About Francisco

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Franphoto9 

Franphoto11

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Message from the Junta de Buen Gobierno of Oventic about Francisco Sántiz López

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International Campaign:

“Worldwide Echo in Support of the Zapatistas”

http://sanmarcosaviles.wordpress.com/

 

Celebrations in El Barrio, New York following the release of Francisco Sántiz López

Compañeras and compañeros:

Movement for Justice in El Barrio, The Other Campaign New York would like to share with everyone the great news about the release of Francisco Sántiz López, who has endured a wrongful conviction imposed by the repressive bad government of Mexico just because he is Zapatista.

Since December 4, 2011 he has had to suffer unjust imprisonment by the forces of the vindictive bad government of Mexico. His arrest and the time he spent behind bars was absolutely unjust and racist, as Francisco Sántiz López never committed any crime.

His strength and courage has been an inspiration to Movement for Justice in El Barrio and a very powerful reason to keep fighting.

The walls that enclosed our brother Francis could not confine memory. In time, every wall collapses, but the memory of a people struggling with all their being to unite their dignity will never end.

Today, we, the Mexican migrants of Movement for Justice in El Barrio, The Other Campaign New York, are celebrating, knowing that this was not a triumph of the rule of law, which does not exist in Mexico, but a triumph of our Zapatista sisters and brothers and our compañer@s of good heart in different corners of the world. We embrace you all and celebrate with you. In the spirit of “Breaking down the prison walls”, and giving “a Worldwide Echo in Support of the Zapatistas”, together we struggled and achieved the release of our brother Francisco.

You can find information about Francisco Sántiz López here:

http://sanmarcosavilesen.wordpress.com/francisco/

The video message from the Zapatistas about Francisco Sántiz López is here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NXuVyJ5YdfA&feature=plcp

Here is another video about the International Campaign: “Breaking down the prison walls”:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lj0lUahDzTs

Long live the EZLN!

From El Barrio, New York.

With love and solidarity,

Movement for Justice in El Barrio

The Other Campaign New York

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Solidarity Brings Freedom and Justice for Zapatista Francisco Sántiz López

By Jessica Davies

Originally published by NACLA 11th February 2013 https://nacla.org/news/2013/2/11/solidarity-brings-freedom-and-justice-zapatista-francisco-s%C3%A1ntiz-l%C3%B3pez

After 417 days of wrongful imprisonment, the Zapatista is freed.

Thanks to all the people and organizations throughout the world who campaigned for his liberation.

Joyful celebrations have taken place all over the world as supporters and Zapatistas rejoiced in Francisco Sántiz López’s liberation after 417 days of unjust imprisonment for crimes he never committed. The order for his release states that the evidence of his innocence was not taken into account, confirming that, as the Oventic Good Government Junta has repeatedly made clear, “his only crime was that of being a Zapatista.” Upon his release on January 25, 2013, the Tzeltal, Francisco, stated: “We are going to continue in the struggle of the EZLN, to follow the path, and we are going to win.”

 

Background

Franphoto7In the eleventh of Subcomandante Marcos’s recent communiqués, released on January 24, he listed the names of several persecuted individuals. One of these was “Francisco Sántiz López, indigenous Zapatista, unjustly imprisoned by ‘law enforcement’” On January 23, in La Jornada, Hermann Bellinghausen wrote of Francisco, “he remains in prison for no reason, his case frozen, more like a political hostage than a prisoner.”

Francisco is from the community of Banavil, Tenejapa, in the highland region in the north of Chiapas. He is a campesino who also runs a stall in the local market and is married with eight children and 12 grandchildren. He has been part of a committed support base of the Zapatistas for over twenty years, even before the uprising of January 1 1994, and is described by the Oventic Junta as “an honest person who fulfills his community and organizational responsibilities.”

On December 4, 2011, local police arrested and charged Francisco Sántiz López with “leading” a violent confrontation that had taken place that day in Banavil that resulted in two deaths. Although many witnesses were able to testify that he was not present in Banavil when the attack took place—but instead miles away running his fruit and vegetable stall in the municipal headquarters of Tenejapa, where he was arrested—Francisco was imprisoned in CERSS No. 5 in San Cristóbal de Las Casas, where he was confined for 417 days in total.

The incident in question involved an armed attack by a group of PRI supporters against four Tzeltal families, who were not Zapatistas, although they were described as sympathetic to the organization. During the violence, one of the attackers was killed, and one of the victims, Alonso Lόpez Luna, was disappeared; only his arm has ever been found, and his case has never been investigated. The four indigenous families were displaced and remain in inadequate living conditions, far from their rural home on the outskirts of the city of San Cristóbal, while their attackers occupy their lands.

On March 22, 2012, a judge exonerated Francisco of the unproven charges of murder and aggravated assault, and he was released. However, just as he was leaving the prison he was rearrested, this time on a federal charge, for the crime of “being in possession of a Firearm for the Exclusive Use of the Army, Navy and Air Force.” Despite the fact that there is no evidence that Francisco was in possession of a firearm at any time, he was returned to the prison.

The Campaign for Francisco’s Release

Locally, nationally, and internationally, Francisco Sántiz López’s supporters have disseminated information, written letters, circulated petitions, produced videos, and participated in actions, rallies, forums, gatherings, and artistic displays to work for his liberation.

Many of the actions in support of Francisco also focused on another famous iconic and innocent prisoner, the Tzotzil “Professor” Alberto Patishtán Gómez, who has been imprisoned unjustly since July 2000, and who, in 2002, was sentenced to 60 years of incarceration. He has since become well-known and highly respected for his human rights work on behalf of his fellow prisoners—setting up prisoner organizations, such as the Voice of El Amate, within the prisons and for leading the prisoners on hunger strikes to demand their rights and freedoms.

“Breaking Down the Prison Walls”

Movimiento por Justicia del Barrio initiated this global solidarity campaign to bring down the prison walls and liberate these two prisoners. The campaign had four phases: the First and Second Weeks of Global Struggle, in April and June 2012; the “Public Letter Demanding the Immediate Liberation of Francisco Sántiz López and Alberto Patishtán Gómez,” in June; and finally, “for Nine Months: Nine Days of Global Action to Bring Down the Prison Walls” in August and September 2012. With great energy, momentum continued to build throughout the campaign as they organized more and more actions and events. Videos released included messages from the Landless Peoples Movement (MST) from Brazil and the Shack Dwellers Movement from South Africa (Abahlali baseMjondolo).

Movimiento launched the campaign with these words: “We have witnessed with much pain all the attempts to dehumanize Alberto Patishtán Gómez and Francisco Sántiz López, from the false accusations to the legal inconsistencies of the bad government via its three levels and its rulers from every post. They seek to erase the faces of our compañeros to make them invisible. They seek to erase the words of our compañeros to silence them. They seek to eliminate their physical freedom so that they cannot fight any more. Because it is easier to bury beneath prison walls a human body that lacks a face, makes no sound, has no life.

“But we continue listening to them from afar, and their dignified cries, their indispensable lives, call us to walk alongside them to obtain their freedom. They call on us to unite our forces in order to knock down the walls that surround them.

“As an organization of predominantly Mexican immigrants, we have experienced first-hand the inhumane reality of the border and social walls imposed upon us by those from above. We have lived and challenged the many injustices that are like bricks in these walls; we have also lived and seen them crumble. Once all of us unite, combine our forces, and organize, we can accomplish this. For this reason, we view international solidarity as deeply important. United and together, we shall win.”

 

Declarations of Support—“Their Struggle is Our Struggle”

Franphoto14During the second week of global action the renowned thinker, university professor John Holloway, wrote a letter in support of the campaign for the political prisoners: “To Movimiento por Justicia del Barrio, the Other Campaign, New York. How impressive! Wave after wave of protest for the liberation of Alberto Patishtán and Francisco Santiz López, letter after letter arriving from every part of the world.

“A result, of course, of the organization and determination of the organizers of the weeks of struggle for their liberation. But it is something much more than that. We recognize ourselves in Alberto and Francisco, we recognize that they are suffering for us. Their struggle is our struggle. Their struggle is the struggle of all of us who still dream that there can be a future for humanity, a life of dignity. Their imprisonment is simply another manifestation of the fact that capitalism has no room for humanity. The present system is a constant aggression, a machine of destruction that seeks to destroy all that does not bow to the logic of money, all that stands opposed to the logic of profit. But it cannot succeed because there are people like Alberto and Francisco who say No, that they will not accept it and ……millions and millions and millions more who will not accept.”

A letter from Raul Zibechi, the highly respected writer, thinker, and analyst from Uruguay, presented another very powerful statement: “Those from above are criminalizing the place occupied by the people who are the color of the earth. That is the justice of the State and the bad government. A ‘justice’ that imprisons the children of Pachamama and those who defend and care for her, but rewards with freedom those who destroy her in order to turn her into a commodity.

“The international campaign to free Patishtán and Sántiz López is revealing the true reasons behind their imprisonment. When those from below stand up, when the poor of the world speak out and organize, they are systematically labeled “terrorists” and “violent” and are turned into the targets of defamation campaigns, with all the machinery of repression thrown upon them.

“When those from above steal public resources, when bankers appropriate the money and labor of all others, they are rewarded with positions in the bad governments and utilize state money to save their dirty businesses.

“These are not errors or abnormalities, but rather the true notion of justice held by the State: To protect those from above and condemn those from below. In this world two forms of justice exist: One for the governments and one for the people. The former is implemented by rich, white men who are protected by armed guards, and who hide in palaces to make decisions. The latter is community justice that is decided in assemblies of common people–the people who are the color of the earth–whereby everyone can debate because neither lawyers nor experts are required to distinguish between good and bad.

“They are two justices for two opposed worlds. One day our justice shall judge those from above; and on that day, they shall be condemned to live off their work, to care for the common good. They shall be condemned to live as we, the 99% of humanity, do.

“That day, which is not far off, we will remember our brothers, Patishtán and Sántiz López, as two of the many midwives who made the birth of a new world possible.”

The renowned social struggler from Peru, Hugo Blanco, commented: “In Mexico, jail is not meant for narco-traffickers, but rather, for indigenous people, such as Alberto Patishtán Gómez and Francisco Sántiz López, who have done nothing wrong.

“What crime did these two men commit? Thinking that Mexico should be a place for all Mexicans–one in which everyone works and lives peacefully, without exploiting or being exploited, and enjoys the fruits that the land gives us. A country where everyone may be educated, where everyone may attend to their health, where there are no millionaires and no beggars. A country where everyone is concerned about each other, as they are in indigenous communities; a country that is formed by communities of communities, both in the countryside and in the cities; where there is no one who rules and no one who obeys–where all may decide; a country where everyone may be in deep solidarity, where it is not necessary to step on another’s head in order to move up.

“This is what they had in mind, and they understood that they must not resign themselves to only think as such, but that it is necessary to collaborate with other people in order to build this country of solidarity which would exist in a world of solidarity.”

And the much-loved writer and activist from Oaxaca, Gustavo Esteva, wrote: “The prison of these two compañeros must weigh on us as if it were our own prison. As in truth it is. While they remain prisoners, we are all prisoners, imprisoned by this abominable system from whose bars we have failed to free ourselves . . . . We have to break the chains that still bind our hands and our feet and keep us from the conquest of our autonomy in every corner of the world where we live. Only through these autonomies, entrenched in every area and linked in solidarity everywhere, will we be able to leave our prison.”

The Echo Campaign

Francisco'slogo_cartelEnglishAt the same time as the final phase of “Breaking Down the Prison Walls,” the quite extraordinary Movimiento por Justicia del Barrio also convened the campaign “Worldwide Echo in Support of the Zapatistas,” which ran from July to November 2012. Francisco’s release was one of the two main demands of this campaign, along with an end to attacks on the autonomous Zapatista communities.

Amazingly, groups and individuals from 25 countries participated in the “Prison Walls” campaign and from 29 countries in the “Echo” campaign, with documents being translated into eleven different languages.

The Legal Position

The Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Human Rights Centre (Frayba) filed an amparo indirecto—an appeal for legal protection—in the federal court in favor of Francisco on October 25, 2012, on account of “the grave violations of due process” committed against him and requesting his immediate release.

