prison of San Cristóbal, where he was his compañero in prison.

Dorset Chiapas Solidarity


December 17, 2013

Alberto Patishtán Returns to Prison 5 to Visit His Friend Alejandro Díaz Santis

Filed under: Political prisoners — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 8:12 am


Alberto Patishtán Returns to Prison 5 to Visit His Friend Alejandro Díaz Santis

“One cannot forget those who are unjustly imprisoned”

FotoI went to see Alejandro Díaz Santis and also join the demand for his liberty, Professor Alberto Patishtán Gómez told La Jornada

Photo: Elio Henríquez

Elio Enríquez

La Jornada, 16 December, 2013

San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas – Alberto Patishtán Gómez returned on Sunday to Prison number 5, where he spent his last days in prison before being pardoned by President Enrique Peña Nieto on October 31, after serving thirteen years of the sixty-year prison sentence to which he was condemned in 2000, for his alleged role in the murders of seven state police. This time he visited his friend and former compañero, Alejandro Díaz Santis, who has now served 15 of the 30 years he was sentenced to, for the crime of homicide that, according Patishtán Gomez, “he did not commit.”

“I went to see compañero Alexandro, because one cannot forget the compañeros who are unjustly imprisoned. I lived it, and I know what it is to feel imprisoned, especially when it is unjust,” he said during an interview in this city, after his return to the prison which houses 421 inmates and is located approximately 20 kilometres from San Cristóbal.

“I went to see him and at the same time to join in the demand for his release,” said Alberto Patishtán. He indicated that Díaz Santis, an indigenous Tzotzil from the municipality of Mitontic, which is located 40 kilometres from San Cristobal, “is very energized to keep fighting for his release.”

He said that he felt very different coming back to prison, “because I had to stand in line. I waited a bit, but thank God they allowed me to enter easily; I saw how the families standing in line suffer and get wet, because I felt bad; going with my hand stamped and a small bar. I said to myself: ‘It feels very different from what goes on behind bars‘.”

He continued, “I felt very strange. I was looking at many things that I had not seen because when leaving the prison I had never seen its back or how it appears in its surroundings, but today I saw how the prison is. I saw it, and it seemed to me something very strange. I had seen it from the inside, but it is something else from the outside. It was strange, but the important thing is that I went in, and I spoke with my compañeros and fellow prisoners.”

Patishtán Gómez left Prison no 5 on October 4th, in order to be transferred to Mexico City to receive medical treatment for the brain tumour he suffers. Almost two and a half months later, this Sunday he returned a free man.

“I felt very content and happy because now definitely I could walk, talk and see the compañeros who suffer,” related the Tzotzil teacher, adding, “Many people in the prison wanted to speak with me today, but I couldn’t talk with everyone who wanted to see me so that I might intervene” with the authorities for their release.

“They sent me two letters because they knew that I was there. Many people who wanted to speak with me crowded together, but I couldn’t talk with everyone,” he commented and concluded: “I’m content, because they say that they know I have done something for them.”



December 2, 2013

After 13 years, Patishtán returns to El Bosque

Filed under: Political prisoners — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 7:01 pm

After 13 years, Patishtán returns to El Bosque

*It is an embarrassment to the authorities

FotoAlberto Patishtán Gómez returned to his birthplace, El Bosque, in Chiapas, on Sunday after 13 years in prison. Photo: Moysés Zúñiga Santiago

Hermann Bellinghausen

La Jornada, Tuesday 2nd November, 2013

San Juan El Bosque, Chiapas – Speaking of his long captivity, Alberto Patishtán says to the small crowd who welcome him home: “They were thirteen years of living death. But instead of dying, I was returned to life. Instead of keeping silent, I learned to speak. We are poor, but rich in principles and values, in dignity and respect. We know how to resist, and how to insist on justice.”

