A Child Dies In Chiapas While His Parents Fast For Freedom; Hunger Strike Reaches Critical Point
On September 29, 11 indigenous prisoners in 3 Chiapas state prisons started a hunger strike and fast, demanding their freedom. Two more joined the fast and two others were released, leaving 5 on a total hunger strike and 6 fasting 12 hours per day. Then, in a move analyzed by the hunger strikers as an attempt to break up the protest action, the government transferred Alberto Patishtán to a federal prison in the distant state of Sinaloa. He had been the protest’s spokesperson from the state prison number 5 in the municipality of San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico.
As the critical danger point of 40 days approaches, two of those fasting for 12 hours per day recently joined the total hunger strike, there are 8 prisoners on a total hunger strike and 2 fasting.
A young couple, Alfredo and Rosa López, are both incarcerated at the state prison located in San Cristóbal de las Casas Municipality (County), Alfredo in the men’s part of the prison and Rosa in the women’s section. Unidentified men detained and tortured both Alfredo and Rosa on May 10, 2007 in San Cristóbal. During the torture, they were told that they were being detained because they had allowed Alfredo’s cousin, Juan Collazo, and his wife Claudia to stay at their house. Claudia’s father filed the complaint against them because Claudia, a minor, ran away with her boyfriend Juan so that he did not have to pay the customary dowry to the parents. According to local custom, the young woman is considered “stolen,” but legally not kidnapped. The same unidentified men took Alfredo to his house where Juan and Claudia were eating and also detained both of them.
They put a plastic bag on Juan’s head and a wet piece of flannel in his mouth to asphyxiate him. He received blows and electric shocks so that he would confess that he obtained 600, 000 pesos. They transported him to the Public Ministry, where they warned both Juan and Rosa: “If you don’t confess to being guilty, we are going to kill you.”
Rosa, 34, was also tortured and punched in the stomach. She asked them to stop because she was pregnant “but they didn’t stop.” They took off all her clothes and threatened to rape her, if she did not admit to the kidnapping. “How am I going to say something that I have not done,” she replied to them. One of the agents threw her on the floor and another two tied her up. Rosa tells that at that moment she said: “don’t rape me, I am pregnant” and her attackers promised: “If you say that you did it, we won’t do anything to you.” Then Rosa admitted to everything, although it was false. She did not even know the person “kidnapped.”
“We were so injured and tired that we confessed to being guilty,” tells Alfredo, who spent 15 days in bed without medical attention. The MP obliged him to sign blank pages and others that he didn’t read. He did not have a lawyer or a translator. On May 12, they transferred both to the San Cristóbal de las Casas Prison.
Several months later, Rosa gave birth in prison to a son, Natanael. He was born with cerebral palsy and has been cared for by grandparents ever since. A doctor told the grandparents that Natanael’s condition was the result of the torture inflicted on Rosa while she was pregnant with him. On October 25, Natanael’s condition worsened. His grandfather took him to a hospital in the city of Teopisca and was turned away. No reason is stated in news reports. The grandfather next took Natanael to a “field clinic” in San Cristóbal, where he was denied medical treatment because the grandfather had no money. Natanael died.
As if the government had not already done enough to this young couple, prison authorities threatened Rosa with taking away her healthy 2-year old son who lives with her in the women’s section of the prison if she did not abandon the hunger strike and fast.
The brother of the young woman who ran away with Juan has signed a statement admitting that there was no kidnapping and that the complaint filed was an act of revenge. The family of the prisoners has this statement. They presented evidence in court of their innocence, but were sentenced to 27 years in prison anyway.
Juan Collazo and another relative, Pedro López Jiménez, are also in prison due to the same “kidnapping.” Both participate in the hunger strike. Pedro López Jiménez became the new spokesperson for the hunger strikers, following the transfer of Alberto Patishtán.
The above is only one example of the terrible injustices perpetrated against indigenous people in Chiapas that motivate such drastic protest actions as a hunger strike.
JOIN US at La Peña Cultural Center on Sunday, November 13 for an update on the hunger strike and the Drug War in Mexico, the counterinsurgency war in Chiapas and a global analysis from our panel on immigration issues and a report from Occupy Oakland PLUS son jarocho music by SonRisas. For details see: https://compamanuel.wordpress.com/2011/11/02/zapatista-anniversary-celebration-2/