The Human Rights Centre stated clearly, not for the first time, that they were convinced that this case “is an example in which the Mexican State utilizes the justice system for criminalizing Zapatista support bases, as a consequence of their exercise of the right to self-determination and autonomy, based on the San Andrés Accord . . . . Convention 169 of the ILO and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”

On December 4, 2012, Francisco completed one year in prison. La Jornada reported that Alberto Patishtán said, “the compañero Francisco Santiz asked me to say: ‘I will not tire of asking for justice.’ He is an important example of the crimes that are ‘imposed’ on the innocent who are in Mexican prisons.”

The requested amparo for the protection of federal justice was granted to Francisco on January 3, 2012. On January 10 Frayba wrote: “This Human Rights Centre believes that the federal government has no good reasons to continue to deprive Francisco Sántiz López, support base of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation, of his freedom.”

As a result of the legal protection granted, a judge was ordered to determine Francisco’s legal status. On January 25, 2013, Frayba reported that an order had been issued that the case had to be resolved within 24 hours. That same evening, the political prisoner was released. “They know I am innocent,” he said to the press on his release into the waiting arms of his family “and they invented my crime.” He went straight to Oventic to thank the Junta for all the help and support they had given him.

Significance

Francisco’s freedom was made possible by the massive national and international organizing campaigns applying pressure and raising awareness of his plight, as well as the challenge to the legality of his imprisonment—namely the lack of evidence. However, it was a triumph for worldwide solidarity, not for the law.

While his release must give hope to the families, friends, and supporters of Alberto Patishtán Gomez, who hopefully will soon also be freed, and indeed to the other political prisoners in Chiapas and throughout the world, the unjust imprisonment of Francisco Sántiz López and the fabrication of crimes against him have to be seen as another part of the government’s strategy of low-intensity warfare, which, alongside incessant direct aggressions, attempts to destroy the resistance of the Zapatista communities. “His only crime” as the Junta said, “is struggling for his people, telling the truth, struggling for true democracy, liberty, and justice.”

In the words of the Movimiento por Justicia del Barrio’s Echo campaign, “the unjust incarceration of Francisco is not an isolated case but one that forms part of the continuous war by the Mexican State against the Zapatista communities, a war that through harassment, attacks, and arbitrary detentions seeks to undermine and annihilate the resistance and process of autonomy that the Zapatista support bases are bringing to a head in Chiapas.”

His freedom comes at a time of great hope and expectations, following the Zapatista “resurgence” on December 21, 2012, the day of the ending of the cycle of the 13th Baktun of the Maya calendar and the beginning of the “new era” of the 14th cycle. It also comes at a time when the new PRI government of Enrique Peña Nieto is embarking on a whole new strategy of counterinsurgency, based on propaganda, misinformation, and deception. Those who care for democracy, liberty, justice, and that other possible world for which we struggle, must not relax their vigilance.

The final words belong to Movimiento por Justicia del Barrio: “His strength and courage have been an inspiration to us . . . . and a very powerful reason to keep fighting. The walls that enclosed our brother Francisco could not do so against memory. With time, every wall crumbles, but the memory of a people who struggle together for their dignity will never end.

“Today, we, the Mexican migrants of Movimiento por Justicia del Barrio, The Other Campaign New York, are celebrating, knowing that this was not a triumph of the rule of law, which does not exist in Mexico, but a triumph of our Zapatista sisters and brothers and our compañer@s of good heart in different corners of the world. We embrace you all and celebrate with you. In the spirit of ‘Breaking down the prison walls,’ and giving ‘a Worldwide Echo in Support of the Zapatistas,’ we struggled together and achieved the release of our brother Francisco.”

 

 

Further information about Francisco Sántiz López: http://sanmarcosavilesen.wordpress.com/francisco/

Video message from the Zapatistas about Francisco Sántiz López: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NXuVyJ5YdfA

Video about the International Campaign: “Breaking down the prison walls”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lj0lUahDzTs

Video message from the MST (Landless Workers Movement), Brazil: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-hUSCv-GPqU

Video messages from the Shack Dwellers Movement, South Africa: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=96hJz2t2XVA    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TMmwS4ju1PU

 

 

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After 13 Months in Prison, the Tzeltal Accused of Homicide is freed for Lack of Evidence

 ** “They know that I am innocent, that they made up my crime,” the Zapatista says as he leaves

** Sántiz López denounces that a PGR public servant confirmed to him that he was forced to apprehend him

Foto                                                                                                                                                  Francisco Sántiz López upon leaving the prison, in San Cristóbal de las CasasPhoto: Moyses Zúñiga Santiago

By: Hermann Bellinghausen, Envoy

San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, January 25, 2013

Francisco Sántiz López, support base of the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN, its initials in Spanish), was released from the San Cristóbal prison this afternoon, due to the absence of evidence for the charges that kept him in prison for 13 and a half months.

The father of eight and grandfather of 12, Tzeltal campesino and businessman, who has been an active member of the Zapatista support base for more than 20 years, declared, upon taking his first steps on the other side of the bars: “We are going to continue the struggle there in the EZLN, to follow the path, we are going to win.”

The demand for his freedom had generated an international solidarity movement in close to 30 countries, which was expressed throughout 2012 in public places and in front of Mexican consulates and embassies in the five continents. In these mobilizations the freedom of Alberto Patishtán Gómez, adherent to the Other Campaign, who has been in prison since 2000, was also demanded.

“They know that I am innocent, that they made up my crime,” Sántiz López declared to the press who were waiting for him outside the State Center for Social Re-insertion of the Sentenced Number 5. “First they accused me of murder, and I got out on bail but I [had to] stay for carrying weapons.”

It’s appropriate to remember that the original motive for his incarceration was the quickly contradicted accusation that he participated in violent acts in Banavil community (Tenejapa), when a PRI group attacked families sympathizing with the EZLN on December 4, 2011. One of the attackers and one of those attacked lost their lives in the acts. The remains of the man attacked have not been located, except for an arm. As a result of those acts, as of this date six indigenous families are still displaced.

Three months later, a judge exonerated Sántiz López, but a new accusation on the part of the Attorney General of the Republic (PGR), for allegedly carrying a prohibited weapon, held him in the San Cristóbal prison until today. At six o’clock this afternoon, surrounded by twenty sympathizers who embraced and applauded him, carrying a bouquet of flowers in his hands under the drizzle and fog, Sántiz López stated: “In Banavil the director of indigenous representation cleared me of the accusations.”

From the beginning, none of the charges against him could be substantiated, while numerous witnesses existed who said he was not at the scene of the crime and was not carrying any weapon when he was detained in the municipal headquarters of Tenejapa the same day.

Today he relates that last January 16 there was an escape of two prisoners from this prison, and they carried out searches. “One of the PGR agents” approached me and said: “You are here? I told him ‘there is no crime’ and he told me ‘I was forced, they obliged me, we are going to talk Francisco, hold on we are going to talk very well, I am going to report which one of us obliged me to make your accusations.’ The PGR told me clearly; it is the public minister (prosecution) together with the Tenejapa judge, Alonso Méndez Guzmán.”

The liberation of the civilian Zapatista was precipitated yesterday when Magistrate Leonel Jesús Hidalgo ordered the resolution of his legal situation in 24 hours, “considering that all the existing evidence in favor of Sántiz López which indicates that he was not a participant in the acts that they impute to him has not been taken into account.”

For his part, the professor Alberto Patishtán Gómez, in the name of the prisoners of the Other Campaign, announced that this morning they made a pilgrimage and a religious ceremony to join the mobilization of the Believing People in the city of San Cristóbal, on the second anniversary of the death of Bishop Samuel Ruiz García.

Patishtán denounced the new prison director, Wenceslao Urbina Gutiérrez, and the accountant Flaviano Clemente Avendaño, for denying him the medication that he needs to be given since he had his operation for a brain tumor at the end of 2012. He also denounced that now the custodians harass and intimidate the family members of the Other Campaign prisoners, and take away the food that they bring to the prisoners.

Lastly, he demanded his freedom and that of the rest of the members of the Voice of El Amate and those in Solidarity with the Voice of El Amate.

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Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Saturday, January 26, 2013

En español: http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2013/01/26/politica/019n1pol

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Frayba Demands Immediate Freedom for the Indigenous Francisco Santiz López

** The centre says the federal government does not have sufficient reasons to continue to detain him

By: Hermann Bellinghausen

The Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Human Rights Centre (Frayba) argued that “the federal government does not have good reasons” to continuing to deprive Francisco Santiz López, support base of the Zapatista National Liberation Army (Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional, EZLN), of his freedom, and should free him immediately, especially since last December 3 the magistrate of the first unitary tribunal of the twentieth circuit “granted the amparo[i] and protection of federal justice” in favor of the Tzeltal businessman and campesino from Tenejapa, Chiapas, whose freedom dozens of organizations and collectives and thousands of peoples in 30 countries have demanded, along with the Good Government Junta in Oventic.

The court’s determination recognizes that the first district’s judge for federal criminal processes in Chiapas “violated his [Francisco’s] legal rights,” by holding him in prison. According to Frayba, their proof of the crime of carrying a firearm for the exclusive use of the armed forces, attributed to the indigenous man, “was based solely on evidence that was prejudicial to him, without evaluating all the existing (evidence),” as there are eight testimonies “that textually state that Santiz López was not carrying any weapon”. There is other evidence in the same case record that the judge also failed to consider.

It is worth remembering that the civilian Zapatista, falsely accused of participating in an attack by PRI groups on families in Banavil, Tenejapa Municipality, more than 13 months ago, remains incarcerated in the State Centre for the Social Reinsertion of the Sentenced Number 5, in San Cristóbal de las Casas, since December 4, 2011. Although he was exonerated of all charges a few months after his detention, the authorities decided to keep holding him at the prison under the last minute charge of having carried a prohibited weapon, which they were never able to corroborate.

Frayba points out that, as a result of the amparo (legal protection) granted, “the judge was ordered to determine the legal situation of the prisoner, taking into consideration all the evidence and not just that which is prejudicial to him, as he did in the contested detention order”.

Therefore, the judge cited “has the opportunity to do justice, and is able to grant immediate freedom” to the indigenous man. The Frayba also considers that it is “a good opportunity” for the Chiapas government to “do what is necessary to comply” with what Governor Manuel Velasco Coello said on January 1st in reference to the situation of Santiz López and the Tzotzil professor Alberto Patishtán Gómez, an adherent of the Other Campaign: “Their quick release is necessary for the state government.”

We do not forget that his predecessor, Juan Sabines Guerrero, was prodigious in making similar statements and promises in that respect, which he did not fulfill.

As for the rest, Frayba calls for putting an end “to the practices whereby the Mexican State utilizes the system for law enforcement and administering justice to criminalize the EZLN support bases”. It considers it “essential” to respect “the advances in their right to free determination, through Zapatista autonomy, based on the San Andrés Accords and its international referents: Convention 169 of the ILO and the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples.”

Meanwhile, Rosario Díaz Méndez, an Other Campaign prisoner and a member of the Voice of El Amate, has suffered unjustified delays from the judge in Simojovel during the last three months. The magistrate has repeatedly postponed the legal hearing for reviewing his case and giving grounds for his release. Faced with a new and imminent hearing, the Other Campaign prisoners said in a communication that they hope “that the judge realizes it with responsibility.”

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Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Friday, January 11, 2013

En español: http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2013/01/11/politica/020n1pol

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Despite His Exoneration, the Zapatista Francisco Santiz López Completes One Year in Prison

 ** “He is only guilty of struggling for justice,” the Other Campaign cries out from New York

** The government of Juan Sabines did not honour its commitments to political prisoners: Patishtán

By: Hermann Bellinghausen,

San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, December 5, 2012

Francisco Santiz López, Zapatista support base from Tenejapa, completed one year in prison this Monday, despite the fact that the judge already exonerated him months ago.

“The government of Juan Sabines Guerrero did not honour its commitments to political prisoners,” Alberto Patishtán Gómez declared to La Jornada. Patishtán Gómez is the spokesperson for the prisoners of The Voice of El Amate and those in Solidarity with The Voice of El Amate (La Voz del Amate), adherents to the Other Campaign in the San Cristóbal de las Casas prison. The prisoners themselves released a brief message, and the Other Campaign in New York, highlighting the date, reported solidarity and protest actions in 29 countries in favour of those prisoners.