The multitudes of the Tzotzil people of El Bosque welcomed their most famous and admired son. After his thirteen-year absence, today the villagers gave Patishtán Gómez a forceful and moving presence. Since morning, here they have done nothing but welcome him. They accompanied him through the streets. They gave him countless hugs. There were Catholic prayers and songs, rockets, speeches, and thanks for the powerful meat of three bulls slaughtered for the occasion. The teacher said, “I’m not just content, but happy.” His compañero from many battles, the teacher Martin Ramírez, said on behalf of the El Bosque Movement in Defence of the People: “Everybody wins, we are celebrating a victory.”

But contentment does not detract from the indignation: “It took thirteen years to free an innocent man. It is a disgrace to all the federal and state authorities. In Mexico there is no justice. The rage is not going to end. Nor the memory,” declares the teacher Ramírez López. During the emotional public ceremony, Patishtán relates that on October 31, on gaining his release, he contacted friends and family here in El Bosque. He heard laughter and voices on the phone. “We ourselves are also free,” they were saying to him.

Giving Thanks

Reciben a Alberto Patishtan en su pueblo natal, después de trece años de injusto encarcelamiento. Anuncian que seguirá el Movimiento de El Bosque ahora llamado “Por la defensa de el Pueblo”, pues ya ganaron una batalla, la libertad de el profesor.At a long table on the stage of the city hall, Patishtán is accompanied, at midday, by his grandfather (“the much beloved”) Francisco Mariano Gómez Gómez, his Aunt Carmen, who fought hard for his release, and his former father-in-law Gregorio Ruíz, who took charge of the teacher’s two minor children when he was imprisoned and his spouse abandoned the three of them so disgracefully. “I still call him my father-in-law,” Patishtán says, while also recognizing his lawyers Leonel and Sandino Rivero, and the civil agencies and groups “who were always by my side.”

The master of ceremonies does his part. Pointing toward Patishtán, he says: “We have here the person that fate and bad luck had taken from us.” Then he asks for “a loud round of applause for the compañero who never took one step back, the teacher Martín Ramírez.” On taking the floor, Martín says: “In 2000 we were a handful. Now we are a large number of people in every continent of the world.” He recalls that “three compañeros remain in prison (Miguel Demeza, Antonio Estrada and Alejandro Sántiz, who are adherents to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle), and after demanding fulfilment of the San Andrés Accords (he says well, “memory does not end”) and expressing solidarity with the displaced in Puebla (Chenalhó) and Banavil (Tenejapa), with the country’s political prisoners, and with the protesting corn farmers in “several Chiapas municipalities,” he denounces the harassment and repression by the current mayor, Humberto López Pérez, and his predecessors, “for defending Patishtán.” But, he adds, “I stopped being afraid twenty years ago.”



“The Struggle Doesn’t End Here; it begins here,” says Patishtán on arriving in San Cristóbal

Filed under: Political prisoners — Tags: — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 5:57 pm


“The Struggle Doesn’t End Here; it begins here,” says Patishtán on arriving in San Cristóbal

 ** Local airport authorities prevent indigenous from welcoming the Tzotzil professor

FotoThe Tzotzil professor Alberto Patishtán Gómez yesterday, after arriving in San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas. Photo: Moysés Zúñiga Santiago

By: Hermann Bellinghausen

San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, November 30, 2013

“The struggle doesn’t end here. It begins here.” With these words Professor Alberto Patishtán Gómez arrived in Chiapas, free for the first time in 13 years. Around a hundred indigenous people received him. They were from the Catholic organization Pueblo Creyente (Believing People) and from the Movement of the People of El Bosque, which has demanded the Tzotzil teacher’s freedom for more than a decade.

After coming from Mexico City, Patishtán left the Ángel Albino Corzo Airport at 12:30 PM. Representatives of the communications media surrounded him immediately. Once outside, his people greeted him with affection; he received the first hugs from his Aunt María, his grandfather and other family members and neighbours.

In what turns out to be a kind of poetic justice, those who accompanied the professor revealed that during the flight, one seat ahead of Patishtán was the former Chiapas Governor Roberto Albores Guillén, whose government was responsible for the professor’s unjust incarceration in 2000. And although he was the first local governor to promise the population of El Bosque to free him, he never did so. The young president of the state Congress, Luis Fernando Castellanos, was also travelling in the aeroplane. On hearing the exclamations of “¡Viva Patishtán!”, he shouted from his seat: “Patishtán, I was always in favour of your freedom.” The witnesses say that Albores Guillén, uncomfortable and trapped in his seat, “played dead.”

