Tzotzils and Teachers March for Patishtán’s Freedom
** They ask the magistrates “not to continue staining his dignity”
** “Justicia in México is in reverse,” Las Abejas complaint
By: Hermann Bellinghausen, Envoy
Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Chiapas, April 19, 2013
In an indigenous pilgrimage that was also a very well attended political march, the capital of Chiapas became familiar with, live and amplified, the clamor for the freedom of professor Alberto Patishtán Gómez. In a significant gesture of solidarity, more than 8,000 teachers from the democratic block of Section 7 (Local 7) of the National Education Workers Union followed the march of some 6,000 pilgrims, the immense majority of them Tzotzils, and at every moment supported the demand for freedom for the one who is, certainly, the most well-known and respected Chiapas teacher in the world.
At the doors of the Federal Judiciary, which remained closed, the Catholic organization Pueblo Creyente stated: “Señor magistrates of the first collegiate tribunal of the twentieth circuit, don’t continue staining his dignity, his prestige, keeping our brother a prisoner. The decision that you make will remain written in the historic memory of the Mexican people. Don’t repeat the same action that Pilate did to Jesus, knowing that he is innocent you wash your hands and deliver a death sentence.”
The column of some 15,000 people, which paralyzed the center of the city for more than three hours, first arrived at the seat of the Federal Judicial Power, located on a closed street, which was entirely occupied with indigenous people to the sound of flutes, guitars and drums, carrying the crosses of all the Acteal dead. Men and women from Pantelhó, Huitiupán, Simojovel, Chenalhó, San Andrés, Zinacantán, Huixtán, Chamula, San Cristóbal de las Casas and of course El Bosque, where Patishtán is from, didn’t stop repeating his name during the whole march. Hundreds of small signs showed his face over red.
Waiting on Avenida Central, thousands of teachers, who also were marching against labor and education reforms, supported their demands. With unusual generosity they accepted going behind the indigenous. The megaphones in their respective discoveries were saying: “We recognize Patishtán as one of us, we recognize his innocence, and we add ourselves to his protest against the justice system.”
A few kilometers from here, in Navenchauc, along the old highway to Los Altos, the President of the Republic was launching the National Crusade Against Hunger dressed in his Zinacanteco attire, (a PRI ritual) the same as the state’s governor and his Brazilian invitee Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva as an honorary witness. Did what they were shouting along Avenida Central in Tuxtla Gutiérrez reach them, although it was as a vibration?
“Today the federal and state governments (new Pharaohs, Herods and Pilates) have proposed crusade strategies against hunger. There is no truth in their words. We believe and we are convinced by facts that it is a crusade against the hungry,” the Tzotzils added in their discourse.
“Our indigenous and campesino peoples yes we are hungry, but with truth and justice for the Acteal case, hunger for the immediate and unconditional freedom of our brother Alberto, hunger for the respect and love of our Mother Earth, hunger for the fulfillment of the San Andrés Accords, hunger for peace for indigenous peoples; not for the crumbs that the government gives to quiet their conscience, to not see the truth, to eclipse and bury the State crime committed in Acteal.”
At its turn, the Civil Society Organization Las Abejas, whose presence was notorious, demonstrated in front of the Government Palace, a few blocks ahead, its repudiation “of the massive release of the Acteal paramilitary murderers.” In a severe tone, Las Abejas sustained: “Justice in Mexico is reversed. In what kind of language must we speak so that (the powers) understand?
In front of the Government Palace, Pueblo Creyente repeated its message to the Chiapas magistrates who, in a few days, will have to resolve the freedom of the multi-named teacher from El Bosque, who today completes 42 years of age, 12 of them in prison: “Before these realities of injustices that the indigenous live, profe Alberto was struggling from his town and accompanied the people for a just and dignified life. The federal, state and municipal governments didn’t like the profe’s humanitarian work, therefore they sought him out for the crime, and he is sentenced to more than 60 years in prison for a crime that he did not commit.” To conclude: “No more innocent prisoners. No to the government’s repression of the teachers.”
Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada
Saturday, April 20, 2013