“The compañero Francisco Santiz asked me to say: ‘I will not tire of asking for justice,’” Patishtán added. “He is an important example of the crimes that are ‘imposed’ on the innocent who are in Mexican prisons.” The Movement for Justice in El Barrio from New York, for its part, put it this way: “Francisco is only guilty of fighting for justice, dignity, and democracy. And as he reminded us in July, in a letter from prison, ‘to fight is to live.’”

On December 4, 2011, at 12 noon, Santiz López was detained in the municipal headquarters of Tenejapa, accused of participating in some violent acts that same day in Banavil, where one of the PRI attackers died and one of those attacked, who were sympathizers but not Zapatista bases, disappeared. It has never been shown that he was present at the acts; to the contrary, all the testimonies placed him far away from Banavil. A judge exonerated him because of that, but at the moment of his liberation, the authorities presented a new accusation against him, for the (federal) crime of carrying a prohibited weapon. The charges are unfounded, but have served to keep him in the State’s power.

The indigenous prisoners of the other campaign stated: “There has been one more six-year term of the federal and state government, which has left imprints that society will never be able to forget: deaths, disappearances, incarcerations and a high incidence of violence. In spite of this, they make public declarations that every problem or question of justice ‘is concluded,’ as Governor Juan Sabines Guerrero declared recently.”

“Due to this erroneous version we are totally contradicting that publication (a governmental insertion, La Jornada, November 17), because in spite of showing our innocence, as of today we continue prisoners, they have not given us justice for our unjust imprisonment. It is for this reason that we publicly denounce these outrages and violations of our human rights. We demand justice and our immediate and unconditional freedom,” concludes the collective of prisoners in San Cristóbal de las Casas, to which belong Santiz López (base of the EZLN), Patishtán Gómez and Rosario Díaz Méndez (The Voice of El Amate), and those in Solidarity with The Voice of El Amate: Pedro López Jiménez, Alfredo López Jiménez, Rosa López Díaz, Juan Collazo Jiménez, Juan Díaz López and Alejandro Díaz Santiz.

Nonconformity in the Iron City

From New York, the organization of Mexican immigrants from the Other Campaign, which has been very active in organizing protests and expressions of solidarity which found an echo in the five continents, maintained today: “His detention and the time that he has remained behind bars have been absolutely unjust, since Francisco never committed any crime. In addition, throughout this year that he has lived in prison, we have seen multiple violations of due process and other legal irregularities in his case.”

The Movement [for Justice] in El Barrio points out: “This is how the so-called ‘justice’ system that controls our Mexico functions. It is used by those above to repress those below in movement.” And it trusts: “The walls that enclose our brother Francisco cannot (do so) against memory. With time, every wall crumbles, but the memory of a people who struggle for their dignity will never end.”

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Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Thursday, December 6, 2012

En español: http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2012/12/06/politica/019n1pol 

English translation by the Chiapas Support Committee for the International Zapatista Translation Service, a collaboration of the Chiapas Support Committee, California, Wellington Zapatista Support Group, UK Zapatista Solidarity Network

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“Worldwide Echo in Support of the Zapatistas”

http://sanmarcosavilesen.wordpress.com/

We remember Francisco:

One year within the walls of an unjust prison

Compañeras and compañeros:

On December 4, 2011, at 12:00 pm, our compañero Francisco Sántiz López was deprived of his physical liberty by the forces of the vengeful bad government of Mexico. Today marks his completion of one year in prison.

His arrest, together with the amount of time he has spent behind bars, have been completely unjust, as this Zapatista support base, Sántiz Lopez, never committed any crime. As well as his unjust detention, throughout this year that he has lived in prison, we have seen multiple violations of due process and other legal irregularities occur in his case.

But this is how the so-called system of “justice” that controls our Mexico functions, a system which is used by those from above to repress those from below who fight for justice.

Francisco is only guilty of fighting for justice, dignity, and democracy. And as Francisco himself reminded us in July, in a letter from prison, “to fight is to live.”

Today, the Mexican migrants from Movement for Justice in El Barrio, The Other Campaign New York, invite all of you everywhere to remember this truth, to give us feet to continue walking on the earth.

In the end, the walls that enclose our brother Francisco cannot do so with memory. Eventually, every wall collapses, but the memory of a people struggling with all their being to unite their dignity, will never come to an end.

Today, we invite everyone to keep building this memory, to continue denouncing his wrongful imprisonment and expanding the already historical and global demand for his immediate release.

You can find more information on Francisco here:

http://sanmarcosavilesen.wordpress.com/francisco/

You can also see the video message from the Zapatistas regarding Francisco here:

Please share the truth that they contain.

LIBERTY AND JUSTICE FOR FRANCISCO SÁNTIZ LÓPEZ!

Long live the EZLN!

From El Barrio, New York

Movement for Justice in El Barrio

The Other Campaign New York

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Frayba asks for legal protection for EZLN Support Base, due to Procedural “Violations,”

** It demands the liberation of Francisco Santiz and accuses the State of criminalizing the exercise of autonomy

By: Hermann Bellinghausen

The Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Human Rights Centre (Frayba) filed an amparo indirecto, an appeal for legal protection,  in the federal court in favour of Francisco Sántiz López, base of support of the Zapatista National Liberation Army (Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional, EZLN), a prisoner in San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas. This, on account of “the grave violations of due process” committed against him.

Those violations are: lack of an adequate defence and access to justice, by not having a translator or legal defender who knew his language and culture to assist him in his statement to the General Prosecutor of the Republic; taking into account evidence at the margin of legal and constitutional requirements, and on the other hand ignoring the testimonies of the arresting authorities, which corroborate Santiz López’ declaration to personnel at the  General Prosecutor of Justice for the State of Chiapas  at the time of his detention, that he was in the municipal headquarters of Tenejapa last December, and not in Banavil, where the acts of which he is accused occurred.

Because of these irregularities,  Frayba have made an appeal for legal protection for Santiz’ immediate release. The civil agency notes that, in the context of the international campaign “Worldwide Echo (Eco Mundial) in support of the Zapatistas”, which has united actions in more than 20 countries, it is apposite to send letters to Minister Juan Silva Meza, president of the Federal Judiciary Council, and to Jesús Hidalgo Leonel, magistrate of the first unitary tribunal of the twentieth circuit in Tuxtla Gutiérrez, asking for his release.

The appeal for legal protection against the writ of formal prison was presented on October 25, and was admitted that same day in the first unitary tribunal of the twentieth circuit, with the number 30/ 2012. Now, social organizations and individuals are asking the magistrates “that the appeal for legal protection (amparo indirecto) be analyzed and followed up, taking into consideration the context and details of the case.”

The international campaign, which will culminate on November 17, demands: “an end to the harassment of the EZLN’s support bases, and freedom for Francisco, unjustly accused of the federal crime of carrying a weapon for the exclusive use of the Army, Navy and Air Force.”

The letter directed to the magistrate Silva Meza and Hidalgo Leonel repeats that: “irregularities in the investigation were evidenced from the date of his detention,” and they insist on his innocence. It was achieved that his case file “was studied at a reconciliation board, on whose recommendation, the Public Prosecutor’s Office Specialized in Indigenous Justice in Chiapas stopped the criminal action for the crimes of homicide and bodily injuries.”

The Tzeltal trader and farmer remains a prisoner, because a proceeding for the federal crime of allegedly carrying a prohibited weapon was imposed on him. According to  Frayba, “this case has been characterized since the preliminary investigations by the lack of clarification of the events that occurred on December 4 in the Banavil ejido, Tenejapa municipality, where members of the Institutional Revolutionary Party attacked with firearms four families that are allied to the EZLN.”

The civil groups state that they are convinced that this case “is an example in which the Mexican State utilizes the justice system for criminalizing Zapatista support bases, as a consequence of their exercise of the right to self determination and autonomy, based on the San Andrés Accords and its constitutional references,” as well as international benchmarks: Convention 169 of the ILO and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Alonso López Luna, one of those attacked, also disappeared in the events at Banavil. It is alleged that PRI members murdered him, but it has not been investigated.

Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Friday, November 2, 2012

En español: http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2012/11/02/politica/016n1pol 

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San Cristobal de Las Casas, Chiapas

November 1, 2012

Informative note 

Actions for the freedom of Francisco Sántiz López, BAEZLN

Support the international campaign “Worldwide Echo in Support of the Zapatistas”

The Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Human Rights Centre (Frayba) has filed an amparo indirecto, an appeal for legal protection, at a federal court on behalf of Francisco Sántiz López (Francisco), Support Base of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (BAEZLN), in view of the serious violations to the right of due process which have been committed against him.

In this appeal for legal protection we produce the documented information about the human rights violations committed against Francisco, mainly:

  • The lack of an adequate defence and access to justice, not having a translator, or a legal defender who knew his language and culture, to assist him in his statement before the  General Prosecutor of the Republic.
  • Violations of due process, having taken into account evidence[i] outside legal and constitutional requirements.
  • Violations of the principle of presumption of innocence, by failing to take into account the testimonies of the apprehending authorities. These authorities corroborate the statement of Francisco, before the General Prosecutor of Justice for the State of Chiapas (PGJE), that at the time of his detention Francisco was in the municipal headquarters of Tenejapa[ii].
  • Because of these [human rights] violations Frayba have requested, in their appeal for legal protection, the immediate release of Francisco, and consider it apposite to send letters requesting the freedom for Francisco as part of the international Campaign “Worldwide Echo in support of the Zapatistas”. We ask you to to send letters to the Minister Juan Silva Meza, president of the Council of the Federal Judiciary, and to Jesús Hidalgo Leonel, Magistrate of the First Unitary Tribunal of the Twentieth Circuit, requesting freedom for Francisco. We attach (below) example letters and the addresses of the magistrates. Please send a copy to accionesurgentes@frayba.org.mx

The campaign “Worldwide Echo in support of the Zapatistas” has linkedactions in more than 20 countries demanding an end to the harassment of support bases of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (BAEZLN) and the freedom of Francisco. We invite all organizations, communities and individuals to join the actions to be performed until 17 November 2012.

For more information:

www.sanmarcosaviles.wordpress.com

or www.solidaridadchiapas.wordpress.com 

Background

Francisco is an indigenous Tzeltal, and a BAEZLN, who has been deprived of his liberty in the State Centre for the Social Reintegration of the Sentenced No. 5, (CERSS No 5), San Cristobal de Las Casas, since December 4, 2011, wrongly accused by the state of the federal crime of carrying a firearm for the exclusive use of the Army, Navy and Air Force.

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Letter to the President of the Council of the Federal Judiciary

C. Ministro Juan N. Silva Meza

Presidente del Consejo de la Judicatura Federal.

Insurgentes Sur 2417, San Ángel. Álvaro Obregón.

C.P. 01000, México,D.F.
presidenciacjf@correo.cjf.gob.mx

P R E S E N T

We, the signatories to this document, have closely followed the criminal proceedings as well as the actions seeking the release of Francisco Sántiz López, Tzeltal indigenous support base of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation, from the municipality of Tenejapa, Chiapas, who is currently detained at the National Centre for the Social Reinsertion of the Sentenced No. 5, (CERSS No. 5), in the city of San Cristobal de Las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico.

Since the date of his arrest on December 4, 2011, it has been shown that there are irregularities within the investigation, and by insisting in that he is innocent, it was achieved that his record was studied at a Reconciliation Board, on whose recommendation the Public Prosecutor’s Office Specialized in Indigenous Justice in the State of Chiapas withdrew the prosecution brought against Francisco Sántiz López, on charges of murder and aggravated assault.

Francisco Sántiz López is currently being pursued for criminal prosecution, under federal jurisdiction, for the crime of possession of a weapon for the exclusive use of the army, navy and air force. A trial, that from the time they started the preliminary investigations, has been characterized by a lack of clarification of the events that occurred on December 4, 2011, in the ejido Banavil, Tenejapa municipality, where a group of members of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) attacked with firearms four families allied to the Zapatista Army of National Liberation.

We know that on October 25, 2012, an Amparo Indirecto was presented against the order of imprisonment for the crime of possession of a firearm for the exclusive use of the army, navy and air force; this was admitted that same day in the First Unitary Tribunal of the Twentieth Circuit, with the number 30/2012.