The indigenous who were guarding him formed a wall and walked with him a few metres to stop and welcome him properly: embraces, laughs, hugs, blessings, vivas to Tatic Samuel Ruiz. “May truth live!” and “May injustice die!” Patishtán took the word: “They always told us that we were disoriented; that this struggle wasn’t worth it, but justice is worth it, the people need it.” Marcelo Gómez, parish priest of Simojovel, “baptized” him as “a traveller who defends his people,” and gave him a cross that was also a staff. The Tzotzil professor said: “We have to transcend and deepen things to find the key of love. Jesús does not tell you ‘we are going to walk alone,’ but rather ‘we are going to walk together.’ We should not say to him ‘take away this problem,’ but rather ‘give us the strength to conquer it.’”

The indigenous hospitality came from San Juan Chamula, Zinacantán, Tuxtla Gutiérrez, San Juan del Bosque and San Cristóbal de las Casas. The airport authorities considered it preferable for the indigenous to remain outside, arguing that “there wasn’t sufficient space” for them in the waiting room. Some attendees considered it unacceptable that the indigenous were prevented from entering a public space where tumultuous crowds have been seen receiving stars of spectacle and sport, without denying passage to their fans.

The catechist from Chamula, Zacario Hernández, ex political prisoner and compañero of Patishtán in the Voice of El Amate, read the greeting from the Pueblo Creyente for this “encounter with freedom”: “We came to meet you now that you arrive in your land, in your town, with your people, as a free man; free of the blame that the powerful imposed on you, that cost you 13 years, five months and 11 days.”

Afterwards, a caravan of vehicles accompanied him to San Cristóbal de las Casas. In the afternoon, Patishtán prayed at the tomb of the Tatic in the cathedral. Then a welcome mass was held, celebrated together by six priests with the auxiliary Bishop Enrique Díaz; among them Gonzalo Ituarte, Pedro Arriaga (spokesperson for the diocese) and the vicar José Avilés.

At one side of the altar, Professor Patishtán remained flanked by his grandfather and his son Héctor. Bishop Díaz expressed “the joy of all the believers in the diocese” for his liberation, and referred to his “unique, emblematic case,” which nevertheless reflects the situation “of many in prison who have not had the means to obtain justice.”


Originally Published by La Jornada

Sunday, December 1, 2013

En español:



The Presidential Pardon does not end the Struggle for the Liberty of Indigenous Prisoners – Alberto Patishtán

Filed under: Political prisoners — Tags: — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 4:32 pm

The Presidential Pardon does not end the Struggle for the Liberty of Indigenous Prisoners – Alberto Patishtán

Alberto Patishtán durante su mensaje después de 13 años de estar preso. Foto: Germán Canseco

Alberto Patishtán, After 13 Years in Prison (Photo: German Conseco)

Proceso, 30th November, 2013

From the Editorial Board
After spending thirteen years in prison, on Saturday the Tzotzil teacher Alberto Patishtán arrived in Tuxtla Gutierrez, Chiapas; there he said that the fight for the freedom of the indigenous, who are unjustly imprisoned, did not end with the presidential pardon.

On October 31st, President Enrique Peña Nieto confirmed his decision to pardon Patishtán Gómez and notified his immediate release.

Patishtán had spent thirteen years and four months in prison as part of a 60-year sentence after being accused of involvement in the deaths of seven policemen in an ambush in the municipality of El Bosque, Chiapas, in 2000.

He had been in Mexico City since October 7th undergoing radiation therapy at the “Manuel Velasco Suárez” National Institute of Neurology and Neurosurgery for treatment of the recurrence of a brain tumour, removed in 2012.

The teacher was received on Saturday at the Ángel Albino Corzo Airport by members of the El Bosque Movement for the Freedom of Alberto Patishtán Gómez.