Based on the above, we are writing to you to respectfully request that this Amparo Indirecto be analyzed carefully and followed up, taking into consideration the context and details of the case.

We believe that the case of Francisco is an example of the Mexican state using the system for the prosecution and delivery of justice to criminalize the support bases of the Zapatista National Liberation Army, as a consequence of their exercise of the right to self-determination and autonomy, based on the Agreement of San Andrés and national reference points established in Article 2 of the Constitution of the Republic in relation to Article 1, as well as international benchmarks, these being ILO Convention no 169 and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

We, the undersigned, for the purpose of receiving any kind of notifications give as our address the residence located at Calle Brasil número 14, Colonia Barrio de Mexicanos, in the city of San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas, México.

That is all for now, we greet you, repeating our request along with our highest consideration.

Sincerely

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Letter to the Magistrate of the First Unitary Tribunal of the Twentieth Circuit

Magistrado Jesús Hidalgo Leonel

Primer Tribunal Unitario del Vigésimo Circuito

Palacio de Justicia Federal Edificio C, Boulevard Ángel Albino Corzo No. 2641,

Colonia las Palmas C.P. 29040, 1er. Piso, Ala B Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Chiapas

leonel.jesus.hidalgo@correo.cjf.gob.mx

P R E S E N T

We, the signatories to this document, have closely followed the criminal proceedings as well as the actions seeking the release of Francisco Sántiz López, Tzeltal indigenous support base of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation, from the municipality of Tenejapa, Chiapas, who is currently detained at the National Centre for the Social Reinsertion of the Sentenced No. 5, (CERSS No. 5), in the city of San Cristobal de Las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico.

Since the date of his arrest on December 4, 2011, it has been shown that there are irregularities within the investigation, and by insisting that he is innocent, it was achieved that his record was studied at a Reconciliation Board, on whose recommendation, the Public Prosecutor’s Office Specialized in Indigenous Justice in the State of Chiapas withdrew the prosecution brought against Francisco Sántiz López, on charges of murder and aggravated assault.

Francisco Sántiz López is currently being pursued for criminal prosecution, under federal jurisdiction, for the crime of possession of a weapon for the exclusive use of the army, navy and air force. A trial, that from the time they started the preliminary investigations has been characterized by a lack of clarification of the events that occurred on December 4, 2011, in the ejido Banavil, Tenejapa municipality, where a group of members of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) attacked with firearms four families allied to the Zapatista Army of National Liberation.

We know that on October 25, 2012, an Amparo Indirecto was presented against the order of imprisonment for the crime of possession of a firearm for the exclusive use of the army, navy and air force; this was admitted that same day in the First Unit Court of the Twentieth Circuit, with the number 30/2012.

Based on the above, we are writing to you to respectfully request that this Amparo Indirecto be analyzed carefully and followed up, granting his immediate release.

We, the undersigned, for the purpose of receiving any kind of notifications give as our address the residence located at Calle Brasil número 14, Colonia Barrio de Mexicanos, in the city of San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas, México

That is all for now, we greet you, repeating our request along with our highest consideration.

Sincerely


[i] The weapon Francisco is accused of carrying, a 22 mm pistol, was handed over, along with 5 rifles, by residents of Banavil, (who according to the family of the deceased Alonso López Luna, participated in the attacks and the disappearance from that day of the person named previously) to the Specialist Judge for Indigenous Reconciliation, Alonso Méndez Guzmán, in a plastic bag, showing that there was no chain of custody for this item, and thus that the necessary measures were not taken for its protection and preservation, to determine traces of the crime.

[ii] Contrary to the declarations of the charge, three witnesses who falsely reported that he had been detained in the ejido of Banavil and who “assured” the weapon concerned, at the time of his arrest.

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A judge recognizes his innocence, but Sántiz remains in prison

Companions and visitors sing mañanitas to the Zapatista

Hermann Bellinghausen

La Jornada

Monday October 8, 2012

Los Llanos, Chiapas, October 7.  Francisco Sántiz López has been a prisoner for all of this year, accused of charges which the judge ruled to be unfounded. If he is still detained in this state prison number five, it is clearly to send a message. Is it because he is a base of support of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation? Or is it just because the PRI caciques (chiefs) of Banavil and Tenejapa are so powerful that they can overwhelm the state and federal courts with bribes and grossly fabricated evidence?

There seems to be no other explanation for the fact that this man of 54, a fruit vendor in the municipal seat of Tenejapa, where he lives with his family, and a Zapatista support base (but not a miliciano, it is pointed out) since 1992, remains in the State Centre for the Social Reintegration of the Convicted (CERSS) on charges for which he was acquitted six months ago (and therefore he is not convicted).

Not that Francisco Sántiz is an obscure or unknown prisoner. He has supporters who are convinced of his innocence in over 20 countries ranging from South Africa to Japan, from the extreme south of Argentina to the heights of Norway. As they see it, with his baseball cap and his rhythmic silence, he is a famous man. Outside the prison he is not alone. Nor is he alone inside: he is part of the occupation of the organized prisoners from the other campaign, struggling like he is to be released, because that would be justice. They are also well-known, at least in the world of international solidarity, but not as renowned as Francisco, who along with Alberto Patishtán (who was in this occupation a few days ago) is recognized as emblematic of the struggle for justice and against discrimination. Both highlight how, in Chiapas, innocent indigenous end up as prisoners.

Sántiz López was charged in December with taking part in violent acts recorded in the community of Banavil, where two people were killed. Six Tzeltal families were expelled and today are still taking refuge in San Cristobal de las Casas.

The Fray Bartolome de las Casas Human Rights Centre (Frayba), which has taken the case, recently said that the detention order from the first federal judge in Chiapas did not give value to the testimony of witnesses or authorities which say that the arrest took place in the county seat, and that Francisco was not in Banavil at the time of the attacks. Nor has it been proved that he had used a gun.

Currently, explains Frayba, Francisco is charged with the crime of possession of a firearm for use by the army and armed forces, while the charges of murder and aggravated assault were withdrawn on March 22, to remove the criminal action from the [jurisdiction of] the public prosecutors (Ministerio Público).

So, Sántiz López was notified of his release, and when he was leaving the prison a hurried new indictment based on evidence provided by the same caciques who had testified falsely in December and had been responsible for the two murders in Banavil. This charge provided the opportunity to take Francisco, just as he set foot on the street, and return him to his cell, or rather to the occupation among his compañeros, who today, with his Sunday visitors, sang, accompanied by guitar, traditional songs (Las Mañanitas) for his birthday.

One arm is not enough evidence

The weapons which prove the new charge belong to the caciques Alonso López Ramirez and Agustín Méndez Luna (former mayor of Tenejapa), and his followers. These would be the same people who attacked those who today are the displaced of Banavil. The state government has already compensated the aggressors for the accidental death of one of their own. An arm belonging to the dead man from the families of the displaced was found on the mountain; the rest of his body has disappeared, but nobody has investigated this crime. An arm is not sufficient evidence of a crime (corpus delicti), the judge told the relatives. Unlike his fellow prisoners, Francisco speaks little but is convinced that they cut him into pieces.

http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2012/10/08/index.php?section=politica&article=022n1pol

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OVER 300 DAYS IN PRISON: FRANCISCO SÁNTIZ LÓPEZ, ZAPATISTA POLITICAL PRISONER, IS INNOCENT!

 Originally published by Upside Down World

“His only crime is struggling for his people, telling the truth, and fighting for true democracy, liberty and justice…” says the Good Government Junta (JBG)[i] of Oventic of their compañero Francisco Sántiz Lόpez, who has been unjustly imprisoned in the state penitentiary in San Cristόbal de Las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico, since 4th December 2011. On 29th September 2012, a week before his 57th birthday, Francisco completed 300 days behind bars for a crime it has been proven he did not commit.

Though all the current news of attacks, threats and sieges faced by the Zapatista communities in rebellion have tended to overshadow Francisco’s story, it is a story that deserves to be told and understood widely. It reflects the recent history of indigenous peoples, their struggle for democracy, liberty and justice, and the unceasing attempts during the last 520 years to wipe them, and all they represent, from the face of the earth. The dignified struggle of Francisco and all the Zapatistas echoes that story to the world.

 “Although the bad governments and political parties never tire of saying that there is no injustice or violation of human rights,” comments the Junta, “we wonder what kind of freedom, justice, peace and respect they are talking about, when their prisons are full of innocent people, when our communities and towns are filled with threats, abuse, assaults, harassments, displacements and devastation wrought by paramilitaries and people from different political parties…”

 

Francisco Sántiz Lόpez

Francisco is an indigenous Tzeltal[ii] campesino from the ejido[iii] of Banavil, in the municipality of Tenejapa in the Highland region in the north of Chiapas. By all accounts he is well respected locally, and is someone community members turn to for advice and support. He has been a Zapatista support base (BAZ) for more than twenty years, since before the uprising of 1994. He is, says the Junta, “an honest person who always fulfils his responsibilities in his community and organisation”. He lives in Banavil with his wife and family, and makes his living by running a fruit and vegetable stall in the municipal capital of Tenejapa. His letters reveal him to be a deeply committed and spiritual person, deriving comfort and inspiration from his faith.

 

Banavil

The Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Human Rights Centre (Frayba) explains the background, “since 2009 there have been acts of harassment by the PRI[iv] group towards families sympathetic to the EZLN, due to their opposition to the arbitrary actions committed by PRI-affiliated caciques[v]. Examples of these actions are: the looting of lands, illegal logging, the imposition of arbitrary taxes and co-operative work, threats and abuse, physical assault, and denial of the right to education…all of which have been denounced by the victims before the appropriate authorities, who have failed to take any action. There has been no investigation….or punishment of those responsible and the authorities do not intervene to resolve the situation or guarantee legal or social security in the Banavil ejido”.

This situation of tension and intimidation is not unique to the Tenejapa area; indeed it must be set in the context of similar activities promoted, under the protection and with the encouragement of the three levels of government, by armed political party members, organised in paramilitary style groups, throughout the area of Zapatista influence.

 

The attack

The simmering situation in the ejido Banavil came to a head in the early morning of 4th December 2011, when 50 PRI supporters, with firearms, clubs and machetes, made a fierce and prolonged attack on four families “sympathetic to the EZLN”. They surrounded and broke into the house of Alonso Lόpez Luna, who was beaten and taken away. Only his arm has been found. Alonso’s son, Lorenzo Lόpez Girόn, was shot twice while trying to defend his father, and at least six other people were injured. During the confrontation, one of its two main instigators, Pedro Méndez Lόpez of the PRI, was killed.

As a direct result of this assault, the four aggrieved families were, and remain, displaced; they are, according to Frayba, in “a critical situation” with “inhuman housing conditions” and some of the PRI members who attacked them are occupying their lands.

Despite the fact that the true culprits have been widely identified, by the victims, the Junta and even by Frayba, no investigation has been carried out into the disappearance of Alonso Lόpez Luna, the shooting of his son, or the destruction of the homes and the displacement of the four families, even though the culprits have been widely identified. However, two people were arrested, charged and detained, on the very day of the attack, for the murder of the PRI leader, Pedro Méndez Lόpez: these were the seriously wounded Lorenzo Lόpez Girόn, and the Zapatista support base Francisco Sántiz Lόpez, who many witnesses affirm was elsewhere at the time of the incident.

On 4th December, 2011, Francisco was, as usual, working at his market stall selling fruit and vegetables in the town of Tenejapa – a considerable distance from Banavil. The displaced family of the missing Alonso have said clearly, “At the time of the attack, compañero Francisco was at his fruit stall at the county headquarters. Some of us went there to ask for his help”. In addition, they add, “we were not the ones who attacked the party members, they came to our homes and attacked us”.

It was at his market stall that Francisco was arrested. He was accused of homicide, and of leading a confrontation”. No reason was ever given for his being arrested. There was no weapon in his possession, and, as Frayba point out, there is no evidence of any kind putting him in possession of a firearm or other weapon at any time, despite the accusations against him.

The JBG of Oventic have made clear that there are twelve witnesses willing and able to testify that Francisco was not involved in the confrontation. Since this time, Francisco has been held in the penitentiary the State Centre for the Social Reinsertion of the Sentenced (CERSS) No 5, while “the caciques, who are organising attacks of every kind, are living freely in their homes”.

 

A new charge

On 22 March, 2012, Francisco and Lorenzo were told that they had been cleared of the charges and were to be released. Just as they were leaving the prison, Francisco was stopped and rearrested, this time on a federal charge: that of carrying a weapon reserved for the exclusive use of the Mexican army and armed forces. The JBG responded: “as we know well, those who carry firearms for the exclusive use of the army are not the Zapatistas, they are the paramilitaries from the different communities”.

This crime is equivalent to that of murder and aggravated assault in terms of sentencing, and conveniently enabled the state government to make a statement to La Jornada [vi] that Francisco’s imprisonment was now outside their control. The newspaper commented that Francisco was being kept as “a virtual political hostage, and possible currency for exchange”. “Independent lawyers, human rights organisations and autonomous Zapatista authorities have confirmed…Francisco’s innocence, and place responsibility on the government for keeping …him imprisoned for political reasons and to cover up for the presence of paramilitary groups…in Tenejapa”.

Lorenzo was able to return home. When he left prison, despite having been detained for over 3 months, the two bullets were still in his body. He had received no medical treatment apart from painkillers, had difficulty walking, and was in great pain.

 

The criminalisation of autonomy and the repression of justice

In August 2012, Frayba issued a bulletin[vii] of denouncement detailing the violations of due process against Francisco Sántiz Lόpez, and their fears that a judicial sentence will be issued against him. “During the arrest and prosecution of Francisco the following human rights have been violated: personal liberty, presumption of innocence, judicial guarantees, a fair trial, and the protection of the law…..this is evidence of his persecution for the political work he has been performing in the Highlands of Chiapas…”

In this document Frayba issue a stunning condemnation: “the Mexican state is using the system of law enforcement and justice administration to criminalise the support bases of the EZLN, because they are disturbed by their progress in the right to self-determination through Zapatista autonomy, founded in the San Andrés Accords and the international benchmarks: ILO 169 and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples”.

This continued imprisonment of an innocent man, they believe, amounts to political persecution and the suppression of justice. They continue to say that in the detention order the judge neither acknowledged the statements of the witnesses, nor of the local authorities, which confirmed “that the arrest took place in the county seat of Tenejapa, which means, therefore, that Francisco was not in Banavil at the time of the attacks”. There is, they add, absolutely no evidence that Francisco “was carrying the weapon referred to”.

The last Zapatista prisoner before Francisco was Patricio Domínguez Vázquez, from the community of ejido Monte Redondo, Comalapa, who was freed without charge on the 6th June 2011, following worldwide actions in his support. Before Patricio, Miguel Hernández Pérez, Diego Martínez Santis y Miguel Méndez Santis, from Pozo in the official municipality of C’ancuc, were imprisoned for over 3 months in 2010, before also being released without charge.

As the Movement for Justice in El Barrio (MJB) tellingly point out to us all: “We know that it is no coincidence that in Mexico, as well as here in the United States, the jails and prisons are filled almost exclusively with those from below – indigenous, migrants, black, poor, Latino, women and men, and all marginalized groups – since only the true criminals could benefit from this misery: the multinational corporations and their political lackeys. Those from above believe that people who struggle must be crushed and encaged.”

 

Support for Francisco and for all the Zapatistas

Francisco has become an emblematic figure, representing the struggle of all those who the system is attempting to crush. Are we prepared to look on while this occurs and do nothing? How many more times must this happen?

People around the world have been enraged at the case of Francisco, and at the concerted efforts by the three levels of the bad government in Mexico to demoralise, terrify and coerce the Zapatistas to abandon their struggle for autonomy.  To co-ordinate these voices, the “Worldwide Echo in Support of the Zapatistas” campaign,convoked by the Movement for Justice in El Barrio, the Other Campaign New York, was launched at the end of July 2012 with an urgent call for action.[viii]

As well as the liberation of Francisco, the Echo Campaign also “aims to raise awareness about the dire situation faced by the besieged BAZ communities of Comandante Abel[ix], Unión Hidalgo, San Marcos Avilés, and Moisés Gandhi. These communities are currently being attacked, or threatened with attack, by paramilitary-style groups who operate with complete impunity under the protection of the government security forces. The groups, which are made up of indigenous members of local political parties, operate at will, destroying the homes and possessions of the BAZ and stealing their land, crops and livestock. Their aim is to dispossess them of their land and territory and take it over for their own use, build their own houses, and indeed, destroy the entire Zapatista organisation, as part of the government’s 19 year campaign of counterinsurgency against the movement.

Of Francisco, the Echo campaign states: “our compañero Francisco Sántiz López has been imprisoned for crimes that he did not commit. His only offence, as has been stated over and over again, is that of being a Zapatista Support Base member. For this reason, he is being held as a hostage of the Mexican State.”

Asked about the progress of the campaign so far, Teresa Lopez, of Movement for Justice in El Barrio, responded:
“Since the launch of the Worldwide Echo in Support of the Zapatistas campaign, many Committees of the True Word have formed throughout the world. In fact, many people organising actions have never been active in the struggle before. This shows that support for Francisco and the Zapatistas, in general, is increasing. This growth of organized support will ensure that we achieve the freedom and justice for Francisco that we all seek.”

 

Why does the Mexican state so badly want to destroy the Zapatistas?

“There is no doubt,” says the Junta, “that the manufacture of crimes against Francisco….was planned, organised and run from the three levels of bad government. They are trying at all costs to prevent the construction of the autonomy of the indigenous peoples in Zapatista territory….and to annihilate our organisation and the dignity of our people.”

To do this, they are intending to steal the Zapatistas’ lands, the basis of everything, and by continual day and night harassment to provoke a reaction from them.

The well- known Mexican activist and intellectual, Gustavo Esteva, explains the situation very well in his message to the Echo Campaign:

“We are in World War IV. It is not a war between countries. It is a war of those from above against those from below. Because we, those from below, are now walking in rebellion… because we are no longer willing to let them continue to destroy our Mother Earth, and to continue to kill and imprison us they have unleashed a continuous war against us, from outside and inside, making it more and more difficult for us to live. They want to turn the whole world into a prison.

“Both Francisco Sántiz López and San Marcos Avilés are frontlines in this great war that escalates daily in the Zapatista communities. It is urgent to show ourselves on the side of our compañeros…. The threat is immediate…..It is the time for resistance. And to resist is to struggle in common, together, in the embrace of solidarity.”

As for the Zapatistas themselves, they have no intention of giving up:

“We want to make clear to the three levels of bad government and the people they have paid, controlled and manipulated, that whatever it costs us, no matter what happens, we will continue, because reason and justice are on our side”.

“It is,” says Hugo Blanco, the renowned Peruvian political activist, in his message to the Echo Campaign, entitled: ‘to those who search for a free world’, “in the direct interests of humanity to defend the island of freedom that is the Zapatista area.”

For more information:

Video-message from the JBG of Oventic about Francisco: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NXuVyJ5YdfA&feature=player_embedded 

Information on Francisco:

http://sanmarcosavilesen.wordpress.com/francisco/ 

The Echo Campaign:

http://sanmarcosavilesen.wordpress.com 

For what you can do:

http://sanmarcosavilesen.wordpress.com/what-you-can-do/

http://sanmarcosavilesen.wordpress.com/materials/


[i] Junta (JBG), Council of Zapatista rotating authorities who “govern by obeying” http://sanmarcosavilesen.wordpress.com/communique/ 

[ii] Mayan language-speaking indigenous group

[iii] Ejido, communal landholding

[iv] Political party

[v] Chiefs

**************

“Worldwide Echo in Support of the Zapatistas”

http://sanmarcosavilesen.wordpress.com/

300 days in prison


Compañeras and compañeros:

We send you greetings and embraces from all the Mexican immigrants who are members of Movement for Justice in El Barrio, The Other Campaign New York.

Through this letter we send our humble word in the form of a cry, LIBERTY AND JUSTICE FOR FRANCISCO SÁNTIZ LÓPEZ!

On Saturday, September 29th, Francisco Sántiz Lόpez, Zapatista political prisoner from Banavil, Tenejapa, Chiapas, would have spent 300 days behind bars without having committed any crime.

These represent:

300 days of injustice and impunity

300 days of state abuse

300 days of political and racist repression

300 days deprived of his personal freedom

300 days without breathing the free air of the countryside, without looking at the wild stars, without kissing his loved ones.

But at the same time, they are:

300 days of struggle

300 days of resistance

300 days of human dignity

300 days of hope, courage and love

300 days of action without borders, barriers or walls

300 days in which thousands of people, communities, groups, and organizations from throughout the world have come together.

At the end of every day a new crack opens, each time a little wider, in the walls that confine our brother and compa Francisco. One day soon, the pressure on them will ensure that these walls will fall, both inside and outside.

At this time of sadness and outrage, we offer the following new poster from the Campaign “Worldwide Echo in support of the Zapatistas”, to demand once again justice and freedom for Francisco Sántiz Lόpez. It is something simple but beautiful, and it gives us much pleasure to share it with you. We hope it may serve as small flag in this worldwide struggle which has the heart as its homeland, and solidarity as its territory….

Click here to see the poster:

http://sanmarcosavilesen.wordpress.com/posters/ 

Keep well, compas. Let us today honor Francisco by struggling more keenly for his immediate and unconditional release.

To join the campaign for the release of Francisco Sántiz Lόpez and to keep up to date with the situation:

1. Write to:

laotranuevayork@yahoo.com

2. For more information on Francisco, check out the website of the “Worldwide Echo in support of the Zapatistas” Campaign:

http://sanmarcosavilesen.wordpress.com/francisco/

3. You can watch the video-message from the Zapatistas about Francisco Sántiz Lόpez here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NXuVyJ5YdfA&feature=plcp

From El Barrio, New York

Movement for Justice in El Barrio

The Other Campaign New York

~

**************

International Campaign:
“Worldwide Echo in Support of the Zapatistas”

RED ALERT!!!

FRANCISCO SÁNTIZ LÓPEZ:
INNOCENT
Zapatista Political Prisoner

Together with the attacks on the Zapatista communities, the Mexican State continues to attack the Zapatista movement by arbitrarily imprisoning its members.

  • Francisco Sántiz López, Zapatista Support Base member and indigenous Tzeltal, has been imprisoned since December 2011 for crimes that he did not commit. His only offense, as has been stated over and over again, is that of being a Zapatista Support Base member. For this single reason, he is being held as a hostage of the Mexican State.
  • On March 22 of this year, Francisco, as he was about to be released, was hit with another accusation of another false crime. For this reason, he remains at the moment a political prisoner, despite the fact that witnesses have corroborated the fact that Francisco Sántiz López was not at the scene of the crime.
  • Thousands of people from around the world are demanding: FREEDOM FOR FRANCISCO SÁNTIZ LÓPEZ!

************

 

 

Mexico has recourse to the law to repress EZLN support bases: Frayba

It is claimed that the Mexican government uses the system of law enforcement and justice administration to criminalize.

Hermann Bellinghausen

Posted 25/08/2012 10:44

Mexico City. The Mexican state uses the law to represses support bases of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN); this was denounced by the Human Rights Centre Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas (Frayba) by detailing the violations of due process against Francisco Sántiz Lopez, indigenous support base of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN), “unjustly imprisoned” in the State Center for Social Reinsertion of the Sentenced (CERSS) number 5 in San Cristobal de Las Casas, Chiapas.

The Frayba Centre currently holds that Santiz Lopez “is accused by the state of carrying federal firearm exclusive for the use of the Army and Armed Forces, whereas, for the crimes of murder and aggravated assault, on March 22 criminal action is extinguished by withdrawal of prosecution of common law.” The initial charges, which allowed imprisonment of the indigenous, wrongly marked him as participating in a violent incident in the community of Banavil, Tenejapa Township, where one person was killed last December.

The Frayba “considers that during the arrest and prosecution of Santiz Lopez, the amount of rights that were breached give evidence that this is a political persecution for his performing work as an EZLN support base in the Highlands”, so they expressed “well-founded fear” that the first judge of the district for federal criminal prosecutions in the state will pronounce judicial sentence on the Tzeltal campesino.