Patishtán was taken to the Cathedral of San Cristóbal to visit the tomb of Bishop Samuel Ruiz.

He said he felt that his release is not a personal triumph, but results from the demand of his community and his defenders.

“What the people need is justice,” he declared.

According to the newspaper La Jornada, former governor Roberto Albores Guillén [1998-2000], whose government was responsible in 2000 for the imprisonment of the teacher, travelled on the same flight as Patishtán to the Chiapas capital.


December 1, 2013

Alberto Patishtán returns to Chiapas

Filed under: Political prisoners — Tags: — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 9:50 am

Alberto Patishtán returns to Chiapas

On 30th November Alberto Patishtán finally returned to Chiapas, a free man after 13 years of unjust imprisonment.


He is met by his grandfather at the airport.


In San Cristóbal de Las Casas, accompanied by Tsotsiles from El Bosque, members of the Pueblo Creyente, and other released fellow prisoners. He visited the tomb of JTatik Samuel and attended a mass held in his honour.


Photos by Marta Molina [RR]



November 29, 2013

In Mexico, a victory for indigenous liberation

Filed under: Political prisoners — Tags: — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 7:14 pm


In Mexico, a victory for indigenous liberation

Marta Molina, November 28, 2013

patish_libre_marta_molinaAlberto Patishtan (right) smiles after receiving a special pardon. He is accompanied by his son Hector (left) and Pedro Lopez (behind) who organized with Patishtan in prison and was freed this past summer. (WNV/Marta Molina)

After 13 years of unjust imprisonment, Mexican political prisoner Alberto Patishtan Gomez walked free on October 31.

Over the course of his incarceration, the 42-year-old indigenous Tzotzil professor grew into one of Mexico’s leading voices protesting the unjust imprisonment of indigenous peoples, a widespread problem in the country where racism and violence against the indigenous communities is still rampant. From behind bars, he organized for the liberation for many of his indigenous companions. His final victory now is his own freedom, although he often said that he has always felt free, even when imprisoned, because he knew he was innocent.

His first public appearance after gaining his freedom was not in his home state of Chiapas nor at the entrance of Prison Number 5 in the city of San Cristóbal de Las Casas, where he had been held. Instead, he was in Mexico City with his son Héctor, his daughter Gaby, and his niece Génesis. While still imprisoned, he had been transferred to Mexico City to receive treatment for the brain tumour that has been causing him to lose his vision.

“Who is Patishtan?” he asked in front of dozens of cameras angling for the best photo. “I am Patishtan,” he said, “a person who not only hears, but listens. Patishtan is someone who is losing his vision because of his sickness, which doesn’t let him see very well with his eyes, but I can see much more clearly in my heart.”

No one pardoned Patishtan 

Supporters from across Mexico and from around the world have been organizing for Patishtan’s freedom ever since he was arrested and convicted of murdering Mexican police officers in a trial that was filled with flaws and corruption.  Earlier this year, a Chiapas court denied his appeal, a significant setback in the case. His supporters then began to explore other possibilities, including a push for an amnesty or for release for humanitarian reasons due to his illness. But neither of those two possibilities moved forward.

Finally, the path to his freedom came not through the judicial system but through the legislative branch. On October 23, 2013, the senate modified the pardon rules in Mexico’s federal penal code. It became known as the “Patishtan Law,” and President Enrique Peña Nieto used it to grant him a “special pardon” — distinct from the standard “presidential pardon,” which would have left Patishtan free, but still guilty in the eyes of the law.

“No one pardoned Patishtan. The organized people achieved his freedom,” shouted activists upon seeing Patishtan finally free after 13 years of struggle.

In addition to achieving Patishtan’s freedom, the campaign represents a victory against the Mexican judicial system, which is now forced to recognize its error. “What is now being recognized is that Patishtan suffered grave human rights violations, violations of due process, and that his innocence was not presumed,” said Sandino Rivero, Patishtan’s lawyer.