To the human rights centre, “the Mexican state uses the system of law enforcement and justice administration to criminalize the EZLN bases, because they are annoyed by the improvements made in the right to self-determination through Zapatista autonomy, based on the San Andres Agreement and international benchmarks: ILO Convention 169 and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous  Peoples. “

Reports from Frayba said that the same judge, “declared the incident of data withdrawn and freedom in favour of Francis unfounded, in an agreement published on 17th August, referring to other arguments claiming that at the time of issuing the detention order it was taking into account testimonies of people who were saying that Francisco was in the company of armed people, “so it is insufficient to consider that the data has been withdrawn”. “

It is clear that the judge “failed to appreciate that the eight witnesses said explicitly that Francisco was not carrying any weapons, the crime for which he is accused”. In the detention order the judge neither acknowledged the witnesses’ nor the local authorities’ statements confirming “that the arrest took place in the county seat of Tenejapa, therefore, Francisco was not in Banavil at the time of the attacks, and the firearm was put in a safe place and delivered, along with five other weapons, to the Peace and Reconciliation indigenous judge by inhabitants of the community.”

Given this fact there is no expertise “that claims Francisco was carrying the weapon referred to”.

More than eight months later, Santiz Lopez’ imprisonment is a political issue to the extent that it is proved to be unfounded, and he is held in prison on political slogan, a few months from the local and general elections.

———————————

San Cristobal de Las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico

August 23, 2012

Bulletin No 15

The Mexican State, repressor of justice against EZLN support bases

The Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Human Rights Centre (Frayba), is concerned about the violations of due process against Francisco Sántiz López (hereinafter Francisco), Tzeltal indigenous support base of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (BAEZLN), who is unjustly imprisoned in the State Centre for the Social Reintegration of the Sentenced No. 5 (CERSS No. 5) in San Cristobal de Las Casas, Chiapas.

The Judge of the First District Court of Federal Criminal Proceedings in the state of Chiapas, declared unfounded the instance of freedom through the disappearance of information[i], in  favour of Francisco, in an agreement published on 17 August this year, referring among other arguments, to the fact that at the time of his formal arrest and imprisonment, testimonies were taken into account from witnesses who reported that Francisco was in the company of armed men, which is insufficient evidence to consider that the data have disappeared[1]. It is clear that the judge failed to appreciate that the eight witnesses stated explicitly that Francisco was not carrying any weapons, the crime of which he is accused.

It is important to note, that in the Detention Order, the First Judge of the Federal Districts in the state of Chiapas did not give sufficient value to the testimonies: of the authorities nor of the witnesses who reported that the arrest took place in the county seat of Tenejapa, and that Francisco was not in Banavil, municipality of Tenejapa, at the time the attacks occurred; also the fact that the firearm was “secured” and delivered, along with 5 other weapons, to the court of indigenous peace and conciliation, by the people of this community, in addition he did not make any inquiries which suggested that Francisco was carrying the aforementioned firearm.

Currently, Francisco Sántiz is accused of the federal crime of carrying a firearm for the  exclusive use of the Army and Armed Forces, equivalent to the crimes of murder and aggravated assault; on 22 March, the criminal action was terminated, through the withdrawal of the public ministry of local jurisdiction.

Frayba believes that during the arrest and prosecution of Francisco, the following rights have been violated: personal liberty, presumption of innocence, judicial guarantees, a fair trial and legal protection. The number of rights violated is evidence of the persecution of Sántiz Lopez

for the political work he has been performing in the Highlands of Chiapas, so there is a justified fear that the First District Court of Federal Criminal Proceedings in the state of Chiapas could issue a guilty conviction against Francisco.

In the view of this Human Rights Centre, the Mexican state is using the system of law enforcement and justice administration to criminalize the support bases of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation, because they are disturbed by the progress in the right to self-determination through Zapatista autonomy, based on the Accords of San Andrés and the international benchmarks: ILO Convention 169 and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Finally we ask individuals, communities, groups and solidarity organizations at a national and international level, to be attentive to the actions of the First District Court of Federal Criminal Proceedings in the state of Chiapas, and to join the actions taking place in the fourth phase of the Worldwide Campaign for the freedom of Francisco Sántiz Lόpez and Alberto Patishtán, “For 9 months: 9 Days of Action to Break Down the Prison Walls”, from Monday 27 August to 4 September this year, called by the Movement for Justice in El Barrio from New York, USA.

http://solidaridadchiapas.wordpress.com/2012/08/02/convocatoria-a-la-cuartaetapa-a-tumbar-las-paredes-del-calabozo

[i] Legal recourse seeking the release of the accused on the evidence that the data indicating his alleged responsibility is annulled.

——————————–

Francisco Sántiz López is suffering political persecution: Frayba

Elio Henríquez, Correspondent 

La Jornada
Saturday August 25, 2012, p. 13

San Cristobal de Las Casas, Chiapas, August 24.

The Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Human Rights Centre (Frayba) has stated that the Mexican State violated due process against the indigenous Francisco Sántiz López, support base of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN), who has been imprisoned since 4  December, charged with carrying a weapon for the exclusive use of the Mexican Army and Armed Forces.

“The number of rights violated is evidence of the persecution of Sántiz Lopez for the political work he has been performing in the Highlands of Chiapas, so there is a justified fear that the judge of the first district court of federal criminal proceedings in the state of Chiapas could issue a guilty conviction against him”, they said in a statement.

Frayba consider that “the Mexican state is using the system of law enforcement and justice administration to criminalize the EZLN support bases, because they are troubled by the progress in the right to self-determination through Zapatista autonomy, based on the San Andres Accords and the international benchmarks:  International Labour Organization Convention (ILO) 169 and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The indigenous Tzeltal was arrested on November 4th in the municipal seat of Tenejapa after an attack in which a PRI militant was killed in the community of Banavil. According to witnesses, Sántiz Lopez was not at the scene of the events.

——————————-

Prison no. 5, San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas
24 July 2012

To: Movement for Justice in El Barrio
The Other Campaign New York

From Chiapas, in southern Mexico, I send you my fraternal and combative greetings, and hope that you, your families, and all of your loved ones are well and in good health.

To begin, I would like to thank you for your letters, which I have just received; they are filled with words that lift my spirits in this struggle, through all these actions which have been and will be held to demand my freedom and all our freedoms which have been stolen by the bad government.

I want to tell you all, compañeros and compañeras, to be much stronger than you are [now], for victory and triumph will soon come, and that I was always praying for you, for the other compañeros and compañeras in other countries, as they are part of our struggle. I want to tell them to be braver, more courageous, and stronger in order to fight the bad system of the rulers of the world.

On the other hand, I want to tell you a little about how, when I arrived at this prison — thank God! — I was received and defended by the fellow adherents to The Other Campaign of the EZLN, who had already been unjustly imprisoned for many years, and today I am united with them and they with me, and together we are and will continue to fight or the freedoms to which we are entitled.

I also want to say to you that prison has made me stronger than I was, because if we suffer abuses it as sign that our journey towards justice is advancing–because although the fight is not easy, it is not impossible, because God has made victorious the spirit of resistance we carry in our hearts and in doing so, has made us victorious as well–but we must fight with courage. What I find sad here in prison is that there is a little child imprisoned in here with us, because his parents are both prisoners. I will now give the names of the compañeros and adherents who welcomed me, Pedro López Jiménez, Alfredo López Jiménez, Rosa López Díaz, Leonardo López (the little one who is three and a half years old), Alejandro Díaz Sántiz, Juan Collazo Jiménez, Rosario Diaz Mendez, and Juan Diaz López–these are the compañeros who supported me when I arrived.

Finally I would like to say that during my almost 22 years of walking in the struggle for justice, God has given me the strength and courage to keep going. He will do so again so that I can continue moving forward…

Keep your spirits up, compañeros and compañeras!

To fight is to live!
To demand is to defend!
If I’m here, I’m there; if I’m there, I’m here!
Live or die for truth and justice!

Sincerely,

Francisco Sántiz López

——————————–

Francisco Sántiz López

Since December 4, 2011, Francisco Sántiz López, member of the Zapatista Support Base communities since 1992, has been unjustly incarcerated and falsely charged with having led a confrontation, which occurred in the Banavil community of the Tenejapa municipality of Chiapas, in which a member of the PRI party died. The racist and political character of this incident is obvious. As the Zapatista Good Government Council of Oventic explains, “The fabrication of crimes against our compañero comes from Los Pinos [the Mexican presidency], with the aim of destroying the resistance of the zapatista communities; they are trying to impede at any cost the construction of the autonomy of indigenous peoples, it is part of a strategy of low-intensity warfare against our communities in resistance.”

On March 22 of this year, Francisco, as he was about to be released, was hit with another accusation of another false crime. For this reason, he remains at the moment a political prisoner, despite the fact that witnesses have corroborated the fact that Francisco Sántiz López was not at the site of the confrontation.

________________________________________________________________

 Francisco

“Compañeros, compañeras, brothers and sisters:

We, as the Junta de Buen Gobierno of this Highlands zone of Chiapas, headquartered at Caracol II, Oventic, salute the Week of Struggle, convoked by Movement for Justice in El Barrio, of The Other Campaign New York.

…We offer these words to state that our compañero Francisco Sántiz López was unjustly detained six months ago and remains at present imprisoned unjustly. We have already denounced this before national and international public opinion and we demand his immediate release.

However, the three levels of the bad government have stubbornly turned a deaf ear, and are demonstrating that they are willing to continue violating human rights.

We ask all of you, as part of the global struggle for justice, to join us and continue demanding that the bad state and federal governments immediately release our compañero Francisco, as he is unjustly imprisoned for being a member of the Zapatista support base. We know that he is an honest person and always fulfils his responsibilities in the community and the organization.

That is our word for the moment. We hope that we can all continue demanding unconditional freedom for our compañero Francisco Sántiz López.”

“Sisters and brothers, we are family members of Francisco Sántiz López. We want to inform you that our compañero, Francisco, who was detained on December 4, 2011, remains imprisoned unjustly for crimes that he did not commit. He has been in the Penitentiary Number 5 of San Cristóbal de Las Casas for six months now.

As relatives, we have already presented witnesses in support of Francisco, but the bad government refuses to free him, because it knows that he is a member of the Zapatista support base. In addition, we as family members know very well that he has not committed any crime.

The problem in the eyes of the government is that he fights and organizes for justice, democracy, and freedom as part of the EZLN. As family members of Francisco, we know that there are many national and international organizations and individuals who are in solidarity and demanding his freedom as well.

….Our compañero Francisco.…was accused of participating in a killing in the community of Banavil, of the Tenejapa municipality. But our compañero Francisco was absolutely not at the location when the incident took place. He is simply being accused of this because he is part of the EZLN. We, as Francisco’s family members, have already been struggling to demand his freedom, alongside the JBG and Human Rights centres, but the bad government does not listen to us—on the contrary, it is fabricating his crime.

For this reason, we ask that you support the efforts being carried out by Movement for Justice in El Barrio, the Other Campaign New York. We, as family members, will not rest until our relative Francisco Sántiz López is set free, because he has not committed any crime and is unjustly imprisoned. This is the word of the relatives of Francisco, our compañero. May all of you who are fighting for our freedom receive our warm greetings. Thank you.”

There can be no doubt that Francisco is innocent. He was running his fruit and vegetable stall in the town market of Tenejapa when the crime took place, as many witnesses can testify. It is also clear that the Chiapas government have been rattled by the campaign. In a statement published in La Jornada on 18th May, they said that they “had made ​​all possible efforts to achieve the release of the indigenous Tzeltal Francisco Sántiz Lopez….however  this is not possible, because in addition to state cases which are now resolved, he is prosecuted for an offence under federal law.” For the MJB, this statement is of the utmost importance, “it is a sign that the bad government feels obligated to speak on the matter, and it is a symptom that the bad government is weakening. Now the whole world is watching”.

_______________________________________________________________

Francisco

On December 4, 2011, a group of fifty armed members of the PRI made a fierce and prolonged attack on four families in the Banavil ejido, municipality of Tenejapa, and threw them out of their homes and community. Such attacks with firearms by members of political parties and/or paramilitary groups have become commonplace in communities of Zapatista supporters or Other Campaign adherents. The aims are twofold: to seize the reclaimed land and to weaken and destroy the autonomous communities and the dream they represent. In this case the families concerned had no political affiliation, but were said to be ‘sympathetic to the Zapatistas’.