To many who have been working for Patishtan’s freedom, the passage of this law is evidence of the widespread injustices in the Mexican legal system.

“This is a victory that resulted from the sad failure of Mexican justice,” said Patishtan’s 17-year-old son, Hector, who has grown into a human rights activist during his father’s incarceration and has vowed to continue fighting for the freedom of other political prisoners still behind bars.

Victories from behind bars

Early in his incarceration, Patishtan saw so many indigenous prisoners who did not know how to defend themselves, didn’t have money for lawyers, didn’t speak Spanish and didn’t have access to interpreters.  He began organizing prisoners to fight for their basic rights and to prove their innocence.

At the first prison where he was held, everyone he organized with was freed, except for himself. Later, when he was transferred to another prison, he organized an action to burn the prisoner uniforms, since the imposition of this clothing meant the further loss of one’s individuality and personality. He also proposed camping in the prison’s patio, and over the years many prisoners stopped sleeping in their cells and organized a permanent occupation of the patio. In some ways, these acts of resistance made them more free.

In 2006, when the Zapatistas launched “The Other Campaign” to unite with resistance movements across Mexico and in other regions, Patishtan and other prisoners decided to join the campaign. Through this broader network, the group was able to increase visibility about the injustices faced by indigenous political prisoners in Chiapas. Over the years Patishtan also organized a series of hunger strikes, which, despite his current illness, strengthened him physically and mentally. These strikes won freedom for many of his fellow prisoners, but it only brought him increased punishment. He was sent to a maximum security prison in the state of Sinaloa, thousands of miles away from his home state of Chiapas. There, for the first time, they cut his hair, which represented a loss of his indigenous identity. One’s hair acts as protection when working in the milpa, cornfield. Around that point, Patishtan also began to write letters himself.

With the support of the People’s Movement in El Bosque for Patishtan’s Freedom and a number of human rights organizations, Patishtan was relocated to a prison in Chiapas after 10 months. There, after years of organizing, hunger strikes and outside campaigns, eight more of his companions were released. Once more, all of Patishtan’s companions were freed, except for himself and Alejandro Díaz Santíz, who remains incarcerated to this day.

Organizing for many

Patishtan’s release is heralded as a victory for the millions of indigenous people in Mexico, who continue to face discrimination within the media and the judicial system. It is also an example of how to use one person’s struggle to organize for many, such as Patishtan’s companions Pedro López and Juan Collazo who were freed earlier this summer.

Upon hearing about Patishtan’s release, they said that he taught them how to read, write, speak Spanish — and, most importantly, how to organize. “For me, it opened a door to living when I met Alberto,” said Collazo. “I learned to defend my rights and teach others to do the same.”

Despite the freedom of their teacher, the two said that they will continue organizing.

“For Alejandro Díaz Santíz, Miguel Demeza Jimenez, Antonio Estrada Estrada, and for all of the political prisoners in this country, we will continue fighting,” says Pedro Lopez.

This weekend, after finishing his medical treatment, Patishtan turned to his hometown, El Bosque, where he plans to continue organizing for the rights of poor and indigenous communities. In his eyes, the reverberation of his campaign is the most inspiring part of his own freedom.

“They wanted to stop my struggle, but what happened is it multiplied. They wanted to hide it, but they made it shine.”

Translated from the original Spanish by Lela Singh.



November 10, 2013

“Patishtán’s pardon does not signify justice”, they say in his hometown, where they are waiting for him

Filed under: Political prisoners — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 9:54 am

“Patishtán’s pardon does not mean justice”, they say in his hometown, where they are waiting for him

 ** “If he is innocent, then why did we have to wait 13 years for his liberation?”

** They demand that the false witnesses are investigated, especially the former mayor Manuel Gómez Ruiz

014n1pol-1 (1)Pascual Gómez López and Professor Martín Ramírez López, members of the Movement of the People of El Bosque, accompany don Mariano Gómez Gómez, Alberto Patishtán Gómez’ grandfather at his house.

Photo: Hermann Bellinghausen

By: Hermann Bellinghausen

San Juan El Bosque, Chiapas, November 8, 2013

“We have nothing to applaud in the liberation of Patishtán. It does not signify justice. He should never have been a prisoner. If he was always innocent, why did we have to wait more than 13 years and an intervention from the president of the Republic?” declares the Movement of the People of El Bosque for the Freedom of Alberto Patishtán. “The authorities ought to get down on their knees and ask for pardon from the individuals to whom they gave an unjust punishment and accept that: ‘yes, we were wrong, we are responsible.’ They believe that they have washed their hands with the pardon.”

Here, “there is no place for the word ‘pardon;’ it weighs on us,” the spokespersons for the movement make clear in an interview with La Jornada. “They knew that he was going to serve all that undeserved punishment, they guaranteed it, since justice functions that way.”

They also emphatically recognize that the whole national and international movement that for years demanded the same thing as the residents of this Tzotzil town in the northern Highlands, would not have been possible without support from the Other Campaign, later la Sexta (the Sixth), and from the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN), and from there so many organizations that joined together.

Nevertheless, they emphasize, “it was the people from El Bosque who always maintained the struggle. Without his people, Patishtán would not have succeeded.”

Martín Ramírez López and Pascual Gómez López take turns in speaking to explain the posture of the indigenous and to tell how the news was received here the evening of October 31st: “The people cheered, put their thumbs up, spontaneously shouted in the streets: ‘Up with Patishtán!’ Fireworks (rockets) were set off at his house. On the night of October 31st, when the professor was released, little groups got together to cheer in the street. After so many years, they were finally celebrating.”

Professor Martín tells: “The family and the movement’s committee had three commitments to the town: to come out to announce the news over a loudspeaker when it was confirmed; to explain that he is not going to return until he has finished his treatment and to thank everyone in the town, the organizations, the different churches and people in general.” Here, he points out, “99 percent agree on his innocence; the only ones who don’t agree are those who accused him.”

Pascual, wearing a shirt alluding to Patishtán’s struggle (“now I’m going to hang it on the wall in my house as decoration“) intervenes: “The day of his liberation we had no electricity in the whole town nor a cell phone signal, and I that was the link here with the compañeros in the Federal District, but we could not make contact. We were upset. It was not until a man in another place loaned us (his telephone) that we were able to talk, and so notify the family. It was announced several times over the air on the new FM station. People were very happy.”

He reveals that there is a “to invite a caravan from DF to accompany and care for his return.” There is no date, but people are already waiting for it. “It has raised spirits, the people are happy every day. For 13 years they cried out at the municipal, national and international level. They know that they won this battle, it is the harvest of all the social groups.” And he adds: “The government got tired of the people fighting, they thought that we were going to shut up, but not in 20 or 30 years. Then they opened the door for an innocent man. There are still many more.”

Pascual explains that: “the government did not concede, on our side there were always good arguments, and yes some articles of the law were changed, but it’s not important to us because the government didn’t want to declare Patishtán’s innocence.” With true justice, “the reform would not have been needed; many prisoners are now going to learn that they have to become aware.”

Ramírez López points out: “We saw the movement starting in January 2006, when Subcomandante Marcos stopped at the El Amate prison to support the prisoners, and Patishtán and his compañeros told him to say that since 2005 they have been with the Other Campaign. It was also very important when in 2012, during the actions at embassies and in countries, the posters showed photos of the Zapatista Francisco Santiz together with the profe. That helped enable the world to help”.

He insists that the false witnesses must be investigated, especially Manuel Gómez Ruiz, the municipal president in 2000, and his son Rosemberg, the witness who accused him [Patishtán]. “The authorities know that another investigation of the ambush is needed –the one that left seven police dead that year, and for which Patishtán Gómez was accused and convicted in 2001– and those that used justice for revenge against an innocent man must be held responsible.”

Ramírez López, a compañero of Patishtán in teaching and in struggle for more than 18 years, concludes: “Patishtán is free, but the struggle continues.”

Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Saturday, November 9, 2013

En español:

English translation by the Chiapas Support Committee for the International Zapatista Translation Service


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