The aggressions that occurred on December 4 resulted in the death of Pedro Méndez López (PRI member); the displacement of four families ‘accused’ of being Zapatista sympathizers; the disappearance of Alonso López Luna (presumed dead); the detention of Alonso’s son Lorenzo López Girón, shot twice and seriously injured while trying to defend his father, and detained, accused of causing bodily injury; injuries to six more people; and the arbitrary detention of Francisco Santiz Lopez, civilian Zapatista support base, who was not even at the scene of the crime when it occurred.

Francisco Sántiz López is a Tzeltal trader from Banavil, who operates a fruit and vegetable stall in the market in the municipal headquarters of Tenejapa, and has been a support base of the EZLN for over 20 years. He was arrested in December 2011, and initially accused of “leading a confrontation”, a charge relating to the events described above. He was charged with murder, and imprisoned, even though twelve witnesses confirmed that he was not present at the time of the attack. According to the Good Government Junta in the Caracol of Oventic, he was later offered the opportunity to “buy” his freedom.

On March 22, 2012, Santiz was told he had been cleared of murder charges and would be released. However, as he was leaving the prison he was informed of a new charge, “carrying firearms for the exclusive use of the army”, and was re-arrested and again imprisoned. He was unarmed when first arrested and has never been found in the possession of firearms. Lorenzo López Girón was released at this time, still carrying two bullets in his body.

The displaced family of Alonso López Luna, of whom only an arm has been found, have stated, “we demand the freedom of Francisco Sántiz López, since he was not at the scene of the attacks; it was not us who attacked the party members, it was they who came to our homes to attack us. At the time of the attack compañero Francisco was at his fruit stall in the county headquarters, some of us went there to ask for his help”.

The harassment of EZLN sympathizers in Banavil dates from 2009, and results from their opposition to arbitrary acts by the PRI caciques (political bosses): land grabs, illegal cutting of trees, collecting unfounded taxes and contributions, break-ins, physical attacks and denial of the right to education, among others. The victims have denounced these acts before government agencies, who, they say, “ignore them”. Meanwhile, as Frayba points out, “there exists no effective investigation or punishment of those responsible, and the authorities don’t intervene to resolve the situation or to guarantee legal and social security in Banavil.”

The unjust imprisonment of Francisco Sántiz López and the fabrication of crimes against him can be seen as part of the government’s strategy of low-intensity warfare designed to destroy the resistance of the Zapatista communities. “His only crime” says the Junta, “is struggling for his pueblo, telling the truth, struggling for true democracy, liberty and justice”. For this reason he is also regarded as a political prisoner.

In the words of the campaign, “the unjust incarceration of Francisco is not an isolated case, but one that forms part of the continuous war by the Mexican State against the Zapatista communities, a war that through harassment, attacks and arbitrary detentions seeks to undermine and annihilate the resistance and process of autonomy that the Zapatista support bases are bringing to a head in Chiapas”.

——————

The JBG of Oventic denounces the injustices being committed against our compañero, Francisco Sántiz Lopez, deprived of his freedom due to the bad government.

THE GOOD GOVERNMENT JUNTA CENTRAL HEART OF THE ZAPATISTAS BEFORE OF THE WORLD

SNAIL TZOBOMBAIL YU’UN LEKIL J’AMTELETIK O’LOL YO’ON ZAPATISTA TA TA SAT STUK’IL YELOB SJUNUL BALUMIL

27TH MARCH 2012.

TO PUBLIC OPINION

TO THE NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL PRESS

TO NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL CIVIL SOCIETY

TO HUMAN RIGHTS AGENCIES

TO THE ALTERNATIVE MEDIA

TO ADHERENTS TO THE OTHER CAMPAIGN

TO ADHERENTS TO THE ZEZTA INTERNATIONAL

BROTHERS AND SISTERS

The Good Government Junta, Central Heart of the Zapatistas in front of the world, based in Oventic, Caracol Resistance and Rebellion for Humanity, Highlands region of Chiapas, Mexico. We are again compelled to say our word to the national and international public opinion, and denounce and condemn the injustices being committed against our EZLN support base compañero as follows:

On Thursday March 22 this year in the afternoon, news reached us saying that our compañero Francisco Santiz Lopez and his brother Lorenzo would be released from CERSS No. 5, where they are currently unjustly deprived of their liberty, as we have denounced in our report dated in March 16 this year.

But just a few feet away from the jail exit our compañero Francisco Santiz Lopez received a phone call from the people who were supposed to free him, saying that he cannot leave, because he has committed another more serious federal crime: “possession of a firearm exclusively for the use of military forces”, and that this prevents his release.

There are no words that can express the attitudes of the 3 levels of the bad governments, Federal General Attorney of the State attached to the first federal criminal court for prosecutions; the Attorney General’s Office; and the national human rights commissions of the bad government. Because, they do not feel the pain in their heart when making up crimes and condemning to prison innocent people such as our compañero Francisco.

Our compañero Francisco was falsely accused and unjustly detained, and had nothing to do with what happened in Banavil, because he was not even involved in the events for which he was charged. Francisco is not a murderer nor has a weapon, just because people from PRI accused him falsely.

When the attack on December 4, 2011, was carried out, the judge, owner of the guns, ordered the attackers to return them, and that’s when Sr. Alonso López Ramírez and Sr. Diego Méndez López gave in the weapons used to shoot Sr. Lorenzo Lopez Giron. From that moment, they planned and looked for ways to distance themselves from any responsibility for their violent acts by claiming that the guns belonged to Francisco and Lorenzo. Then they made a statement at the Public Ministry, so the same ministry could set up a crime against Francisco Lorenzo for carrying a firearm exclusively for the use of the army.

As we clarified in our previous report, our compañero and base of support, Francisco, is  innocent, and should be released immediately.

Francisco is a supporter of the Zapatista National Liberation Army, so his only crime is because he is part of the Zapatista support base, because he fights for his people, tells the truth, fights for true Democracy, Freedom and Justice as all the Zapatistas fight, so the bad governments feel angry, they have much hatred against us, they want revenge and make war in any way to stop the advance of our struggle.

But Francisco has no offence of possession of a weapon, Francisco’s wife says he knows nothing of weapons or explosives, Francisco’s wife insists that all they know and do are tamales, rice gruel and sell fruits and vegetables to live on, that the only weapons they know are their tools to do their jobs already mentioned.

To confirm the innocence of our compañero Francisco, there are 12 witnesses willing to testify and say that Francisco was not involved in the provocation and has no weapon, and these 12 people are willing to make statement whenever it is required.

At the end of our letter their names signatures and fingerprints are attached to give certainty to our statement.

In addition to these witnesses, the deputy judge from Tenejapa told Francisco’ family, that when they went to arrest Francisco at his fruits and vegetables stall in the county, they did not find any firearm, or anything similar. The same deputy judge is a witness that Francisco had no gun when he was searched; he made the arrest so as to meet the chief judge’s order.

Shortly after, we learnt through other means that the main judge knows that Francisco has committed no offence and he is not the murderer, the same judge has been saying that Francisco was arrested only because of pressure from the people of Banavil.  This implies that the authority is corrupt, because if people or the chiefs and trouble makers put pressure on the judge to incarcerate an innocent person, it is because the corrupt judge has been offered money, because as an authority he is allowing himself to be under pressure to commit a great injustice.

And then there are comments from Banavil’s people that they are being demanded by the chiefs to cooperate with them and the judge, so that the trouble makers and chieftains are protected and favoured by the authorities.

Banavil Ejido authorities know that Francisco has not committed crimes and they know who the trouble makers and aggressors are, such as Alonso López Ramírez, Diego Méndez López the elder, Diego Guzmán Méndez, Agustín Méndez Luna ex municipal president , Manuel Méndez López, Diego Méndez López the younger, Alonso Guzmán López, and Agustín Guzmán López from the Ejido Banavil.

From Ejido Mercedes are: Pablo López Intzin, Antonio López Méndez and Alonso López Méndez and from Ejido Santa Rosa  is Sr. Pedro Méndez López. These people know very well that the eviction and attack on Alonso López Luna, Lorenzo Lopez Giron and Antonio Lopez Giron was planned by them, and long ago the victims were also, along with their families, under death threats from these people.

Both Francisco and Lorenzo were accused of the same crimes of homicide and injury, the government withdrew these charges but  accused Francisco of another crime, later on the judge said that one of them, Lorenzo, could be released on bail, but not the other one. This is the best proof that the judges, the ministries and offices for justices are only making up crimes.

The prosecution office did not allow the Human Rights Agency Frayba to see Francisco’s record, because the agency is not the defendant’s lawyer. What does this mean? Perhaps  they have not made up enough crimes against our compañero.

It is clear that the authorities are just playing with the bones of the dead, burying and digging them up in secret, then the people themselves find the right parts of the skeleton, because the same authorities, chiefs and trouble makers know where they have their dead; this indicates there that the murderer walks amongst them, so when supposedly ministerial authorities are investigating but go elsewhere and ministerial authorities are satisfied with that information, they are all complicit with the real perpetrators of the murder.

Sabines and Calderon both refer constantly to justice and respect, but they are the main violators of human rights, are complicit in the crime and are fools because they do not investigate where the dead lay, and only condemn to jail an innocent person. Because from the beginning the deputy judge said that Francisco had committed no crime, if he changed his mind it was due to pressure from people.

This is totally unjust, it is unacceptable what the bad government of our country are doing against our companeros and our Zapatista support base communities.

We, the Zapatistas, do not deny that we have weapons but made of wood or sticks, as we went out and fought in January 94, but the bad government wants people to believe we have become paramilitaries.

As we know well those who carry firearms for the exclusive use of the army are paramilitaries from different communities and Sr. Lorenzo Ruiz Gomez from San Marcos Avilés ejido, official municipality of Chilon, and his team of offenders who have committed so many evil acts against our support bases and that Lorenzo and his gang are free and continue their disgusting deeds.

There is no doubt that the manufacture of crimes against our compañero comes from Los Pinos, with the aim of destroying the resistance of the Zapatista support base communities;  it is clear that this was planned, organized and run from the 3 levels of bad government; they are trying to prevent at all costs the construction of the autonomy of indigenous peoples in Zapatista territory, as part of the plan of low-intensity war against our communities in resistance.

We repeat again that our colleague Francisco is innocent and has nothing to do with what happened in Banavil, Tenejapa official municipality. Furthermore, the Human Rights Centre Fray Bartolome de las Casas, has already announced the innocence of Francisco and, as a human rights agency, it has publicized and indicated who the aggressors are, and given their names in one of its statements, but the bad state and federal governments, ministerial judges and human rights commissions of bad government, increasingly act with impunity and in complicity with the real culprits, but unfairly condemn our compañero now in prison, Francisco Santiz Lopez.

The Good Government Junta strongly demands the immediate and unconditional release our colleague FRANCISCO SÁNTIZ LÓPEZ, unjustly detained since December 4, 2011.

It is our duty and obligation to continue reporting to the public any kind of injustice and human rights violations from any level of the bad government. They want to continue doing this to our compañero Francisco.

We continue telling the 3 levels of bad government officials and the people who are being paid, controlled and manipulated, not to think they will stop us with provocations, threats, assaults, imprisonment and persecution;  the Zapatista struggle, the struggle of indigenous peoples throughout Mexico for the construction of our autonomy and free determination, whatever it costs us, no matter what happens we will continue moving forward, we will continue telling the truth, because we the Zapatistas do not cheat or betray, for that reason justice is on our side.

Although these bad governments and political parties never tire of saying that there is no injustice or violation of human rights and that we live in peace in our state and country, we wonder what kind of justice, freedom, respect and peace they are talking about, if the prisons are full of innocent people, if our communities and towns are filled with threats, taunts, assaults, harassment, evictions and waste made by paramilitaries and people from different political parties, is rape not injustice, alog with the thousands of deaths around the country, thousands of imprisoned, thousands missing, thousands displaced due to the current administration?

In the face of all these aggressions, provocations, persecutions and imprisonment against our compañeros, we remain silent, but we will continue reporting to the national and international public opinion, we will continue to demand respect for our colleagues and communities in resistance.

For now this is all we have to say and we ask all good and honest people to remain aware of what might happen with compañero Francisco and all our people.

Attentively,

THE GOOD GOVERNMENT JUNTA, CENTRAL HEART OF THE ZAPATISTAS BEFORE THE WORLD

HIGHLANDS AREA, CHIAPAS

(stamp of the Good Government Council)

Signatures:

Abraham Hernández Pérez
Silvia Pérez Santiz
Victor Gómez López
Gabriela Hernández Pérez

NAMES AND SIGNATURES OF THE PEOPLE WHO ARE WITNESSES FOR  COMPAÑERO FRANCISCO

Alonso Luna López
Alonso Girón Santiz (fingerprint)
Alonso Intzin Guzmán
Sebastián López Pérez (fingerprint)
Antonio Girón Mendez
Alonso Pérez Gómez
Juan Guzmán Santiz
Rosa López Santiz
Pedro Girón Méndez
Antonio Guzmán Santiz
Jorge Girón Mendez
Juan Perez Gomez

————————

The JBG of Oventic demands the immediate release of Francisco Sántiz Lopez, Zapatista support base, and Lorenzo Lopez Giron, unjustly detained by the bad government since December 4, 2011.

Letterhead: “Good Government Council Central Heart of the Zapatistas before the World. Snail Tzobombail Yu’un Lekil J’amteletik Ta Ta O’lol Yo’on Zapatista Stuk’il Yelob Sjunul Balumil Sat Yelob Sjunul Balumil”

March 16, 2012

TO PUBLIC OPINION

TO NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL PRESS

TO CIVIL SOCIETY

TO NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS AGENCIES

TO THE ALTERNATIVE MEDIA

TO ADHERENTS TO THE OTHER CAMPAIGN AND ADHERENTS TO THE ZEZTA INTERNATIONAL

TO OUR BROTHERS AND SISTERS

The Good Government Junta, Central Heart of the Zapatistas before the world, based in Oventic, Caracol II Resistance and Rebellion for Humanity, highlands region of Chiapas, Mexico, strongly denounce the events perpetrated by the top municipal officials in Tenejapa, committed by municipal police and municipal judges whose names are; Judge Alonso Méndez, deputy judge Juan Fernando Guzmán López,  and Alonso López Hernández second in command of the military police and 4 traditional rulers from the municipality of Tenejapa and later supported by the police and judges of the Public Ministry.

We will now list what happened:

1. We condemn the arbitrary and unjust detention of our compañero FRANCISCO SÁNTIZ LÓPEZ, Zapatista support base support. On December 4, 2011 at 12:00 pm he was arrested by police officers at his fruit and vegetable stall in the municipal headquarters of Tenejapa, falsely accused of leading a provocation where Mr Pedro Méndez López was killed, a member of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) of Ejido Banavil. Our friend Francisco  was imprisoned for 2 hours in the headquarters and was later on handed over to the state police in San Cristobal de las Casas.

Once in the ministry, the authorities never explained the reasons for his arrest. As always, they showed their false face and told Francisco that ” people from Banavil are coming to put pressure on”, and continued saying to Francisco “we’re going to lock you up for a while,  and then return you when the Banavil people go back”.

At around 5PM, the PRI supporters from Mercedes, Santa Rosa, Banavil came to the prosecution to put pressure on to imprison Santiz Lopez and Francisco indefinitely, this took 72 hours. To satisfy the chiefs’ and the public prosecutor’s craving to imprison an innocent person, our compañero, the prosecution blatantly told Francisco “we’ll lock you up for a while  to protect you from any aggression from the PRI of Banavil, Ejido Mercedes and Santa Rosa”. That’s how our compañero was locked up, and since then he has been imprisoned and accused of criminal offences, his file is No. 177/2011. According to the criminal file 177/2011, FRANCISCO Santiz Lopez was in the hallway of the house of Antonio López Girón (the third) together with Lorenzo López Girón, Pedro López Girón and Alonso López Luna, each of them was carrying a firearm.

Approximately at 07:55 hours, according to Sra Lucía López Ramírez, she and her husband Pedro Méndez López (deceased), were on their way to the primary school. According to Lucia, they met FRANCISCO SÁNTIZ LÓPEZ, but he had no weapon and he was shouting “they are coming here to shoot him.” Sra Lucia saw Antonio López Girón  (third) raise his weapon and point it at Pedro Méndez López, who fell to the ground, Lucia hugged her husband and doesn’t know what else happened but she heard several shots. A few minutes later, 10 people arrived at the area and were shot at, they were injured. Later on Ofelia Lopez Giron arrived (Lucia’s niece) and also was shot in her left arm, all these statements of Sra Lucia are false. Because in reality it was the Banavil people armed with sticks, machetes and guns who attacked Alonso, Antonio, Lorenzo and Pedro Lopez Girón at their home.

1) FRANCISCO SÁNTIZ LÓPEZ is an EZLN support base, but the other people mentioned, such as: Lorenzo López Girón, Antonio López Girón, etc., are not Zapatistas and do not belong to any political party.

2) It is a lie that FRANCISCO SÁNTIZ LÓPEZ was in the hallway of Antonio López Girón (the third)’s house and that that led to the shooting of Pedro Méndez López (deceased). Because at the time of the murder, Francisco was at his stall selling fruit and vegetables in the municipal seat of Tenejapa, when Francisco was taking his merchandise from his room to take to his stall, Petrona and Anita, Alonso López Luna’s daughters, arrived; Anita was bleeding from the strokes of sticks and told Francisco that her dad had already been killed and that she and her sister had witnessed the incident and had declared to the Ministry, who the aggressors were.

3) Francisco has more witnesses to prove that he was not at the scene, for example:  Diego Girón Hernández, Rosa Pérez Luna, Daniel Pérez Santiz and María Girón Jiménez are the people who saw and talked to him, when he was working at his stall at the county seat, and these people already mentioned, gave their statement to the office of the public prosecutor in the CERESO 5, which stated that Francisco and Lorenzo are innocent and have nothing to do with what happened in Banavil.

Furthermore, the Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Human Rights Centre collected information through witnesses, prisoners’ relatives and the same prisoners’ statements, that our compañero Francisco Sántiz López and Lorenzo López Girón  are innocent, as human rights have made publicly known who the aggressors are and their names were mentioned in one of its statements, but the bad state and federal governments, ministerial judges and their human rights commissions misrule, have been deaf and inhumane and clearly show their complicity in the unfortunate events.  For them justice is bought and sold because they always cover themselves up, and protect and defend the true culprits.

4) The Ministry office never asked FRANCISCO SÁNTIZ LÓPEZ for his statement on the events.

This shows how falsely accuse is our compañero, so far he is unjustly imprisoned in the Cereso No. 5 in the municipality of San Cristobal, while the chiefs of the Ejido Banavil and the intellectual authors, Alonso López Ramírez, Diego Méndez López the older, Diego Guzmán Méndez, Agustín Méndez Luna ex municipal president, Manuel Méndez López, Diego Méndez López the younger, Alonso Guzmán López, and Agustín Guzmán López. Ejido Mercedes: Pablo López Intzin, Antonio López Méndez and Alonso López Méndez and from Ejido Santa Rosa: Pedro Méndez López, already mentioned, these people know exactly that they are the ones who planned and acted to attack and evict Srs Alonso López luna, Lorenzo López Girón, Pedro López Girón and Antonio López Girón, who for a long time have been objects of constant death threats along with their families.

The chiefs of these three communities organized the provocation, they first sent the ladies: Antonio Girón Gómez, Antonia López Pérez y Lucia López Ramírez, the three, all from Banavil were armed with sticks and stones to beat the Sr Alonso López Luna and his family from Ejido Banavil, families not supporting the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), behind these three ladies there were already about 50 men armed with sticks, stones and guns, who surrounded the house when they arrived and pulled out Alonso in order to hit him (since then he has disappeared ). Lorenzo, whilst trying to defend his father Alonso, received a first gunshot on the right hand side of his chest and then another shot in his groin.

In this attack, organized by the chiefs, Pedro Méndez López (the aggressor) was killed. When the chiefs realised someone from their side had been injured, then they began to see  who they could accuse. Then our colleague Francisco Santiz Lopez was accused, the chiefs who are organizing attacks of every kind are living freely in their homes, while our comrades are unjustly imprisoned.

All these crimes against our compañero are a sign that the different levels of government and ministerial judges are used to manufacturing and fabricating crimes and wrongfully imprisoning innocent people and are doing this with our compañeros support bases to destroy and stop in any way they can our struggle and the progress of the construction of our autonomy.

The Good Government demands the immediate and unconditional release of our compañero FRANCISCO SÁNTIZ LÓPEZ and Don Lorenzo López Girón who were arrested on December 4, 2011 and today, 16 March 2012, reaches 103 days of being unjustly imprisoned. During all this time the prosecutors and criminal judges have only done the following:

1. On February 22, 2012, our compañero Francisco and Lorenzo were released from  CERESO 5 and chained to be taken to court where they were told they could get out of jail by paying 32 thousand pesos, our compañero Francisco and Lorenzo refused to pay for their detention and imprisonment as they are unjust. As they had refused to pay the 32 thousand peso fine, they were put back in prison again.

2. On 24th February they were once more released and handcuffed and asked again for the 32 thousand pesos fine, so they could get out of jail, but our compañero Francisco again denied to pay fine for the same reason, that his imprisonment is unlawful.

3. On 7th March , Lorenzo’s brother came to the prosecution office to enquire about the case, the judge said Francisco and Lorenzo could be released on bail, if each of them paid 32,000 pesos fine for the murder and 40 thousand pesos for carrying a weapon , with a total of 72 000 pesos per person.

We as the Good Government Junta consider as unbearable and unacceptable the inhumane attitudes from the judges, ministry and state and federal governments, because they are so accustomed, so corrupt and so experienced at falsifying crimes and unjustly condemning  innocent people to prison, as they did with our compañero FRANCISCO SANTIZ LOPEZ.

It is our duty and obligation to report to the public any kind of injustice or human rights violations like those being committed by the prosecution, instead of dispensing justice, they are committing injustices like the case of our compañero Francisco Santiz Lopez and Sr Lorenzo.

Although the Frayba Human Rights Centre has intervened several times to resolve the case,  the prosecution office, the federal state and municipal government have been ignoring them, as they have done with the human rights violations that are committed against our Zapatista communities and throughout our country every day.

We want to make it clear to the 3 levels of official bad government and the people they have paid, controlled and manipulated, not to think that with their provocations, threats, assaults and harassment that they will stop the Zapatista struggle, the struggle of indigenous peoples throughout Mexico for the construction of our independence and national liberation, whatever it costs us, no matter what happens we will continue, because reason and justice are on our side.

The bad government try to hide their unjust actions through a great deal of propaganda, and through the media report that the bad government is in favour of justice, respect for democracy and development, and that all these are actions, not words, but in reality we live in our villages under attacks, threats, eviction, unjust imprisonment, violation of human rights and persecution for our people, and these are FACTS, not words.

We will not remain silent when threats and aggressions happen against our compañeros; we will not allow the bad government, through its affiliated persons from different political parties, to continue to threaten us and make us submit to their whims, we the Good Government Junta will continue to denounce all violent provocations against our brothers and our sisters Zapatista support bases. And we insist on being respected.

If at times we have to keep quiet, it is not because we fear those who provoke us, the 3 levels of bad government, but because we are hurt by their making so many injustices against our people, against innocent people and human rights violations.

These violent and absurd attacks from bad governments are direct attacks on the autonomy of the Zapatista autonomous communities and municipalities, because the main objective of these actions are to destroy and prevent us from exercising our rights to autonomy and self-determination as peoples; trying to annihilate our organization and the dignity of our people. These cowardly traitorous and disloyal attacks cannot stop us, we will continue with our struggle for democracy, freedom and justice for all.  For the time being this is everything, our word will continue denouncing all that may happen against our support bases in any autonomous community, region or municipality.

Attentively,

THE GOOD GOVERNMENT JUNTA CENTRAL HEART OF ZAPATISTAS BEFORE THE WORLD, HIGHLANDS AREA

Document signed and sealed:

Maricela Hernández Núñez
Cecilia López Hernández
Adolfo Hernández Hernández
Emiliano Santiz Arias

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One Response to About Francisco

  1. Pingback: Celebrations in El Barrio, New York following the release of Francisco Sántiz López « dorset chiapas solidarity

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